Alumnae Spotlight: Elenor Barnes, '78

Alumna Builds Successful Career Helping to Train, Coach Others

Elenor Barnes '78 was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her father, William Jr., was an Industrial Arts Teacher at Boys Technology and Trade School and her Mother, Ernestine, was a stay-at-home mom. The youngest of five children and the only girl, Barnes grew up in a low-income household. Despite this, Barnes never actually knew that the family had such challenges. She attributes this to the profound love that she felt at home from her parents.

Most of Barnes' education was in private schools. Growing up with four older brothers, Barnes grew up loving sports and was very much a tomboy. She was highly competitive and because she wasn't a girly girl, oftentimes she was misunderstood by others.

"Attending SJA taught me that everyone is not going to like you and that's ok," Barnes stated. "What's important is that you be you!"

At SJA, Barnes was taught to embrace her individuality. She knew early on that she was different and not your typical teenager. However, this individuality is what helped Barnes accomplish great things later on in her professional career.

SJA taught Barnes to be a strong, independent woman. "I did not go quietly. I spoke up and said my truth."

Like many of her classmates, Barnes wanted to attend college. Unfortunately, her parents could not afford to help make this possible, so Barnes was unable to pursue her dream of attending the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse. There she had hoped to follow her passion for sports and major in Physical Education.

When one door closes, another one opens! Fortunately, during her senior year in high school, McDonald's Management saw something very special in the young cashier and encouraged her to pursue management as a career. They saw that Barnes had an innate ability to understand people and to communicate very effectively.

Over the next 33 years, Barnes worked hard and climbed her way up the corporate ladder. She served in various roles including Operations Manager, Field Service Manager, Supervisor, and Training and Business Consultant for the Milwaukee and Chicago Region. Barnes successfully led 23 corporate restaurants, with sales at $60 million - leading the country in sales! She successfully influenced and impacted 25 franchisees, 125 franchise restaurants, with sales at $300 million.

Barnes' proudest professional moment was having the honor of being a two-time recipient of the prestigious McDonald's President's Award for outstanding global performance. She also received national acclaim for her presentation of "Special Situations," which became the training standard for McDonald's.

Receiving various awards for training, team development, operation and community involvement, it's no surprise that Barnes culminated the last five years of her career at Hamburger University as a Training Director, Master Trainer and National Training Manager where she impacted 95% of the Regional Training Managers nationally.

Determination and hard work is what Barnes focused on throughout her career. Even during her time at SJA, Barnes' schedule was bursting at the seams. After school she would head straight to work at McDonald's, work her shift, and then return promptly to school for practice or a game. She loved always being busy and working hard!

After an extremely successful 33 year-long career with McDonald's, Barnes retired in 2012.

In addition to her career with McDonald's, Barnes has owned two businesses. One of her businesses was Nina's Bed and Breakfast in Chicago, Illinois. Eventually, she sold the business after doubling its sales in only three short years.

Currently, Barnes is a certified and licensed Business Coach. As owner of I.M.P.A.C.T. Business Coaching LLC, Barnes inspires a coaching relationship that motivates clients to elevate their personal leadership to achieve organizational effectiveness, accomplished through candid conversations, targeted coaching techniques and services.

Reflecting on her time spent at SJA, Barnes appreciates her all-girl Catholic education. "It gave me strength as a woman. It gave me the strength to overcome and handle all obstacles with calmness and common sense."

Barnes had a great appreciation for all of her teachers at SJA. However, she did recall that "Sister Monica was the hippest nun I've ever met!"

Barnes is very proud to call herself an SJA Alumna. To incoming Freshwomen, she advises, "enjoy your year as a Freshwoman! Don't rush that time!" To current SJA Seniors, Barnes advises, "enjoy your time as a Senior! Don't rush that time!"

Barnes' love of family and respect for her parents is truly evident in the fact that when her mother faced health complications, without any hesitation Barnes took on the very important role of becoming her mother's full-time caregiver.

"Nothing has challenged me more than that role in my life. It tugs at your heart, makes you selfless, and gives joy all at the same time."

Today, Barnes is currently a full-time caregiver for her father.