An award-winning speaker, author and speech coach, Edith Barnard has a passion for helping people find their voice. A central Illinois native, she graduated from the University of Illinois and moved to Maine, where she operated her own theatre for 15 years. She has represented the U.S. Government as a cultural ambassador to Greece, worked for Richard Branson in London and Barbados, sat on the board of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce, and written a book—Suddenly Island Single Style, her self-proclaimed “autobi-myth-ography.” In 2005, she returned home to Peoria, where she reconnected with an old friend, Wes Sedrel, now her husband and artistic partner.
- Favorite vacation spot: Bali, where Wes and I went for a five-week honeymoon seven years ago.
- Favorite aspect of central Illinois: That it’s home! Sam Johnson said, “He who hath seen only London, hath not London seen.” I’m a classic F. Scott Fitzgerald or W. Somerset Maugham character, in that they checked out the world and then returned home. I agree with Dorothy: “There’s no place like home!”
- Favorite smell: A freshly mown field of alfalfa.
- Proudest achievement: I stopped drinking on March 26, 1982. “One day at a time.”
- Person who’s had the greatest impact on my life: My “spiritual mother,” Dahlov Ipcar, who is still painting at the age of 97. Before her, I had never met anyone who made a living as an artist. When I started my theater, she and others gave me hints on keeping my inner creativity alive in spite of being a public figure. My house was 20 minutes from my theater, in the midst of five acres of woods with an unlisted phone. The opportunity to rejuvenate there and then go back into the world was a wonderful lesson.
- My life is... A series of adventures.
- Which living person do you most admire? Richard Branson. My five years working with him were a blast. He hired me to work with his staff members to help them relax, have fun and encourage the Virgin Airlines brand of having a good time. Receiving “Virgin Upper Class” flights to London was a delightful perk!
- What was your first job? Being organist in the chapel at YMCA Camp in Estes Park, Colorado during my junior and senior years of college summer vacation. I organized the staff into a choir for Sunday services and sold ice cream during the week!
- What song makes you happy? “Cockeyed Optimist” from South Pacific.
- What’s your favorite way to unwind at the end of the day? Eating sushi with my husband while we watch the British mystery series, Midsomer Murders. a&s
Who were the Royal Rockers? Ask Wes.