Linda Sutherland describes herself as the public face of the Healthy Start Coalition of Orange County.
Her position took her to lunches, health fairs, fundraisers and meetings, where the focus was often on early childhood health and education.
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âIt’s pretty funny. If it has anything to do with kids and families, even if I wasn’t invited, I will introduce myself, âSutherland said with a laugh.
But after 20 years as CEO, her presence will be missed. She is retiring this month.
âI will definitely miss this place,â Sutherland said from his office in Orlando. âI will miss like-minded people who have a passion for it like me. “
Sutherland’s passion was what his colleagues wanted the community to understand about his career. They thought a retirement party wasn’t enough, they also nominated her for the News 6 Getting Results Award.
Healthy Start Project Manager Jarrod McCovery spoke on behalf of the entire office when he said: âNaming her was obvious. She has just accomplished and achieved so much during her tenure here.
McCovery added that Sutherland was an inspiration to him.
âHe’s someone I admire professionally and personally. She inspires and she is a good person in every way, âhe said.
Healthy Start is a free home visiting program that provides education and care coordination for pregnant women and families with children under 3. The goal of the program is to reduce the risk factors associated with premature birth, low birth weight, infant mortality and poor developmental outcomes.
As her retirement day approaches, Sutherland remains committed to the mission. His final days are spent answering emails, processing donations, and preparing for an upcoming audit.
âI tell people, ‘You really can’t get rid of me,’â Sutherland said, adding that she planned to stay involved with the maternal and child health initiative. âThey are stuck with me. There really is no escape if you have this early childhood passion.
Sutherland’s passion first manifested itself in 1990 when she decided to run for a seat on the Orange County School Board after meeting a candidate she saw as unqualified.
“I started complaining about him to my friends and coworkers and they said, ‘Put your money where your mouth is’, and that’s how I decided to run, and it really started to send messages to parents. “
Sutherland served on the Board of Directors for 12 years before joining the Healthy Start Coalition of Orange County.
The last day of Sutherland is June 30. She says she plans to travel, spend more time with her family and finally catch up on some novels.
âShe will be missed,â McCovery said. âHis legacy will live on in our programs and initiatives. We will continue his mission.
âI am proud to be surrounded by people here who believe in the cause and want to make the world a better place for moms and babies,â said Suthertland, reflecting on her career.
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