Dayle Haddon

by Christie Grimm · October 24, 2019

    Dayle Haddon is a model citizen. Quite literally. A global face for everyone from L'Oreal to Estée Lauder, when not in front of the camera, she's doing her fair share to change the world. Educating one girl at a time through her non-profit WomenOne, which works to support the hard-to-reach girls, the ones the big organizations miss. Focusing on how to best create a positive change in their lives by bringing them into great schools and helping them stay there.

    Who inspires you?
    My students inspire me. And their mamas inspire me. I've spoken to many of the mamas, we do a lot of home visits, and most to all of them have never had education, and when they talk about it they cry. So they put all of their energy, all of their effort, anything they can do if it's selling vegetables, cleaning a house, anything to help keep their girls in school because they know that that will make a difference in their lives. 

    Many of the students have heart wrenching stories of where they've come from. They've been abandoned, have lived or worked on the street, were going to have an arranged marriage, and went against their whole family and community to choose education. They're very brave. When you see how far they've come, that's where you see what bravery is. It's how far you've gone is what defines bravery and inspiration for me. 

    Also, my daughter inspires me because of the work that she's done on herself, her family and what she does for other people. She's a therapist, and she's devoted to doing good in the world. 

    What do you hope to inspire in other women?
    Do your part. It can be a small part. It can be smiling somebody at a cash register. It can be having patience when you don't feel like it. It's that you can make a difference, and it's not the size of the difference that matters. That's what I hope to inspire in other women.

    Is there an example you can share of how another woman has lifted you up?
    There are so many women who have lifted me up. In every industry you have people that are out for themselves, selfish, ego-run, and our job is to no matter the industry, find our tribe. Those that have the same outlook on life as you do. It's to join forces with those people. It's such a delight when you run across those people who are willing to do service to others. They lift me up and help me to go further. 

    When I see someone who has very little, but with such generosity of self and spirit, I am inspired to do more and give more. I don't need to teach other people how to be. My own behavior is the best way. Either someone's inspired by that or they're not. I'm not their teacher, and so I try to find people who are like-minded and come together. And my theory is that one and one makes three. When you come together with a like minded person, more happens, another entity happens.

    What is behind your desire to lift others?
    Why not? It's where I want to come from, it's who I want to be. At the end of the day when you close your door, you have to feel good about yourself to start another day. You have to be able to say I did my best, I tried my hardest. It's part of liking yourself. I think that's a major key to a lot of things, to beauty, to peace of mind, to feeling like a whole and a real person of substance and of value, is to like yourself. No matter what I've done, I've always had an innate drive to be of service to others. There's no other more satisfying impulse than the desire to lift others up. It's what drives me every day.

    How has confidence played a role in your life? 
    Fake it 'til you make it. I have not known what I'm doing almost every profession I've started. I'm a perpetual student. I love learning, and yes it's embarrassing, and yes you fall on your face. But the learning curve is quite exciting. Sometimes it's overwhelming. When I was building a communications business for women, I would take a Barron's dictionary with me, jot down all of the words I didn't understand and look them up later. In the philanthropy world, they use a lot of initials and short terms, and it's really another language. And knowledge brings confidence.

    I think everything starts with a vision. If you have a vision of something you can follow it. Through all projects you'll be humbled, you'll be exhausted, you'll be inspired, but you're going to move forward and if you keep at it you'll be successful. Confidence is another day. Challenges are an opportunity to be more than you were. Showing you you've got to grow. And confidence when you walk into a room is 50% or more of knowing that you have value. 

    What's the best part of your job? 
    The smiles of the girls and the tears of the mamas and the hugging and the bonding. The best part is the difference you see. You see a girl that came in four years ago not able to speak, and then four years later is leaving her team a new person. It's spiritual, and you feel you're doing God's work so to speak, in your small way. It's a drop in the ocean, but it's my drop. 

    And also the partners I work with. How we grow together. My Executive Director Amy has been with me for 6 years. The trust and the growth we've had. It's not just the work we're doing, it's also the work with each other. 

    What are you most proud of? 
    The Center of Worth. And the work we've done with the Syrian refugees in Jordan and Turkey very early on. I'm very proud of coming as far as I have - from a small town to having some sort of presence in the world that is satisfying to me and is creative. To be able to work as a model with the people that I've worked with, I'm very proud of those collaborations. I'm very proud of my relationship with people. That I feel like I try to do best by them. That my closest friends know me as a caring, loving person. That helps with my own relationship with myself, as that's who I want to be.

    I'm very proud of being the mother of the daughter that I have. Of her as a human being, of her as a great mother, and the challenges she has faced, the setbacks she has always overcome. To look over and see a co-journey woman side by side with me. 

    What has been the most useful advice you've received?
    I've read a lot here. It's trying to feel what is real. What's really going on? The most useful advice I've found is to not take what's apparent, because you will get offended, and to really dig deeper. To ask what's the bigger picture? To see that there's a bigger story going on, and you're a small part in it. 

    I have a lot of interns that come in, and I do often say, 'don't take it personally.' If you take it all personally you'll be so run by anger and frustration. Just focus on what you want. Just focus on what's your gift, what you want to accomplish, and how to get there.

    What is your motto or mantra?
    I collect mantras and mottos. I love 'self-effort and grace are two wings of the bird.' Because you need both. You can't just effort things into being. And you can't just wait for the universe to hand you everything.

    What are you most excited for next?
    Building our campus. We purchased land in Kenya and we're building a first class campus. We have amazing partners - Aga Kahn Hospital, and Children of War - which will bring a medical clinic to will serve the community. A lot of these kids are either abandoned or from the streets, so they will be housed there. So we're very very excited about that.

    [Photo by Yumi Matsuo]