Inspiring and providing support for wellness is my passion. It cracks me up to realize I have been a health educator for five decades!
I love being a mother and a grandmother and treasure those titles above all others. But this is the page for you to learn more about my professional life. So, here it is . . .
“Susan oozes enthusiasm, pleasure, and joy. The energy she brings to her passion for wellness is absolutely infectious. I dare you to hear her speak, read her work, or spend some time with her and NOT get inspired!”
~Kate Northrup, best-selling author of Money: A Love Story
SUSAN TATE is recognized worldwide as an author, teacher, and wellness visionary. A respected health educator for over 50 years, she has a passion for inspiring wellness from an empowering, loving, and compassionate perspective. That perspective was evident when she wrote the first edition of Into the Mouths of Babes in 1984, one of the first infant nutrition books ever published that offered nutritional guidance for feeding children a healthy vegetarian diet. She revised that book in 1995 and released the completely revised and updated third edition in 2013. She is also the author of Wellness Wisdom: 31 Ways to Nourish Your Mind, Body, & Spirit (2007, 2011). Her earlier books (written under her former name, Susan Tate Firkaly) include AIDS and HIV Education: Effective Teaching Strategies, and Working Together to Prevent Sexual Assault.
Susan was the Director of Health Promotion and assistant professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Virginia for many years. During her time at UVA, she proposed, developed, and taught their very first sexuality course. Her “Sexuality Today” course received international attention and praise. USA Today, 60 Minutes, BBC radio, and Rolling Stone Magazine (and others) interviewed her for her innovative teaching techniques and positive approaches to teaching sexuality. During many of those years, Susan was also a consultant with the American College Health Association, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, providing HIV/AIDS education training for college health professionals across the United States.
Following her move to Seattle in 2000, Susan founded Washington Wellness Associates, eventually choosing to amplify her wellness work under her own name at susantate.org in 2013. She moved back to Charlottesville in 2016.
A licensed black belt Nia teacher, a member of the Nia Moving to Heal master teaching faculty, and Nia 5 Stages of Self-Healing teacher, Susan has taught thousands of classes since she began teaching Nia in 1999. She teaches Nia for the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center at the University of Virginia and also teaches internationally.
As an author, Nia teacher, heart-centered life coach, wedding officiant, and speaker, Susan is passionate about creating and inspiring individual, community, and global wellness.
DETAILS OF MY LIFE’S WORK SO FAR . . .
My teaching career began in the early 70s. My former students have described me as someone who taught them from an empowering, respectful, loving, and compassionate perspective. My goal was to present practical health information, decision-making, and communication skills from my heart to theirs. I wasn’t one of those authoritative, “listen to me or else” teachers. My energy flowed straight across rather than from the top down. I didn’t know everything, and OMG, I could write a book on what I learned from my students through the years!
After teaching high school health education for almost two decades, I was asked to serve as a consultant to the American College Health Association and provide HIV/AIDS education training for college health professionals across the United States. I loved it. It was my first taste of traveling and it was invigorating to meet others who also had a vision of a healthier and more compassionate world. In the late 80s, I developed and taught “AIDS Awareness” at Piedmont Virginia Community College. That course was one of the first college-level HIV/AIDS classes ever taught in the United States. (Read more below as to how I found myself learning more about this topic in the early years of this epidemic.)
In 1991, I landed a wonderful position as the Director of Health Promotion and assistant professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Virginia. I developed and taught the first “Sexuality Today” class there and loved my students and colleagues. The decade of the 90s went by quite quickly, as I was the mother of two outrageously awesome teens as well as being quite involved with promoting wellness to over 20,000 college students.
During those years at the University of Virginia, I was featured on numerous television and radio shows, including the Discovery Television Channel, National Public Radio, and BBC Radio. I was quoted on a variety of wellness topics in USA Today, New York Times, Mothering Magazine, Baby Talk Magazine, and Rolling Stone Magazine, and I had articles published in numerous college health and other educational journals. I also served on the Executive Board of the American College Health Association (ACHA), the Steering Committee for the National Task Force on School Health through the Association for the Advancement of Health Education, and the Review Panel for ACHA HIV Teacher Education Grant with the Centers for Disease Control.
I have written four health-related books, well, actually, if you include the follow up revised editions, let’s make it eight. My first book, Into the Mouths of Babes (Betterway Publications, 1984) was one of the first infant nutrition books ever published that offered nutritional guidance and recipes for feeding children a healthy vegetarian diet. The second edition (Betterway Books, an imprint of F & W Publications, Inc., 1995) was written during my years at the University of Virginia. The third (completely updated and lovingly revised) edition of Into the Mouths of Babes: A whole foods nutrition guide to feeding your infants and toddlers (2013, Balboa Press, a division of Hay House), is the book I am most passionate about sharing. My vision for this book is that it will support the loving feeding of the world’s children with the most important ingredient of all–love.
You may also want to know about my latest book, Wellness Wisdom: 31 Ways to Nourish Your Mind, Body, & Spirit (2007, 2011). It’s a practical and inspirational guide to nourishing YOU. Readers tell me they keep it on their nightstand.
