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Suzanne McKechnie Klahr
Lecturer in Law

Biography 

Suzanne McKechnie Klahr is the CEO and founder of BUILD. BUILD’s mission is to use entrepreneurship to excite and propel disengaged, low-income students through high school to college and career success. By helping students develop and run their own small businesses, BUILD blends academic instruction with real-world business experiences and critical skill-building for the future. BUILD currently operates three San Francisco Bay Area sites, and one site in each of Washington, DC and Boston, MA. BUILD maintains an incredible track record with 90 percent of its seniors having applied to and gone on to college. Under Suzanne’s leadership, BUILD has grown from four students to over 1,200 students and has expanded partnerships from one public high school to over twenty public high schools.

A leading advocate for social change and a scholar at the intersection of law and social entrepreneurship, Klahr has received numerous honors and awards recognizing her contributions to public service. She serves as a Lecturer of Law at both Stanford Law School and Harvard Law School, where she pioneered and teaches “Social Entrepreneurship" at both institutions. Her class was the first of its kind at a Law School in the United States.

Klahr completed her undergraduate studies at Brown University in 1994 and worked at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo PC where she was inspired by the pro bono practice of bringing resources from the private sector to the public sector. After graduating from Stanford Law School in 1999, Klahr was awarded the prestigious Skadden Fellowship from the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP, which provided her with the funding to begin the BUILD program. She has also successfully completed the Harvard Business School Executive Education program in Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management.

Klahr has received numerous awards in recognition of her work with BUILD and her innovative contributions to social entrepreneurship. She has been asked to speak nationally on such topics as education, social entrepreneurship, venture philanthropy, new models of providing legal services to the poor, and poverty alleviation strategies. In 2006, Klahr was inducted as a lifetime member of Ashoka, a global fellowship of leading social entrepreneurs. In 2007, she was honored by CBS's Jefferson Award on television, on radio, and in print. In 2008, Klahr was elected to the San Mateo County Women's Hall of Fame. In 2009, she was named as one of Silicon Valley's Most Influential Women by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Times. In 2012, The Manhattan Institute granted Klahr the Social Entrepreneurship Award.

Klahr serves as a trustee of the Skadden Fellowship Foundation and as an Honorary Board Member of the Until There's A Cure Foundation. Klahr lives with her husband, son, and daughter in Northern California and is a huge San Francisco Giants fan.