Sphere Spotlight — Lina Buffington

We are pleased to introduce you to Lina Buffington, this weeks lovely Sphere Spotlight volunteer! Lina is an Executive Director for an organization called Nurses for Sexual and Reproductive Health, with a passion project in real estate social entrepreneurship. We were intrigued to learn more! Read on to hear for yourself…

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Sphere: Hi Lina! Thank you so much for meeting with us! So, do you live in Oakland? 

Lina: Actually no, I live in Berkeley. Honestly, I really am more of an east coast person. I miss the East coast, that is where my heart is. I am originally from Detroit. The bay area is definitely an interesting place. I feel like it’s been a good place in terms of getting into entrepreneurial spaces and participating in those conversations! 

Sphere: Oh! So what brought you here?

Lina: I came here for family. My husband wanted to live in California for a long time, and I was like “yeah…no”, so we moved to Philly, then Manhattan. Eventually I decided it would be easier for me to make a transition. He is a social worker and being a social worker in New York is not a good idea *laughs*. So we moved here about seven years ago. I’m still trying to answer the question of “where do I want to be” for myself. 

Sphere: What do you work on while you’re at Sphere? 

Lina: My primary gig is Executive Director for an organization called Nurses for Sexual and Reproductive Health. However, my passion project is around real estate social entrepreneurship. The bulk of my work throughout my career was really focused on transitional aged youth. Doing work with high needs youth, you always come back to housing. Housing is always an issue. So that was something that was always on my mind. I have spent the last couple years trying to figure out a business model, because I decided I did not want to do this as a non-profit. I’m very interested in transitional age foster youth. It’s very tricky because it’s hard to find landlords who want to work with and serve this population. I’m actually looking at doing my first project back home in Detroit! 

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Sphere: Was there someone in your life that inspired you to pursue this life direction? 

Lina: Lots of people! My grandmother recently passed, and she was such an interesting women. She was a very bombastic person. She went by Lady Buffington *laughs*.  She wasn’t the cookie making type of grandmother, she was very into furs— very diva. One of the things that was foundational for me was that when she talked about our achievements, it was always like we were celebrities. I played clarinet and performed for a long time. We had this one performance with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and by the time my grandmother told the story it was like I had the solo with the Detroit symphony orchestra *laughs*. Like I was the featured clarinetist! Because of her foundation, I never had the sense that there were things I could not do, or things were off limits. 

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Sphere: What advice would you have for a young person who wants to do what you do? 

Lina: I often tell youth I work with that this entrepreneurship thing is critical for young folks. I am starting to see this transition away from just being oriented toward a job market, which is something I just despised in the education system. The market shifts! It’s not about educating students for specific jobs, it’s about mastery and being able to carve out a space for yourself. Don’t rely on somebody else or some company to to value you or your gifts and talents, make a space for yourself! You can make a pathway for yourself that makes sense for you and works for you. 

Sphere: Do you have a hidden talent or superpower?

Lina: I make stuff! For a while in college I was pretty serious about fashion design and fashion shows. Now I love textiles, ceramics, and I like to build all kinds of things. I actually enjoy the IKEA box, pulling out the supplies, laying everything out, making a finished product. I’m a crafter, I like learning new crafting skills and techniques. 

Sphere: Thank you so much, Lina! Your life is incredible, we are thrilled to have you in our community.

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Lina will be hosting an annual conference called Nurses Rising in Atlanta Georgia on September 27-29. Nurses Rising supports students and nurses rising to the top of their field, and raising their voices for justice. This year’s conference will provide organizing and advocacy strategies while examining key reproductive justice issues that shape daily nursing practice.

Carrie Burch