Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Meet Brighid!

Brighid O'Shaughnessy is a vital part of Erasing the Distance and, as her colleague, I can tell you that she has a myriad of talents -- one of which is a gift for insight.  Today I am delighted to help you get to know Brighid a little better, as she responds to the Five Questions Series. . .

Five Questions with Brighid O'Shaughnessy
ETD Founder and Executive Artistic Director

1. What is your role with Erasing the Distance?
I am the organization’s founder and Executive Artistic Director, which means that I wear a lot of hats on a day to day basis!

To name a few things....I get to do a lot of fun, artistic stuff like collecting stories, creating our scripts, directing and performing! I also work with all of our clients to bring shows, residencies, and trainings into their communities. This includes marketing, facilitation, building relationships, strategic planning, project management, and a lot of discipline and persistence.

I also have the privilege of leading the organization from a vision standpoint which includes working with our Board of Directors, our Mental Health Advisory Board, foundations, our staff, and volunteers to make certain we remain mission focused and heading forward.

2. When you are not working with ETD, what might you be doing? 
Hanging out with my two dogs – Mojo and Savannah, reading, doing crossword puzzles, hanging at the beach, and enjoying the company of my family and good friends!

Photo caption: Brighid with Mojo

3. Can you share with us your favorite ETD moment? 
I don’t have
one favorite ETD moment. Every day presents me with a different favorite to be totally honest. That’s why I do what I do.

But since you asked, I will share just one of my favorites. For four years, I had been in conversation with leaders at a local school to make an ETD performance happen. There were many obstacles and many times where the school said no.

But as someone who is deeply committed to not just mental health but to young women (this is an all girls’ school) and to giving them a voice, I persisted.
When we performed there, it was a dynamic day. During the talk back, the students just poured out their thoughts and questions and were so supportive of each other’s sharing. Many students came up to us afterward and hugged both me and the actors, thanking us for creating a space to freely talk about the issues they face on a daily basis. It was wonderfully fulfilling.

4. What do you think is a pressing mental health need in your community? 
I think there are too many to count. However, one that I feel passionately about is that many groups – be they schools, workplaces, faith communities, families, and even friend circles - are not equipped, prepared or open to facing the mental health issues of their members and if they are, then they often fall short on following through on offering the holistic, long term support it takes for people to really thrive. Like many of us, they get too focused on quick fixes and squeamish when they see how it will affect their lifestyle, schedules, budgets, and feelings. This slows down change and growth potential.

I feel like we need education, obviously, but I also feel like we are in need of a major cultural shift that asks people to slow down, take time, get uncomfortable, and step in for the long haul.

Photo caption: Brighid (lower left) pictured with family members (top left, continuing clockwise) Devin O'Shaughnessy, Bill Greer, and Dee Dee Greer

5. Can you tell us your favorite way to de-stress? 
My favorite way to de-stress is to watch episodes of Frasier! It’s weird, I know, but I love that show. The writing, the quality of the acting, the humor, and the way it pokes fun at the field of mental health…I need that sometimes. Otherwise, I take myself way too seriously. J

Thanks, Brighid - and thank YOU for reading! Learn more about Brighid by finding her professional bio on the staff page at Erasing the Distance

~ Oriana

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