The same year that Linda Yu Bien earned her master’s in public health, she started working at North East Medical Services in San Francisco. It is the nation’s largest community health center serving a predominantly Asian population.
For Bien—who craved a career in health planning and whose heritage is Chinese—it was such a perfect fit that she stayed for the rest of her career. As she worked her way up to become CEO of the nonprofit, she played a central role in North East’s expansion, extending services and opening new clinics.
North East’s clients include many poor and uninsured Chinese immigrants. The organization’s practice of opening its doors to all who need medical care matched Bien’s conviction that society has a responsibility to help people, especially newcomers.
Bien also found time for significant volunteer work. Bien was active helping Mount Holyoke as a college trustee, admission representative, club officer, and vice president of the Alumnae Association.
In San Francisco, she was a founding member of the Asian Business League and the founder and first president of the San Francisco chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans.
Bien’s husband said that Linda never thought of how she spent her days as work. She just wanted to help the community, he said, “and she had so many friends there, it was almost like family to her.”
When she died unexpectedly at age 54, the San Francisco Chronicle hailed Bien as a “health care champion for Asian immigrants.”