Linda Green rose

Linda Green rose to the rank of Assistant Chief during her 30-year career with the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection. She held various positions on Incident Management Teams, provided training at the region and state level, and received a Community Heroism Award for her efforts during the Valley Fire. She holds a BS in Business/Management. An experienced speaker and published author, she is now a Certified High Performance Coach, helping people achieve success in their own lives.

What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.

I was the youngest of 4 children. Our father died when I was a teenager. Even though Mom had a job, it was a struggle for her. Still, she wanted us all to go to college. She just couldn’t pay for it, so we had to work our way through school.

That led me to a seasonal job as a firefighter with the California Department of Forestry, a job I held over the next 5 summers. It paid better than many other jobs, and I liked the challenge. Eventually though, I decided to switch to pursuing a fire service career. I changed colleges to study fire science, began taking entry-level tests with various departments in my region, and stayed in contact with several of my peers, so that we could encourage each other as we worked towards our goal.

I did eventually get hired, and spent the next 30+ years working for what is now known as the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection, more commonly known as CAL FIRE. 

I finally returned to college in the early 2000s to achieve my Bachelor’s of Arts in Business with an emphasis in Management. I had an idea to run a business after I eventually retired from the fire service. About a year after I graduated, I was promoted to Battalion Chief. At that level, I dealt with city and county officials not only in emergency services, but also the building construction industry, planning commissions, and various volunteer organizations.

Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say YES, go for it!”

As I entered the final year of my fire service career, I felt stuck in a rut. I eventually hired a coach to help break through it, determine some practices I could adapt to finish my career strong, and steps to help identify future opportunities for service post-retirement. 

What I didn’t know at the time was that I had an undiagnosed post-traumatic stress injury due to a major fire incident from the previous year.  

Everything I had learned as a coaching client kept me functioning much longer than I would have been otherwise. Those same techniques I had learned as a coaching client helped accelerate my recovery. 

That is what got me into the world of coaching. I got certified in the process I had been coached through because I really wanted to know why it had been so beneficial.

Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?

The last few years I have volunteered much of my time and energy towards a non-profit called First Responders Support Network (FRSN). I sit on the Board of Trustees. Trying to stay operational during the pandemic was a challenge but we succeeded. The program provides treatment for First Responders struggling with post traumatic stress. We also offer a program for spouses and significant others on a smaller scale. We are currently addressing some of the roadblocks we have identified that limit our ability to scale up.

Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?

After my journey with post-traumatic stress, I wrote a book about it called “Solving the Post Traumatic Stress Brain Injury Puzzle: A First Responder’s GPS”  it was my attempt to make sense of the ups and downs of recovery. One of my goals was to give fellow first responders permission to talk about their occupational stress. Another goal was to break down some of the stigma attached to mental health challenges. Finally, I provided some exercises of self-discovery to help people heal.

Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?

Eliminate human-caused trauma. Certainly accidents and natural disasters will always exist. But changing the human dynamic away from violence and towards kindness would do much for the world.

Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women leadership today?

Women have been in leadership roles for thousands of years. You see, leadership is a mindset that does not require specific skills or knowledge. Leaders have a vision for a better future, and enable the people around them to work towards that goal.  Leadership is not a rank or a title. It is heart, though. That’s what makes women great leaders.

What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?

If you have a dream, work towards it, even if the people around you doubt you. Be willing to start small. Make mistakes. Failure is not final. It’s a stepping stone towards success.