Lynda Coates is a Gold Star Speaker with Communication Across Barriers (CAB), a national consulting firm that provides training and keynotes that empower professionals who assist people with moving out of poverty. Lynda has a Master’s Degree in Communication from Portland State University and has been speaking and training for over a decade across the country. She is an authentic voice, born into generational poverty, who grew up homeless with her parents and five siblings. Her life began to change when at 15 years old she came to Portland, OR to live with her cousin, Donna Beegle (president of CAB) who at that time was a single mom struggling in poverty. Donna got connected to mentors and was encouraged to obtain a GED. Witnessing Donna’s journey, Lynda was influenced and guided by Donna who connected her to other mentors and resources that allowed her to obtain an education. Since graduating with a Master’s Degree, Lynda has collaborated with Donna on numerous research projects and developed training materials for professionals in education, healthcare, social work and the legal system. Even though Lynda was the first person in her family to graduate from high school, she spent four years at a community college taking remedial courses before being accepted to a University. As an undergraduate, she had the luxury of attending a small private university and was able immerse herself into college campus life, live in the dorms, build lasting friendships and focus on education before starting a family of her own. Having this experience, Lynda is passionate about working with first generation high school and college students, teachers and faculty. For the last six years, she has been consulting with high poverty schools throughout Oregon and Washington that have been awarded the federal GEAR UP grant, a program designed to keep low income students in school and prepare them for college.