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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.
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