Meet Susan Hanson-Philbrick


I moved to Manchester with my husband and two daughters 24 years ago.  We were drawn here by the harbor, the beaches, the green spaces, the easy commute by train to Boston and the welcoming, relaxed feel of the community.  I was educated in Massachusetts (Smith College and Northeastern University School of Law) and my professional career was devoted to public service as a criminal prosecutor.  I served as an Assistant District Attorney here in Essex County and later as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Boston with the Organized Crime Strike Force Unit of the Justice Department. 

Through my work as a prosecutor, and subsequently through my work on nonprofit boards such as the local United Way, I have honed the skills of communication, advocacy, negotiation, detailed research and analysis, and listening to a variety of voices. 

Those skills are coming in handy today as I sit as an interim member on Manchester’s Planning Board!  I raised my hand to volunteer for the Planning Board after I read in “The Tides” that there was a vacancy. After interviewing with the Select Board and the Planning Board, I was honored to be selected to fill that seat.  I was also honored to be asked to serve on the Joint Task Force to study and develop our Town’s response to the State’s new MBTA Zoning Law.

As an interim member, I have witnessed how the Planning Board is tasked with managing our Town’s use of land, buildings, and physical spaces wisely so that our Town can remain a vibrant community for all of our residents far into the future.  The Planning Board must be able to analyze small changes, such as adding a swimming pool or changing the use or footprint of a building, but we also must have the tools to effectively and thoughtfully evaluate and manage large changes, such as commercial development, multifamily housing, affordable housing, and housing for our senior citizens. 

Our residents participated in creating a Master Plan, and that should guide the Planning Board as we research and evaluate any proposed changes to our Zoning By-Laws or to land use.  When the Planning Board does recommend changes that will improve our community, I will work to provide clear and succinct information to our residents and businesses to encourage thoughtful feedback.  Concrete examples of the benefits and possible drawbacks associated with either supporting or rejecting our recommendations, will help our residents make the best decisions for our Town.

Imagine how our Town has changed and adapted since it was incorporated 378 years ago.  It is the Planning Board’s job to provide the guidelines and guardrails necessary to make sure that our Town can continue to thrive as a beautiful and welcoming seaside Town for at least another 378 years.

I have just begun to contribute to the Planning Board’s work.  Please support me with your vote on May 16 so that I can continue to serve our Town.

hanson, stephen philbrick, hanson-philbrick, interim member, susan hanson-philbrick, assistant u.s. attorney, planning board, essex county, smith college