Dr Anita Davis-DeFoe: Service to all mankind



Service to all mankind

Dr Anita Davis-DeFoe is a busy woman. She’s a career and workforce development expert, a business thought coach, CEO of the Global Cottage, a consultancy organisation assisting people in building their impact, a speaker and trainer, social entrepreneur and author. Through all of this, she uses her 20 years’ experience to motivate, coach, inspire and transform women and organisations around the world.

‘Growing up, I was always involved in community and human development projects, and that intensified during my college education. My sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, is guided by the motto ‘Service To All Mankind’ which has always resonated with my heart and spirit.’

Dr Davis-DeFoe speaks globally at conferences, retreats and seminars to inspire and transform people, processes, programs and places and believes it’s crucial we focus on empowering women in particular.

‘I was a director of an alternative school in the US Virgin Islands, and far too many girls—and in some instances, their mothers as well—were faced with challenges for which their resiliency skills were in short supply. My late father was a city councilman and I helped him implement a range of projects, which led to me expanding my work in personal development. I was asked to conduct a special group for girls in high school as they were facing self-esteem and confidence problems, fear and bullying, and struggling to overcome abuse and abandonment.


By strengthening girls at an early age, by the time they reach young adulthood, they are more self-assured, and have better emotional intelligence and resiliency skills. They can then nurture a healthy relationship with themselves, enabling them to have healthy relations with others. In the absence of these core life management skills, women flounder, making poor career and relationship choices.’

As well as her programs, Dr Davis-DeFoe has written a rites of passage curriculum for girls called Soulful One: For Girls on the Pathway to Greatness, as well as books on leadership skills and soulful living.

‘I’m proud of the books I’ve written. When you educate and strengthen women, it uplifts the family and the community. There is something referred to as the “Girl Effect”, noted as having an economic development impact. The research states that women reinvest 90 percent of their income in the family, while men invest just 30 to 40 percent. Females nurture the next generations and if a woman’s wellness is compromised, it is extremely difficult for her to nurture her children.’

From girlhood to womanhood, Anita’s teachings and words of wisdom are here to help. The Circle of 99 Women’s Network sees women from all around the world work as solutionists to lead programs and projects uplifting women, families and communities, while A Woman’s Guide to Soulful Living: Seven Keys to Life and Work Success and Follow Her Lead: Leadership Lessons for Women as They Journey from the Backroom to the Boardroom inspire women in work to reach their potential.

And she’s pretty proud of what she’s doing for people around the world. When asked what she was most proud of in her career so far, Dr Davis-DeFoe found it difficult to answer.


‘I am always proud of any opportunity to serve and add value to individuals and organisations. I am proud of the opportunities to conduct leadership and social entrepreneurship training in places like Nigeria, Ghana, Switzerland, Thailand and India. If forced to pick one thing, it would be writing millions in grant proposals that supported a wide range of human development and quality of life projects that help youth and families in need.’

In honour of her global human development and social entrepreneurship work, Dr Davis-DeFoe was named the first Woman Chief by the ITAM CLAN in Abwu Ibom State Nigeria in 2012 and was awarded the African Leadership Award from Voice Magazine in 2014. She wants people and organisations around the world to recognise improving access to opportunity for women is desperately needed.

‘Women face wage disparity, career advancement challenges, sexual harassment, questions about their ability to lead, and a tremendous amount of self-doubt. Women need support such as mentoring, skill building, and mastermind groups that serve as mentoring groups enabling them to gain personal confidence as they pursue their chosen career or entrepreneurial pathway. Improving access to opportunity for women is much needed as this can serve to reduce generational poverty and improve quality of life.

Today’s workplace globally requires a different organisational culture if an enterprise is to remain competitive. Gallup reports that employees are only 30 percent engaged, which is a bit scary when you think about organisational productivity and my mentor, international leadership guru John C Maxwell, states that everything starts and ends with leadership.


Visionary leadership is a blend of solid management skills, innovative thinking, and an ability to inspire a team to be mission and goal driven with the leader equipping them to see how they each contribute to the attainment of the same. Women by nature are born with the skills to be leaders; skills that leadership coaches work to elevate in their clients. Too many women think they have to emulate the leadership style of a man to be effective. This is not the case: men tend to be transactional leaders—I pay you, so complete the task—while women are the transformative leaders.’

It makes sense then, to work on boosting women’s leadership skills and supporting women to the top. But reaching your ultimate potential is more than just being a good leader: you need to live soulfully.

‘Soulful living is living one’s life based on your own definition of success, personal fulfilment and responding to your calling.’

Dr Davis-Defoe’s top tip?

‘Work to identify your calling! Discover your personal passion and purpose, and the area that ignites your soul to work with a spirit of excellence. When you discover and recognise your gifts and talents, you will persist no matter the challenges because you enjoy what you are doing. Live authentically, live soulfully through introspection, vision, faith, courage and resiliency.’

