Susan Brandt-Hawley

Glen Ellen, California

Award Type: John H. Chafee Trustees Award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Policy

One of America’s most dynamic preservation advocates, California attorney Susan Brandt-Hawley has dedicated her career to saving places that matter in the Golden State. From ancient forests, a World War II aircraft carrier and 19th century cottages in Fresno to a hillside beloved by generations of football fans in Berkeley, mid-century apartments in Venice Beach and a jail where labor organizer Cesar Chavez was incarcerated in Monterey, Brandt-Hawley has championed her state’s unique historic assets. 

During a three-decade career, Brandt-Hawley has successfully argued for the preservation of California’s diverse historic heritage before the California Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. In addition to saving individual sites, Brandt-Hawley’s diligence and dedication have helped establish ground-breaking legal precedent, broadening the application of California’s environmental protection laws. And beyond the courtroom, she shares her expertise as a board member of several preservation and conservation organizations.

Brandt-Hawley was recently credited with saving a collection of historic hotels in downtown Stockton, Calif., and is currently spearheading a legal challenge to the threatened demolition of Palo Alto’s historic Juana Briones House. The house, built in 1844 by a first generation Californian, appears on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2010 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. 

“There are few more effective protectors of California’s historic places than Susan Brandt-Hawley,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  “Valued mentor, vigilant ally, skilled advocate – Susan is all of these and more.  In a state rich in assets, she is a treasure.”