Council Mourns Passing of Linda Bidrossian
On Saturday, April 18, the Bay Area Council received the crushing blow when our beloved Linda Bidrossian – the Senior Vice President of Public Policy and leader of our Workforce of the Future Initiative – passed away. Linda, just 54 years old, was an especially vibrant, vivacious, successful and saucy member of our team, and we loved her deeply.
In 2015, the Bay Area Council decided we needed to completely revamp and relaunch our Workforce Program. An Executive Committee team led by Teresa Briggs (Vice Chair of Deloitte) and Glenn Shannon (Vice Chair of Shorenstein) conducted an extensive search for the top talent in California for the position. They eventually found and successfully recruited Linda Bidrossian, who at the time was working for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on workforce issues. Among other previous work, she had started the Bixel Exchange, a new center and accelerator for high-tech and clean-tech startups hosted at the LA Area Chamber of Commerce.
We hired Linda with a mission to restart and rebuild the Workforce Program, and get it funded. And so she did.
Linda had a skill set that would have been especially needed in a deep recession. She built a program that connected workers from challenged populations in the Bay Area with tailored jobs at Bay Area Council member companies. Thousands were hired and had their lives transformed. As the economy changed and some occupations were destroyed while others were created, she worked in the trenches with colleges and other training programs (as well as with our members) to help displaced workers get credentials to do new jobs, and then get them hired.
This skunkworks of systemic changes became a gold standard – one increasingly funded by major corporations, foundations and the State of California. The newest version of this program – based around the old concept of apprenticeships – is looking to be a key part of California’s employment recovery. Just this past January, Linda brought a dream into reality: a first-of-its-kind event, the Building the Future of California Talent Symposium convened leaders from the public, private, and education sectors to plot out how students need to prepare for the impacts brought on by the Future of Work. Her persistence to chart new paths for California’s workforce was endless.
At the Symposium, Linda’s strength was obvious to all. She had fought through a year of lymphoma and appeared to be on a path to recovery, but in a setback, a seizure had paralyzed half of her face and her hair was an inch long. As was her way, the consummate professional, she swallowed hard and stood and delivered. Moderating sessions, using wit and intelligence to keep the conversations moving and the audience engaged. She was so damn strong and had such a will to persevere in every endeavor.
In her fight with the cancer, Linda insisted she continue working full-throttle – with long hours while getting treatments and being forced by doctors to stay away from her co-workers – because she said the work brought her so much joy, and energized her.
Part of her success was how she built relationships on and off the job. Always remembering the way of grabbing a quick coffee or lunch, or a thoughtful little gift, to cement a friendship. She was funny. She was persnickety in a charming way. She loved life. She loved the Bay Area Council. She made us all better people. She is impossible to forget. We are so thankful for the time she gave us. We will miss her terribly.
Due to COVID-19, her family is planning a memorial for much later this year. We will be in touch when details are available.
It was a privilege and a joy to work with Linda. She pursued the ambitious goals of the Workforce Committee with genuine passion, dogged persistence, tremendous expertise and unflagging optimism, building ground-breaking partnerships and championing innovative programs that advanced important systemic changes while creating real time career opportunities for thousands of Bay Area residents. She will be missed greatly and remembered with deep affection.
Glenn Shannon, Vice Chair, Shorenstein Properties LLC and former Co-Chair, Workforce of the Future Committee
Linda was such a bright and energetic force for good, which she channeled into a series of projects that uplifted whole communities. There were so many times that I stood inspired by her tenacity, foresight and determination. She brought humor to us all but for me a deep appreciation for her faith and resolve to win the struggle over this disease. She selflessly and tirelessly dedicated herself to helping so many. Her optimism was infectious, and you rarely felt that her physical setbacks were anything more than just some of life’s bumps in the road, and she was determined to overcome. She is so terribly missed.
Julius Robinson, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for the Americas, Union Bank, and Co-Chair, Workforce of the Future Committee