Act 2! Randy Eaddy Retires as Attorney and Joins the Arts Council as President & CEO
By Elizabeth Bergstone
After 38 years as a corporate attorney, Randy Eaddy was looking, as he puts it, “to transition out of law practice.” He had not yet made any further commitments, so when he was offered the position of President and CEO of the Arts Council of Winston-Salem, he was able to say he was available. This new position will be quite a dramatic change from his previous career, but he is looking forward to making a significant contribution to this community through the arts.
Randy Eaddy was fortunate in his upbringing. He grew up on his parent’s farm in Johnsonville, South Carolina, which was, and still is, “miles from almost anywhere.” But his parents were excellent role models, and although neither of them completed high school, in Eaddy’s words, they were both “extraordinarily smart.” Eaddy’s father had an outstanding ability to do math, which enabled him to avoid being cheated in business transactions. That, and his notorious frugality, contributed to the success of his farm and earned him the respect of his community.
Eaddy attended Johnsonville High School which, when he was in tenth grade, experienced being integrated with “relatively little disturbance.” He went on to graduate at the age of sixteen. In preparation for this event, his mother, Kotrenna, and one of his older sisters, Janie Mae, perused brochures from various institutions of higher learning to decide which he should attend. They settled on Furman University, a small school in South Carolina with a reputation for academic vigor. The fact that it was in-state had the added advantage that it was near enough for his parents to keep an eye on him. “I was very young and inexperienced when I went to college,” says Eaddy. “I think they felt they wanted to protect me,” he adds, smiling.
At Furman Eaddy majored in Political Science. He describes it as “One of the more impactful experiences of my life; it set me up for numerous opportunities.” While at Furman he was also able to explore the arts and learned to appreciate Shakespeare – particularly the Falstaff plays. He participated in Furman’s Study Abroad Program in England and spent three weeks in Stratford-Upon-Avon, where he admired the performances he saw at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
He was greatly influenced in his thinking by David Halberstam’s book, “The Best and The Brightest,” covering the Kennedy and Johnson administrations during the Vietnam War. He observed that most of the people he admired in the government arena were trained as lawyers, so when he graduated Furman University, summa cum laude, he applied for and was accepted at Harvard Law School where he was an editor of the Harvard Review. On graduation, Eaddy spent one year clerking for a federal judge in Boston, and then moved to Atlanta and joined the law firm of Kilpatrick, Townsend and Stockton.
In 2007 the company transferred him to Winston-Salem, where he has served on several non-profit boards of directors, including Reynolda House Museum of American Art, the Winston-Salem State University Foundation, the Crosby Scholars Community Partnership, and others. Most important for preparing him to take up the position of President and CEO of the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County is the fact that he has been a board member of the organization for almost eight years. The knowledge and experience he has gained during that time will surely serve him well as he takes up his new position.
Eaddy hasn’t “retired,” just “transitioned” to the next chapter in his career.
Elizabeth Bergstone is the former editor of the Downtown Winston-Salem newspaper. She has written for numerous local publications and currently works as a voiceover actor and an audio book narrator.
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