Former Los Angeles prosecutor Susan Catalano has been a trailblazer throughout her professional career ever since graduating from Oregon State University.
She studied Electrical Engineering and Business Administration, where she was the only and one of two women in her field. In 1977, Susan decided to pursue law school, which she is extremely passionate about. “We spent a lot of time breaking glass ceilings. It was not easy,” she says, “but I was always having a great time.”
Born and raised in California, she spent most of her career in Los Angeles working for the District Attorney’s Office for 30 years. One of her favorite activities outside of work is skiing, which brought her to visit Vail as often as possible.
A Fundraiser That Hits Close to Home
When Susan and her close friend Annemarie Acosta, a breast cancer survivor, began participating in Pink Vail, they chose a team name that could not have been any more appropriate: Wonder Women.
Pink Vail is Vail Health’s skiing fundraiser for Harold W. & Mary Louise Shaw Cancer Center’s Spirit of Survival programs. “I first started attending Pink Vail because it sounded interesting and fun. Then it hit me strongly in the heart.” The meaning of Pink Vail changed when Susan’s mother and sister were both diagnosed with lung cancer. Susan has had different kinds of cancer herself but was fortunate that they could all be removed.
However, chemotherapy was not enough for Susan’s family members. Her sister passed away in 2000, and her mother in 2003.
Supporting Premier Cancer Care
Due to the impact that cancer has had on her and her loved ones, and in gratitude for the quality of care she received at Shaw, Susan has been generously giving to Pink Vail every year. For her, it’s all about the little things. “The family aspect, the personal connection, those all make a huge difference. With my mother and sister, both of them were treated in California, and they didn’t have that same personal experience that I’ve seen here at Shaw.”
Susan reflects on her favorite memory of Pink Vail. “I dressed everybody in pink tutus and capes. We got to the top of the mountain early, and we were among the first people at Eagle’s Nest. The photographer got a picture of my entire team, jumping with our ski boots in the air. That was awesome.”
Her mother’s involvement in charity also inspired Susan to continue the family values of compassion and helping others, which drove her throughout her career and continues to drive her today.
After retiring, Susan sold her house and moved to Vail. She still makes frequent trips back to California to visit her daughter, Whitney, but has loved every moment living in the mountains. “The more time I spend here, the more I enjoy it. I love the people and the values. If anything happens, someone is reaching out to you and going, ‘How can I help?’”
Susan adds, “It’s remarkable, the quality of medical care here in the valley. I’m very impressed, and I’m very comfortable living here. It’s been all good things.”
“I think supporting Pink Vail is very worthwhile. I love the fact that Shaw is a regional center, and I love the fact that it has a very high-quality standard of care.”Susan Catalano