“Susan Tate is a joyful, enthusiastic, cosmic cheerleader for life, health,
∼Marc David, Nutritional Psychologist, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating,
and bestselling author of
Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy, & Weight Loss
My second book title was about as distant from the topic of infant nutrition as one could imagine: AIDS Education: Effective Teaching Strategies. (J. Weston Walch, Publisher, 1988). Why did I decide to write a book about AIDS? During a “simple” surgical procedure I had in 1983, the doctor missed and hit an artery, which resulted in life-saving surgery and a massive blood transfusion. I soon found myself exploring more about AIDS (it had just been discovered in the blood supply), and that was before it had the word “HIV” added to it. The first blood testing became available two years later and I was profoundly grateful to test negative.
It seems I was one of the first teachers in the United States to teach high school students and university students about this new virus. Since I wanted to share this information, my teaching techniques, and a compassionate view of this disease with other educators, I found myself researching and writing this second book, and two years later wrote the second edition with the revised title: AIDS & HIV Education: Effective Teaching Strategies. (J. Weston Walch, Publisher, 1988, 1990.)
“The importance of AIDS And HIV Education: Effective Teaching Strategies is clear. Many teachers have been reluctant to teach HIV/AIDS–not for moral or philosophical reasons, but because they felt poorly prepared or because they lacked resources. This text makes HIV and AIDS education for youth manageable. And it is AIDS education that will make AIDS manageable.”
~Richard P. Keeling, MD
Former President of the International Society for AIDS Education
(Dr. Keeling wrote this in the foreword of my book,
AIDS And HIV Education: Effective Teaching Strategies).
After years of teaching sexuality to high school students and then college-age students and listening to way too many girls and women telling me they had been sexually abused or assaulted, I wrote my third book, Working Together to Prevent Sexual Assault (J. Weston Walch, Publisher, 1995). This book was also targeted to educators so they could better teach and support both females and males on this topic. I asked Mark Benn, Psy.D., my college health colleague at Colorado State University, to co-author this book with me. I wanted a male perspective and a layer of psychological safety in the words I wrote and shared on this sensitive topic. These earlier books were written under my former name, Susan Tate Firkaly.
And then it seems I danced through a new door into a world of healing movement that has become vital in my personal and professional life. I discovered The Nia Technique in 1997 and began teaching in 1999. To me, Nia is health education poured into movement. It honors all abilities and body types and is a way to move to heal with joy. It has become my passion to share Nia with those who also love this somatic, sensory, healing, luscious dancing lifestyle practice. Dancing to awaken awareness and offer a modality for mind/body/ spirit/ healing is clearly a part of my calling. I have had the amazing opportunity to teach Nia classes and workshops across North America and internationally. I come home filled up with the experiences of connecting with others who value the healing, loving-to-the-body, and joy-filled practice of Nia. To dance with others from many cultures reminds me that we can connect our global hearts through dance. What a treat! You will find more about that on the Nia page.
Oh, yes, in 2014 I was asked by Nia’s co-founder, Debbie Rosas, to write the foreword for the Nia Art of Perception: Brown Belt LEARN book. The Brown Belt Nia intensive training is about love and energy and choices in personal power. It was an honor to offer my thoughts on these topics to welcome readers of this book.
“As a healer, dancer, and body worker who teaches people to fall in love with their bodies and stay connected to sensation; Susan’s words, advice, and insights give us tools for having a passionate and sensual relationship with the body.”
Founder of The Nia Technique
The Seattle area had been calling me for some time, and in 2000 I moved to a beautiful place just north of Seattle. Although I loved working in academia, I realized I wanted to explore doing the work I loved by creating my own business. So, I founded Washington Wellness Associates (WWA). I asked a group of colleagues to become my associates, with their main focus on serving as my advisory board. This company became a powerful vessel that held all the parts of my wellness business. At times my associates and I co-presented or teamed up for special events, but the majority of WWA consisted of me.
Spiritual wellness is an important part of wellness, so I guess it was natural for me to want to become a wedding officiant. (I love love!) I am an official, legal-in-47-states wedding officiant. The first wedding ceremony I did was over 15 years ago in Seattle. I was struck by the profound and deep energy of love that was present in the hearts of the couple I was privileged to marry. Since then I have officiated ceremonies on both coasts. You’ll find more information on my WEDDING OFFICIANT page
In late March 2014, I went to the world class Sanoviv Medical Institute in Rosarito, Mexico. Sanoviv is the first medical facility to be certified by the highly regarded Institute of Functional Medicine. While I was there I completed the Sanoviv Nutrition Advisor training. I returned with the latest science-based nutritional research and a mind/body/soul infusion of practices designed to help me support my clients in eating more consciously, joyfully, and mindfully. I was privileged to teach Nia classes while I was there.
It was late 2013 when I decided to dissolve the entity of Washington Wellness Associates and move forward as me, Susan Tate. I feel lighter, freer, and clearer about my direction for the next decades.
In December of 2016, I followed the calling of my soul (and guided by supportive whispers from the Divine) and moved back to Charlottesville, Virginia where we raised our children years ago.
I had no idea what I was going to do when I moved. After months of exploring, trusting, praying and moving my feet, it seems I was led back to the University of Virginia. But, with a little different clothing than I wore when I was working at UVA in the 90s as the Director of Health Promotion and an assistant professor in the School of Medicine! This time, I’m wearing my Nia dance clothing.
I am excited and privileged to teach Nia: Moving to Heal, for the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center at UVA. You can drop in any time to these Nia classes, as they are now being live and love-streamed on Zoom.
So here I am, me, Susan Tate, sharing wellness offerings as a teacher, author, life coach, speaker, and wedding officiant. I am blessed to be doing the work I love. Let me know if I can be of support for your wellness journey. I love inspiring wellness.