Guided by the North Star of tikkun olam
Ambassador Suzi Levine
Born 1969, Chester, Pa.; Arrived in Washington, 1993
Today, Suzan LeVine serves as the Ambassador for the United States to the Swiss Confederation and the Principality of Liechtenstein, but her journey to the U.S. Embassy in Geneva came through her Jewish life in Seattle.
During her time at Brown University, Suzi was very involved in Hillel, including a term as Jewish Student Union president. So when she arrived in Seattle to work for Microsoft, she quickly sought Jewish community. She found herself face to face with Rabbi Dan Bridge, then-executive director of Hillel at the University of Washington, whom she’d met during her Brown years.
She became involved in Grads Plus (the pre-cursor to Jconnect) at UW Hillel and, spurred on by Rabbi Dan, Michele Rosen, and Noah Tratt, became a board member and then, many years later, the board chair. It was also through Hillel that Suzi met her husband, Eric.
“The moment when Rabbi Dan introduced himself to Eric and gave him a giant bear hug was part of why, I think, Eric actually decided to marry me!” she says.
But Suzi expanded her involvement beyond Hillel. She also got involved through Amy Schottenstein and Jeff Greenstein in the Young Leadership Division at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. And, when pregnant with her second child, she didn’t feel like nursing her baby through another Hillel High Holiday service, she began to seek out a new Jewish home.
“In true engineering fashion, I put together my interview questions and my checklist and prepared to interview rabbis to determine where we would join,” Suzi says. “But I only made it to one rabbi – Rachel Nussbaum.”
Rachel told her, “What you’re looking for doesn’t exist, but if you do find it, let me know—because I want that too!”
So in 2006, after a lot of planning and groundwork, Suzi and Rachel launched The Kavana Cooperative, an innovative religious, learning and social action organization that today is “informing and collaborating on much of the innovative Jewish community building happening across the United States,” Suzi says.
At the same time Suzi was rethinking her religious community, she was also becoming more politically active. She joined community member Michele Rosen at a conference in Chicago for an advocacy group focused on Israel, reproductive rights and the separation of church and state. During that conference she met the junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.
“I was so moved by our meeting that I called Eric that evening and shared that when Senator Obama ran for president, I would do everything in my power to get him elected,” Suzi says.
True to her word, she became a campaign organizer, co-chaired multiple groups including Jews for Obama, and traveled the country to register and mobilize voters. So, after Obama won his second term, “President Obama and his team asked me if I would serve as Ambassador to Switzerland,” she says. “On June 2, 2014, the LeVine family arrived in Switzerland.”
Today you’ll find Suzi all over two the countries she works with, meeting with leaders and regular citizens alike to promote the U.S. and share our cultures. Her husband Eric, she says, has been an essential partner in her success and sharing her values of Tikkun Olam.
“It has been incredibly humbling and inspiring to be able to do that, along with my family, in this capacity of Ambassador for the United States,” she says.