History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - People - Bios

Susan Dietz


January 18, (unknown year)
Primary Involvements:

Community Activist




Susan Dietz (known while in Milwaukee as 'Sue') was a groundbreaking worker at the 'Brady East STD Clinic' (BESTD Clinic), helping to form and then running the 'Milwaukee AIDS Project' (MAP) and then becoming the first Executive Director of the 'AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin' (ARCW).

Originally from La Crosse, Wiscconsin, Sue participated in robed and swing choir activities while attending La Crosse Central High School. She then studied for a Master of Science in management at Cardinal Stritch University. But Sue found her true calling when she began studying in the School of Nursing at the 'University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee' (UWM), graduating in the class of 1978.

Starting around 1976, Sue became one of the group of dedicated volunteers working at the 'Brady East STD Clinic' (BESTD Clinic), quickly demonstrating both professional and personal skill and knowledge in various ways. Now a Registered Nurse (RN), by 1978 she was on the Board of Directors.

In the early 1980s, when a new epidemic seemed to be targeting gay people, there was virtually no government response to the crisis, which was often referred to as "the gay plague". The BESTD Clinic staff saw a critical need for action, and thus was formed the Milwaukee AIDS Project, a "committee" or related effort of the BESTD Clinic. Sue Dietz volunteered to head the project. As the crisis grew in scope however, it became obvious that no "gay" organization could get the recognition that would be required to take advantage of government grants to properly address the crisis.

A task force made up of the BESTD Clinic President, Nova Clite; MAP Director, Sue Dietz; the president of the Cream City Business Association, Marc Haupert; and the president of the Cream City Foundation (CCF) and GAMMA, Don Schwamb, was formed to find a solution. The result was the formation of a new organization, to be spun off from BESTD Clinic's Milwaukee AIDS Project- that new organization being named the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW). Marc Haupert became ARCW's founding President, Don Schwamb its founding Vice President, and Sue Dietz its first paid staff member and Executive Director.

As Dietz's reputation grew due to the great work she did for BESTD and ARCW, Sue was lured away to another opportunity. In July 1988, Sue accepted a position as Emergency Management Advisor at the U.S. 'Centers for Disease Control and Prevention' (CDC), a position she held until retiring in 2016.

After being married for 25 years, Susan divorced in 2010 and calls herself "contentedly single". She retired from CDC in 2016 and lives in Quicksburg, Virginia amid family friends and pets, loving retirement. She keeps busy with her house, garden, orchard, dog, playing piano, writing, and reading.

But Sue fondly remembers her time in Milwaukee (if that word can be used in reference to an epidemic like AIDS). As she stated in 2022: "I know that the work with BESTD/MAP/ARCW was the most important thing I have ever done."

View a collection of photos that Sue is believed to have compiled on her departure from the BESTD Clinic in what is known as the 'Sue Dietz album' there. (Some of those photos are also shown on this page.)

Photo of group of BESTD volunteers, approx. 1977
At a BESTD Directors meeting, 1978
With friends at BESTD, approx. 1980

Note from Sue, 1984
With a friend displaying certificate of Appreciation, 1984
With friends at BESTD, approx. 1984

Group Notes: Founding of Milw. AIDS Project (MAP) in Dec. 1984
(In Step v2-10, May 1985)
Group Notes: Community AIDS Forum
(In Step v2-17, Sept. 1985)

Aticles, Wis. AIDS Task Force, and Special AIDS Care Unit being studied
(In Step v2-20, October 1985)
Letter to community from Susan as MAP Director
(In Step v2-21, October 1985)

Letter to Community outlining 1985 revenues of MAP
(In Step v3-01, Feb. 1986)
Article: City Council appropriates money to MAP
(In Step v3-05, March 1986)

'In Your Health' column: Where does your MAP money go?
(In Step v3-13, July 1986)
Summary of MAPFEST 1986
(In Step v3-18, Sept. 1986)

Sue Dietz article: MAP is in the forefront of AIDS Education
(In Step v4-20, Nov. 1987)
ARCW purchases house as home for PWA's
(In Step v5-05, April 1988)

ARCW names new Acting Director Lynn Syverson
on Susan Dietz's resignation
(In Step v5-09, June 1988)
ARCW names new Executive Director, Doug Nelson
(In Step v5-17, Sept. 1988)

Sue Dietz (on right) with BESTD Clinic chief physician
Dr. Roger Gremminger (left), approx. 1984

Sue Dietz, June 2017

Sue Dietz, Dec. 2017

Sue Dietz, Feb. 2019

Credits: web site concept, contents, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: March-2022.

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