Dr Linda Saddlemire heads the Glendora, CA branch of Clifton Larson Allen LLP (CLA) – the eighth largest Certified Public Accounting (CPA) firm in the United States. She has 36 years of experience in public accounting and was the managing partner and CEO of Vicenti, Lloyd & Stutzman prior to the firm joining CLA in 2017. Although her position overseeing fraud, corruption and other criminal investigations exposes her to some of the less savoury aspects of humanity, that experience is balanced by a passionate focus on helping her company give back to the community in a meaningful and lasting way.
A JOURNEY OF AWAKENING
Linda first learnt the power of business giving while studying for her MBA. She was surprised at how businesses could address the needs of communities in a way that was different from government or non-profits. One inspiring example was of the Merck Pharmaceutical corporation developing and distributing a cure for “river blindness” that was plaguing millions of west and central Africans in the late 1980s – all for free. This powerful act inspired Linda interest in heading up her company’s giving programs.
Nothing, however, had as profound an impact on Linda’s commitment to social change as her trip to South Africa in 2006 on an international study tour. Although inspired by visiting important South African historical sites (including the island on which apartheid opponent and future South African President Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for nearly two decades), she was shocked to see the appalling conditions in which many township inhabitants live. The lack of running water, sanitation, proper shelter, and clothing was apparent and pervasive. The situation was amplified when Linda returned to her comfortable hotel room, overlooking one of the townships. This stark contrast cemented her commitment to make an impact on this humanitarian crisis.
Not long after her transformational trip to South Africa, Linda attended an American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) conference in Las Vegas where she first met Paul Dunn and Masami Sato, the co-founders of B1G1. It was there that she learned how making a global social impact didn’t have to be an impossible undertaking, even for small businesses.
“I know what it’s like to feel helpless as a business leader. It wasn’t until I found B1G1 that I was able to fulfill my need to help on a global level,” Linda reflected.
This encounter led to Linda’s firm (Vicenti, Lloyd & Stutzman at that time) becoming one of the earliest accounting firms to partner with B1G1, and also started Linda’s journey in supporting the 17th Sustainable Development Goal.
“Goal #17 – ‘Partnerships for the Goals’ resonates with and inspires me because it reminds us of the deep connectivity we have with one another throughout the globe and the power of what we can achieve if we work collaboratively on enhancing social equity in our world.”
“And B1G1 is set up beautifully to make it seamless and easy for business owners to create impacts in our community and our world,” added Linda.
OWNING THE COMMITMENT
For Linda, a business’ responsibilities extend beyond its shareholders to its community and environment. Vicenti had fully internalised and taken ownership of this concept under Linda’s leadership; her team members chose the projects to give to each annual tax season, which includes providing water, vitamins, and education to people in need. The company also creatively embedded giving in different business activities – from recruiting employees to onboarding new clients, and even celebrating their 60th anniversary with a bang!
Besides involving her team in monetary contributions, Linda also urged them to take part in a B1G1 Study Tour. This precious learning opportunity provided the Vicenti team with the same type of first-hand experience Linda had in Africa and solidified their commitment to social change and to doing good.
Linda was stoked when her team members returned from the Study Tour to India and shared countless stories that changed their perspectives forever. In fact, Linda counts this experience as one of the highlights of her career and a business leader.
I hope my leadership as a business owner has inspired others within the company to keep the spirit of doing business for good alive.
Linda’s impact on her team became apparent in a very extraordinary circumstance: after the heartbreaking loss of both her parents within two days, Linda’s colleagues at Vicenti responded with an inspiring B1G1 campaign to support nursery schools in Ethiopia – a cause dear to the family as one of their grandchildren is an adopted child from Ethiopia. This not only resulted in a stunning 27,500 days of medical support, but the act of giving was a wonderful way of supporting Linda and her family during that difficult period.
A LASTING LEGACY
When Linda and the Vicenti team joined CLA in 2017, Linda continued to wield her influence for good. She now serves on the Board of Directors of CLA’s charitable foundation and its Diversity and Inclusion Council, and continues to help in enhancing CLA’s culture around giving activities into a model others will foster.
And that’s just the beginning.
“I want to be part of the B1G1 movement in the United States. Right now, we are only working with one office in the Los Angeles area. I would like to be part of possibly expanding our engagement with other office locations throughout the US,” Linda shares excitedly.
Besides leading her business in giving, Linda also recently joined the B1G1 Giving Board. She now spearheads the effort in identifying more US-based charities that the B1G1 business community can support to help the movement gain even more traction in the United States.
“[I’ve always believed that] it takes a joint effort among businesses, government, not-for-profit organisations and individuals to address and make positive change in these areas.”
Linda truly walks the talk throughout her career and her life.
The B1G1 team is deeply grateful for the impact Linda has made on the B1G1 Business for Good community and what she’ll continue to do. More significantly, we can’t wait to see the impact we can create together if more business owners stepped forward and did their part for the Goals.
CLA is B1G1 Legacy Maker for the week of 25 February 2019. By sponsoring the B1G1 giving space for a week, CLA has enabled thousands of giving impacts to be created around the world.