About Linda Neenan
Linda Neenan, is the founder and retired Executive Director of iSPACE. When iSPACE was founded in 2001, it was based out of Linda’s den. It now serves more than 30,000 people a year in a beautiful space on the Great Oaks campus in Sharonville.
As a young girl, Linda had been inspired by President Kennedy’s challenge to the nation during the Space Race. But she was discouraged from pursuing her own dream. While attending high school in Michigan, Neenan presented her guidance counselor with a scholarship application for General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) which is an engineering school. “You’re a girl,” the female counselor said, slamming the application down on her desk. With that quick rejection, Neenan Linda became a math teacher, because that was something she was “allowed” to do.
She got married, and she and her husband had three daughters. They moved to Switzerland, back to the U.S., to England, then back to the U.S. again. Linda was a stay-at- home mom until her children were grown.
However, her high school counselor’s words stung even as the 21st century arrived. Neenan didn’t want to see other learners, especially girls, dissuaded from STEM careers. Her nagging fear about how U.S. children were falling behind their international counterparts in science and math, caused her to meet with scientists, engineers and teachers to determine what educational programs could be introduced to Greater Cincinnati to encourage students in STEM. Thus iSPACE was born.
One of the iSPACE core values is “open access to all.” Neenan pledged to eliminate obstacles posed by gender, race or disability. iSPACE is now recognized for the accommodations it provides, not only to gifted students, but also to underserved students, regardless of socio-economic status, academic abilities, physical, emotional or behavioral limitations. It also provides strong support for young women to encourage them in STEM.
iSPACE offer exceptional programs for students but it’s iTEACH program is one of the most effective educator professional programs in the region. Neenan recognized that, while working with students is at the core of the iSPACE mission, providing top-notch training to teachers helps iSPACE expand their reach exponentially.
All these values were spurred on by Linda’s experience early on when she was told she “couldn’t.”…because she could and she did.