Linda Carter speaks in casual conversation like she’s reciting poetry. Her voice soothes, and her eyes are
They glance up at framed images of wild cats and zebras on a wall in her office on the floor above Caffe Europa along Las Olas Boulevard.
Carter is the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Broward, and her husband, Michael, took these photos during their trip to Africa. This year, the couple traveled to Peru to explore the Amazon.
But while journeying to foreign places is a passion, Carter, 61, says after visiting South America, “We actually had breakfast at the W Fort Lauderdale, and we looked out along the beach and we went, ‘Wow, we really do live in an amazing, beautiful place.’”
Carter is a South Florida native. She was born at Broward General Hospital and left only to pursue a marketing degree from the University of Florida.
Growing up in Broward, Carter says, “There were no science museums, there was no performing arts center. There was nothing much. Las Olas used to close for the summer, Interstate 95 didn’t even go to Broward Boulevard. It stopped at Davie.”
Similarly, when Carter first arrived at the Community Foundation of Broward 20 years ago, it too wasn’t the same as it is now.
“We were only about four staff people, and we were not quite giving out $1 million a year,” she recalls. “Probably no one had ever heard of us before. We had done a lot of great work. It was not broken. We were just young and small.”
Carter has since taken “not quite giving out $1 million a year” and grown yearly community investments to $10 million. At press time, the organization was on pace to reach a major milestone this month—$100 million in grants since its inception in 1984.
What’s stayed the same is the organization’s purpose, which is to connect people who care with causes that matter to them by creating charitable funds in their names. If fund holders pass away, the Community Foundation continues their legacies by making donations in the directions of their interests.
“There was a woman, Margaret Roach, who was a real leader in the African-American community, who created a small fund with us, and when she was in the process of crafting it, she goes, ‘Well, what should I make my fund be about?’ and I went, ‘If you could create a magic wand, what’s important to you?’” Carter remembers.
What was important to Roach was the funding of programs for African-American boys in middle school when there’s a lot of peer pressure to do bad or good. She has since passed away, but Carter says, “We are doing exactly what we promised to do. She’s making a difference and she’s been gone probably 10 years at least. We’re here to honor that donor intent.”
Given her own magic wand, Carter says she would use it to make locals realize how special Broward County is. But through the impact of her work, it seems she already has her hands on one.
“When you travel and you see other communities, this is an amazing place,” she says. “We are as a community so blessed. We have so many talented folks who do want to be involved in the community, who call this home, and work toward making it better.”