Class of ’22 Spirit honorees: Linda Little ’97 — transforming community health

Each year, University of Detroit Mercy chooses an alumnus from each of its Colleges or Schools to honor as someone who has excelled in his or her profession, demonstrated outstanding leadership in work and devoted himself or herself in service to the larger community. Award recipients reflect the University’s mission of excellence and service and bring pride to their alma mater. This year, the University will celebrate seven honorees at a special ceremony Thursday, Sept. 29, at the Ballroom of the Student Union on the McNichols Campus. If you are interested in attending the event, you can purchase tickets at

This year, the College of Health Professions will honor Linda Walton Little ’97, president and CEO, Neighborhood Service Organization.

Linda LittleLittle has more than 25 years of experience providing transformational healthcare leadership in for- and nonprofit healthcare systems, managed care, government, community health and private sector consulting.  

She earned a bachelor of science in Nursing from the McAuley School of Nursing and an MBA from Wayne State, combining the two degrees to improve health outcomes in southeast Michigan. 

In her current position as president and CEO of the Neighborhood Service Organization, Little works to integrate healthcare into the $68-million nonprofit agency’s social service programs to improve health equity for vulnerable populations. 

Under her leadership, NSO developed the nation’s first Healthy Housing Campus, a $25-million project that includes permanent supportive housing for the medically fragile, and Detroit’s first Healthy Housing Center.  

Recognizing Little’s commitment to excellence in healthcare led to her appointment by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to the state’s COVID-19 Community Action Task Force on Racial Disparities. It was the second time she had been called upon by a Michigan governor: She served on Rick Snyder’s Task Force on Southeastern Michigan Perinatal Quality improvement.  

She has served on many community boards, including the American Heart Association of Southeast Michigan, where she served as president, and Beaumont Health Spectrum Health, Michigan’s largest healthcare system. She is the current president of the Renaissance Chapter of Links Incorporated, an international service organization of professional women who develop programs to advance communities of color across the globe. 

Over the years, Little has received many honors for her work including being named last year as one of Crain’s Detroit Business’ 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan. 

Other honorees this year are:

College of Business Administration — John C. Donnelly ’72, consulting director, Donnelly Penman & Partners
College of Liberal Arts & EducationMarlena Peleo-Lazar ’72, chief creative officer (Ret.), McDonald’s Corporation
College of Engineering & ScienceRose A. Ryntz, Ph.D. ’83, president, Ryntz & Associates, LLC
School of Dentistry — Cheri S. Newman ’89, ’90, ’98, adjunct professor (Ret.) Detroit Mercy Dental
School of Architecture & Community Design — Craig L. Wilkins ’85, senior lecturer of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan
School of Law — Patricia D. Kennedy-Scott ’78, regional president (Ret.), Kaiser Foundation Health of Ohio

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