Susan Porter is the Antelope Valley Account Executive of United Way of Los Angeles.

Dr. John Porter is Assistant Superintendent, Special Education/Student Services of Palmdale School District. He is a second generation employee of the Palmdale School District. His mother, the late Carolyn Porter, was a long-time 1st and 2nd grade teacher at Manzanita School. Dr. Porter attended both Manzanita School and Juniper School before being promoted to Palmdale High School, where he was elected freshman class president and later, president of the Associated Student Body.

Sue Porter’s diversified career began as she became one of the first women certified by the California Association of Nurserymen for her first career years in landscaping. She worked for Hollywood studios, creating landscape effects for many projects. She established the first floral department for Alpha Beta Supermarkets – and there is a floral department today in every supermarket.

Her career shifted when her creativity led her to leading organizations in crafts, design and arts. “These were my happiest days,” said Sue, “helping others explore their own artistic expression.”

Once she became a mother, she shifted to working in the retail industry. While working for Hughes’ Markets, she was spotted by a job headhunter and was recruited to lead a group of volunteers working at a gift shop in Northridge Hospital. “It’s so different, inspiring volunteers and training them,” she said.
Retail work gave Sue the time to devote to her daughter’s schools. She was a volunteer at Highland High School and became a member of the school site council and PTA. Later, she co-chaired a bond measure to increase the high school districts’ resources. She became a member of the Superintendent’s Parents’ Council. For her many efforts, she was awarded the California Congress PTA’s Outstanding Service Award for her service to children.

Along the way, she supported her daughter’s cheerleading and sports programs. Another young father was there, supporting his son’s sports activities. Here she met a wonderful man who shares her zest for children and families – she and John were married in 1998. “We learned later that we were often at the same games, cheering on our kids,” said Sue. “For years our paths had been crossing, but we didn’t know it.”

During her 10 years working with Dillard’s Department Store in Palmdale, she mentored employees and led sales teams, developing a positive culture among staff which washed over to customers. Her creativity again led her to be promoted to customer relations in sales, service and satisfaction.

For many years, Sue led the store’s United Way campaign, encouraging staff members to give to those less fortunate. She was made Ambassador of the Year by United Way for her strong fund-raising. This led to her being hired by United Way of Greater Los Angeles, where she has worked since 2008.

Encouraging young people to strive for goals has always been a part of Sue’s life. She mentored a young volunteer at United Way to set and reach for education and today she is proud to see this young woman working at a job she loves.

Volunteering is “not something I have to do, but want to do,” says Sue. She is a life member of the Palmdale City Library, Lancaster Performing Arts Center, and Palmdale Partners Academy. She has volunteered with the Palmdale Sheriff Boosters, Kiwanis, AV Partners for Health and LM Aero Club. She is a member of the community advisory board of Antelope Valley College, has counted the homeless on census days, and served families at Grace Resource Center. “What I see is giving families a good start when they are between 20 and 25,” she shared. “You can see it in their eyes – the fear that that cannot cope or survive. It’s something that makes me reach out and encourage them.”

“It’s very hard for me to be on the receiving end of things,” she said, talking about the CASA Child Advocacy Award, “But every volunteer opportunity I get involved with has to impact a child in some way. They’re innocent and they need the leadership.”

After high school, Dr. Porter attended Antelope Valley College, before earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Long Beach. For graduate studies, Dr. Porter earned a Master of Arts degree in Special Education from California State University, Northridge. He later earned a Doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California, where he was honored for academic excellence by being inducted as a lifetime member into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

Prior to his appointment as Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Porter served the District as a Special Education teacher, a Special Education Program Specialist, an Assistant Principal and Special Education Director.

Dr. Porter is active in the community and serves on the boards of directors for the Palmdale West Kiwanis Club (where he is also Vice President) and the Lancaster Performing Arts Center Foundation. Additionally, he is a lifetime member of the Friends of the Palmdale City Library (and a former director), a member of the Palmdale Sheriffs Boosters and is a former Board of Directors member of the Antelope Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Lastly, Dr. Porter was recognized by the Association of California State Administrators (ACSA) as the 2011 Special Education Administrator of the Year for Region 15. More recently, Dr. Porter was honored in 2012 by being inducted into the Palmdale High School Hall of Fame.

Click here to read John Porter’s speech at the dinner.