Linda Young Fisher ’74 majored in Latin American studies at Union before embarking on a life dedicated to community-level issues and services. Currently enjoying her encore career, as she calls it, Linda is executive director of the East of the River Steelband, a music training and youth development program. Previously, she was associate director for the Marshall Heights Community Development Corporation in Washington, D.C. (1987-2001) and executive director of the D.C. Community Prevention Partnership, a city-wide substance abuse prevention program (1991-2001). From there Linda became the district’s substance abuse prevention director and interim administrator for the Addiction Prevention Recovery Administration (2001-2008), and then was executive director of the Rockson Community Development Corporation (2012-15). In the 1980s, Linda was a local advisory neighborhood commissioner, a position to which she was elected to represent 2,000 residents. She was also a member of the National Prevention Network.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your career or volunteer activities?
Much of my career has been with nonprofit organizations where you must continually raise funds to provide services. Over my career, both public and private, I’ve raised more than $25 million. Another challenge was the focus on substance abuse, not a poster child issue. The reward is the ability to impact adolescents and families in positive ways. Providing training, cultural education, community bonding and fun.
Who inspired/inspires you, both professionally and personally?
First, my faith inspires me in both realms. The adolescents I have worked with over the decades are inspirational. Their growth and development validate our work. I am also inspired by the people I have mentored, as a supervisor and as a colleague. Their growth and success encourage me to continue to provide leadership.
What advice would you offer today’s women students, not just at Union, but across the country?
Go for it! God’s gift to you is the talent He gave you. Your gift is what you do with it.
What was your most formative experience at Union?
Personal independence and acclimating to the academic environment of a predominately white institution (PWI). Attending Union built resilience in terms of the weather and the academic milieu. Union was not only adjusting to females on campus, but also to an expanded presence of African Americans (eight females and two dozen males). This was the early years of campus integration. We often felt we were under the microscope by faculty and staff to see if we met Union standards and we felt we were being watched. The campus culture was not very inclusive. Integrating the dorms, I learned quite a bit about white culture, privilege and wealth. Due to this exposure, I had an understanding when encountering white culture in the workplace.