Students in the Women’s Leadership Institute led by Prof. MT Winter are asked to plan a project that reflects what they’ve learned about leadership during the nine-month program. The nationally known Prayer Shawl Ministry originated as a WLI project in 1998.
This year’s graduates have created a variety of projects they are excited to share with the community. Among others, they include:
Jennifer Gillotti: “I called my project, A House of Love. I interviewed and did a video of Nancy Orsi’s story. She adopted and lives and cares for 18 children with developmental and physical disabilities. I focused on her spiritual journey and interviewed several of her children (all adults now) on their views of God.”
The Rev. Dr. Karen A. O’Rourke, MS, JD: “My project is a series of 36 healing services designed around themes of community engagement outlined in the three liturgical cycles [Years A-B-C] . The portfolio encapsulates the principles of quantum spirituality, a theology of risk taking, annointing and laying on of hands,and interfaith conversations about creating a Divine Milieu in the 21st century. It confronts the current institution of church with an opportunity to step out of its spiritual paralysis and meet the Divine in a substantially new place of grace for being and becoming. It offers a correction for the church’s crisis in orientation and a map for an experiential journey through grief, denial, anger, and death to Spirit, joy, transfiguration, and eudaimonia , announcing a wisdom and a deep think into the Heart. God’s SPIRIT is already there waiting for us to respond.”
Arzu Kaya-Uranli: “My project is designed to collect and organize some thoughts from this year’s cohort about what brought them here, how they have changed, and what is next in their lives, in order to inform other women, especially potential students. It shows exactly how we all have transformed in our personal pace during the program and have become more awakened and connected spiritually to God and each other. It is also a good tool for the “unfinished” women who feel unfitted from time to time to their communities. It is comforting to acknowledge we are not abnormal; rather there are women like us.”
The Rev. Deborah Moyer: “While participating in WLI, I had a vision for starting an arts and spirituality retreat center. My final project was an exercise in letting go and chronicling a beautiful unfolding of the vision in my life while maintaining my role as homemaker and part-time artist/minister. I became more attuned to opportunities to live out my vision in my daily life. In summary: I designed a three-week Sunday School series on the Women of the Easter story; co-led a workshop on healing prayer; opened an art studio with friends; began teaching children’s piano lessons; preached a sermon about my WLI experience; and participated in a gallery show with five of my works. I have attached a collage presented to the class (featured with this post) while summarizing the unfolding of my artistic vision for my final project. WLI has given me the insight to recognize opportunities and the courage to say ‘YES.’”
Patricia Bonsignore: “I host a women’s circle in my home and I enlisted the participants to join me in donating and preparing a dinner for the Noah After School Family Night Dinner. Noah After School is a Christian-based after-school program with two locations in the heart of Hartford’s North End. The program provides tutoring, arts and crafts, dance, music, applied Bible study, and field trips , and mentors act as liaisons between the kids and their teachers. Once a month, two children have the opportunity to invite their families for a family night dinner at the Noah facility. The meals are always donated and prepared by volunteers and the evening is a wonderful opportunity for the children to be lifted up, and for strong connections to be made in support of the children and their families.”
Mary Carol Kendzia: “I created a website called Orange Moon Women that features posts under the categories of Friendships & Relationships, Arts & Culture, Spirituality, and Creative Writing. This site is an online gathering place for women to share their thoughts and feelings on the topics noted, as well as photos and other graphics that illustrate the stuff of everyday life.”
Mary Smith: “I will be leading a women’s study group centering our discussions around the women of the Old Testament – Noah, Hagar, Sarah, Naomi, Ruth, Esther to name a few — and their influence on the way in which we, as women, perceive ourselves today. We will be comparing the way in which society accepted the roles of women in biblical times and the way we are accepted today.”
Ruth Howe: “My final project is to gather a group of friends in a sacred wisdom circle and talk about those things we usually don’t: how can we make a difference, where should we focus our talents, is there a particular need where we can, together, make a difference, however small in global terms? WLI helps us understand that thinking outside that proverbial box, being our true selves, and going for the gold (whatever that may mean in whatever circumstance we’re in) is the ultimate goal.
Karen Wolf: “Colorful Communication: How can we use our unique skills and strengths to bring women together? How can we share our skills in leadership within Women’s Circles? Join me for a fun-filled day exploring our unique behavior styles using the Four Ways System™ Identity Mapping program. Working together in small groups, we will identify our Core Values – our Strengths, Joys, Values and Needs. We will then discuss how we can apply these values and characteristics to our skills as leaders of women, and how we can share leadership to accomplish our goals. If we know ourselves, and can recognize characteristics in others, we communicate more successfully.”