Recipe for soul-Filled Living…to my global sisters!!

Start with one cup of talent, and three cups of gifts,
Blend in a heap of goals, and add a can-do attitude to this.
Stir in seven tablespoons of dreams, a cup of good habits and nine dashes of belief,
A few more key ingredients and this invigorating recipe will be complete.
Infuse sprigs of servant leadership and intentional flavoring to this bubbling roux
Whip in spirit of greater good, and essence of a spice called courage to be you.
Add an ounce of purpose, some grit and unwavering resiliency too,
Mix in a tablespoon of divine vision, and saute these ingredients just for a few.
Combine a half-cup of persistence, with a hint of passion sweet,
Together, personal passion, purpose and persistence will make this recipe unique.
Toss in a pinch of gingered hope, some love and a hint of fresh faith,
Pour in two pints of focus and a quart of determination according to taste.
You need to add a pound of courage, a cup of forgiveness, maybe two,
Shake in a branch of lemon grass, a bit of soul seasoning ads gusto to this wonderful life stew.
Simmer all of the ingredients and be sure not to boil,
Remember that to achieve anything in this life, there will be some toil.
Anything you mentally conceive, you can most definitely achieve,
Everything first begins as a vision, a quest; a precious dream.
Fill your plate; enjoy this dish, your hearty life stew,
Let it guide, inform and nourish, all that you do.

Lead For Impact!!

As a John Maxwell Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker, I can offer you workshops, seminars, keynote speaking, and coaching, aiding your personal and professional growth through study and practical application of John’s proven leadership methods. Working together, I will move you and/or your team or organization in the desired direction to reach your goals.

Leadership indeed is the difference maker and can certainly be a deal breaker. It is essential for growing organizations, achieving outcomes and moreover, impacting lives. However, as you also know, leadership cannot be an idea we simply talk about; leadership is intentional execution, visionary solutions, ultimately; it is the actions, we must live out daily.

My solution focused, goal-oriented outlook on life and my passion for equipping others with knowledge and tools essential for reaching their goals led me to join the John Maxwell Team. Prior to joining the team, I spent 20 years designing, implementing and evaluating organization, human and leadership development programs in the public and private sectors across the United States, the Caribbean, the UK and Africa. I hold a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and advanced degrees in Management with a focus in Organization and Leadership Development from Antioch University. I am the author of five books; all focused on the competencies key to personal and leadership development.

It can be challenging juggling daily personal and career responsibilities effectively; I have learned this first hand. This is why you must have a structured and practical plan in place to avoid becoming overwhelmed, overly stressed, and ultimately derailed from achieving your goals. I have personally used these tools to enhance my own personal and leadership productivity, development and decision-making skills to both create a more balanced lifestyle and purposeful work life, as well as to coach the same in others. I have been studying and personally implementing the philosophies behind personal development and the role emotional intelligence and vision play in leadership effectiveness for the last twenty years.

Contact Me. I am looking forward to assisting you on your journey to becoming a successful leader


Dr. Anita Davis-DeFoe

 CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St. Thomas, USVI – Follow Her Lead: Leadership Lessons For Women As They Journey From the Backroom to the Boardroompenned by Virgin Islands resident and Social Entrepreneur Dr. Anita Davis-DeFoe is a must read says two Echoing Green Fellows finalists.
According to the organization’s website, Ameca Reali and Adrienne Wheeler, who have been chosen as 2011 Echoing Green Fellows finalists in the category of Cooperative Advocacy for the People, focused on Civil and Human Rights, say DeFoe’s latest book is one every social entrepreneur should read.
Founded some 25 years ago, Echoing Green has invested over $30 million in seed funding to social entrepreneurs and their organization as these visionaries strive to solve some of the most challenging world problems. After receiving over 3,000 applications this year, the 2011 Fellowship finalists were selected; 22 visionaries passionate about working for good.

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women leading change

By Laurie Gayle, YWCA of Great Britain.

I want to spend a little time extracting some data for us to digest before going on to talk about how YWCA programmes address the gender gap relating to STEM.

Laurie Gayle

All the experts agree that the greatest job growth in the world is predicted to be in the industry of engineering. There is an enormous shortage of engineers and big data talent to meet industry needs now and in the future and so, attracting more women to these fields is critical to solving this problem.

So, why is there a problem? Overall it comes down to the world not producing enough students with the right skills. In the last 20 years, engineering enrolment has remained stagnant in the US despite enormous industry changes. Whilst technology has radically evolved, interest levels have not and this is particularly true for women and girls.

Just 18%…

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    Silence filled the room as I painfully watched my mother take her final breaths. During the seventy-four years that my mother lived, she always gave untiringly to me and to others. I feel blessed to have been so fortunate, for my mother was always my greatest supporter, an endless fountain of encouragement. 

