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Elizabeth in Sombrero

Elizabeth in Santa Fe

wife • mother • friend • wayfinder
freelance writer • computer nerd • Virginian
amateur radio operator/W4EHC • bird watcher
alto • guitar player • Christian/Episcopalian
bank board director • community activist
personal note writer • 
inspiration curator
encourager • connector

Born and raised on a cattle farm, I grew up connected to the land and the four seasons of the Virginia Piedmont (Fauquier County). My undergraduate degree in Biology came from Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, where I was nurtured as a woman and a community leader.

While getting my Master's degree in Human Anatomy at Tulane School of Medicine in New Orleans, I met my husband, Dr. John Cottrell, Jr. After he finished his specialty training in Internal Medicine, we moved back to Virginia for him to open his practice in the Woodstock, the county seat of Shenandoah County in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley.

I immersed myself in community work and we started our family of two, a daughter and a son, now grown and off doing amazing things with families of their own, including our two grandson. During their years in school, I served on the Board of Trustees of my college as well as on several other nonprofit boards. I was appointed to the Shenandoah County School Board and served for nine years. Later work as a board member of the Shenandoah Community Foundation has been enormously satisfying.

A combination of entrepreneurial leanings and a desire to help defray college costs led me back to the work force as a technical writer and later to the opening of my own desktop publishing business in 1990. RiverwoodWriter, LLC is still my business entity.

Here I am today, old enough to retire, but feeling strongly called to use my writing to encourage others and help them strengthen the essential life connections that lead to their most wholehearted life.

I'm living proof that you're never too old to learn new things!

We are blessed to live at the edge of a pine woods on the north fork of the Shenandoah River. We love to walk, watch the birds, and travel to visit our grown children in New Mexico and London. I serve on the board of directors of First Bank/First National Corporation and am passionate about my work with the Shenandoah Community Foundation and the Moore Educational Trust.

My personal mission statement

It is my goal to live each day in service to God by seeking to strengthen those essential connections – with God, with Self, with Others, and with Nature—that encourage, nurture, support, and enlighten. I will strive to accomplish this through my personal and professional relationships, my writing, and my teaching.

I pray for:

  1. Discernment to see the inner beauty in each person I meet.
  2. Guidance to spend my time meaningfully and purposefully.
  3. Humility to remember that it’s never about me.
  4. Judgment to know the difference between busy-ness and meaningful work.
  5. Compassion for others and for myself.
  6. Courage to venture beyond my comfort zone.
  7. Wisdom to know what to embrace and what to let go.
  8. Vision to accommodate both Dreams and Doubt with equanimity.
Elizabeth with her mother and daughter

Elizabeth with her daughter and mother

What Others Say About Elizabeth:

“Elizabeth Cottrell is one of the clearest thinkers and most articulate communicators I have encountered in my career. She harnesses a superior intellect, an exceptional ability to focus on the task at hand, and a highly engaging personal style to provide value across a broad range of projects and services. Her ability to synthesize disparate information and sources and to communicate clearly and concisely to targeted audiences, both in writing and in oral presentations, makes her particularly effective as a business writer and editor.”
–Charles Sheridan, Senior Vice President, Oracle Corporation (retired), Owner, Sheridan’s Retreat

“Elizabeth takes sophisticated technology and communicates it so that key stakeholders and constituents can easily understand it. This gift, coupled with critical wordsmithing talent, gives her a unique editorial skillset for many applications. Her involvement at board level in many organizations across a variety of sectors gives her a valuable strategic perspective to any analytic or planning challenge. Additionally, after planning, she has the energy to implement effectively.”
–Jim Herbert, Managing Partner, GlobalStrat, LLC

“I have had the pleasure of working with Elizabeth for many years. As board members at First National Corporation and First Bank I have observed her skills of open communications and insight of varied and complex issues. Elizabeth has the ability to analyze financial data, yet remain focused on the impact of decisions on individuals. Additionally, Elizabeth is very committed to serving her community through a variety of not-for-profit organizations in leadership roles. She is extremely energetic, enthusiastic and productive which makes it fun to be around her and work with her.”
–Harry Smith, former President and CEO, First Bank

“Elizabeth handles the Page Layout for our Non-profit Association's quarterly newsletter (24-32 pages). She gets the job done, it's done extremely well and it's always done on time. She does wonders for our newsletter. Every quarter she makes me look great as the Editor. I am very proud to work with and know Elizabeth.”
–David Spanburg, Editor Cottonbaler, the newsletter of the 7th Infantry Regiment Association

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