AUWCL Congratulates Professor Susan Bennett, Recipient of AU’s Outstanding Community Engagement Award

July 23, 2020

Professor Susan Bennett
Professor Susan Bennett

American University Washington College of Law congratulates Professor Susan Bennett, co-director and founder of the Community and Economic Development Law Clinic, for being awarded American University’s Outstanding Community Engagement Award.

AU recognizes faculty who have made significant contributions in the areas of teaching, scholarship, and service during the annual University Faculty Awards. The Outstanding Community Engagement Award is given to a faculty member leading in teaching, outreach, or scholarship initiatives, and recognizes the recipient's sustained record of collaboration and demonstrated impact, which may include community-based and community-informed social change, knowledge creation, problem solving, and capacity building, as well as student learning and thriving. Ideally, the faculty member chosen has made exceptional engagement with communities in the DC region central to their approach. 

“For decades, Susan Bennett has created access to legal services for countless individuals and organizations in need of support—and inspired generations of law students,” said AU Acting Provost Peter Starr, noting her outstanding work in leading the Community and Economic Development Law Clinic. “I applaud her creativity, dedication, and leadership.”

Bennett holds expertise in community economic development, nonprofit organizations, poverty law, civil legal services for poor people, public interest law, and federal housing law and programs. Through the Community and Economic Development Law Clinic, students provide transactional representation to non–profit organizations, small businesses, and affordable housing cooperatives in under-served neighborhoods in D.C. and the metro area. Bennett has also held the position of Director of Clinical Programs from 2003 to 2006. In addition to her clinical teaching, she has taught first year Property, Law and Poverty, and seminars on community development and law and homelessness. Prior to AUWCL, she specialized in housing and consumer litigation at the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau.

Bennett has penned a number of articles, including "On Long-Haul Lawyering," in the Fordham Urban Law Journal, and “No Relief But Upon the Terms of Coming Into the House: Controlled Spaces, Invisible Disentitlements, and Homelessness in an Urban Shelter System,” in the Yale Law Journal. She has published articles in the Clinical Law Review concerning ethics in community development practice and problem-solving in ill-structured community development settings. She co-authored the text, Community Economic Development Law: A Text for Engaged Learning. Bennett has served as a member of the Editorial Board of the Clinical Law Review since 2016.

Bennett’s other leadership roles in the field of community development law  have included positions on the Advisory Board of the D.C. Bar’s Community Economic Development Project, the DC Bar’s Pro Bono Committee, and with the Legal Educators’ Division of the ABA Forum on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law. She is a member of the Advisory Board for the DC Interpreter Bank, and the board of directors of the D.C. Reduced Fee Lawyer and Mediator Referral Service. From 2007-2010, Bennett served on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Homelessness and Poverty. Bennett has chaired the Section on Poverty Law of the Association of American Law Schools and acted as the Section’s Program Chair and Nominating Committee Coordinator. Additionally, she has served as member, secretary, and co-chair of the board of directors of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.