linda cesare macfarlane ds ’83
please tell us about your current work and what you love about it.
i am the executive director of the community loan fund of the capital region, inc. where i am able to promote sustainable community development efforts for economically underserved people and communities. this organization focuses on loans to micro-entrepreneurs, to women and minority owned businesses, and to non-profit organizations who service individuals in low income census tracts. in addition, we provide training and technical assistance programs. i enjoy this work because i am able to give back to my community every day, help individuals realize their dreams of entrepreneurship, and work with an amazing group of people who believe in the mission of this organization.
what are some of the biggest challenges you’re conquering at the moment?
i run a community development financial institution (cdfi), non-profit loan fund organization with a social mission. my biggest challenge at the moment is our federal government, oval office in particular, that is trying to eliminate federal funding to organizations that provide funds to disadvantaged communities. conquering funding challenges requires new strategies, new collaborations, and new ways of doing business.
what’s one of the funniest stories you remember from your time at ds?
oh goodness, i have so many. while at ds i was a weekday boarding student. we had fun both during and after school. one story that still makes me laugh: a japanese boarding student, (after 36 years i’ve forgotten the correct spelling of her name), received a care package from home. she was so excited to share it. we all tried the dried seaweed. it was awful! by the end of the night, she said she knew we wouldn’t like it but thought it so funny, the looks on our faces while we ate dried seaweed. the next morning instead of the flag on the flag pole, some of her clothing was blowing in the wind. sr. seitz suggested the clothing come down before day students arrived, and the flag be put up.
what stands out from your doane stuart experience as influential on the life you lead today?
the strive for excellence in academics and the structured independence of the boarding floor influenced me to become a passionate person who cares deeply for others and a person who pushes myself harder than anyone else. i spent four years living with girls from different countries, different socio-economic backgrounds, and different religious beliefs. i learned to respect people who were different from me, listen to others, and value cultural differences. i carry all of that in my professional and personal life today.
what is making you feel grateful today?
i am grateful every day for my beautiful daughter, who was a miracle baby. the love of a mother is very powerful and unwavering. as i watch her grow, i am constantly amazed at her beauty, intelligence, sense of humor, and deep caring for other people. she is 9 years old.
what is one of the top items on your bucket list?
i’ve been fortunate to experience a ride on an elephant’s trunk in taiwan, fly off an aircraft carrier in the south china sea, and live abroad in hong kong, vienna, london, and bahamas. i’ve always enjoyed the ocean, taking walks and runs on the beach. one of my bucket list items is climbing a lighthouse for the beautiful view.
who inspires you?
Two people whom I have not met in person, but am inspired by the work they do to improve the lives of women: 1) Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In; helping women achieve their ambitions. 2) Muhammad Yunus, Banker to the Poor & Nobel Peace Prize Winner; helping women of very low income move out of poverty and into successful business ownership.