Skip to main content

Meet the Staff: Wendi Dwyer—By Way of South Sudan

by Wendi Dwyer, Communications Manager
Elks National Foundation
I have always loved the Lincoln Park area of Chicago. As luck would have it, I was able to move here in June. I have four children. My youngest daughter is 15 years old. She was accepted into the Chicago Academy of the Arts in May. Her three older brothers were already out of the house—youngest in college, the middle one in grad school and the oldest is gainfully employed. With only two of us in a big house, it was time to downsize. We jumped at the opportunity to move to the city.

It has been a glorious summer exploring our new neighborhood. One evening while walking my dog, Franklin, we passed the impressive Elks Veterans Memorial. The magnificence of the building made me wonder about all of the people who worked together to create such a beautiful tribute to service. I had no idea I would one day be working there.

My previous role was as the executive director of Lost Boys Rebuilding South Sudan, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to raising the literacy rate in the least literate country in the world. Currently, only one out of the three men, and one out of 10 women can read and write in South Sudan.

In order to reach all of society in the least expensive and quickest way, I helped develop a program called Literacy at the Well. We trained South Sudanese teachers to teach women and girls how to read and write right at their local well. They come each day to get safe water for their families and participate in reading and writing whole group instruction. They bring the lessons they learn home to share with their families.

The Literacy at the Well program has proven to be very effective. In February, a colleague and I traveled to Paris and met with the education director for UNESCO/ South Sudan. We began the process of creating a partnership between our program and UNESCO.

As you have probably gathered, I traveled often to access help for our learners in South Sudan. Over the past few years, I have been to NYC four times, DC three times, San Diego and Paris twice, South Sudan, Kenya, Birmingham (the one in England), Toronto, and Hamburg.

I love the work I was doing, but not what the travel was doing to my family and me. When I began to look for a new job, my first priority was to continue to use my skills to improve lives. The second was to have a good work/life balance with a short commute.

You can imagine how surprised I was when I visited the Elks website to learn more about this great building and I saw the job posting for a communications manager. I applied right away. When I came in for the interview, I felt the team atmosphere and heard the happy tone of the work environment. I knew this would be a great place to invest my time and talents.

I have been in my new role as the ENF communications manager for three weeks and can confidently report that this was the right decision.

After meeting with the head of each ENF department over the past few weeks, I now know what we do and why we do it. I love that our role at ENF is to help equip Elks to do what they love to do, serve their communities.

It is a privilege to be a small part of all the collective good that makes a huge difference in the world through the service of the Elks. Thank you for making me a part of the ENF family!


by Wendi Dwyer, Communications Manager




Comments

  1. Hey, I appreciate your post. The Elks National Foundation grants 250 Legacy grants to extraordinary secondary school seniors who are kids or grandchildren of dynamic Elks individuals. These recompenses are worth $4,000 and are disseminated more than four years. These researchers display the center estimations of the Elks National Foundation: Knowledge, Charity, Community and Integrity.
    ===========================================
    Africa News

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Labels

Show more

Popular posts from this blog

Finding a Place in the #ElksFamily

by Aleah Hahn, Most Valuable Student Scholar Aleah Hahn received a second place Most Valuable Student scholarship in 2018. She graduated from Michigan State University in 2021 with degrees in Biosystem Engineering and German. She is pursuing her master’s degree in Marine Resource Management at Oregon State. In her free time, she likes to cycle, forage and hike. Over my spring break I was able to partake in the 2022 Spring Elks Scholar Service Trip in Chicago! In 2018, I attended the 150 for 150 Service Trip in San Antonio, where we celebrated the Elks 150th anniversary through service. Both were amazing experiences to serve in the name of the Elks. They were alike but also different in many ways.  In San Antonio, I connected with Elks state leadership from my home state of Michigan since the trip was at the Elks National Convention!  I served with 149 other scholars and met many of them. It was a great opportunity to connect with other scholars. The majority of our service was at Haven

What is Zoom?

by Jim O'Kelley Director, Elks National Foundation Zoom--It's like the Brady Bunch , but without Jan. (This is the first in a series of articles about the need for Lodges to be relevant during the pandemic. To find all posts in the series, click here: #StaySafeBeRelevant .) Every crisis seems to have its breakout star. This one has two, so far—Dr. Fauci and Zoom. If you’re not familiar, Zoom is a remote video-conferencing tool with a free basic package. In these days of social distancing and sheltering in place, Zoom is also a godsend. At the O’Kelley household today, we had three concurrent Zoom meetings going on at one point—Meghan, me, and Jane with her Panda Room preschool pals. In our new teleworking reality, the ENF staff has been using Zoom through Microsoft Teams for check-ins, standing meetings and impromptu discussions. These conferences have helped us stay connected and feel like we’re part of a team despite our isolation. A couple of we

Where has the SAB Bean? Chicago!

by Colleen Conrad, Scholarships Manager The Elks Scholar Advisory Board (SAB) is a group of Elks scholars—current and alumni—who advise the ENF on its scholar relation efforts. When I presented the idea of getting together in Chicago for our first in-person Scholar Advisory Board meeting in two years, I was prepared for some trepidation. It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench in traveling and gathering for everyone, and finding time during the busy fall semester for our scholars is always difficult. However, the response I received from our SAB was an overwhelming, enthusiastic “yes!”  That enthusiasm never dissipated throughout our whirlwind SAB weekend together at the start of November. Eight of the 10 2021-22 SAB members visited the Elks National Memorial and Headquarters, participated in some fun bonding activities, explored Chicago, and of course, put in some real work during the day-long board meeting. “While I’ve never been to an in-person SAB me