Trustee Susanna E. Lachs
Perhaps Susanna Lachs, J.D. ’78, was destined to be a trustee.
After all, she grew up in a family where higher education was the family business. Her father was a congregational rabbi-turned-scholar who became a religion professor at Bryn Mawr College. Later her mother also joined Bryn Mawr’s faculty as a history professor.
When it came time for Lachs to go to college, she picked Penn, where she was an English major.
“Being that my parents were both academics, I thought it was possible that I would follow them in some academic pursuit,” she recalled. Still tentative, she went on to earn a master’s at Penn’s Annenberg School of Communications. And somewhere in the mix, a professor suggested that she might consider law as a career. A light went on.
“This was in 1974; a career in law had never occurred to me,” she said.
This time she turned to Temple. Lachs said that it was here that she “blossomed,” particularly in the school’s much-touted trial advocacy program.
“I decided that there was nothing I’d rather be than a courtroom lawyer,” she says. That led to an impressive career with two of the area’s influential law firms. Twenty-two years’ worth of trial work later, she retired.
By then, she had a husband (Dean Adler is a partner in Lubert-Adler, the real estate development company that built student apartments in Temple’s Kardon Building), two daughters, and a desire to give something back.
“I had achieved success in my profession and had had a great deal of invaluable experience, so now was the opportunity for me to volunteer my time to the community and to the institutions that had been instrumental in my life.”
Temple is just one of those institutions for which she currently serves as an officer. That long list includes the Trustees’ Council of Penn Women, Temple Adath Israel, the Shipley School, and the Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education.
Giving back to Temple started when plans were under way for her law school 20th reunion.
“We are a very tight-knit, collegial group, some of whom are my lifelong friends,” Lachs said.
“Our class president, Ken Krenicky [J.D. ’78], approached me about fundraising for what would be called the Class of 1978 Scholarship Fund. As a result, I became involved in the Law School’s development effort and asked Dean Bob Reinstein, who had been my professor and was someone I admired, what he needed. ‘More scholarships,’ he replied.
“So I decided to be a leader and a role model in supporting the school financially,” she said. “My involvement expanded when I was invited to become a member of the Beasley School of Law’s Board of Visitors.”
In June 2004, she joined the University’s Board of Trustees, where she serves on the academic affairs, development, and budget and finance committees. In addition, Lachs was asked to head the volunteer office as director of the Conwell Society, that category of Temple boosters who donate $1,000 or more to the University.
“My daughters think that I still work full time,” she said. “And in some respects, I do. But now I’m doing giveback work. I feel fortunate that I am able to do it.”
- By Ray Betzner