I took the stage at this year’s Women, Work, & Calling with renewed excitement while wondering “How is this going to work?” This year’s gathering broke records as the largest event in Denver Institute history, with 220 guests joining us in person and 630 watching online–in 26 countries! Thanks to a partnership with Compassion International, their staff women joined us across the U.S. and in three regions overseas: Africa, Asia, and the Americas. I prayed that this Colorado-based conversation would resonate cross-culturally and that the Holy Spirit would help the content connect with women in Uganda, Indonesia, and Peru.
This year’s event explored common challenges women face in the workplace from a biblical perspective and through the lived experiences of Christian women leading at a high level. We looked at the mysteries of discerning our calling in different seasons and stages of life, how to authentically express ourselves when data shows women’s voices often go unheard in the workplace, how to build strong, generous relational networks, and how to develop strategies for God-honoring growth and influence. Speakers ranged from Melissa Russell, president of International Justice Mission’s U.S. operations, to Makisha Boothe, founder of Sistahbiz, a leading business accelerator for women of color, to Katie Macc, investment director at the David Weekley Family Foundation.
Throughout the day I heard a common sentiment from our guests: this event is the only time that, as Christian women, they feel seen and affirmed for all that they are. While many valuable women’s events focus on personal discipleship, biblical knowledge, or relational callings, WWC adds a critical element focused on women’s influence in public life. As one guest, a leader in the legal industry put it, “This event made me come alive! I can live with freedom in who God created me to be as a woman, manager, and friend. It [combined] my faith, femininity, and work!”
She’s not alone, listen to what other guests are saying:
“I’ve long felt like my work self is sequestered from the rest of who I am as a woman and follower of God. The opportunity to integrate these with other like-minded women was amazing.”
“This event took the expected conversation around women, work, and faith, and pushed it 4 levels deeper. I felt a community surrounding my experiences and fears while being energized by the collective call and the redemptive work I was being invited into.”
“This event has come to be a cherished annual rhythm that brings refreshment and encouragement for my professional and spiritual life. I always come away with both practical ideas to improve my work and encouragement to know and seek God more in all spheres of life.”
The momentum gained at WWC2021 suggests that our formerly local initiative now has a national, and potentially global, reach. I look forward to seeing where God will lead as we seek to inspire and empower more women to Kingdom influence through their callings.
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This post was published November 17, 2021
Joanna serves as Denver Institute’s Director of Public Engagement, hosts the Faith & Work Podcast, and founded Women, Work, & Calling, a national initiative that disciples women for godly influence in public life. Prior to coming to the Institute, Joanna worked in global telecom, nonprofit consulting, and campus ministry with Cru. She served as associate faculty at Denver Seminary and as a sewing instructor at Fancy Tiger Crafts. A third-generation Coloradan, Joanna appreciates both the state’s innovative culture and its cowboy roots. She has an MA in Social Entrepreneurship from Bakke Graduate University and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She also completed a certificate of Women in Leadership through Cornell University.
She is the author of Women, Work, & Calling: Step Into Your Place in God’s World (IVP, Fall 2023) and is a contributor to the multi-author book, Women & Work: Bearing God’s Image and Joining in His Mission through our Work (B&H Publishing, Spring 2023).