Participants in the Women in Leadership Project

Women in Leadership Project participants

News and Updates

Please Give! The Women in Leadership Project (WLP) is in need of your financial support to continue our work. Follow this link to give directly online.

WIL_SquareClick here for a digest of reflections/articles about the women’s conference, as well as the schedule and speaker lists, if you weren’t able to be there but want to know what happened!

New downloadable congregational worship resources! Do You See This Woman?

Origins of the Project

When Mennonite Women USA called for an audit of Mennonite institutions in 2009, an opportunity for systemic change was created. After an examination of the numbers of women leaders in Mennonite institutions, it was clear that quantitative analysis was not enough. Thus the Women in Leadership Project (WLP) was born—an initiative to name and transform sexism in Mennonite Church USA.

Download a brochure containing an overview of the Project (PDF):     English     Español


Steering Committee: Aveani Moeljono (Azusa, Calif.), Erica Littlewolf (Albuquerque, NM), Regina Shands Stoltzfus (Goshen, Ind.), Moniqua Acosta (Lititz, Pa.), Linda Gehman Peachey (Lancaster, Pa.), Sandra Perez (New York City)

Co-coordinators: Hilary J. Scarsella and Joanna Shenk, Mennonite Church USA staff

Focus groups

  • Empowering resources—creating Sunday morning worship resources that take into account women’s stories and experiences in the Bible and today.
  • Mennonite Monologues—gathering stories of Mennonite women to raise awareness about the difficulties, pain and joy of being shaped by the Mennonite church and tradition.
  • Mentoring—creating a network of support and development for women leaders across the church.
  • Undoing sexism—generating conversation about naming and transforming systemic sexism.

Get connected!


HilaryJoannaHilary J. Scarsella | 574.523.3047 |

Joanna Shenk | 574.523.3055 |

Timeline Snapshots

Spring 2009 – Mennonite Women USA makes statement that there are declining numbers of women in leadership in Mennonite Church USA.

August 2009 – Mennonite Church USA denominational staff initiate Women in Leadership Audit, coordinated by Joanna Shenk.

September 2009 – Initial findings are presented to the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board and the Constituency Leaders Council (CLC).

October 2009 –A short-term steering committee is appointed for three meetings to join staff in sifting through research. Findings published in The Mennonite.

Mid-March 2010 –Findings are presented to the CLC, along with next steps developed by the steering committee. Mennonite World Review publishes article.

Late-March 2010 –Mennonite Women USA board affirms research and next steps.

July 2011 – Reception and seminar focusing on women’s leadership held at Pittsburgh 2011 convention.

December 2011 – Four volunteer focus groups are formed, made up of women from across Mennonite Church USA, to respond to needs and goals of women leaders.

  • Empowering resources
  • Mennonite Monologues
  • Mentoring
  • Undoing sexism

June – August 2012 – Emily Kraybill serves as a Ministry Inquiry Program (MIP) summer intern, researching why Mennonite women have gathered historically and currently.

August 2012 –A new steering committee, which meets monthly, is formed to provide diverse guidance for the Women in Leadership Project.

September 2012—Hilary J. Scarsella joins Mennonite Church USA staff as co-coordinator of the Women in Leadership Project.

February 2013—The Women in Leadership blog is launched on the Mennonite Church USA website.

March 2013—Planning begins for a Women Doing Theology conference.

April 2013—WLP staff meet with the Mennonite Women USA board to discuss ongoing collaboration on the Women in Leadership Project.

April 2013—Hilary and Joanna create comprehensive report, detailing the work and accomplishments of the WLP since 2009. This report is presented to the cabinet of Mennonite Church USA executive board staff.

June 2013—Mennonite Monologues website is launched

June 2013—“Do You See This Woman: Undoing Patriarchy and Moving toward Right Relationships” is completed and posted online. These worship resources were coordinated and edited by Hilary.

July 2013— At the Phoenix 2013 convention Hilary and Joanna co-lead a workshop titled, Undoing Sexism Through Storytelling and present a brief report to the delegates. Hilary and Janeen Bertsche Johnson co-lead a workshop on mentoring. Janeen is a member of the mentoring focus group.

September 2013—As planning continues for the women’s conference, a webpage is created on the Mennonite Church USA website. The location of Leesburg, Va., is announced, at the National Conference Center. Hilary devotes her staff time to planning the conference.

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