Her Legacy Lives On

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Linda-smiling-3Linda Sullins Ballew — 1950-2014

Those of you who have followed the JJIE know that thanks to the early and continuing inspiration, advice and support of Ruth Ann Harnisch of the Harnisch Foundation we have had four exciting years of growth with many more such years on the horizon.  What’s maybe less known is that from the beginning, Ruth Ann took counsel from Jennifer Raymond, who is now executive director, and Linda Sullins Ballew, director of projects, at the Harnisch Foundation.

Sadly Linda passed away earlier this month. She had ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, which needs no greater explanation in this month of social media-inspired fundraising and ice bucket dousings.

Usually I would get emails like these from Linda:  “I think BOKEH is genius — for those of us who are visual thinkers!” or “Congrats on membership in the Investigative News Network — just read about it today!”

It was part of who she was. Ruth Ann captured that essence when she wrote in her memorial tribute: “We will miss her unremitting sunshine in a sometimes shady world. Lindy always chose to see the best in everyone and everything.”

Her sense of humor came through even in this very sad May 2012 email that preceded a phone conference. She wrote: “I don’t know if I’ve shared with you that in August 2010, I was diagnosed with ALS. (Lou Gehrig ’s disease). Now my speech is being affected. Please share with your team. I don’t want anyone to think I am drinking on the job. ☺”

Later today I will write a little note to her family. It will be about legacy.  Linda’s early and continuing advice helped make us what are here at the JJIE.org and and its sister publication Youth Today. Each day our journalists and editors produce stories, members of our audience write commentary and partners throughout the youth justice and child welfare arenas produce research and resources. We amplify and share it all with people who want to improve a world that short-changes too many of our youth. Collectively we make a difference and each time we do a bit of Linda Sullins Ballew lives on.  So for our staff, our partners, readers and especially for all those children, thank you Linda.

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