Giving from the top
The word “scholastic” does more than conjure up images of universities, colleges, dons and dogma.
It also brings to mind the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, a firm whose reputation isn’t simply tied to the global appeal of Harry Potter or I Spy.
In the international publishing and media industries, Scholastic Inc. is universally known for its appealing and educationally effective materials – magazines, books, audio-visuals, television and digital works, you name them – that encourage children to develop a love of reading and by extension a craving for learning.
It’s at that multi-national corporation with assets of more than US$2 billion and almost 10 000 employees scattered in different parts of the world, that Linda Gadsby, a Barbadian with firm family roots in Ellerton, St George, and Kirtons, St Philip, flourishes as a top attorney.
As vice-president and deputy general counsel in the corporation’s legal and business affairs division in New York, Gadsby handles all labour and employment legal issues; links arms with the firm’s human resources department to manage a culture of fairness and equity that has succeeded in keeping Scholastic from being embroiled in contentious and costly law suits; and she is at the table during collective bargaining sessions, arbitration and mediation.
“It’s quite challenging and satisfying to work for a company that inspires a love of literacy and has a professional relationship with more than half of the teachers in America who have active accounts with Scholastic,” said Gadsby, who has been at the firm for at least 15 years. “The interests of parents, teachers and students are at the heart of what we do.”
An attorney since 1993, the graduate of New York University School of Law and Cornell University School of Industrial and Labour Relations was born in London and spent part of her early years growing up in Barbados. She traces her interest in the law to her days in elementary school. It has led to a career path that has gone beyond her wildest dreams.
Some things are clear about Gadsby. Heading the list is the satisfaction she gets from being successful in the highly competitive corporate environment. Then there is her community involvement, “spurred by the desire to give back” to society and to be involved in the education of young people.
It’s not difficult to see why the latter is so important. A soccer and basketball mum of a son who is about to become a teenager, Gadsby is often seen on weekends cheering the youth from the sidelines and the stands in suburbs of South Orange in New Jersey where she lives.
“His development is very important to me,” she added.
But it goes beyond her child. A founding member of the Young Barbadian Professionals Society (YBPS) in New York, Gadsby heads its scholarship committee which has so far raised US$16 000 for scholarships to Barbadian and other Caribbean students and has made US$8 000 in book awards. She is also a mover and shaker in YBPS’ mentoring programme that helps guide the youth to productive and satisfying careers.
“We have the Great Genes campaign to assist more young Barbadians through funds raised from corporations and our members,” she explained. “Our immediate goal is to raise an additional US$15 000 to finance scholarships.
“Growth in entrepreneurship, trade and other areas are also key to many of the goals of the society.”
That’s why when YBPS holds its career forum at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on August 8 as part of the Barbados Government’s diaspora network conference, Gadsby will be an active participant in the drive to have young Barbadians plan and pursue their career goals.“We in the Society are exceedingly proud of Barbados’ record of economic and social expansion since Independence,” she said.