As the work of the Women in Leadership Project continues, we look forward to sharing updates and reflections here. The purpose of this blog is two-fold:
- To share about the ongoing work and initiatives of the Women in Leadership Project
- To foster discussion around women’s experience, holistic leadership and undoing sexism in the church
In the fall of 2012 Hilary J. Scarsella joined me as a co-coordinator of the Project. Between the two of us, we coordinate the Steering Committee of the Project, along with four focus groups working at undoing sexism in different ways. Beyond that there are other initiatives in the works that we will share about in upcoming posts. You can also look forward to hearing from a variety of women, beyond Hilary and myself.
We have also added the articles/interviews from Equipping to this blog.
Below you can see the history of the project since the spring of 2009. We recognize that this project also rests on the shoulders of much work that has been done in the past. We celebrate those who have gone before us and are excited to see what the future holds!
Timeline of Women in Leadership Audit/Project
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. Joanna Shenk (staff) emails Mennonite organizations for numbers of women in executive positions as well as on governing boards. Joanna also references work that has been done related to women in pastoral ministry.
September 2009 – Joanna drafts initial findings which are presented to Mennonite Church USA Executive Board and the Constituency Leaders Council (CLC). The question is raised, “why do women say no?”
October 2009 – Women in Leadership Audit (WLA) Steering Committee is appointed for 3 meetings to work with Joanna as she sifts through research. Committee members: Jane Stoltzfus Buller, Patty Burdette, Yvonne Diaz, Anita Kehr, Marty Lehman, Hilary Scarsella, Regina Shands Stoltzfus
November 2009 – February 2010 – The WLA Steering Committee meets three times. They work together on an article outlining the findings of the Audit as well as Joanna’s presentation to the CLC.
February 2010—Joanna writes a feature article for Timbrel on the Women in Leadership Audit.
Early-March 2010 – Joanna’s article on the finding of the WLA is published in The Mennonite.
Mid-March 2010 – Joanna presents her findings to the CLC and names the next steps developed by the Steering Committee. See next steps below.
- Develop and implement criteria to insure gender balance on the Governance Council at all times.
- Model shared leadership across gender lines in executive positions through co-leadership and leadership teams.
- Expand the pool of women leaders through:
- Leadership development and mentoring
- Re-visioning leadership discernment to include a more diverse group of people empowered to ‘call’ potential leaders
- Implement systemic/theological review of executive positions
Late-March 2010 – Joanna meets with the Mennonite Women USA board and they affirm WLA research and next steps. Suggestion is made to explore the possibility of an ‘undoing sexism’ seminar for male leaders in Mennonite Church USA.
Late-April 2010 – Joanna and Hilary (of the Steering Committee) present a workshop at the Mennonite Women USA retreat in Hesston, KS. There is much interest in their presentation and in continuing the conversations about women in leadership.
Late-May 2010 – Mennonite Weekly Review publishes an article about the WLA, reflecting on the CLC presentation and the Mennonite Women retreat workshop
Summer 2010 – Joanna drafts a proposal for a mentoring network for women
Early-August 2010 – A small group of MC USA staff women meet with Joanna to talk about the mentoring proposal and next steps of the WLA. Suggestion made for a women’s gathering in Goshen-Elkhart area.
Late-August 2010 – Joanna meets with Beth Martin Birky and Bob Yoder at Goshen College to share about the WLA. Following the conversation, Joanna and Beth brainstorm about what a gathering of women in the Goshen-Elkhart area could look like. Beth reserves the College Cabin for Nov. 16.
Late-September 2010 – Joanna meets with leaders of Mennonite Women and Mennonite Men and receives support for the ‘undoing sexism’ seminar proposal.
Early-October 2010 – Joanna meets with Libby Smith to hear about her research at Goshen College related to faith and feminism and her ongoing study at AMBS. They discuss ideas for the women’s gathering in November.
Mid-October 2010 – Joanna meets with MC USA staff women to brainstorm about the November gathering. The suggestion of a collective history project is shared.
Mid-October 2010 – Joanna meets with Vilma Padilla to share about the WLA and invites her to share on the panel at the November gathering.
Mid-October 2010 – Joanna interviews Emma Richards at her home in Goshen about her experience of being the first ordained woman in the Mennonite Church.
Late-October 2010 – Joanna meets with Nicole Bauman, Deb Byler, and Mary Schertz in Elkhart to continue planning for the November gathering.
Mid-November 2010 – Women gather in Goshen at College Cabin
February 2011 – Equipping column for Women in Leadership is created
July 2011 – Reception and seminar focusing on women’s leadership held at Pittsburgh 2011. The Mennonite ran an article on this gathering.
August 2011 – Joanna facilitates discussion at Mountain States Mennonite Conference gathering about women’s experience in leadership
Late-October 2011 – Joanna facilitates discussion with women leaders in Newton, KS
Early-November 2011 – Goshen College hosts a gathering with female GC students and AMBS alumni to talk about their experiences with the church as women
November 2011 – Due to the high number of responses, Joanna is in touch with women who responded to taskforce call. She invites each woman to consider joining a focus group, based on needs that have been named at women’s gatherings across the country.
December 2011 – Four focus groups are formed, based on responses from women.
- Empowering Resources
- Mennonite Monologues
- Undoing Sexism
January 2012 and ongoing – Joanna convenes and facilitates meetings with each focus group, about once every 6 weeks.
June – August 2012 – Joanna worked with Emily Kraybill as an Ministry Inquiry Program intern. Based on the November 2011 gathering at Goshen College, Emily requested to do her Ministry Inquiry with the Women in Leadership Project.
June 2012 – AMBS expresses interest in hosting a webinar about women’s leadership in the church in 2013. Joanna invites Linda Gehman Peachey and Regina Shands Stoltzfus to be co-presenters.
June 2012 – Joanna, in consultation with Iris de Leon-Hartshorn, begins works on creating a diverse steering committee for the Women in Leadership Project with the goal of not only creating resources for white women.
August 2012 – Steering Committee has first meeting. Members are: Aveani Moeljono (Los Angeles), Erica Littlewolf (Albuquerque), Regina Shands Stoltzfus (Elkhart), Moniqua Acosta (Lancaster), Linda Gehman Peachey (Lancaster), Sandra Perez (New York City)
September 2012—Hilary J. Scarsella joins Mennonite Church USA staff as co-coordinator of the Women in Leadership Project with Joanna.
November 2012—Hilary begins work on a history of women in leadership that will be displayed at the Phoenix 2013 convention.
January 2013–Women in Leadership blog is created.
Compiled by Joanna Shenk, Mennonite Church USA staff