Since 2004, Linda McDonald—a certified grief counselor, crisis intervention counselor-certified specialist, and author—has been president of Great Life Educational Academy, which she founded to help the public at large by lecturing, speaking, and writing about death and grief as well as focusing on fighting prescription drug abuse. Gaining expertise on these subjects in her personal life and by earning certifications from the American Academy of Grief Counseling, Ms. McDonald has written the deeply insightful and compassionate books “Farewell Planning with Love: Protecting Those We Leave Behind” and “I Cry at Night: A Mother’s Story” in addition to a work titled “Soft Selling in the 21st Century: A Complete Sales Solution,” drawing on her foundation of owning sales and marketing companies. She is working on another book scheduled for release soon.
Ms. McDonald knows and understands loss and grief firsthand. Three of her six children, one of her 12 grandchildren, and her first husband each died within several years of each other. In time she remarried and remains proud of her family, including her 13 great-grandchildren. Touched by her own and others’ heartbreaking and often life-changing experiences, Ms. McDonald created Teddy’s Sleeping Angel, a program in partnership with Build-A-Bear Workshop. Each cuddly teddy bear is outfitted with a specially designed rear compartment where an individual can keep or hold an urn, a picture, a lock of hair, or any item desired to continue to feel connected to the person they lost. Teddy’s Sleeping Angel began after Ms. McDonald’s daughter, Debbie, died and she planned a walkathon in her memory. Ms. McDonald promoted that she wanted to bring a big and beautiful poster of Debbie to the event instead of the urn. Build-A-Bear Workshop then contacted Ms. McDonald and built a special demo bear to honor Debbie for all to see the walkathon, which attracted more than 250 participants, many of whom lined up to hug the teddy bear after they saw kids in attendance who were drawn to it.
For her outstanding and tireless work, Ms. McDonald has been named Congressional Committee Woman of the Year in Washington, D.C., received the California Congressional Committee Award, and was honored with the Republican Senatorial Inner Circle Commission Award. In further recognition that she says she never could have dreamt, all of her books recently were accepted into the international book world and at prestigious, exclusive, invitation-only book expositions just for writers. A member of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors, the National Writers Union, the Writers Guild of America, and the Better Business Bureau, Ms. McDonald enjoys being onstage in front of people and has been welcomed in multiple countries where the books are featured. Even with these accolades, she considers her best achievement to be helping others, as that is her company’s primary purpose. Her caring extends equally outside of her business in support of Shriners Hospitals for Children and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Ms. McDonald believes her success is the result of her tenacity, trying new things, and wanting to do it all because “there are so many wonderful things to do in life.” What also separates her is that she has conceptualized, written, and fulfilled every program that she set out to do. More so, when making business presentations to prospective clients or employees, she thoroughly explains all the ways in which they stand to benefit and promises that with her program, they will receive what they are looking for. Learning countless lessons throughout her career, Ms. McDonald is a mentor whose most salient advice for rising professionals and entrepreneurs is to keep an open mind, take advantage of opportunities, and be unafraid of taking risks. In her leisure time, she enjoys boating, flying, and dancing. Mostly, she is a music enthusiast who plans to learn to play guitar and leave an additional artistic legacy as a performer.