M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

“We are leading change, sisters, in a time of intense change.” The Rev. Dr. Alexis Salvatierra, Academic Dean of Centro Latino and Community and Assistant Professor of Integral Mission and Global Transformation for Fuller Theological Seminary, opened her first talk at the Murdock Trust Women in Leadership 2022 Conference with this reminder. For the 70+ women in leadership roles from 65 nonprofits across nine states, Dr. Salvatierra’s words seemed to ring true.

The theme of this year’s conference was Leading Change and Navigating Crucial Conversations. In a time of transition, when many are feeling caught between voices shouting across political, cultural, and even generational lines, how do we make meaningful change? How do we navigate the unique challenges and opportunities as women leaders? How do we hold difficult conversations in this already fraught moment? To borrow biblical language, how do we “be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves” in this cultural moment?

From these questions, Dr. Salvatierra guided participants through talks and exercises that considered serpent wisdom and dove power. Participants did case studies and considered challenges in their own organizations. They applied new strategies to old problems they hadn’t had the time and space to address. They collaborated with those around their tables, gathering input from the diverse group of women in attendance. There were more than a few stories of strategy breakthrough from these conversations, and even more connections made and friendships formed.

“Dr. Salvatierra shared a wealth of knowledge about how to practically enact change using serpent wisdom and dove power,” said Pauline Fong, program director at the Murdock Trust and director of Women in Leadership. “She taught us principles based on biblical wisdom and real-life experiences, but she also got very practical. We are already hearing stories of impact from participants, about how they are making important decisions with new strategies and greater confidence.”

In addition to a rich time of teaching, participants also had the opportunity to connect with other women in nonprofit leadership. Networking games, reception hour, shared meals, and a networking board all gave participants a chance to form relationships.

At the end of the conference, participants were given a chance to share a takeaway or moment of impact from the conference. Hands shot up around the room as women were eager to share what they learned. “Expect imperfection.” “Think about unlikely allies.” “Use the art of encouragement if you want someone to change.”

For some participants, this was the first time they had ever attended a women’s conference. Several agreed to meet up monthly following the conference. One said, “I feel like this is the best-spent time of my year so far.”

To all those who made this gathering a rich time of fellowship and learning, thank you. A special thanks to Dr. Salvatierra for her teaching, Pauline Fong for her leadership, and the Enrichment team at the Trust for their hospitality. And a very special thank you to all participants who engaged enthusiastically at this conference and who lead faithfully in their communities. Our region is richer because of your leadership.

To learn more about the program and access recordings and materials from this conference, visit our Women in Leadership page.

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