“It’s great to work in a place with such tangible results.” That’s how Linda Mandolini ’85 sums up the most rewarding aspect of her job as the executive director of Eden Housing, a nonprofit developer of affordable housing located in California’s Bay Area. As one of the area’s oldest affordable housing developers—starting in 1968—Eden is also one of the most successful and respected developers of its kind, creating over 5,000 units of affordable housing and serving more than 58,000 people throughout Northern California.
Mandolini, who has led Eden for nine years, says that the path to her current position began at Wheaton, where she majored in political science with a minor in urban studies. “It all started with Jay Goodman’s ‘Government 101’ class my freshman year. His ‘game’ classes, particularly the one in local government, got me hooked.” Though she had planned on attending law school, a college internship introduced her to the area of affordable housing. After a stint in the Mayor’s Office of Housing in Boston and other similar positions, Mandolini moved to California in 1996, when she started at Eden as a project manager. Along the way, she earned an M.B.A. with a concentration in public and nonprofit management, from Boston University.
“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with a political science major if I didn’t go to law school, but I’ve landed in a place where I am literally working in applied political science. In our work at Eden we take local, state and federal housing policies and apply them with terrific outcomes and replicable results.”
Though the current economic climate has presented challenges for the area of affordable housing, Mandolini focuses on the positive fact that Eden is acquiring new property at prices that are more reasonable than they were in recent years. And she speaks with pride of Eden’s mission of providing high-quality affordable housing and the tangible effect it has on the people and communities they serve. “Every day I go to work and see the results: I meet the kids who live in our properties who are going to college, the seniors who live in the housing attached to our office who are out planting their gardens for the spring, and see the vibrant communities that now exist on lots that used to be underutilized or blighted.”
She adds, “At Eden we may not change the whole world in one fell swoop, but we have been able to create real impact on families and communities—one corner at a time.”
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