Linda Starnes (’82) has been actively involved in the disability community as a special educator, parent, and volunteer. As a public speaker and disability advocate for the Parent Education Network of Florida, she presents at conferences and events across the country on a broad spectrum of topics including diagnosis and new dreams, caregiving, transitions, special health care issues, building a medical home, and faith and inclusive places of worship.
Starnes graduated with high honors with a BS in special and elementary education. She served as a special education consultant and content mastery teacher in Monroe County, Tennessee; Grand Prairie, Texas; and Carrollton, Texas.
In 1987 and 1988 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Starnes assisted Dick Thornburgh, the director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She assisted Thornburgh from 1988 to 1991 in Washington, DC, when he became US attorney general. Between 1991 and 1993, she was a special assistant for the America 2000 initiative in the office of the secretary of the US Department of Education and then earned her graduate certification in training and development from Georgetown University.
She has held leadership positions on many local, regional, and national boards of disability nonprofits, health care organizations, and public education and higher education institutions, including two terms on the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. She serves as a member of UT’s Task Force on Access, Inclusion, and Disability and on the CEHHS Dean’s Board of Advisors, of which she is a former chair.
Starnes was recently honored by UT with the Alumni Service Award, which recognizes exceptional service or long-term continuing service or leadership to the university.