Donna Edwards is the quintessential steel magnolia: southern, sweet, lovely, and strong. She takes her position as First Lady seriously, dedicated to leaving both the governor’s mansion and the state better than she found it. Her public duty though, cannot compare to her devotion to her family. Being a mother who is always available to her children no matter where she is ranks as top priority for this important woman. She has many plans to speak up for those who do not have a voice and to reach out to those who need encouragement. As a former music teacher, her passion for the arts in public schools motivates her to make a lasting impact long after the Edwards family vacates the highest position in the state. Through her intelligence, kindness, and faith, Donna Edwards is on track to fulfill her purpose as First Lady of Louisiana.
How did you meet your husband?
We were high school sweethearts. We went to junior high and high school together. Though he went to West Point and I went to Southern Miss, four years later, we got married.
Tell me about your children.
They’re all very unique. Our oldest, Samantha is laid-back, a good listener, and is going to be a school counselor. Sarah Ellen loves to have fun, laugh a lot, and likes to travel. John Miller is all boy. He loves to hunt, fish, and play every sport.
Three things you always have with you?
Something religious in my purse like a cross or a rosary, my lipstick, and my phone. My phone mostly because of my kids. I want them to know they can get me no matter what.
Three words to describe yourself?
I don’t know if I have three, but loyal is one. I am the friend that reaches out to keep friendships. I try to invite old friends and family to the mansion for dinners when we can.
How would your friends describe you?
I’m loyal, fun, and full of spirit. If you call me, I’m there.
How do you like to spend time?
I like to volunteer if I have time. I like to go to the homeless shelter for women and children. I like chilling on the porch and listening to music.
First thing you notice about people when you meet them?
Their spirit, I’m a pretty good judge of character. Every now and then I mess up, though.
Most recent proud parenting moment?
My oldest daughter texted me to tell me she really enjoyed spending time with me.
Last mommy fail?
You know, you never feel like you do things just right. Looking back, I wish I wouldn’t have let them quit playing an instrument. Then, they wanted to quit, now they ask me why I let them quit. I still play the piano. I’ll play for hours downstairs.
How do you keep it all balanced?
Spending the first part of my day in prayer and meditation. Otherwise, I’d crumble. I also have to exercise as well, play tennis, or go for a walk. Balance is so important.
Greatest thing about being a mom?
My kids. Loving them and watching them grow and learn.
If you could invite anyone over for dinner, who would you invite?
Jackie Kennedy Onassis. She went through so much tragedy, but handled it so gracefully.
What good habit do you have that you would like to pass on to the kids?
My prayer life.
Any bad habits you would not want to pass on?
I’m easily distracted. I like to think I am a great multitasker, but I’m not. I’m also a people pleaser.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
When I’m stressed or happy, I sing or hum. Or when someone says a word that reminds me of a song, I’ll sing it. I’m not a great singer, but I sing all the time.
How did you react when you found out you were going to be a mom?
All three times, excited and overjoyed.
What’s your parenting style?
I’m all about the 4W’s. Who are you going to be with? What are you going to be doing? Where are you going? When will you get back?
What’s one piece of advice you often give your children?
Be mindful of your friend choices. And not just of the right or wrong crowd, but also to be aware of those friends that may drain you or take away your energy.
How has parenthood changed you?
for the better. Parenthood makes you less focused on yourself and more focused on others.
What’s one thing your kids have taught you?
Patience and sometimes to close my mouth before I speak
If you had 24 hours all to yourself, what would you do?
Read a book. I actually did that recently. I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.
What advice would you give to other parents?
Don’t be so hard on yourself. We make mistakes. You have to get up and dust yourself off and learn from them. Also, learn to find your own peace.
How has your life changed since the shift to the governor’s mansion?
Upside down. Everything has changed, but it has allowed me to be an advocate for teachers and the arts, to be a voice for those who need it.
Is the family under more scrutiny now, and if so, how does that affect your children?
es, but they have been used to that for awhile. They have to be very careful with social media.
In what ways do you maintain your normal?
A lot of prayer, and we have supper as a family.
What are your responsibilities as the First Lady of Louisiana?
Well, the only requirement is to be married to the governor, so I have 28 years of that in our marriage. Being the First Lady is what you make it. I want to make a difference. My Louisiana First Foundation will work to increase the number of music, arts, and movement classes and work to get resources to teachers.
What do you want your family to gain (qualities, lessons) from this experience?
The love of being a public servant. We were a military family for eight years. John Bel served the country and now he serves the state. I want them to have the understanding of what it means to love people and serve the community.
Before kids, I never thought I would… ride Space Mountain again.
The parenting item I couldn't live without… prayer and my Bible.
In my fridge, you will always find… Sugar-free Hazelnut Coffee Mate.
Favorite movie growing up… Sound of Music and Wizard of Oz.
My guilty pleasure is… Red Hots.
Favorite children’s book is… The Giving Tree.
Growing up, I knew I wanted to… motivate and encourage others.