The 2018 Speakers

Suzanne Ross McDowell

Attorney, Steptoe & Johnson, LLP
1330 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 429-6209

A prominent attorney on the law of tax-exempt organizations with particular emphasis on tax, corporate governance, and commercial transactions, Suzanne Ross McDowell is a partner in the Washington office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP and co-chair of the firm’s exempt organizations practice.


Ms. McDowell’s experience with the nonprofit sector includes representation of exempt organizations on the full spectrum of matters as a private practitioner; service at the US Treasury Department where she was responsible for all legislative and regulatory issues affecting exempt organizations; and work as Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for the National Geographic Society where she developed cost-effective practical solutions for a wide variety of complex legal and business issues. Ms. McDowell was a member of the IRS Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities (ACT) (2004-2007) and Chair of the Exempt Organizations Group (2006-2007).  She also served as a vice chair of the ABA Coordinating Committee on Nonprofit Governance, which published Guide to Nonprofit Corporate Governance in the Wake of Sarbanes-Oxley (2005).

A Fellow at the American College of Tax Counsel, Ms. McDowell is the immediate past Chair of the Exempt Organizations Committee of the American Bar Association Tax Section, as well as Co-Chair of the American Law Institute CLE Advanced Course on Tax-Exempt Organizations.  She also currently serves on the advisory board of The Exempt Organization Tax Review and the Journal of Exempts.  She is a board member of The Theodore Tannenwald Jr. Foundation for Excellence in Tax Scholarship, Inc. and of the NEA-Health Information Network.  Her accolades include recommendations and honors from Legal 500 USSuper LawyersChambers USA, and The Best Lawyers in America.

Ms. McDowell holds a B.A. in American Studies from Smith College where she also received the Scott Foundation Award for Leadership.  After she received her J.D. from George Washington University National Law Center with high honors, Ms. McDowell was a Law Clerk to the Honorable Theodore Tannenwald, Jr. of the United States Tax Court from 1977-79.


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