Deanna Barnes sits quietly at the kitchen table. Confidently and methodically, she pays the stack of bills piled neatly next to her. One by one, she fills out, dates and signs each check, carefully tearing them from the checkbook, recording the amounts in the register. Sliding each check and bill into an envelope, she seals them, before affixing a stamp. Bills paid, Deanna pivots to planning the family meals for the coming week. She makes a list of ingredients needed, plus household staples such as toilet paper and light bulbs.
This may seem like an ordinary slice of domestic life. Until you realize Deanna was 12-years-old at the time.
Recently divorced, her Mom worked four jobs to support Deanna, her two older sisters, Penny and Patty, and younger brother Josh.
“I’ve just always been responsible, I guess,” Deanna said. “I come from a family who rolls up our sleeves and does what needs to get done. My dad was a perfectionist and raised us to always do things the right way.”
Born in St. Louis, Deanna grew up in the city, but moved to Arnold, MO at age 9. A competitive tap dancer, she loved spending time with her family and friends.
“I’ve had the same group of close girlfriends since I was 12,” she said. “We still get to together now with our husbands and kids.”
A standout at Fox High School, Deanna was a cheerleader, and member of the Student Council, National Honors Society, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Not surprisingly, senior year, her classmates voted her “Most Understanding.”
The first in her family to go to a four-year college, Deanna earned a Bachelor’s in Communications with an emphasis in Marketing from the University of Missouri-Columbia. At Mizzou, she joined Alpha Delta Pi sorority, served as the New Member Coordinator and volunteered at the local Ronald McDonald House. All while holding down two jobs.
This is actually Deanna’s second tour of duty at Paradowski. After graduating college, she cut her advertising teeth first with an L.A.-based company called DNA Studio before joining Paradowski as an Interactive Account Manager. But she found what she really wanted to be was a project manager.
“The two are very similar. Account management just has much more face time with the client. I prefer working behind the scenes,” Deanna said. “But having an account management background definitely helps. I know how hard their job is. Being able to see both sides helps me be more effective.”
Asked why someone so organized would choose the often chaotic world of advertising, Deanna said, “I like bringing structure and organization where it’s needed most. I worked in finance for Edward Jones for a bit. I made good money, but was miserable. It was just too structured.”
Structure vs. chaos might also describe Deanna’s marriage.
“Opposites definitely attract. I was raised in a very strict and structured home and Eric…wasn’t,” Deanna laughs. “We try to find a happy medium where I’m not always bugging him about folding the towels the wrong way, and give him credit for at least trying to load the dishwasher correctly.”
Any parent knows even the most organized person can have their world thrown out of whack when children arrive. Boys especially. Eric and Deanna are the proud parents of an 8-year-old son, named William, and a pitbull/lab mix named Grace.
A devout Catholic, Deanna and her mom teach 4th grade Sunday school. Even at church, Deanna is the responsible one.
“I keep the kids on track to learn the week’s lesson. My mom thinks we should just let them do arts and crafts,” she says with a chuckle.
Advertising newbies and vets alike, know that when things get hairy, having a dynamic project manager like Deanna in the fox hole with you makes all the difference.
Bringing order to chaos. That’s what she does best.