Notable alumni profile: susan balding, am'14

The DC Alumni Association will be recognizing notable, local alumni each month.

Susan Balding received a master’s in Religious Studies from the Divinity School in 2014 and is now a writer and communications specialist in Washington, DC. Susan is currently using their background in religion and philosophy to tell interstitial stories that push the limits of identity, gender and language.


The University of Chicago’s dedication to rigorous intellectual inquiry has been immensely useful throughout Susan’s career so far: “My job involves navigating a lot of fake news, dangerous political rhetoric and contradictory research, so I’m very grateful to have honed my research and critical thinking skills at a place like the University of Chicago,” Susan said. “Additionally, my writing takes me to unexpected places — say, taxidermy or theoretical physics or medieval Islamic thought. So being able to quickly familiarize myself with the landscape of unfamiliar fields or topics is critical.”


After graduating from the University of Chicago, Susan moved to northern Virginia to work as a field organizer on a congressional campaign in 2014. That led to a brief stint in a press shop on Capitol Hill, which turned into a full-time job as a media relations specialist at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a progressive think tank.


Despite having no background in economics, Susan’s humanities training enabled them to become familiar with and communicate complex research on macroeconomics, labor economics, trade policy and more to policymakers, journalists and the working people at the heart of such issues. During their time at EPI, Susan created infographics, social media campaigns and press strategies to reach these audiences.


During the 2016 election, Susan put these skills to use as part of the press team at NARAL Pro-Choice America. Now, Susan enjoys a meaningful career and a healthy amount of work-life balance as the media relations director at Child Trends, a nonpartisan research organization dedicated to improving children’s lives.


Susan is also a proud alumnus of the Bachelor’s Degree with Individual Concentration program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.