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I came in with my eyes and ears open.

I left with my heart open.

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Erasing the Distance is a non-profit arts organization based in Chicago that uses the power of performance to disarm stigma, educate, spark dialogue, and promote healing surrounding mental health. Since 2005 the organization has been dedicated to creating a space for real people to share stories about their experiences navigating mental health. Through workshops, performances, and facilitated conversations, the Erasing the Distance team strives to generate insight and compassion, while helping people realize they are not alone. 


  • Compassion: for others and for ourselves.

  • Curiosity: about the world around us and the experiences we haven't lived.

  • Communication: dedicated to openness, vulnerability, and kindness.

  • Accessibility: to ensure healing stories reach as many people as possible.

  • Inclusivity: equality and mutual respect for every individual's experience.


Heather Bodie

Executive Artistic Director


In November of 2019 we joined a collective of artists in a creative space located in the West Town Neighborhood of Chicago.

This bright new space makes it possible for us to collect stories, record podcast episodes, capture portraits, and host digital presentations of our stories all from one location.



Heather first joined Erasing the Distance in September of 2013 as an actor in the original production of 'Veteran's Voices'. It was the conversation following the opening night that solidified her dedication to the mission of disarming the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Since then, she shifted her focus to directing, story collecting, and facilitating.


In August of 2016 she joined the staff in the role of Associate Artistic Director, stepped up to the role of Artistic Director in April of 2018, and in June of 2019, she moved into her current role as Executive Artistic Director. 

As both an artist and a mental health advocate Heather speaks openly about her own experiences living with and managing depression, anxiety and ADHD. She is deeply dedicated to radical curiosity and lifting the deadly stigma that prevents so many people from seeking healing. 


Erasing the Distance directing credits include; 'Through My Daughters Eyes', 'The Forgiveness Project', 'Breathe With Me', 'That Night' and 'First Responders'. 



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Sara Sarkey
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Evelyn Joy Coker
Vice President
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Richard Pless
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Judith Bradford
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Charlie Stoops
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Kimberly J. Dean

The performance was just wonderful. You have really done a superb job of portraying mental illness in a sympathetic and accessible way.




Brighid O'Shaughnessy

Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus

Since 2005, Brighid has utilized theatrical performances about mental health issues to educate and disarm stigma.  A sought after speaker and workshop leader, she has presented at many events including the Active Minds National Conference, University of Illinois Chicago, and taught a 5-month workshop at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. 


Brighid was granted DePaul University's prestigious David O. Justice Award for her use of theatre to educate communities about mental illness in non-traditional and creative ways and was also chosen by Extra Mile America as one of 200 heroic leaders in the United States making a difference in their communities. Her experience as a director, actor and teacher committed to social change has spanned 20 years, including time directing the Thresholds Theatre Arts Project and devising original productions with teens in Chicago Public Schools. 


She graduated with a Masters of Arts from DePaul University, a B.A. in Theatre from Santa Clara University, studied extensively with The American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and trained with internationally known activist and artist Michael Rohd.


Brighid is a mental health educator with NAMI and is certified in Mental Health First Aid.

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