I grew up in rural Abingdon, Virginia, a small town which just happened to boast being home to the State Theatre of Virginia: the Barter. Some of my earliest memories are of going to the theatre and finding it a magical experience. This early exposure to the arts had a profound impact on my life. As a junior in high school, I was asked to join our church’s adult choir, and before I left for college, I was encouraged to pursue singing.
At Mary Washington College (now the University of Mary Washington), I majored in drama and took singing lessons. I also took dance classes while I completed the course work to earn a teaching certificate in high-school drama. Next stop: Chapel Hill, NC and an MFA in acting at the University of North Carolina. There I met the Node Nerd, Dave, and within three months, I knew he was the one!
After Dave and I pursued acting careers in New York for awhile, we moved to Nashville. There, our two children were born, and I discovered arts education administration, which was to become my life’s work. I have been working in this wonderful field since 1981. It has proved to be a perfect blend of the arts and education, the two areas I love the most.
When Dave’s career moved us to Washington, DC, I met folks at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and began to work there in 1993. I’m still at it and enjoy serving as director of National Partnerships, which allows me to work with dedicated professionals from across the country in strengthening arts education programs for students at all grade levels.
Although Dave and I now have an “empty nest,” we keep busy singing in the church choir and serving on committees, attending Nationals baseball games, touring local wineries with friends, and going to theatre in Washington.
Dave’s right, life is good!
Email me directly: Barbara Shepherd’s email
Read about my fellow Word Nerds: