Susan Ford Bales is a Virginia native and now resides in McKinney, TX. She is the daughter of President Gerald R. Ford and Betty Ford. Susan is the mother of two daughters, Tyne Vance Berlanga and Heather Vance Devers, five grandchildren, Joy Elizabeth Berlanga and Cruz Vance Berlanga, Elizabeth Blanche Devers, Jude Vance Devers, Sullivan Bales and three step-sons, Kevin, Matthew, and Andrew Bales.
Susan was raised in Alexandria, Virginia and attended Holton Arms School and Mount Vernon College, where she studied photojournalism. Susan also studied with Ansel Adams and subsequently worked as a photojournalist for the Associate Press, Newsweek, Money Magazine, Ladies Home Journal, the Topeka Capital-Journal and the Omaha Sun. She is the author of two novels set in the White House, Double Exposure: A First Daughter Mystery and its sequel, Sharp Focus.
During her high school years, Susan lived in the White House and served as official White House hostess following her mother’s surgery for breast cancer in 1974. Immediately following the breast cancer diagnosis, Susan embraced Betty Ford’s extraordinary candor and courage in speaking publicly regarding her breast cancer. In 1984, Susan and her mother helped launch National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Susan has served as national spokesperson for Breast Cancer Awareness. For over thirty years, Mrs. Ford and Susan have emphasized the importance of early detection in their countless speeches around the world, including to cancer and other medical organizations, women’s groups, and medical and healthcare forums.
Since the founding of the Betty Ford Center in 1982, Susan has worked side by side with her mother on projects at the Center and has focused her personal efforts on the impact of addiction on the family. Susan is particularly active with several programs at the Center, including medical student training, the Center’s unique children’s program, and special programs for women with addictive disease.
Susan was elected to the Board of Directors of the Betty Ford Center in 1992 and succeeded her mother as Chairman of the Board from 2005-2010. In addition to her many other volunteer and charitable activities, she is the Ship’s Sponsor for the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), and since 1981 has served as a Trustee of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation. She currently serves as Co-Chair of the Foundation’s Programs committee. Her work with the Foundation is centered on its core mission of promoting the ideals of integrity and candor that were the hallmark of the life and Presidency of Gerald R. Ford.