Mayor Sue Zwahlen


Sue Zwahlen was elected Mayor of Modesto in February, 2021.

Sue is a former two-term member of the Modesto City Schools Board, who was first elected in 2009, re-elected in 2013, and served two terms as president of the Board.  

As a mother of six children who attended local public schools, Sue spent many years volunteering in the classroom. During her tenure on the school board, the district’s graduation rates increased from 75% to 87.6%, and suspension rates dropped by 8.4% to an all new low of 4.46%.

Sue is also a 40-year registered nurse, who spent most of her career in the Emergency Room of Doctor’s Medical Center. She graduated from Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing in Oakland in 1975 and has held several demanding nursing certifications, including ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), and PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support).

Sue is a lifelong Modesto resident and a fourth generation Californian from Portuguese and Swiss-German immigrant dairy farmers, who settled in the Modesto area in the early 1900’s. She and her husband, Lynn – a well-known Modesto dentist and long-time football coach at Davis and Downey High Schools – have six grown children and 10 grandchildren. They have lived for 39 years in the same College area neighborhood where Sue grew up.

Elected Experience

  • Modesto City Schools Board of Education Trustee 
  • 2009-Present; Board Vice President 2009-10 and 2015-16 
  • Board President, 2010-11 and 2016-17

Committee Appointments

  • Economic Development Committee - Chair
  • Audit Committee - Chair
  • Cannabis Permit Review Committee - Vice Chair

Community Involvement, Member or Former Member

  • Stanislaus County Committee on School District Organization
  • Association of Stanislaus County School Board (ASCSB), Executive Committee, Director of Area 9
  • California Suburban School Districts Association (CALSSD)
  • Hispanic Leadership Council 
  • Latino Community Roundtable 
  • Friends of Modesto Library 
  • Stanislaus League of Women Voters
  • 31-year Modesto City Schools parent volunteer
  • Stanislaus County Democratic Women’s Club
  • Stanislaus County Commission for Women 
  • Student Mentoring, Sierra Vista Child and Family Services, 2014 – 2018
  • Girls Advisory Council, Stanislaus County Probation Department 
  • Congressman Josh Harder’s Multicultural Advisory Committee member
  • Love Modesto
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Director of Public Affairs
  • Stanislaus County Focus on Prevention for Homelessness – Strengthening Families Action Council
  • Stanislaus County Interfaith Council (SCIC)
  • Just Serve Committee
  • City Ministry Network Catalyst
  • Interfaith Ministries, 2nd Vice President and 20-year Board member 
  • Past Assistant District Commissioner and Cub Scout Den Leader, Boy Scouts of America

Awards and Recognitions

  • Latino Community Roundtable – Latino of the Year, 2013
  • Stanislaus County Commission for Women – Woman of the Year, 2016
  • Modesto City Schools – Character Education Award