It is my distinct pleasure to introduce the Smarty world to my dear friend, Elyse Dashew. Elyse is one in a million – more than capable of graciously juggling family life, a career and now running for public office. She is running for an at-large school board seat and is truly one of the smartiest, most sincere and passionate women I have ever known.
Elyse grew up living all over the world, including spending seven years living aboard a boat with her family. She attended Brown University and then worked in the television industry in California before moving to Charlotte in 1995. She is married and has two beautiful children – Emma, age 13 and Ian, age 9.
Elyse, tell us why you decided to take on the lofty challenge of running for school board?
Our community’s well-being and prosperity depend upon the strength of our schools. I know one thing we all have in common is that we care deeply about our children and their education. We are in a time when people are ready to make things better, they just need an opportunity to engage and I want to help bring that about.
What is the single biggest asset that you bring to the table?
For the past couple of years, I have done a lot of advocacy work on behalf of our public schools. I have really loved collaborating with people of many different backgrounds and world views. Even when people have disagreed, we have been able to find common ground and take action together. I am a bridge builder.
Have you always known the day would come that you would run for public office?
Heavens no! This was not in my master plan. I ran a small publishing business for a number of years and stepped away from it two years ago to spend more time with my family. Volunteering in my children’s school led to the proverbial snowball; leadership in one school turned into advocacy for ALL schools. This past spring, I was approached by several community leaders who strongly encouraged me to run. After careful deliberation and lots of talk time with my family, I came to realize that I did indeed have something to offer that is needed in our community at this point in time.
What do your kids think about you running for office?
Recently a friend asked my thirteen year old daughter, “What do you think about your mom running for school board?” Emma responded by saying, “It’s a sacrifice for all of us, but this is what Mom was born to do, and I’m happy that she’s doing it.” My heart skipped a beat when I heard these words, but it was just the validation that I needed to know I was absolutely embarking on the right journey.
So when you’re not knee deep in campaign activities, what do you do for YOU?
Yoga, but I haven’t been to a yoga class in ages. That’s the first thing I’ll do on Nov. 9 (the day after the election). My two favorite yoga studios are Inner Peace Yoga (attached to the Inner Peaks climbing gym on Monroe Road) and Be Yoga on East Boulevard.
What is your favorite family activity?
Probably a day trip to slide down the waterfall at Sliding Rock. There’s another beautiful little swimming hole where we go swimming sometimes. And then on the way back we stop for ice cream – it tastes more delicious than usual after a day of sun, fresh air and exercise.
Fill in the blank for us. I could not live without my ______.
My Husband. He has been so supportive during the fast pace of the school board campaign. For months now he has stepped in to be the homework dad, chauffeur, cook, cleaner of the house, while still running his own business. He amazes me and I’m very, very blessed and grateful.
I also couldn’t live without my coffee or my black patent pumps with Nike Air technology.
What has been your biggest surprise along the campaign trail?
The smart questions our kids are asking- in community forums, school newspapers, and via this great organization called KidsVoting. Our students are really tuned in. I want to tap into this with a series of “student summits.” Kids have a way of bringing us to the heart of what is important – what we all care about – and what is driving me to run.
Well Smarty moms, Elyse is right – kids do indeed have a way of bringing us to the heart of what’s important. I think we’d all agree that there aren’t many things more important that our children’s education – ALL children’s education. Thank you Elyse for making the sacrifice to run for office and for allowing our Smarty world to get to know you a little better.
P.S. Don’t forget to get out and vote on November 8. With three at large school board seats open, this election is critical for shaping the future of our schools. See you at the polls!