Suzanna McKechnie Klahr, a resident of East Palo Alto, has helped hundreds of disadvantaged young people in San Mateo County succeed in high school and get into college. As CEO and founder of the nonprofit organization BUILD, she provides entrepreneurial experience that empowers young people to excel in education that empowers young people to excel in education, lead in their communities and succeed professionally. Suzanne started BUILD in 1999 with at public service fellowship from a leading national law firm. Then she was one person serving four students. Today, BUILD’s full-time staff of 23 serves 400 students each year. Suzanne believes her success lies in a commitment to bring services to students in their own communities. She lives where she works in order to integrate her organization into the community and earn her clients’ respect and trust. BUILD’s track record proves her theory. In communities with dropout rates of 40-70 percent, 100 percent of BULD clients go to college. Suzanne is noted for her ability to make a practical difference in her community while keeping sight of larger societal issues that created the problems in the first place. A recognized authority on the U.S. education crisis, she also teaches social entrepreneurship at Stanford Law School. Suzanne is a woman who has transformed her personal passion into a path to a better future for young people in our community.
*This biography and photo of the honoree was published in 2008.