Eileen was born in Baltimore, Maryland where she graduated from Eastern High School, one of the oldest all-girls public high schools in the United States. She graduated from Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, in 1972 at the age of 20, and attended graduate school at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she majored in Foreign Affairs. In 1990 she received a Masters of General Administration in Information Management from the University of Maryland University College.
In 2008, Eileen married Walter F. Burgess, an Episcopal priest and AAUW member. Until his retirement in 2014, he was rector of Christ Church in Denton, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore He has traveled with her to India, Nepal, Rwanda and Turkey as part of her VGIF responsibilities. A former fire fighter, he now serves as Chaplain Commander Emeritus for the Baltimore City Fire Department. He is on the Ethics Panel of a local hospital and the Grand Chaplain of Masons in Maryland.