Since 1988, Linda O’Neal has been the executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth (TCCY), an independent state agency with a primary mission of advocacy to improve the quality of life for Tennessee children and families and provide leadership for other children’s advocates.
As executive director for TCCY, Linda chairs the Youth Transitions Advisory Council, co-chairs the Council on Children’s Mental Health, and serves on the following groups: Administrative Office of the Court’s Court Improvement Program Advisory Committee and Law Subcommittee; Department of Children’s Services Advisory Committee and Children’s Justice Task Force; Department of Health Child Fatality Review Team and Tennessee Young Child Wellness Council; Department of Human Services Advocates Committee and Child Care and Development Fund Advisory Committee; Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Policy and Planning Council; and the Second Look Commission. She is a member of the "Building Strong Brains: Tennessee's ACEs Initiative" Coordinating Team guiding implementation of the initiative.
Linda began her career working with children in foster care. She was involved in juvenile justice system advocacy with the Tennessee Law Enforcement Planning Agency and as executive director of the Institute for Children’s Resources (ICR). At ICR, she led advocacy efforts to pass legislation to remove children from adult jails, worked with the Tennessee Bar Association and the Supreme Court to develop the first Tennessee Rules of Juvenile Procedure, and with the Tennessee Children’s Services Commission, a TCCY predecessor agency, and the Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to develop the first record keeping system for Tennessee juvenile courts.
Immediately prior to coming to TCCY, Linda was employed by the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services where she provided legislative and administrative advocacy on behalf low-income people, and she chaired a statewide task force on children in foster care.
Linda currently serves on the board of directors for Tennessee Voices for Children and United Ways of Tennessee and the Coalition for Juvenile Justice Government Relations Committee. She previously served on the boards for Tennessee Alliance of Legal Services; Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare (President 1995-1996); Metro Action Commission; Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee; and the inaugural KIDS COUNT Steering Committee.
Linda is a licensed attorney with a J.D. from the Nashville School of Law where she was inducted into Cooper’s Inn. She also has a bachelor of science. in History, cum laude, from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and a master’s in Public Administration from a joint UT-MTSU program.
Over the years, Linda has received national, southeast regional, state and local recognition for her work in children’s services and juvenile justice advocacy, including: Outstanding Leadership for Youth and Families in Tennessee, Southeastern Network of Youth & Family Services, Inc., 1987; Dedication to Tennessee’s Children, Tennessee Foster Care Association, 1988; Friend of Children Award, Tennessee Voices for Children, 2003; Children’s Champion, Tennessee Association for the Education of Young Children, 2004; Advocate of the Year, Tennessee CASA Association, 2006; A.L. Carlisle Child Advocacy Award, National Coalition for Juvenile Justice, 2008; Lifetime Invisible Child Award, Tennessee Voices for Children, 2010; The Linda Christie and William F. Moynihan Lifetime Achievement Award, Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare, 2010; Tennessee Chapter Public Official of the Year, National Association of Social Workers, 2010; Friend of Children Award, Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010; Children’s Champion, Nashville Area Association for the Education of Young, 2011; and Policy Leadership Award, Ready by 21, 2011.
Linda has been married 44 years and has a daughter who is a nurse practitioner, a son-in-law who is an experimental pilot with the United States Army and a grandson. One of the volunteer activities that has meant the most to Linda was serving as a Girl Scout leader for 13 years.