Susan Comfort (she/her) hails from Baltimore, the land of Orioles, Ravens, and Blue Jays, but she is a Carolina Tar Heel at heart. Susan is a bilingual facilitator, an out bisexual since 1993, and also, a bipedal bicyclist.
Susan's three decades in the nonprofit trenches were invested in raising millions, working on political campaigns, serving on boards, mentoring advocates and developing leaders.
Trained as an organizer and educated in organizational development, she now consults with nonprofit and schools who want to shift their workplace culture.
Susan is also cultivating Casa Comfort in Takoma Park (MD), where multiple generations experience nature and physical activity. There's rock climbing, tree climbing, and a rain garden, all in one corner property. There used to be a movement sidewalk but the city powerwashed it.
Susan co-founded and co-directs a 501(c)3, NonprofitWellness.org, which focuses on TEAM-care (which is even more important than SELF-care, for educators and world-changers).
Susan is a Registered Yoga Teacher who learned hatha yoga to stay sane while working as a parent and fundraiser. She also dabbles in Circus & Acro, and puts it all together for tweens and families at Casa Comfort classes.
Susan was trained at Takoma Park's Willow Street Yoga in 2003-04 (400+ hour certification). She also earned Ring One Certification with Circus Yoga, led Playworks DC focused on recess games, and parented two kids into college.
Susan has taught yoga to kids and families at Willow Street Yoga, Latin American Montessori Bilingual, and at various DC public schools with Breathing Space Yoga. She also volunteers with Willow Street Yoga behind the desk.
Sanskrit treat: here is Susan's daughter, E, chanting the Gayatri mantra, long ago, with Storm the kitten.
Jackson 5 treat: Susan did a 40-dropbacks fundraiser for her 40th birthday (many years ago) with 40 kids at LAMB public school.
Susan is a proud, out Baltimore native who spent many summers serving crabs at Bo Brooks (even while vegetarian). She earned Phi Beta Kappa (B.A., Communications), was a leader with the Student Environmental Action Coalition, and served as a basketball statistician under the leadership of Coach Dean Smith at UNC.
Some of Susan's fave professional highlights include: being a queer female leader in the 90s environmental movement, leading 16 Campus Green Vote, Environmental Justice and Environmental Journalism training academies for college students, co-founding an early AmeriCorps program, overseeing EWG.org's massive email list growth, developing corporate partnerships at BoardSource, and bringing play to kids via Playworks and KaBOOM!
Susan completed Georgetown's certificate in Organizational Consulting and Change Leadership and is a graduate of many other training programs including: Green Corps, Midwest Academy, Rockwood Institute, Dismantling Racism, Landmark Education, Circus Yoga Ring One, and Willow Street Yoga's 400-hr Teacher Training. Susan is a (divorced) co-parent of two humans with two moms, which is a privilege as well as the hardest school/self-improvement program of all.
Susan considers whistling tunes, practicing handstands, dancing salsa, basing flyers, baking muffins, provoking LOLz, juggling scarves, listening to Lin-Manuel, snuggling cats, quaffing caffeine, breathing, and taking walks outside as key wellness strategies.
You can always reach her the ol-fashioned way,
202-246-5336 (talk or text)
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more words from Susan:
An archived Washington Post chat on "Benefits of Recess"
A TechSoup blog based on her Zoom Fatigue rec's
2018 podcast w/ Jakub Górnicki: Burnout Among Activists
2021 Ty & Susan on Northstar Sleep School: Teacher Wellness
2021 Nonprofit Radio: Team-Care
2021 NTC Training session
Susan's hybrid skills coached me through an inflection point in my tenure as Executive Director. I was navigating internal organizational challenges and external barriers at the federal level. Susan applied her 25+ years managing non-profits, navigating shifting landscapes and fundraising (always fundraising) to lay a more sustainable course for GHF.
Most importantly, she integrated it with my personal health and family goals, all in a few short months.
--Amy Livingston, Global Health Foundation
As my first boss in the nonprofit field 15 years ago, Susan developed my voice as a grant writer and instilled in me the power of storytelling.
These essential lessons informed who I am as a fundraiser today. Supported by Susan's early coaching and continued mentorship I am now a development professional!
-- Anne Morgan, Consultant, Seattle, Washington
"As a resident physician, burnout is a huge problem and very difficult to combat given our crazy hours. Susan gave great insight and had a wonderfully interactive workshop.
I think if everyone took a few minutes out of their day to relax and play, we would all be happier. It is a powerful tool to combat resident burnout."
-- Dr. Ferrin Ruiz, coordinator of Med/Peds Residents Conference at UCLA
"Back in the 90s, Susan introduced our unwilling office staff to “chair yoga” and “mindfulness” and we all groaned. Today, my best days begin with a meditative walk through the quiet, snowy woods, and I understand why Susan embraced early mind-body-spirit integration as a burnout prevention tool. "
--Rani Sheaffer, Maine Conservation Voters
Yes. I'm the kid of a swimming coach and a physical therapist. I've had this name for 48 years. I've spent a half a century learning workout skills from my dad and nutrition and posture skills from my mom. I learned yoga on my own (I still have terrible posture, though. Sorry, Mom).
