For Linda Dickerson, making sure the many charitable organizations for whom she worked or served as a consultant were successful was more than just a job.
It was a passion that grew from putting her own physical challenges aside to get things done for others.
Ms. Dickerson, a longtime consultant to the region’s nonprofit organizations and a leading advocate for people with physical challenges, died on Saturday, Sept. 26, at her family’s farm in Greensburg. A longtime resident of Downtown Pittsburgh, she was 59.
“Linda has used a wheelchair to get around since she was a young child, but she never let that stand in the way of accomplishing anything she set out to do,” said longtime friend Ginny Thornburgh, a former first lady of Pennsylvania. “She had too much to do, too many ideas and too many problems to solve to be engrossed in self-awareness and self-pity.”
Thornburgh, who was a leading advocate for people with physical challenges while her husband, Dick Thornburgh, served as governor of Pennsylvania from 1979 to 1987, has continued to work on behalf of people with disabilities.
Ms. Dickerson most recently operated 501(c)(3) Squared, a Pittsburgh firm that provides management consulting services to clients including nonprofit organizations. She also was a principal in Lynch and Dickerson Resource Development.
She had served on the boards of the River City Brass Band, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and Carnegie Mellon University and was an ex officio member of the Point Park University board. She also has chaired the boards of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and VisitPittsburgh along with serving for two years as CEO of the National Aviary in Pittsburgh.
A 1978 graduate of Greensburg-Salem High School, she was recognized earlier this year as a Greensburg Salem Distinguished Alumni for her work.
Thornburgh said one of Ms. Dickerson’s greatest talents was as a “strategist” who could help take an idea and make it bloom.
“Whenever an agency needed assistance, whether it was for a fundraiser or a community campaign, she was the person you could go to for wise counsel because you knew that she would help you do it well,” she said.
Ms. Dickerson’s efforts on behalf of people with physical challenges included working with entertainment venues to ensure they have wheelchair-accessible seating and creating a business plan for Bender Consulting, a company that operates nationally to locate jobs for people with challenges.
She also is credited with working toward passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.
Steve Irwin, another longtime associate and friend of Ms. Dickerson, said she brought many skills to the table.
“She had vision and understood what an organization needed,” Irwin said. “And she was able to communicate those needs in a way that was articulate and compelling.”
Irwin described Ms. Dickerson as “a phenomenal writer, a great thinker and someone who understood people and how to get things done.”
Irwin said Ms. Dickerson’s death was not related to the rare form of muscular dystrophy that had confined her to a wheelchair.
“She was visiting her father (Logan Dickerson) on the family farm in Greensburg when she passed away,” he said. “It was very unexpected.”
Ms. Dickerson is survived by her father, many friends and business associates and the animals she loved — an exotic bird named Greybeard, and a dog named Tidbit.
Funeral arrangements for Ms. Dickerson are incomplete.
Memorial contributions can be made in Linda's memory to her favorite charities mentioned above.