Suzi Wizowaty was born in Ohio in 1954, grew up mostly in Texas and Europe (Lausanne, Paris, Madrid), and currently lives in Shelburne, Vermont, with her partner of forty-two years, a dog and a cat.
She went to Princeton University in 1971 but left in the middle for two years to live in a Zen house in San Francisco, where she also studied voice and attended the S.F. Opera several times a week, standing in the back. She graduated from Princeton with a BA in anthropology in 1977. After a brief stint at the University of Chicago/Meadville Seminary, she left to pursue a different spiritual and intellectual path. Some years later (1985) she earned a master's from Goddard College, in Jewish Feminist Studies and Creative Writing.
Suzi has spent her professional life working in some way or other with books and ideas. She has run a bookstore, written for a newspaper, edited college publications, and worked as a program and outreach librarian. She served as the Vermont Humanities Council's program director for nearly five years and worked with Vermont Works for Women as associate director.
Around the edges, she has taught writing since 1985. Aside from one temporary, full-time stint at Goddard, she has worked exclusively as an adjunct instructor, to both traditional college-age students and older adults--at Trinity, Goddard, Burlington, Champlain, and St. Michael's colleges. She has also led hundreds of book discussions through the state's humanities council in public libraries; "Literature & Medicine" program in several Vermont hospitals; and regular poetry workshops in Vermont prisons.
She has had three novels published--The Round Barn, A Tour of Evil (see links at right or above) and The Return of Jason Green. The Round Barn was a BookSense 76 pick. Another unpublished novel won the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries in 1985.
Suzi's interest in public service evolved out of her experience working in the prisons. Getting to know some of the inmates made her question the workings of the criminal justice system: surely there were better alternatives to prison. She ran for the Vermont House of Representatives in 2008 and won. After a term on the health care committee she was able to move to the judiciary committee, where she served as clerk. In her last two terms she was able to focus on criminal justice issues.
In 2013, Suzi founded a non-profit called Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform, with two focuses. First, it convened a coalition of 25+ non-profits and departments of state government in order to effect greater change. Second, it attempted to build a grassroots movement in support of reform. The organization filled a hole--no other group in the state focused specifically on criminal justice reform--and succeeded in raising awareness of multiple issues and in giving criminal justice-involved men and women a voice. In July, 2017, she stepped down from VCJR, leaving behind a strong organization in the hands of new leadership.
In 2020, in addition to navigating the pandemic, Suzi and Joan sold their house and moved to a new community, and then, after Suzi's mother died a few months later, they cleared out that house and sold it. Finally settled in their new home and community, Suzi rather hopes some other writing project will emerge, but who knows? It was quite a year.