Mamalode co-founder Elke Govertsen joins MyVillage team
Starting a new job always comes with a combination of excitement, fear and feeling slightly overwhelmed. So it is with a lot of hope and faith that I am proudly announcing my new role at MyVillage, where I’ll serve as Chief Community Officer. As a longtime advocate for kids and for better options for parents in need of affordable, high quality childcare, this opportunity was truly the only thing that could have pulled me back into having a “regular” job at this time.
MyVillage is a female-founded company that’s reimagining childcare for kids ages 0-5 by helping entrepreneurs launch affordable, high quality in-home daycares. For each MyVillage program that opens, a new business owner is created and six to 12 parents (mostly moms) can return to the workforce knowing their child is in the best of hands. My role will be building this community of entrepreneurs and helping them navigate the operations, technology, and regulations required to run a successful program, freeing them up to focus on what matters most: the kids.
My background is rooted in community and entrepreneurship — be it launching and growing Mamalode for the past decade, to serving as a longtime board member of the HATCH global community of leaders and creatives, or (my favorite) being an active wrangler in my own neighborhood’s traditions and connections.
Mamalode started with a party and an idea in Missoula and grew into a national platform built on authentic storytelling, live events and multi-platform connection. Our audience members were our experts and our heartbeat was their engagement. My vision is for the MyVillage community to echo this growth and authenticity.
Mamalode is currently for sale, and I remain its CEO for the time being. But as our team started having conversations about what each of our next chapters would look like, my list was very specific. Rest. Recover. Then identify opportunities based on three things: Only work with people I adore and admire; opt for better balance in my life specifically with my family and health; and change the world. I expected it to take a long time to find a good fit, but then I met Erica Mackey, the co-founder and CEO of MyVillage.
Erica is a sneaky kind of genius, disguised as the most fun person in the room. The more I got to know her the more I admired the scope and scale of her last company, which brought solar energy to 1 million Africans. I love that Erica took her personal struggle to find childcare and latched on to solving this pervasive problem at a national scale – without ever compromising on quality. She introduced me to her co-founder Beth Szymanski and, my first box was checked: people. They recently closed the largest seed round in the history of Montana. Changing the world by changing the childcare system – another check for impact.
The balance part, I have learned, is more about me than anything. It is about prioritizing my health, time and family (or as my dear friend Esther says “calendarize and prioritize”). I am dedicated to taking the hard won lessons I learned from building Mamalode and burning out and applying them by reinventing my habits in this new venture. It’s my job to own that, but I also humbly ask all of you to help me because you are my community. Hold me accountable to doing great work, but in a way that also cares for myself. When I told Erica about my priorities, including a couple months of travel with my family before starting, Erica said: “A healthy, inspired Elke is the best thing for us!” That sealed the deal, and I knew I had found my perfect next step.
So to the community of MyVillage (current and future), and my friends and colleagues here in Montana and beyond, thank you. I am so excited to co-create a platform of educators who are as committed to each other as they are their kiddos, and who bring their expertise, questions and learnings to the group so that we all get better, everyday. I love the notion of all of us feeling both supported and supportive: “You’ve got this, and we’ve got you.”
Whether you care for the children in your life because they are your own, your family, your friends, or it’s your job, it takes a community to shape a child. Tiny moments with tiny people add up to a huge impact on the world. If we support each other along the way, MyVillage can become far more than a company of connected educators, it can become a movement.
I am so very honored to be part of it.
Elke Govertsen is the co-founder of Mamalode and Chief Community Officer of MyVillage. She has been featured in Real Simple, Forbes, Where Women Create, Ad Tech, and listed as one of Origin Magazine’s “Top 100 Creatives.” She has been a speaker at The Girls Lounge, Adweek, C2Montreal, HATCH, TEDx, and (her favorite) in many classrooms. She loves consulting in the areas of community design, storytelling and brand building. Her superpowers include extreme bootstrapping, overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities. Of the many things she has learned from Mamalode, her ability to work with absolute chaos/kids/mess just might be the best. She is learning that slowing down creates more impact.
Photo by Holly Andres