     As the reality of my loss enveloped me on that cool January night, it was a Saturday, the 8th, the year 2005 was still brand new. Up until this point, 2005 seem filled with endless possibilities. That did not possible anymore as indescribable anguish filled my heart as I felt that my emotional wounds would never heal; meanwhile, deep with I knew that my mother would want me, would expect that I would continue to pursue “good works.”

     It has been nine years, and of course I still miss my mother tremendously, but I get a spiritual message, some special gift from the heavens above on her birthday: the first year after her transition, I was featured in AOL Black Voices, and I won two tickets to Brazil. The second year, I got a call from Essence Magazine and asked to provide expert feedback about career and workforce development strategies. The next year there was a call from a Black Enterprise reporter, who I have never met, who continues to contact me to this day as she writes for a variety of publications. I am showered with so much goodness, it would fill page after page. In fact, daily I find myself abundantly blessed beyond my wildest dreams, and I know my mother is still watching over me.

    While I sat there filled with despair listening to my mother gasping for air, I was also humbled by the knowledge that someone had loved me so unconditionally. My mother forever stood firmly beside me as I weathered storms wrought from poor choices, self-discovery and defining life lessons. I am fully aware that this is not always the case when it comes to mothers and their children.

    While witnessing her spirit leave that hospital room, I pondered the mysteries of mothers and their children. I considered the full implications of this connection. I could not help but wonder if most people fully understand how necessary it is to find peace when it comes to the woman who gave them life. Coming to terms with the mother love in your life is fundamental to ultimately becoming comfortable with yourself, critical to being able to give and receive love.

    Your own evolution as a person will surely be stunted until you face all aspects of your relationship with your mother. Even in the best relationships some form of turmoil can exist. Failing to address and accepting these matters is a mistake. Refusing to do the work necessary to deal with your distress is not a good choice.  You cannot thrive carrying this kind of unresolved emotional baggage around for years.  It is difficult for both men and women to focus on their possibilities when he or she feels limited by family circumstances. Unresolved anger and nagging hurt steal dreams and shatter lives. In fact, one can end up virtually immobilized for years if mother dilemmas are not resolved.  In fact, your attitude about “mother” influences you one way or another for a lifetime.

    You see it does not matter whether your mother abandoned or adored you. It does not matter whether she championed your dreams or channeled her own sorrow into your life. It does not really matter if she demonstrated her love daily or only gave you doses of affection when she was able to put her own agony aside.

    No matter how tumultuous or terrific your relationship is with your mother, no matter if you never knew your mother, little does it matter that you somehow always feel that your mother has made no effort to understand who you are, coming to grips and accepting both the good and bad truths about your relationship with your mother is a key which can unlock your capacity to form healthy relationships throughout your life.

    Until you are able to realize that even though your mother may have given you her all, or perhaps at the other end of the spectrum, she gives you little or nothing; neither of these realities guarantee nor limit who or what you can become. Until you accept that maybe your mother did the best that she could, that she is loving you the best that she can, or that your mother relates to you as she was taught, you will remain caught up in a sea of turmoil that hampers your overall ability to relate and love.

    Every person’s perception of mother love colors his or her view of the world and our self-definition. Depending upon your experiences, you may learn to be caring, giving, compassionate and empathetic; or you may learn bitterness, distrust, helplessness and manipulation.  This is why taking the time to learn about your mother’s life is so important. This information will help you to better understand the choices she made, her personality, her ability to communicate and display affection, the number of sacrifices she endured.

   Bearing all of this in mind, move quickly to resolve anger and unfinished business where your mother is concerned. Heal your emotional wounds, and if necessary, find ways to forgive your mother even if she has not given you the kind of love and support you craved, or if for some reason she has been unable to be a mother to you. When it comes to your mother, choose to open your heart to the best of your ability. Focus on being thankful for the gift of life that she gave you, even if that is all your mother has ever given to you.  If you already have an excellent relationship with your mother, treasure it and let your mother know just how much she means to you.

    No matter your personal situation, when it comes to your mother, you do not want to have any regrets. Remember, in a split second, things can change and you do not want to spend time laboring over “I should have,” when your time and talents need to be focused on your “I wills.”  Honor your mother and your life no matter the circumstances. This attitude will bring you a tremendous amount of peace, and an outpouring of blessings will come your way for choosing to focus on the positive instead of dwelling on the negative.

    Mothers are not always right, but your mother will always be the woman that gave you the gift of life. In spite of her imperfections, her absence in your life, her human failings, or her inability to meet your emotional needs, none of those things can keep you from soaring to great heights unless you choose to embrace that attitude as your own.   Seek to come to terms with your mother love, because by doing so, you can earnestly become the person that you were destined to be. 

     I am the daughter of Lovie Pauline Neal Davis. She was a school teacher for 38 years, a compassionate servant leader, a Soror of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, a member of The Links, Inc., a giver, a doer, and a woman of faith. Every day I strive to honor her legacy. Thinking of you this Mother’s Day, and still missing your physical presence in my world each day, but without question feeling your spiritual presence in countless ways!