SPU staff members of the month are nominated by their peers and selected by Staff Council. If you would like to nominate a person for this recognition, proceed to the nomination page.
Meet the SPU Staff Member of the Month for March 2013
Susan Okamoto Lane
Director of Multi-Ethnic Programs
In August Susan Okamoto Lane will celebrate 30 years at Seattle Pacific University, and she enjoys her work here now more than ever.
Many elements in Susan’s life paved the way for her role with Multi-Ethnic Programs (MEP). From childhood she understood that her parents missed out on college because they were among the Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. She knows from her family’s experience that injustice can happen on the basis of race.
Susan grew up in the shadow of St. James Cathedral and Harborview Medical Center. Her Seattle credentials include Meany Middle School, Lincoln High School, and the University of Washington. After completing a Master’s in Special Education at Lewis and Clark in Portland, Susan taught hearing impaired elementary-age students, then attended Regent College in Vancouver, BC, and earned a Diploma in Christian Studies. Following that she worked in a job placement program for deaf adults.
She volunteered for many years with SE Asian refugees in the Seattle area, and saw the value of extending friendship and providing support, encouragement, and “navigational” help to newcomers. Here at SPU, Susan coordinated internships in the School of Business & Economics, and held several positions in the Center for Career & Calling. Experiences like these have helped her understand her mission in life is “helping people take the next step,” whether it’s learning new skills, finding a job, getting around in a new culture, or identifying a career. Now she enjoys welcoming students from ethnically and culturally diverse backgrounds into the SPU community, introducing them to new friends and resources, and challenging them to take advantage of the opportunities available at SPU.
Many students served by MEP are the first in their families to attend college. “The opportunity to go to college is a precious thing,” Susan acknowledges, “but it can be intimidating for students from families unfamiliar with higher education. That’s something we can address in a setting like SPU.” Part of her strategy is to come alongside students, staff, and faculty as a friend, an encourager, and a bridge-builder. It’s no wonder Susan has a reputation on campus as a strong advocate, as a person of integrity and kindness, as a clear communicator, and as one who gets the job done.
Susan wants to help others “put feet on” the University's commitment to ethnic diversity. “It’s wonderful to see SPU's faculty, staff, student leaders, and administrators embrace SPU’s increasingly diverse population. Supporting and learning from one another deepens the educational experience for all of us,” she says.
In her free time, Susan enjoys cooking, reading, gardening, reading, and good time with good friends — and reading. If the house was on fire, she would grab the 16-quart stock pot she uses to make things like her famous African Peanut Stew, a staple at quarterly study breaks hosted by MEP. And you can often find Susan with a bowl of homemade soup or stew in her office after circuit training.
Susan and Tom have been married 27 years and live near Lincoln Park in West Seattle. Their daughter Lauren is an SPU freshman, and son Zack (17) is doing Running Start as a junior at Chief Sealth Int’l High School. Susan and Tom are also “neighborhood grandparents” to the kids of their younger friends in West Seattle.
Please join Staff Council in congratulating Susan Okamoto Lane as Staff of the Month!