Jenni Schaefer is one of the foremost motivational speakers of her generation. She has carried her message of self-acceptance and triumph over adversity to the campuses of Harvard and Yale, to corporate leaders and mental health professionals, and to audiences ranging from teens to seniors, earning an international reputation for her ability to bring just the right insights and approach to each.
Her own books, her contributions to anthologies like the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, appearances on Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Today and Entertainment Tonight, and print coverage from Cosmopolitan to The New York Times, have carried the message to millions more.
Jenni’s straightforward, accessible style as an author, speaker, consultant and coach has made her a role model, source of inspiration, and confidant to people worldwide looking to overcome adversity and flourish as human beings. Dr. Phil, citing her dedication to helping people live life to the fullest, has called her “an inspiration to all.”
“It is my passion and my calling,” says Jenni, “to share with people the tools and attitudes that can lead to the kind of life we all dream of–one of purpose and genuine happiness.” Her message is that much stronger for her ready acknowledgement that her own journey has always been a work in progress.
“I found happy and purposeful living the hard way—through experience and lots of falling down!” she says.
Jenni’s background enables her to bridge the personal and the clinical in dealing with a range of issues, including addiction and perfectionism, eating and body image, self-esteem and personal empowerment. She graduated summa cum laude from Texas A&M University with a degree in biochemistry and was headed to medical school when she decided instead to move to Nashville to pursue singing and songwriting, then dealt with the devastating consequences of an eating disorder that nearly derailed everything.
The chronicle of her journey back, Life Without Ed: How One Woman Declared Independence from Her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too (McGraw-Hill), became a breakthrough best seller, establishing her as a leading light in the recovery movement. Its continued impact can be measured in the fact that it was recently re-released in a tenth-anniversary edition and audiobook, and that it has been released in China, Korea, and Japan, where she has carried her message and where her song, “Life Without Ed,” has been released in a Japanese-pop version. Her next book, Goodbye Ed, Hello Me: Recover from Your Eating Disorder and Fall in Love with Life (McGraw-Hill), widened her message to one of self-actualization and personal fulfillment.
In her latest, she teamed with Harvard Medical School clinical psychologist Jennifer J. Thomas to address the millions of people who struggle with disordered eating while not meeting the diagnostic criteria for a full-blown eating disorder. With Almost Anorexic: Is My (or My Loved One’s) Relationship with Food a Problem? (Harvard Health Publications/Hazelden), the two bridge the gaps between cutting-edge research, clinical knowledge and personal experience to provide both insight and hope.
Jenni continues to expand her outreach with a blog on The Huffington Post and her own website. She and her work have appeared in Publisher’s Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Glamour, Shape, The Washington Times, Woman’s World, Seventeen and more.
She recently joined The Meadows as a Senior Fellow. Jenni is Chair of the Ambassadors Council of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) and a recipient of their Westin Family Award for Excellence in Advocacy and Activism, as well as a member of the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals, the Academy of Eating Disorders, and the International Society for the Study of Traumatic Stress.
Jenni has spoken in educational settings ranging from junior high schools to the Harvard Medical School Conference for College Administrators, in treatment settings for recovery from drug and alcohol abuse, trauma, and eating disorders, and at conferences dealing with a range of issues from Miami to Anchorage.
While the topics she speaks about vary—addiction and food disorders, relationships, depression, career –they are all ultimately about overcoming adversity and living life to the fullest. She discusses the power of self-acceptance in overcoming self-sabotage, a subject summed up beautifully in her song, “It’s Okay to be Happy”—as her continuing success as a singer and songwriter speaks volumes about her ability to bring her own dreams alive.
An avid biker and hiker, and a woman whose passion for life is contagious, Jenni lives in Austin, Texas. She is currently at work on a book about fighting through posttraumatic stress disorder.