Learning Change Agent: Elle Davis

 

What is your name? Elle Davis

Where are you from? Chicago, Illinois

What organization do you represent? Circle of Wives

What is your job title? Founder, CEO & Resilient Living Expert

How long has the organization been in existence? 1 Year

What is the mission and vision of the organization?

I founded Circle of Wives after having lunch with a girlfriend, who had been married for only nine months and confessed that she was unhappy in her marriage. I wanted to figure out a way that, as a wife, I could help other wives find happiness in their marriages.  Circle of Wives has the tagline: be happy, be healthy, and be whole.  It’s so important that when one gets married it’s not supposed to be, oh I’m married now and I don’t have any freedom. One actually is supposed to have more freedom in marriage. They’re supposed to be happy, healthy and whole in their marriage.  So, the mission of Circle of Wives is helping women live resilient lives and find happiness in their marriage.

My long-term vision for Circle of Wives includes a Circle of Wives Wellness Center, a place where women can go to relax, take a yoga class, have a massage or just sit and read in a reading room.  The space will be a place where women can empower themselves or be taken away from their daily routine and duties so that they can get renewed and get in touch with themselves so that they can go back home to be the wife, mom, teacher, whatever, that they need to be at home. That’s the long-term vision [of a Circle of Wives] and I don’t know exactly how many years down the road that that will happen.  Currently, I provide workshops, spaces and opportunities for women to come and share their frustrations [about being married] and ask questions about marriage in a non-judgmental environment. I say non-judgmental because often times, as women, we don’t share what happens in our marriages because we’re afraid that our friends or our family are going to look at us as being crazy or they’re going to turn their noses up towards our husbands. That’s really not my platform. My platform is to bring women together and help them to determine what can we, as women, do to make our marriages better; not what our husbands did not do or should have done differently.

What impact do you think your organization has on learning and education?

Women are starting to question who taught them how to be a wife; that’s one of the first questions that I always ask and I revisit it every time we get together with the women because I think that that’s important. Someone taught us how to be a wife, but what did they teach us? Some women will, of course, first say their mom. I’ve had women say their dad or say television. There’s a variety of places where woman have been taught [to be a wife], so women are learning for themselves what it means for them to be a wife and what that means in their marriage. I think people get married and forget that they have a job and need professional development. For marriage, you have to go to professional development.

Interviewer: Professional development?

Yeah one has to have professional development! One can’t just get married and think that’s going to be the end, because two people, with two different value systems, grew up different, come from different backgrounds and have different ways of doing things. One has to constantly learn from each other as well as from themselves. It’s important for me to create that space and that platform and that’s why I call, Circle of Wives, a movement; because it’s something that I want to not only happen amongst the women in my community, but I want to expand throughout Chicago, the United States and the world.

Tell me a little bit more about the communities that you service through Circle of Wives.

The primary community is definitely current wives who have been married zero to five years.  But at the events that I hold, there have been women who’ve been married 17 or 21 years and there have been women who are currently engaged and not married yet. My first calling is for women who are currently married to help them stay married.  If I attended your wedding, I didn’t attend your wedding just to be there and to line dance, I attended [your wedding] to be a part of the celebration and witness you in your marriage journey. For me, that’s what’s very important.

What inspired you to get involved in this type of education field?

Well, I think I’ve always been involved in education in everything that I do. I have a background working in the non-profit sector that has been inspiring; I have a passion for helping professionals navigate their careers and journeys.  I think my work with Circle of Wives is just one of those natural progressions. My work is just for a targeted population, because I too was a married woman, and understanding what that really meant came after the death of my husband. I’m a widow now and it became even more important to me to help married women, because I understand the value of being married in a very different way than someone who is married and, maybe, taking it for granted. It’s like my education was through a life experience, a major life experience that I didn’t choose. It wasn’t a divorce. I didn’t choose to walk away from [my marriage]. It was totally unexpected. Losing my husband, I was totally unprepared for that and so that’s part of my legacy now; to help women to understand to learn how to take nothing for granted.

If you can change anything regarding education and/or learning, what would it be?

I think we need more real-world life experiences.  The school system is set up to teach us history and basic math, but I wished more schools taught real-world education experiences that helps people make better informed decisions.  I bought my first piece of property at 25 or 26 years old, but I really didn’t learn about everything that goes into being a property owner. If I had a class that really taught me about home ownership, I probably would have waited or would have been in a different financial position. For example, I would have made sure I had a separate account for fixing things.  So I definitely think that’s what’s missing overall in the education system.  It’s like we get so caught up on literature and other general subjects that, sometimes, we’re missing the heartbeat of it all.

What advice would you give to someone who is in the process of learning something new?

 My advice is to always be open. I think that we have our own ideologies that we’ve grown up with from our families and communities.  People forget to approach something with an open mind, and when you open your mind, then you enlist yourself in the very fabric of what’s going on and are better able to see [an issue, perspective, or circumstance] in a different way. You are better able to have different conversations about something and be open to learning from the people around you. I believe that that’s where the real value of knowledge comes from, sharing it amongst one’s peers.

What does it mean to be a learning change agent?

A learning change agent is someone who wants to help others grow and be their best selves. That could mean being the best self on a job or in a personal way. There are so many opportunities for us to be our best selves.  That’s why Circle of Wives is important to me, because I want to see thriving, happy marriages. I want people married for 50 and 60 years and their children being excited about their parents being married. For me, that’s being a learning change agent. It’s just empowering people to be their best selves.

Photo Credit: Santa Leal

Learning Change Agents are game changers in education. They are affiliated with organizations that are providing meaningful and passion-driven learning experiences to learners of all ages. The featured Learning Change Agents (and their organization) will be eligible to receive funds from the LEARNtheBrand Impact Apparel. LEARNtheBrand Impact Apparel is a clothing line that consists of limited edition fashion T-shirts that include unique designs that focus on rebranding the perception of learning and education from test-driven and rote memorization to meaningful, relevant and passion driven learning experiences.  Customers and supporters of LEARNtheBrand Impact Apparel and these organizations will select the organization(s) that should receive a portion of the profits received from each collection. Visit and shop the online store hosted by Threadless. Together we are change agents.

 

 

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