Linda Tarr-Whelan is a premier expert on women's leadership in this country and internationally. As a frequent speaker to college and women's audiences, in the media, and as an advisor to top officials in the United States and Europe, Linda promotes more women in leadership as good business and smart politics. Her book, Women Lead the Way: Your Guide to Stepping Up and Changing the World, brings her strong experience and personal convictions about women's strengths to the ground level with a practical road map for women to move up. Currently a distinguished senior fellow at Demos, a network for ideas and action, she directs the Women's Leadership Initiative.
Ambassador Tarr-Whelan has always been a change agent. The constant thread in her life and work has been to lead beyond the status quo to a more egalitarian, peaceful, and just world. She has pursued the dream of women's advancement from her first day on the job as a nurse, when she was fired for failing to stand up when a doctor came into the room.
Linda's work as a nurse might seem a far cry from the rest of her illustrious career, but one that left a lifetime mark on her ability to listen and desire to reach out to help and empower others. It also taught her to endure eighteen-hour workdays, believe in the worth and dignity of individuals in the most menial as well as the most exalted of jobs, and encounter every kind of boss, from the empty suits and top-down autocrats to the most inclusive and collaborative. When frozen systems didn't budge, she helped to create or build organizations to make them move, including the Center for Women in Government, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Center for Policy Alternatives, Demos, and Quantum Leaps, Inc. Linda was a U.S. delegate to the groundbreaking UN Fourth World Conference on the Status of Women in Beijing, and her career path and networks stretch across the globe.
She and he husband, Keith, created their own consulting firm, Tarr-Whelan & Associates, Inc., advising small and large national and international organizations on managing change, but she got there after a career of commitment to the ideal that women should play a central and key leadership role in organizations, government, and politics. She lived and worked in leadership roles in all those worlds--as a union organizer and negotiator; as the lead lobbyist for a two-million-member teachers' organization; as a deputy assistant to President Jimmy Carter in the White House when she was thirty-nine; as the administrative director of a large state agency in New York; as the head of a nationally recognized policy and leadership development organization, the Center for Policy Alternatives; and as a U.S. ambassador to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, appointed by President Bill Clinton--all positions that have traditionally been the preserve of me. At every stop along the way she has brought other women in and up.
Through all this she has placed her family and their well-being first, balancing both, just like most women. Linda is a survivor of colon cancer. She and her husband, Keith, have been true partners on this journey, together with their two children, Melinda Walker and Scott Tarr-Whelan, and their four grandchildren. The couple lives on St. Helena Island, South Carolina.
Linda Graduated from the Johns Hopkins Hospital School of NUrsing and has a BSN from Johns Hopkins University, an MS from the University of Maryland, and honorary PhDs from Chatham University and Plymouth State University. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, has been honored for her leadership by numerous universities and organizations, and has served on dozens of boards of directors at the community, state, and national levels. She currently chairs the National Women's Advisory Council for Pax World, which includes the Women's Equity Fund, and is a cochair of the Leadership Circle for the Effort to ratify CEDAW, the Women's Treaty, as well as having an active role in her church, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Beaufort, South Carolina, and serving on the board of the Child Abuse Prevention Association of Port Royal, South Carolina.