Now, as facilitators, we love getting people outside of their "Comfort zones," which is where learning happens. Tyecia Powell (above) and I appreciate and often provoke uncomfortable conversations or physical movements that challenge people and challenge conventions.
Everyone must take their physical and mental health into their own hands (self-care).
It's even better when a team takes care of each other (team-care).
That's why we're here -- to draw that out of any group.
Get in touch:
"Susan's presentation was super fun and a timely reminder to breathe during these challenging times. She delivered up the right mix of interaction, laughs, a-ha moments and brain science to make it a highly enjoyable brown bag lunch training."
--Suzanne Ehlers, President & CEO, PAI
"A fun and informative session, that provided not only science backed research, but connected that to the needs for breaks to prevent burnout, and highlighted the type of breaks that help us most recharge." --PA, Development & Finance Manager, national justice organization
“We all need breaks, especially ones that involve moving around and having a little fun. Susan got us started on the concept with Playworks’ recess program. And now, thanks to her talk, we keep juggling scarves in our break room to encourage employees to take a moment for play. What a fun, engaging session Susan provided! Can’t wait to have her back again.”
-- Rachel Gaur, Sr. Manager, Facilities and Events, Promontory Interfinancial Network
"As a resident physician, burnout is a huge problem and very difficult to combat given our crazy hours. Susan gave great insight and had a wonderfully interactive workshop. I think if everyone took a few minutes out of their day to relax and play, we would all be happier. It is a powerful tool to combat resident burnout."
-- Dr. Ferrin Ruiz, coordinator of Med/Peds Residents Conference at UCLA
"I really enjoyed your talk “the new smoke break” at the CPA conference last week. Great information, great class interaction, and you are an excellent speaker. More people need to hear your message. A great quote I heard from a Buddhist monk “I see a lot of humans coming and going, but not a lot of humans being”. The ceaseless activity of modern life breeds disease of mind and body. Everyone needs to take time to smell the roses…before the roses wither up and die, or before they do. Keep up the great work and keep spreading the message. We need it now more than ever.
p.s. I have mastered the thumb/index finger exercise by the way!" --B.M. (Johnstown, PA)
Susan can deliver Take Five as a 30- or 45-minute brown bag, 60-minute keynote, or 2-hour workshop. Longer versions have more activities and small group work. Appropriate for groups large or small. Contact email@example.com
I’ve been attending your Tuesday webinars and have been loving them. My team and I are in charge of promoting wellness and self/team-care across our campus and one of our biggest goals is trying to get people to take a break! Tuesday’s #TakeFive was right on point and gave me a lot of ideas to promote with our staff.
(Upper Peninsula, MI)
In 2022, while Susan's hometown of Baltimore was announcing a painted streets-and-sidewalks initiative, our little Takoma Park neighborhood covid project -- a movement sidewalk and native plant mural -- got declared graffiti and power-washed.
However, it revealed the need for a City process for future community art projects. And it energized young activists, who held a mayoral forum on issues about young people.
So far, young people in Takoma Park have not been prioritized by Mayor Searcy and a mostly-new Takoma Park City Council. We're gathering comments and ideas for young people to move this forward:
In summer 2021, I commissioned local teens to paint native plants on 50 feet of Lincoln Ave retaining wall. Its rainbow approach affirmed and reflected the artists, my own, and the neighborhood's queer-ness.
Why did my mural get power-washed when other people's retaining wall murals get to stay? It's professional art, after all, I paid for it.
Here's my Medium piece about the graffiti rebellion, and another about the native plant mural. This editorial explains the controversy which happened after a dcist article and TV coverage of the sidewalk and mural last days of the fight. One of the TV reporters brilliantly got me to say that it was an "unanticipated civics lesson" (take the survey, left).
We have a five person staff and I shared many of the highlights from the first three weeks at our staff meeting today. They love it. Thank you so much for providing this series. It’s outstanding. (KW, Michigan)
Wellness is a multivitamin for empathy, productivity, and trust.
Rooted in the Tinkergarten curriculum, Susan offers outdoor nature classes for little kids (2-7) at Casa Comfort in Takoma Park.
We're honoring plants, animals and fung, and teaching each other about the ecosystem and climate resilience.
Trained in a variety of styles, Susan brings a blend of rigor, playfulness, acro, and music to her yoga classes.
The instruction is mostly in English with a smattering of Spanish and Sanskrit.
Susan's nonprofit management, fundraising, facilitating, curriculum, and team-building advice rests on three decades of real-world education and nonprofit experience. She co-founded the 501(c)3 Nonprofit Wellness with Ty Powell.