Tony Suh

Our Treasurer, Tony Suh, was born in Korea in January, 1946 (making him one of the first of the “boomerâ€? generation) and came to the United States with his father at the age of 7. An early rebel, he refused to return to Korea when he was 12, and instead stayed in the United States with an uncle and aunt in New York City, spending summers, vacations, and eventually living full time with his foster family, the Rumseys, in Syracuse, New York. His political education began with the Rumsey family, who were descendants of the Mayflower and founding members of the NAACP in Syracuse, worked for racial integration in housing, and introduced Tony at an early age to friends including civil rights pioneers George Wiley (Associate Director of the Congress Of Race Equality and founder of the National Welfare Rights Organization) and Constance Baker Motley, who worked with Thurgood Marshall on civil rights cases including Brown v. Board of Education and later became the first Black woman federal judge. All of Tony’s foster family was steeped in Democratic politics. His sister’s father-in-law, George Michaels, was the NY State Speaker of Assembly who in 1970 cast the deciding vote to enact the first state law (before Roe v. Wade) allowing abortion. His brother married the granddaughter of Robert L. Doughton of North Carolina, Chair of the US House Ways and Means Committee who helped to write and steer the Social Security Act into law during the New Deal.

Tony attended Williams College, Syracuse University, and the University of Michigan, where he earned a Master’s degree in community organization and social work administration while also serving as a teaching assistant supervising the field work of first year graduate students. Along the way he served as a VISTA Volunteer organizing welfare recipients for social and economic justice in Cincinnati, Ohio, marched on Washington against the Vietnam War in the late sixties and early seventies, occupied buildings at the University of Michigan during a Black students’ protest, went to Woodstock, and canvassed door-to-door for George McGovern in several states.

After organizing and administrative jobs at the Urban League and Genesee County Community Action Agency in Flint, Michigan, focusing on racial equality and community involvement in decision-making at secondary public schools, welfare rights, and a wide variety of anti-poverty issues, Tony moved to California in 1975 for a position at the Solano County Department of Manpower Programs in Fairfield, administering federal employment and training programs. Subsequently, he worked as budget director for the City of Richmond and for the Oakland Public Schools, little knowing that he would end up retiring from there and then serving as Treasurer for the Lamorinda Democratic Club and helping the club and other local democratic organizations weave their way through the intricacies of state and federal political campaign laws and regulations.

After Tony’s retirement at the start of March, 2000 and G. W. Bush’s “electionâ€? later that year, Tony began his second “careerâ€? as a full-time volunteer Democratic and community activist. In addition to being Treasurer of the LDC, he is Finance Committee Chairman of the Contra Costa United Democratic Campaign and a member of the Contra Costa Central Committee. He has worked for Assemblymember Loni Hancock and various campaigns to pass parcel taxes and bond measures for the Acalanes High School District, as well as serving as Treasurer for two local school board members’ elections.

Tony lives in Lafayette with his wife, Suzette Leith (an environmental attorney for the US Government), and their two German shepherds, Banshee and Grady, who regularly march with the LDC in the Orinda Fourth of July Parade, wearing LDC, Howard Dean, or John Kerry tee-shirts. In the winter, he is an avid skier. Tony and Suzette love to travel and do as often as they can each year. Their son, Jason, is a graduate of Acalanes High School and is currently working on his PhD in biophysics at Harvard University