Since 1973, Linda Jacobs Davis has worked and volunteered for numerous local and national nonprofit organizations on a diversity of issues.
Born in Coral Gables, Florida, after her parents left Philadelphia to start their life together, Linda was raised in a family where both parents worked and volunteered; her mother active in the Jewish congregation and her father with youth sports.
As a teenager, Linda grew increasingly interested in social issues, beginning with the green party, civil rights and the women’s movement. Fiercely independent from an early age, Linda rebelled against establishment, rules and gender bias; refusing to stand for the national anthem during high school, questioning why boys couldn’t have hair longer than their ears, arguing over rules set on clothing restrictions and wondering why women were not paid equal to men and were not represented in leadership positions, both business and political.
At the University of South Florida, Linda studied dance, art history and women’s studies, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts. It was there that Linda began studying the subject of transformation and leadership, and where she met her husband. They moved to San Francisco in 1978 to work for Werner Erhard and the EST organization, a program that inspires its participants to make a difference for people in all walks of life, bringing to the forefront the ideas of transformation, personal responsibility, accountability and possibility.
While traveling the U.S. as a volunteer seminar leader, she learned of an organization dedicated to changing the lives of youth at risk. The Breakthrough Foundation was a nonprofit that produced breakthroughs in communities, and more importantly in the lives of young people aged ten-to-twenty, all of whom either had a history of violence, drugs and crime or were headed in that direction. During her seven-year tenure there she created a funding stream to provide scholarships to all youth who participated, transforming and saving the lives of many by breaking their gang attachment.
In 1987 Linda’s husband died suddenly. Struggling to find herself, Linda left her job and opened an art gallery in San Francisco, incorporating her education and love of art. However, being out of the nonprofit sector didn’t last long. In 1989-1990 Linda married again, delivered two sons (one just two days before the Loma Preieta Earthquake) closed the gallery, and spent a year fulfilling the ‘bucket list’ of her best friend who died of a brain tumor. Having lost both a spouse and best friend forced her to think about life, death, and what happens in between. This painful time turned into an empowering experience that re-focused and directed her to a life of service.
Realizing that nonprofit work was a worthy and righteous profession, Linda moved her career to Marin, serving as the development director for Marin Child Care Council and then Development/Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino. In 1996, Linda was hired as the CEO of the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce where she completed a six-year program and earned a certificate from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organization Management, and was recognized as an Accredited Chamber Executive by the Western Association of Chamber Executives.
In 2002, Linda became the CEO of the Center of Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership. The mission of the Center is to develop a vital and engaged community dedicated to building and sustaining quality of life by enriching and strengthening volunteerism and nonprofit organizations, enhancing community leadership and involvement, and promoting the impact and value of the nonprofit sector.
Besides raising two sons, Linda says that her most inspiring work comes through volunteering, whether with youth sports, education, advocacy, environmental restoration, disaster relief or social services. Her favorite was when her family went to New Orleans along with twenty-eight youth and adults from their Congregation to demolish and rebuild homes after hurricane Katrina. Linda said, “I saw how our labor impacted the lives of the devastated home owners, neighbors and the community while enriching the lives of the volunteers, and most importantly opening the eyes and ears of our sons to the world while teaching and modeling for them the importance of giving to those in need”.
Linda has served on committees with Points of Light Foundation, Hands-On Network, California Volunteers and Volunteer Centers of California. She is on the board for the Marin Economic Forum, California Association of Nonprofits, Marin Interagency Disaster Coalition, Marin School to Career Partnership, American Red Cross Leadership Council and a member of the Marin Forum, California Association of Nonprofits Policy Council, and California Management Assistance Partnership.
Past participation includes the Community Media Center of Marin, Novato Lacrosse Club, Marin Football Club, Marin Independent Journal Editorial Board, Mill Valley Rotary, Rancho Elementary School Leadership Team, Marin Women’s Services Coalition, Commission on the Status of Women, National Organization for Women, Marin Medical Society Task Force on Domestic Violence, and Campaign Committee for Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey.