Linda Handy connects local issues with international movements. Whether it’s in Detroit, Tuscaloosa, or Portland, she can draw a parallel between local challenges and those around the globe. Linda seeks to transform unjust conditions into new opportunities for social, racial, and economic change. She is comfortable with discomfort and encourages participants to engage in hard conversations; ‘walking the talk,” she motivates people to follow her. Developing a common ground through story telling and conscious listening, she supports communication across social and economic strata. As a facilitator she builds bridges, allowing disparate worlds to merge. Whether it is across continents, county lines, or across the street, Linda supports the examination of what is right, just and fair. With an M.S. from Case Western Reserve University and as a public official, Linda uses her position to support people who desire access and equity. She is accessible and straightforward, while being worldly and savvy.
World Trust is delighted to have several new diversity workshop facilitators on board. In order to introduce Linda Handy to our community and let you get to know them a bit better, we’ll be featuring profiles of each of them on our blog.
Meet Linda Handy
Linda brings 30 years of community building and diversity work with her to World Trust. She combines the following qualities that make a great facilitator:
Calm and warm demeanor.
Keen insight into the nature of social dynamics.
Understanding of who she is and acceptance of others.
Genuine curiosity about people.
We are most impressed by Linda’s intuitive nature, her ability not only to step in and provide guidance when necessary but also simply to observe and let situations play out. She understands that if a participant challenges the material or acts defensively, “it is because they’re hurting or they’re confused or the information is [something they] just can’t handle.” Her compassion lets her lead without alienating or shaming participants.
An Enthusiastic Client Endorsement
“Linda was fantastic,” said Mark Code, Director of the Program of Nurse Anesthesia at Samuel Merritt University, where Linda facilitated two recent World Trust diversity workshops. “She started conversations that are difficult, that need to be had, and that will help everyone. She has a warm persona and was completely neutral and open to dialogue. She made it okay for people to stick up for themselves when labels are inappropriate.”
Thanks to her work at Samuel Merritt, the nurses have begun a number of outreach projects that engage underserved members of the community. The workshops “validated the administration’s commitment to diversity and spurred internal awareness,” Code adds.
What Motivates Linda
“I try to find the good in everyone and everything,” Linda told World Trust. “I am always going to move and operate in this world from a sense of where I am in this universe from what my beliefs are. That is loving my fellow man.”
Linda also operates from a strong conviction that transformative learning has to come from within a given person, not be imposed on or preached to them.
“That’s why I love this work so much,” she said. “It gives you an opportunity to connect to people and let them have those epiphanies, not tell them, but let them have those epiphanies about their behaviors or actions — how what they do impacts other people’s lives and well-being.”
Linda’s Work in Action
Linda has facilitated several World Trust diversity training workshops, including ones at the UCSF Department of Reproductive Services and the Community Action Network for Northampton, Massachusetts.
During the UCSF workshop, she had to deal with interruptions from doctors exiting and entering as well as a toxic waste emergency evacuation alert. Linda kept the groups focused and actively engaged in a discussion of the diversity training film Cracking the Codes — even during the time they spent in the parking lot.
She said the doctors were engrossed in the material and continued coming back to see more of the film, which not only opened their eyes to differences between their cultural values and those of their patients but also showed them how to discuss medical options more effectively.
She also explains how she handled the awkwardness felt by a group of white women during discussion of the film.
“I came to ask if I could help them, and they said, ‘We absolutely do not have any idea of what we’re supposed to be talking about.’ That was very interesting. Their willingness to admit that and to listen and to hear and then to try to step out of their comfort zone.
“I respected them, that’s okay. That’s what this is about,” Linda went on. “What we’re going to talk about is what you didn’t know, what surprises were there for you. They were okay with that, and then they were able to latch on to that and start talking. They were able to step past, ‘Oh my God, we’re so white and we don’t know and everybody is going to be mad at us and they’re not going to want to talk to us.’ The reality is is this is new information and the fact that you are here and that you’re engaged and willing to learn is where we’re starting.”
Connections with Shakti Butler and World Trust
Linda met Shakti Butler at the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE) more than a decade ago. She found herself gravitating toward Shakti’s presentations both at that and in subsequent NCORE conferences until finally Shakti expressed the desire to work with her. “I’ve known Linda for years and have admired the way she moves through the world. When we decided to expand our pool of facilitators, she was one of the first people I called,” says Shakti Butler. “Challenging entrenched patterns of inequity is difficult work. Linda is an educator who is grounded and present. People are receptive to new perspectives and new relationships in the environment of trust that she creates.”
About Linda Handy
Linda currently represents Area 3 on the Board of Trustees at Peralta Community Colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area. For the last 13 years, she was the Community Liaison Coordinator for a behavioral health organization in Oakland. She is a California native who graduated from Laney College with a degree in Fashion Arts and M.S. degree in Organizational Development and Analysis from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.
She has a long and impressive history of community building and education work. She developed the first teen pregnancy program in San Leandro for Girls Inc. almost 30 years ago. As Chair of the Oakland Coalition of Congregations, she pushed for improvements to student education and safety in Oakland schools and enjoyed bringing “to the table” people from all religions, cultures, and ethnicities to find effective solutions. She has worked extensively on behalf of the mentally ill and unemployed of her community, helping them transition into meaningful work and lives.
Now in her sixties, Linda has experienced “a lot of firsts” in her life. She and her family moved to the first planned black community in Parchester Village in Richmond, California. “Then in 1960,” she says, “we moved to Oakland and were the first blacks on our block. First black campfire girl, first black flight attendant, first black everything — and with that, a lot of hell and a lot of pain. Integrating is not fun, trust me. My life has always been fight for what you believe in.”
But in spite of those challenges, Linda developed an open mind and heart. “I think I was always curious,” she told us. “When you’re curious, people always want to share their lives and you’re enriched by what they choose to share with you.”