Healthy Start Coalition of Orange County, Inc.
Linda Sutherland has served as the Executive Director of the Healthy Start Coalition of Orange County since February 2001. As the chief executive officer of the Coalition, she oversees a $3.5 million budget and related staff and programs which support both the Coalition of over 160 members (serving over 7000 women and 5000 infants last year), as well as a variety of direct maternal and child health and social services offered to the community, including a Fatherhood program navigators for ACA enrollment.
The Coalition is responsible for identifying need in the community and designing and supporting related services for mothers and babies at risk to ensure that every baby gets a “healthy start” in life. In order to develop and maintain the Coalition and build community collaborations with the purpose of improving target health indices, Ms. Sutherland works with a wide variety of area maternal and child health providers, community agencies, and service providers.
As Healthy Start director she has taken an interest and leadership role health disparities, serving as one of the founding members of the Primary Care Access Network, chair of the Central FL Partnership on Health Disparities and initiated programs specifically to reduce racial disparities in birth outcomes. Linda was a founding member of the Early Learning Coalition and she is also a founder of the Foundation for Early Childhood Development which strives to inform about the importance of the first 5 years.
Prior to her work with the Coalition, she served as the President of the Orange County Council of PTAs and then on the Orange County School Board for twelve years, from 1990-2002. During her tenure she served as both chairman and vice chairman of the local school board and as President of the State School Board Association. She also represented Florida on the Council of Great City Schools and the National School Board Association as well as early childhood development advisory committees.
Ms. Sutherland was invited to the White House by then First Lady Laura Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush to a discussion on early literacy and school readiness in 2001 and then was invited to represent the state School Board association at President Clinton’s inauguration.
Her areas of special interest and advocacy have always been early childhood issues, especially related to early intervention and prevention, and legislative matters affecting the welfare of all children which has involved working closely with neighborhood groups, community leaders, and political representatives. She considers herself first and foremost, a child advocate, so appropriately has spent considerable time learning about brain research, child health and best practices of parenting, educating, etc. She was a pioneer in advocating for the importance of investing in the early years for better long-term outcomes. Because of these factors and her passion for the well-being of children, she is a sought after speaker at events related to the well-being of children, and serves on many boards responding to issues facing children and families in Central FL and around the state, including the FL Children’s Campaign and the Children’s Cabinet of Orange County. Ms. Sutherland has been married to her best friend, Doug, for 42 years and they have one son, Andrew.