Image of Susan Hammer JD'76

Susan Hammer JD'76 passed away on August 26, 2020. Susan served as a trustee of Willamette from 1999–2012. She was a devoted supporter of Willamette University, particularly the College of Law, who served in many capacities to support and further the work of the law school.

After graduating in 1976 from Willamette University College of Law, Susan served as the law clerk for Justice James Dolliver on the Washington State Supreme Court. She began practicing commercial litigation and employment law at Stoel Rives in 1978. During her 20 years with the firm, she became just the seventh woman to become a partner, making her one of the first women to be made partner at a major Portland law firm.

Susan's dedication and commitment naturally led her to leadership roles in all of the organizations she served. As became the first female president of the Multnomah Bar Association, she created the Committee on the Status of Women to respond to the needs of a growing number of women attorneys, including issues of work/family balance, parental leave, and gender discrimination. Susan also received the Professionalism Award during her time with the Multnomah Bar Association.

Susan was also deeply committed to community service and did extensive pro bono work. In 1987 she became one of the earliest recipients of the Oregon Commission for Women, Women Achievement Award. Then, in 1991, she was honored by Willamette with an Alumni Citation for Distinguished Achievement in Law & Public-Service.

She mediated thousands of cases over two decades and served as a senior fellow at the Willamette University Center for Dispute Resolution. Since 2001, she has been a distinguished fellow for the International Academy of Mediators. She served on the academy’s board and received its national recognition, the Presidential Honor Award, in 2012 and 2014. Susan was listed in the top tier of The Best Lawyers in America and was named Oregon Mediation "Lawyer of the Year" in 2012.

In addition to serving as an outstanding leader in her field, Susan was a leader in her community. She served as chair for the board of Planned Parenthood Columbia-Willamette. Under her leadership, the organization expanded from five to nine health care centers. Susan was the first person to be honored with the Planned Parenthood Susan Hammer Award for Transformative Leadership, named in her honor to recognize her leadership.

Learn more about Susan Hammer’s impact on our community.

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