It is with the deepest sadness that CSBA shares news of the death of former 2021 President Suzanne Kitchens. Suzanne passed quietly with her family on Sunday, May 23, just two weeks after she resigned her post as CSBA President due to health issues. It is characteristic of Suzanne’s dedication to children that she continued to work on their behalf in her final days as she battled ovarian cancer.
The suddenness of Suzanne’s passing only accentuates the grief and CSBA sends its most heartfelt condolences to her family as they cope with this loss. At age 67, Suzanne was full of the curiosity, joy and passion we hope to nurture in all California students, and it seemed she had so much life left to live. Suzanne’s empathy and compassion were badges of honor that made an impression on everyone who knew her. Suzanne accomplished more in nearly seven decades than most people do in several lifetimes and it is clear she made the most of her time here on earth. Suzanne leaves a tremendous legacy for her family, her community and CSBA as a public servant, an advocate for students and, most of all, as an incredibly kind and caring person.
Suzanne’s resignation announcement shared her long history of commitment to California’s public schools as a parent, a volunteer, a local trustee, chair of numerous CSBA committees, a member of our Board of Directors and, finally, as CSBA President. These titles, however, pale in comparison to Suzanne’s great achievement, which was her profound humanity and concern for others. It is that selflessness and desire to make the world a better place that we will remember most fondly when we think of Suzanne.
As CSBA mourns Suzanne, we should also recall her devotion to the well-being and enrichment of students — a principle at the very heart of our work. Suzanne embodied the phrase “carpe diem,” yet she seized the day not for herself, but for the betterment of others. The greatest honor that can be bestowed upon Suzanne’s passing is to emulate her passion for life, for children, for learning and for California’s public schools.