As one of the first women to attend Kenyon in 1969, Susan Emery McGannon ’72 is accustomed to blazing trails. After college, she graduated from Vanderbilt Law School and has been a partner in a Nashville law firm, an in-house general counsel for a municipal self-insurance entity she helped create, and then the city attorney for Murfreesboro, Tennessee, before retiring in 2015. Along the way, she has been active in elected and appointed positions with professional and community organizations.

Major at Kenyon: Religion

Hometown: Westport, Connecticut

Current Residence: Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Occupation: Attorney

Professional Motto: On my first day as city attorney, I told my staff that I wanted us to “Do excellent work, ethically, efficiently, and, to the extent we could, enjoyably.”

Personal Motto: “Be Prepared.” (From the Girl Scouts)

Proudest Accomplishments: In my first year as a lawyer I decided to organize and host a breakfast for new admittees to the bar with our state Supreme Court justices. This led, several breakfasts and years later, to the formation of a bar organization focusing on issues of concern to women. The organization, the Lawyers Association for Women-Marion Griffith Chapter, was a model for other such organizations in the state (two of which I also founded), which have been very influential in getting more women on the bench and in other positive changes.

My closest Kenyon friends would describe me as: Helpful, quiet, thorough, inquisitive, a good friend to have; calm, constantly and quickly reading; shy, logical, witty; “goody two-shoes.”

Anything else? There were many “opportunities for growth” (a.k.a. challenges) as one of a few sophomore women at Kenyon in the fall of 1969, and I “grew” as a result. Being the only woman in a classroom made it much easier for me to be the only woman in a courtroom. I will always be grateful to Kenyon for making me a lifelong learner. However, I still regret the things I did not do and the questions I did not ask; don’t be afraid of being different/difficult. Moreover, it is seldom convenient to be active in professional, community or political organizations; do it anyway.

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