LLS Assistant Dean Recognized For Efforts to Promote Diversity & Inclusion
Linda Whitfield ‘92 has long championed diversity at LMU Loyola Law School, where in her role as Senior Assistant Dean for Student Services and Dean of Students she has presided over an expansion of programming to promote inclusion at the law school. So it is no surprise that the National Association for Law Student Affairs Professionals (NALSAP) has recognized her efforts by honoring her with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award for 2020.
Most recently, Whitfield spearheaded the launch of LLS’ Black Lives Matter website section on the Diversity portal she helped create. This is fitting with the NALSAP’s criteria for recognizing honorees as leaders who are:
- actively engaged in promoting equity, diversity and inclusivity in their law school community;
- demonstrates an awareness of unconscious bias and the importance of cultural competency;
- demonstrates a commitment to identify and eliminate unfair bias, stereotypes and barriers to academic and professional success; and
- implements diversity-related programming to ensure that students graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary for a diverse society.
A graduate of the law school's JD Day Program, first-generation college student and Black Law Student Association (BLSA) board member, Whitfield brings draws on her personal experiences to support students of all backgrounds in achieving their goals.
After receiving her law degree, Whitfield became a practicing attorney at the Los Angeles office of international law firm Perkins Coie LLP and then the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Later, upon relocating to Atlanta, Whitfield took a break from the legal profession to become a special education teacher — informed by a son who has autism. She also completed a library science degree and worked at Legal Aid in Atlanta.
Whitfield says the law school’s public service mission aligns with her values. “I returned because of my desire to help others and to work at a place where creativity, emotional intelligence and leadership skills would be recognized and valued. I am an idea person, and in this role I have the opportunity and, in fact, I’m encouraged to innovate to meet goals and objectives.”
While overseeing the law school’s Career Development Office, Whitfield played a key role in implementing the Resident Associate Program, which helps LLS graduates secure yearlong positions at small or mid-size firms that don’t typically hire new attorneys.
Among her long list of accomplishments, Whitfield has reformed and updated the law school’s disability accommodation and access processes to be more efficient, transparent and supportive of students. She has fostered inclusion for transgender students through education workshops for the community and through myriad policy updates providing for gender neutral bathroom signage and student name changes on official documents. Additionally, she has amplified the law school’s support for first-generation students, creating robust, cross-team programs to make those efforts more visible and accessible to students.