Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp has met and conquered significant challenges throughout her life. Her experiences have molded her into a “street smart” and pragmatic leader with a reputation for bringing people from diverse backgrounds together to tackle problems.
Suzanne was raised by her widowed mother and lived in low-income, rental housing through her teenage years. At 16 she took her first job at a manufacturing company to help cover the bills. During those years, she learned the basics of conservative financial management by learning from her mother how to divide up the household earnings – literally with dollar bills on the kitchen table – into stacks for food, rent, utilities, clothing and occasional leisure activities. Their budget left little room for deviation and no room for overspending.
After four years in a clerical position, she was struck down on the way to work in a life-threatening pedestrian accident. While struggling through more than three months of hospitalization, she realized how preciously short life could be. During recovery she developed a life-changing plan to educate herself out of poverty by devising a path to graduate in three years with a degree in English and Journalism from the university in her hometown of Evansville, IN.
Upon graduation, she began her career at Whirlpool Corporation serving in a variety of management positions. She took a leave of absence to get her MBA degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, and while there, she hosted a television show about real estate development and worked as a business writer for the Dallas Times Herald. When she returned to Whirlpool, she was named the company spokesman, the first female to serve in the position, for the city’s largest employer with 9,000 people.
After graduating in the first Leadership Evansville (LE) class, Suzanne became intimately involved in LE and leadership development, becoming the first graduate to be President of the organization. She headed a public/private task force in the late 70’s that began the effort to redevelop the downtown riverfront area and served on numerous local boards in leadership positions. One of those board positions was for the Deaconess Hospital Foundation, the same hospital that cared for her about a decade before.
Suzanne moved to Scottsdale 21 years ago becoming a small business owner with her husband Tim. Drawing on her love for examining and solving local issues that directly impact local people she became civically engaged and focused on municipal government.
She was elected to the City Council in 2008 and re-elected in 2012 and 2016. As a Councilwoman her primary concerns are economic development and job creation, strategic planning, conservative fiscal and regulatory policies, and citizen leadership development.
She currently serves on the City Council’s Capital Improvement Projects Subcommittee and was recently appointed to the Council’s Economic Development Subcommittee.
She is a graduate of Valley Leadership, serves on the board of Valley Metro’s Regional Public Transit Authority (RPTA) and Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Transportation Policy Committee. In 2018, along with Councilman Guy Phillips, she successfully led a ballot measure to fund numerous critical street infrastructure projects throughout the Scottsdale.
Suzanne has a particular affinity for helping older adults, partly because her childhood neighborhood was full of elderly people who were like family and watched over her. She was a caregiver for her elderly mother for about a decade and gained understanding about working with people with dementia. In the fall of 2018, Suzanne developed and aired a series of videos on Channel 11 and the City’s website focusing on senior centers and services for seniors including senior transportation options in Scottsdale. She and several other residents and city human services staff members formed an Age Friendly Scottsdale Committee about seven years ago. She volunteers for Duet, the non-profit agency for older adults, providing respite visits for the elderly and their caregivers. In addition, she formed a committee in her Scottsdale Mountain Community Association called Neighbors helping Neighbors that provides services to homebound elderly and physically impaired people.
She credits her mother, her minister, several teachers, her doctor, her first two bosses and other business colleagues and friends for mentoring her and helping her realize a better future.