Knowing the Lingo

Knowing the Lingo

A career in translation led Linda Waller to county government.

Linda Waller, administrative aide to Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee), came to Northern Virginia 25 years ago via Brooklyn and Manhattan, N.Y., Milford, N.J, and France. "In my early years I knew what I didn't want to do. But, I didn't know what I wanted to do," she said, sitting at her desk in the Lee District Government Center on Franconia Road.

Following graduation from Northeastern College in Boston with a degree in English, she decided to travel to France. "I spent three years in the south of France followed by seven years in Paris, where I worked as a technical translator in the liquid natural gas field translating technical language from French to English," she said.

She also got married while in France. But, when that didn't last, she decided it was time to return to her native soil. Back in New York City she continued her career as a technical translator in the same field. "I was doing more business than technical translations," Waller said.

"I was working for a large multi-national firm and at that stage of my life, living in Manhattan, everything was an adventure," she said. And there, in New York City, she remained for another seven-year stretch.

One of her interests during that period was "Early Music," the study of music from earlier times and cultures. It was at an Early Music Workshop in Amherst, Mass., that she met her present husband, Chris, who happened to live in Washington, D.C.

A federal employee for more than 25 years, Chris is with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In his early years, he also lived outside the United States, growing up in Mexico City, Mexico, where his mother served with the U.S. Department of State, according to Waller.

Linda ended up a resident of Northern Virginia after she and Chris married. When she first arrived in this area, she worked as a freelance technical/business writer for a number of companies prior to joining Kauffman's staff. "I first met Dana at a Fairfax County Democratic Committee meeting," she said.

"At the time, we were living in Providence District and had no intention of moving. But, one day we were out riding and spotted this house we both fell in love with in Springvale. So we bought it," Waller said.

Having been with Kauffman for a number of years, her reaction to his announcement not to seek reelection was mixed. "I was very unhappy to hear Dana's decision but, I must admit, I was not really surprised. He has been very dedicated to being Lee District's supervisor but I know he has other interests he wants to pursue," she said.

As for Waller's interests and insights, here she is in her own words.

How would you describe yourself?

Probably as a workaholic.

What is the favorite part of your job?

It's two-fold. One is organizing community building events such as the upcoming Springfield Days. The other is taking ideas, concepts, and policies written in "county-speak" and turning them into clear, understandable English.

What are your key ties to the community and areas of community involvement?

I am vice president of my civic association and serve on the Board of Directors of my synagogue, Beth El Hebrew Congregation.

What is one thing about the community you enjoy that you don't think others might be aware exists?

How wonderful Lake Accotink Park really is — particularly the sunset boat rides. The other things are the various farmers' markets, and the Green Springs Garden Park Native Plants Sale.

What are some of your favorite places in the community?

Green Springs Garden Park, Lake Accotink Park, the Burke Nursery, Mike's American Grill, and House of Dynasty for Chinese food.

What's the one thing you would change about the community if you could?

I would like people to become more involved in what is happening on a daily basis. Too many of them wait until they perceive a crisis before they get involved.

Do you have a favorite book you would recommend?

"The Once and Future King" by T.H. White.

What's you favorite television show?

The news. I'm a real news junkie. I read several newspapers and news magazines everyday online.

Do you have any hobbies?

Cooking and gardening.

Where was your last best vacation?

In my backyard.

How would you most like to spend one day?

Sitting on my front porch in total fatigue because everything is planted and just listening to the birds in the yard and garden.

Do you have a favorite quotation?

Yes. Jack London's "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

If you could meet anyone in history, who would that be?

Hannah Szenes, a Hungarian Jew who parachuted into Yugoslavia during World War II as a member of the resistance against the Nazis to help save Jews who were about to be deported to Nazi death camps. She was captured, tortured and then executed by a firing squad because she would not reveal her mission. I often wonder what I would do in such a situation.

— Chuck Hagee