We have honoured over 180 women with our Celebrating Women program. As part of Black History Month we asked our past honourees a few questions to learn more about them.

Danae Davis is currently the Executive Director of Milwaukee Succeeds, a citywide partnership working to improve all aspects of education for children from Pre-K through college graduation to help prepare individuals for life after education. Previously, she was the Director of Pearls For Teen Girls, leading a development program that serves girls from middle school and beyond – teaching PEARLS values including respect, leadership and support.

What was your most defining moment?

My most defining moment was when I made the decision to leave the corporate world to serve in leadership of a non-profit-Pearls For Teen Girls. This shift wasn’t just leaving one industry for another; rather, it represented my doubling down on commitment to impacting something I cared deeply about, the wellbeing of girls and young women in Milwaukee.

What was your biggest success and how did it change your outlook?

The biggest success I have experienced is as Executive Director of Milwaukee Succeeds-a collective impact partnership-we have engaged over 300 partners in our work of improving educational outcomes for children and young people in Milwaukee, cradle to career. This partnership engages all K-12 sectors, community and civic leaders, philanthropy, government and is part of a national network, StriveTogether. What I learned from leading this organization is that Milwaukee will unite around a common vision and work together for a greater good, even when the work needed is extremely hard.

Who was your greatest mentor and how did they guide your journey?

My mother is my greatest mentor. She has supported my career and personal journey with unconditional love and honesty. She has always been proud of me and when times were hard (as they are for all of us, but especially women in leadership) my Mother always had sage advice that helped me regain perspective and enabled me to move on and stay the course. Her love has never waivered and many times, that was what was most needed.

What inspires you to continue to drive change?

As I work with young people, particularly young Black and Brown people, who have commitment, hope and drive, I am inspired that they will take their rightful places as leaders of change. They haven’t given up, so I can’t either.

What advice would you give to young women today?

My advice for young women today is to know who you really are, be that person, commit to a greater good and give yourself permission to fail and have confidence that you will succeed. By being the very best person you can be, with integrity, and compassion, you will have a life worth living.