• Diverse Experience

    Linda had experience in fair trade business, public education, and environmental sustainability before founding Reading Village.
  • Her Promise

    While earning her MBA and an MA in Latin American Studies, she promised herself that one day she'd do something more for some of the 2 billion people living in extreme poverty.
  • Founding Reading Village

    In 2007 Linda founded Reading Village to expose some of the poorest and least literate children in the Western Hemisphere to the joy and power of reading.
  • It Takes a Village

    Over the course of a decade, Linda grew the impact of the organization from one small village to reach more than 5 indigenous Mayan communities in Guatemala.
Our Founder, Linda Smith, has long been witness to the creativity, spirit, and resourcefulness of people living on the margins. It's what fueled her desire to take action in solidarity with them, and formed the foundation of Reading Village's model for change.

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, teaching young people to think critically, while ensuring that they complete their secondary education, breaking the generational cycle of poverty.