Prior to founding Reading Village, Linda’s professional career included teaching public school, creating and running a fair trade business with Guatemalan weavers, managing a public health research team, leading a solar energy corporation as its COO, and promoting environmental sustainability through community activism and education. During those years she earned an MBA and an MA in Latin American Studies, and she made a promise to herself that she’d one day do something more for some of the 2 billion people on the planet who lived in extreme poverty. She made good on that promise in 2006 when, at a crossroads in her life, she envisioned an organization that would expose some of the poorest and least literate children in the Western Hemisphere to the joy and power of reading – giving them the tools to make a better life for themselves.
Linda served as the Executive Director of Reading Village from its inception in 2007 until 2017. In that time she built a program foundation based on critical thinking and continuous improvement. This solid foundation allowed Reading Village to maintain the integrity of its programs as it grew from six youth leaders reading to 300 children to over 100 youth and alumni reading to over 10,000 children, and from serving one community to partnering with five communities today.
Recognizing that in order to ensure permanence in programs and impact, any organization must move beyond dependency on the Founder to secure a sustainable future, Linda began her transition from Executive Director to Board Member in 2017. Her vision, her passion and her perseverance transformed the standard approach to spreading literacy into an innovative, world-class program. Reading Village teaches critical thinking and leadership to young people while ensuring that they complete their secondary education, thus breaking the generational cycle of poverty.
We hope you’ll consider honoring Linda by contributing to the Founder’s Fund in Honor of Linda Smith to Ensure Staff Excellence.
Notes to Linda:
“Linda has been the spirit of Reading Village. She’s the constant force that’s made this work possible and we’re indebted to her dedication, passion and tenacity for this work. Gracias, Linda.” – Aaron Smith, Board Chair
“In 2006, I met Linda. She was evaluating life, discerning where her energy and gifts could do the most good. Though she didn’t yet know what it would be, she knew Guatemala was the place. Watching Linda for 10+ yrs has been an inspiring education and a privilege for me. Linda walks her talk and genuinely makes the world a better place better than any one I’ve ever met. Thank you, Linda, for your vision, your heart, your sensitive soul and your guts. You inspire me every day, dear friend.” – Sherri Cannon, very first Reading Village Board Member