Staff Dedication: Susan DeCostanza

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Susan DeCostanza

This past December, our very own Susan DeCostanza was honored with Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI)’s Distinguished PILI Alumni Award. This is just one of the many awards Susan has been honored with and deserves. Susan has been with CVLS since 2010, working tirelessly to provide access to justice. She currently is the Director of our Adult Guardianship program and has been an invaluable support to our volunteers and staff alike. If you spoke to anyone who worked with Susan, they would sing nothing but praises about her work, her kindness, her mentorship, and her leadership.

But sometimes, life takes you to unexpected places. With a heavy heart we tell you that Susan will be transitioning out of her role at CVLS and will be starting a new journey at Ruben M. Garcia & Associate, LTD. Susan will always be a part of the CVLS family, and don’t be surprised if you still see her around our office. Because Susan has made such a lasting impact at CVLS, we have asked some of our staff to say how Susan impacted them the most or their favorite Susan story. We’ll miss you, Susan. We know you’ll be successful no matter what you do or where you work.

“First of all—everyone will agree that Susan is the nicest person at CVLS. And, we have a lot of nice staff people so you can imagine how nice Susan is to be on top. Second, she started the CVLS book club! It was a fabulous idea and very popular for a while. Susan always brought snacks and, sometimes, wine to help the discussion flow along. The book club petered out only because no one could agree on which books to read. Not agreeing on something is very CVLS but we all loved the meetings, snacks and wine.

Seriously though, I am going to miss Susan’s optimism, her smile, her practical advice, her willingness to always pitch in and help and her steadfast kindness. Susan is a great attorney and a great person.“

-Margaret Benson, Executive Director

“It was CVLS’ 40th anniversary event. As with all of our events, staff becomes jacks of all trades - toters, haulers, organizers, solicitors… As always, Susan dives in and is as diverse a laborer as ever. As we are picking up and getting ready to return to the offices, I can tell she’s even a little more diligent and nimble than normal, talking to staff to ensure that everything gets back to the office. She also seems most interested in ensuring that the leftover alcohol is on the first load back. As she is wont to do, she subtly nudges and prods and ensures everyone is into the kitchen - and then my office – and then the real 40th celebration begins. She is the perfect dichotomy – wonderfully supportive but also a bit of an imp; hard working but ready to party. CVLS is losing one of our best, but I will always have a compatriot.“

-Phil Mohr, Deputy Director

“Susan’s case load is rife with heart wrenching issues involving minor children and vulnerable elderly and disabled adults. Her clients range from unappreciative and demanding to dependent and nonverbal. Many have profound disabling or terminal conditions. Some live in dreary or deplorable conditions. It is easy in dealing with these cases to be overwhelmed by the parties’ hopelessness and misfortune. Susan’s compassion and dedication to her clients is obvious, but her optimism and sense of humor make her such a success and a joy to work with. We will miss her smile and ability to talk about gloomy cases and difficult clients in a respectful, non-judgmental and optimistic manner.“

-Peter Ashmore, Managing Attorney

“I initially refused to participate in this tribute because I have not yet moved beyond the denial phase regarding Susan’s pending departure from CVLS. But I will say that everyone loves Susan and we all wish we could be like her, but let’s face it, folks—it’s never going to happen. None of us are as kind, patient, humble, calm, poised, empathetic, understanding, dedicated and diligent as she is. We are all better people for knowing her (mostly because we have to behave ourselves to not look terrible by comparison). CVLS will not be the same without her; in fact the organization may very well devolve into chaos. TBD. We will miss her dearly and we are already plotting to make her do massive amounts of pro bono. I’m sure she would do it regardless, because: (1) she doesn’t know how to bill hours and (2) she gives of herself so completely every day of her life while expecting nothing in return. Susan is a true servant leader, and I am so grateful to have worked with her for the past eight years.“

-Rebekah Rashidfarokhi, Director, Guardian ad Litem for Minors

“I have worked with Susan the entire time I have been at CVLS. I consider her part of the foundation of CVLS and I am not quite sure how things will be around here without her. I have seen Susan handle the most difficult of situations with an even temper and sheer grace. We are all very fortunate to have worked with her. She is always a part of the CVLS family and will be greatly missed by every single person here.“

-Kristen Harrison, Panel Referral Program Coordinator

“I could go on all day in praise of Susan because she is one of the best people I know. However, I will focus on one of the qualities I admire most in her -- how she interacts with people. She can relate to anyone, calm them down, provide guidance, and even lay down the law if she needs to; but no matter what she does, she always has such an innate empathy for every individual. We could all aspire to be the same.“

-Jessica Engle, Office Manager

“When I started at CVLS as just an intern, I would listen to Susan make phone calls and think, “I don’t know how she does it. No matter what is thrown at her she is calm, collected and kind.” I would watch in amazement as she would handle the most difficult situation with grace and many times diffuse what seemed to be an untenable situation. As I listened, I hoped I would get to work with her more. I looked at her as who I wanted to be when I was a “real attorney”. Years later, I am still amazed with who she is and her everlasting kindness. I am so lucky to have gotten to be counseled and taught by Susan and to have been able to work alongside her every day.“

-Debi Filipovich, Staff Attorney, Guardian ad Litem for Minors

“I have had the honor and the privilege to work with Susan since starting at CVLS. Susan has been a mentor and a friend, helping me navigate everything from the probate system to personal relationships. Her commitment to my professional growth inspires me to strive to be the most compassionate and impactful lawyer I can be.

I am excited for Susan to embark on her next chapter and know it will bring her great success, but I will miss her presence at CVLS dearly.“

-Deepa Arora, Staff Attorney, Guardian ad Litem for Adults

“Some people can’t help but be an inspiration to others. They give without taking. They help without needing to be asked. The truly great ones are born with an empathy that isn’t reserved for friends and family. Susan is one of those people and I have had the priviledge to have been able to call her a colleague and friend for almost a decade. She will be missed more than she knows.”

-Matt Pollock, Director, Communications