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Community from Nubi to Concord

Sue with Squirt and Magic at Nubi

It’s hard to meet anyone in Peterborough who doesn’t know Sue. Having lived in Peterborough for 41 years, she has deep ties to the community through her lively, fun and dedicated engagement with the Well School, with the Monadnock Tennis Club, Peterborough Players (a professional theater), and in her work on town committees.

But what many may not know about her is how her work radiates beyond the immediate Nubi neighborhood, and the surrounding town to impact the broader community of New Hampshire. “I have a need for making my life purposeful and contributing to bettering life for all of us,” reflects Sue.

“My story starts with the death of my husband in 1991,” says Sue. “I was living alone on a large farm house with 170 acres and 2 llamas. What would I do to recover from the depths of my devastation?”

The answer for Sue lay in discovering and pursuing two vastly different passions in her life: horses and leadership of nonprofit organizations.

“As I got stronger and began to recover, I visited a ranch in Moose, Wyoming,” says Sue. “The first day the cowboys put me on Squirt [a small paint horse]. Three years later I returned and begged them to let me buy him and bring him to New Hampshire.” This decision started Sue on the path of caring for and riding her own and other peoples’ horses and sharing her passion with others, including many kids and adults at Nubi. (See blog entry regarding the Horse Program for 2012.)

Before her husband’s death, Sue already knew that she loved contributing to nonprofit boards, as she was chairing the board of the Peterborough Players. But she wanted to expand this area of interest as a part of her recovery. “I retired from teaching and began a year-long program called ‘Leadership NH,’ started by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.” Participants spend a year attending monthly meetings, each with a different focus, featuring speakers on the arts, for example, or healthcare, law, the court system.

Sue learned a lot about how things get done in New Hampshire and got to know many leaders throughout the state. At the end of the program, she received a call from New Hampshire’s Attorney General. Though she initially panicked (thinking “What have I done?”), it turned out he was calling to ask her to interview for the board of a start-up health care foundation to serve the people of NH. As a trained nurse, Sue found this opportunity to be perfect.

“I rattled around the house and found an old black suit and my husband’s briefcase.” She learned they were interviewing over 250 people for only 15 positions. “I didn’t have any letters after my name or special experience, but I did let him know I’d love to be on the board.” A month later, the Attorney General called again to say, “I’ll take a chance on you.”

The work on the board of Endowment for Health has been central to Sue’s life for the last 12 years. Since that first year of working intensively to help start up the organization, Sue has been the chair twice and learned lots about nonprofit organizations and how to put forward a political agenda. She has also been involved on other boards, including for the boarding school she attended and recently she has joined the board of NHPR.

Sue needs to connect strongly with the nonprofits that she works with. “I love the challenge of solving problems. I love the leadership of a group. I have the skills of working together with others toward goals.”

As her friends began aging and moving into condos, Sue resisted joining them because she recognized how important it is for her to have an integral role in taking care of her horses. So when Nubi came along and offered a ready-made community of people and a farm, she was thrilled. She also appreciates that she is able to keep her private time and her many friendships beyond the neighborhood.

Within the neighborhood, Sue has been part of “Nubi Crones,” a group and listserv made up of the community’s self-identified wise older women. “We do things together, some social, some for the benefit of neighborhood.”

Nubi kids' climbing tree

Sue has no grandchildren, so having kids around her is uplifting. “I love the ‘talking tree,’ especially in the summer when the kids hide in it; I often hear a giggle, and they’ve even dropped a water bomb on me.” Sue particularly loves summers at Nubi, when kids are in the barn and she able to give lessons and share her love of horses.

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