Linda Harllee Harper, DC’s first gun violence prevention director, dies at 58

Linda Harllee Harper, who was appointed by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to be the city’s first gun violence prevention director in January 2021, died Friday at age 58.

Harper was recently appointed as the executive director of the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement in February.

Born in the District, Harper spent over two decades managing public safety and creating programs to improve the lives of underserved people.

Bowser said in a statement that Harper “was beloved in the community and within DC Government.”

Previously, she served as the senior deputy director to the District’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.

“She dedicated her career and life to our young people and our community, and when she had a seat at the table, she was bringing someone with her — always listening to and empowering people closest to the communities she was working to help,” Bowser said.

Councilman Charles Allen called Harper a “true public servant” and admired her commitment to saving lives.

“She shined around young people and all those who need a second chance in life. She was a natural and skilled leader in the fields of juvenile justice and violence prevention, and she commanded every room she walked into with her smile, poise, and stature,” Allen said in a statement.

Councilwoman Janeese Lewis George called Harper “a visionary leader who believed in the dignity and promise of every single person.”

“That will forever be her legacy in the city she was born in and loved,” George said. “Rest peacefully, Linda … Thank you for everything.”

“Linda will truly be missed as this unaccepted loss will have a tremendous impact on our community,” Councilman Trayon White said in a statement.

Tadiwos Abedje

Tadi Abedje is a freelance digital writer/editor for WTOP. He was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Northern Virginia. Journalism has been his No. 1 passion since he was a kid and he is blessed to be around people, telling their stories and sharing them with the world.

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