After more than 35 years as a lawyer, attorney Susan Wild is now Congresswoman Susan Wild representing the 7th Congressional District, which covers the Greater Lehigh Valley.
Wild, a Democrat, defeated Republican challenger and Olympic Gold Medalist Marty Nothstein in November to fill the seat that retired Republican Charlie Dent had held since 2005, becoming the first woman the Lehigh Valley has elected to Congress.
She is a relative newcomer to politics. U.S. Representative is her first official elected political post but she has been actively involved in local government and causes, including becoming the first woman appointed as Allentown city solicitor, in 2015.
Wild was named a Super Lawyer each year from 2010 to 1017 and was a 2016 Lehigh Valley Business Woman of Influence.
She was also a past president of the Lehigh County Bar Association and has served on a number of boards, including the Second Harvest Food Bank and the Program for Women & Families.
In her new role she will be an influential voice in the future development of the Lehigh Valley. It’s a role she takes seriously and she said she’s looking forward to meeting with community and industry leaders.
While an outspoken supporter of working class families and unions, she tells Lehigh Valley Business that she is also a friend to businesses, as they provide the jobs that sustain families and she looks forward to speaking with experts in business, health care and education to get the best ideas on how she can best serve the interests that will help keep the Lehigh Valley booming.
Lehigh Valley Business: So you just started in Congress. What do you think of the experience so far?
Susan Wild: It’s been a lot to absorb. It’s been fast and furious with all of the training. Right now I’m heading to my office to interview people for my staff.
LVB: What made you want to run for Congress?
Wild: I initially got into it because I felt I was someone with good skills for the job. As a mother of two children in their 20s I was concerned about the kind of country we were leaving to the next generation. What kept me going was the people along the trail that had similar concerns and experiences that I’ve had.
LVB: You’ve been working as a lawyer up until this point, most recently at Gross McGinley in Allentown. Tell me a little bit about your law career and how it led you to politics.
Wild: My law career has been more than 35 years and I’ve been a litigator for most of that. My law practice has actually been extremely varied, but primarily civil litigation.
My law career was not a direct path into politics, but now that I’m here I realize how valuable it is to have a legal background to understand all of the statutes and things like that.
LVB: You are actually the first woman to be elected to Congress from the Lehigh Valley. How does that feel?
Wild: It feels great. It’s time. We see that not just from my experience but by a whole bunch of women elected to Congress from across the country. I think across the country women were expressing their desire to be represented.
But there’s nothing special about being a woman in Congress. I have the same duties and responsibilities as a male representative and I’m looking forward to fulfilling them.
LVB: Tell me a little bit about how you would like to help businesses in the Lehigh Valley in Congress.
Wild: I consider it my responsibility to represent everyone in the 7th district both businesses and individuals.
Businesses are very important because they employ people and I want to see businesses succeed. I don’t have a specific plan on how to do that, but I want to be part of helping forward-thinking industries in the region and working with people who understand the issues.
I would like to sit down with business leaders in the community. I want to talk with the heads of hospitals, the heads of the region’s manufacturers and representatives of the chamber of commerce and understand what their needs are and what they feel they need from the federal government.
- Company: U.S. Congress
- Position: U.S. Representative
- Hometown: Born in Germany as an ‘Army brat’; settled in South Whitehall Township
- Family: Two adult children
- When you brag about the Lehigh Valley to people from out of state: I talk about how it is a secret in Pennsylvania because it is a metropolitan area that has a lot to offer and people don’t always know about it.
- It has a lot to offer with culture and activities. We have a park system that can compare with any other park system in the country. We have a relatively low rate of unemployment. We have some of the finest health care systems in the country. I have watched them develop over the years with my own eyes.
- We have a lot of the advantages of living in a bigger city without some of the disadvantages like higher taxes, although we do have some of the traffic congestion.
- Guilty pleasures: Sleeping. I look forward to it as my favorite activity of the day. But also playing with my dog and taking her to the park. She’s going to become a congressional dog. She’ll be in my office with me every day, ready to offer snuggles and cuddles to whoever wants them.
- Dream vacation: I’ve gone to Costa Rica twice and I love it. I love how ecologically friendly they are and the people are just so warm and friendly.
- When you were a child, you wanted to be: A lawyer, and I managed to accomplish that.
- Something your staff doesn’t know about you: They most definitely don’t know what a good cook I am because I haven’t had any time to cook over the past year.
- Biggest inspiration: People who have accomplished above expectations. People who have gone through adversity and have come out on the other side and succeed. I just got to hear Malala [Yousafzai] speak at Harvard and she was so inspiring. She makes me want to work harder and do better.