The Honorable Susan Breall
Susan Breall wanted to make movies after studying Italian at UC Berkeley. Breall did not follow this path—that’s right, this UCLA law school grad is a San Francisco Superior Court judge—but she never relinquished her artistic sensibilities. And when she learned about AHP through a close friend, a long-term survivor of AIDS enrolled in one of AHP’s programs, she joined both AHP’s Community Advisory Board (CAB) and, eventually, our Art for AIDS jury.
Breall’s father persuaded her to choose law over film, but she discovered at UCLA a passion equal to her love of Italian: a desire to ease the suffering of women affected by domestic violence as well as immigration issues. She pursued her legal passion for 17 years working at the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office before accepting a position as a Superior Court Judge.
“Wonderful,” “interesting,” and “passionate,” are the words that Breall uses to describe her colleagues on both the CAB and the Art for AIDS jury, which explains why these groups are so central to AHP’s success. It also articulates precisely the words we use to describe Breall. If the judge is, “constantly learning just by being in the same room with many passionate artists, collectors, and gallery owners,” it has been both the CAB’s and jury’s privilege to constantly learn from her. And if Breall’s description of the jury’s process rings true—“I remember one time we all once spent over an hour talking about this one photograph. It was absolutely amazing to hear so many educated opinions.”—it’s because she, herself, is such an engaged, curious, intelligent jury member.
“Art for AIDS is the most fun I have all year,” Breall exclaims. “When one of San Francisco’s most beautiful venues is packed to the brim with caring and compassionate supporters, what’s not to love?” All that fun and excitement doesn’t obscure Breall’s judgment of what is truly important about the event: “At the end of the day, AHP helps to ease people’s pain. And that’s what I try to do as a judge as well. I think that’s the best thing we can do for someone.”
AHP is crucial to the community, Breall says, because mental health within the LGBTQ population is often overlooked, a stigmatized service for an already branded population; a group of folks who need the service even more because they face such health disparities. “So many suffer from a lack of knowledge due to poor resources and stigma.“ and the staff at AHP work hard to deliver services to those who need them most. “Not only do we strive to support one another by creating safe spaces, we also seek to help people find the lasting strength and humanity to push through and keep moving.” That says it all, not only about AHP, but about Breall: she keeps moving, keeps making moves, and keeps at it to help others.