Leslie Goddard, Ph.D., is an award-winning actress and scholar who has been portraying famous women and presenting history lectures for more than ten years.
She holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University specializing in U.S. history and American Studies as well as master's degrees in both theater and museum studies. A former museum director, she is the author of two books on Chicago history and currently works full-time as a historical interpreter, author, and public speaker.
Photo by Karen Kring
An online video series from the talented Rebecca Tulloch, featuring Q and A with First Ladies
How far in advance should I book?
As early as possible. Currently, I recommend 5-6 months in advance. If you need a specific date and contact me just one or two months in advance, you might well find that the date is booked.
What does "private event" mean on your website calendar?
It just means that I am booked for that date and time for an event that is not open to the general public. I am not available at that time. (If I have an event of yours listed on my calendar as private and you'd like me to change it, just drop me an email).
Could you create a new program for us or adapt an existing program to suit our special interests?
In virtually all cases, no. It takes a lot of time, effort, and creativity to create a new program, or even to adapt an existing one, so any new program to be carefully considered and must have widespread appeal and match my own interests. And on the rare cases when I am able to take on a new project on request, I usually have to charge a separate fee for developing it. My programs take a lot of time and energy to produce and I could never create them for free. If I did I would go broke!
Do you require a deposit?
No. No money is required upfront. I do, however, request payment in full on the date of the program unless alternative arrangements are made in advance.
Do you send out a confirmation?
Yes, I always send out a confirmation letter. Or, if you prefer, I can sign a copy of a contract of yours. Whatever the format, I do require something in writing. No program is confirmed until you have received a confirmation letter from me or a signed copy of your contract.
Do you always send out an invoice too?
No. I do not automatically send out an invoice since payment details are on the confirmation letter. IF YOU REQUIRE A SEPARATE INVOICE, PLEASE LET ME KNOW AT THE TIME OF BOOKING.
What are the most common mistakes people make in booking you?
1) Booking a date and time but leaving the program choice "TBD" for now, and then never telling me which program you want.
At least 4-5 times every year, an organization will book me for "TBD", choose a program, and then never inform me what their choice is. It happens far more often than you'd think. Please, don't make me chase you down to find out which program you'd like.
2) Waiting too long between the initial contact with me and the final booking.
I sometimes get dozens of emails and phone calls a day. If you wait too long to confirm, your choice might get taken. Sometimes, it's because I get another booking the same day. I have a strict policy that I DO NOT DO MORE THAN TWO PROGRAMS IN ONE DAY. Ever. If you contact me about a particular date/time and it's open at the time you contact me, IT MIGHT NOT STILL BE AVAILABLE 4, 5, 10 days later (or whatever). When I say that I just got a booking yesterday that makes your booking now unavailable, it will sound like I am making it up. I'm not. This happens more often than you might expect.
How long does each program run?
-- The portrayals run about 45-50 minutes plus Q and A.
-- The lectures run about 55-60 minutes plus Q and A.
Will you agree not to present the program I’ve just booked at any other venue in my area in the months around my booking?
Sadly, I cannot. Too many factors come into play. It’s impossible for me to know who competes with whom and with more than 380 presentations a year, I cannot keep track of all surrounding community presentations. However, I do understand when an organization is worried not to lose their audiences. Keep an eye on my online calendar, which is updated approximately once a month. If you have concerns, let me know. I’d be happy to offer you an alternate program, sometimes even a new program that’s set to debut.
Would you be willing to present a free (or discounted) program for us?
When it comes to offering free and discounted performances, I am culturally and community minded and have special causes that I sometimes will support with performances at no or little cost, usually fundraisers.
Because this is my livelihood, and there are only so many days in a year, I have extremely limited ability to donate or underwrite my performances.
I reserve all my no-fee programs for my pet causes, usually causes that have been selected by me, within my own community.
Do you travel out of state?
Yes, I regularly travel nationally. For locations near my home in the Chicago suburbs, I do not charge a mileage fee. For locations more than an hour's drive from my home, I add a mileage fee at the federal mileage rate. For locations that require air travel, airfare and the attendant expenses including taxis, hotel, per diem, are added as line items to the presentation fee.
-- Any program that requires an overnight stay will have a hotel cost included in fee. I do not require fancy or expensive accommodations but I do have a policy of not staying in private houses.
Could you mail me a brochure?
Better than that! You can download a printable brochure right here:
1039 Hinswood Dr Darien IL 60561 US
To view clips from some of my programs, click on the titles below: