Mennonite Women USA Hires New Communications Manager

Mennonite Women USA, a constituency group of Mennonite Church USA, is pleased to announce that Dawn Araujo-Hawkins of Kansas City, Missouri, has been appointed communications manager, following the resignation of Claire DeBerg.

Araujo-Hawkins, a member of Rainbow Mennonite Church in Kansas City, Kansas, has a degree in magazine journalism from Ball State University and a master’s in religion from Cincinnati Christian University. She has worked as a religion journalist since 2010, freelancing for a variety of publications and most recently serving as a staff writer for the Global Sisters Report — a special project of the National Catholic Reporter.

In 2015, Araujo-Hawkins was named a Handa Fellow in Interreligious Communication, and in June 2016, she won the American Academy of Religion’s award for best in-depth newswriting on religion. She is a member of the Religion News Association and the International Association of Religion Journalists.

Araujo-Hawkins comes to MW USA with a strong desire to promote women’s voices within Mennonite communities.

“I am a fan of women’s ministries, regardless of church or denomination,” she said. “However, as my personal faith journey has led me to Mennonite Church USA, I have felt increasingly called to serve with an Anabaptist organization and publication.”

Araujo-Hawkins will assume the role of communications manager on July 18, 2016.

Claire DeBerg Resigns from Mennonite Women USA

Claire DeBerg submitted her resignation to the Executive Director and Board Chair of Mennonite Women USA on March 21st. DeBerg has worked for Mennonite Women USA since 2012 starting with the title “Editor” and calling for a new job title of “Communications Manager” that would better describe the scope of the position.

During her time with Mennonite Women USA (MW USA) DeBerg led the design and launch of their new website, redesigned Timbrel magazine, led the redesign efforts for Mennonite Women USA branding from brochures and business cards to name tags and banners and launched and maintained the majority of their social media profiles: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

“We are grateful for the ease in which Claire utilized the social media avenues so the MW USA presence could be known in many more ways,” says Kathy Bilderback, MW USA board chair. “As part of our mission, we hear and share the stories of empowering women and Claire did an excellent job in allowing those stories to be seen and heard while always connecting to our resources. It has been such a gift for us to have Claire be part of our ministry and team.”

DeBerg has maintained the organization’s mission to focus on a platform of communications welcoming diverse voices in terms of country of origin, race, demographics and economics. She recently led the organization in opening their first online shop where sales of Sister Care materials, Bible Study Guides, t-shirts and more are available. In her quest to make Timbrel magazine available and accessible DeBerg helped launch the ability to purchase print subscriptions online.

“I am deeply grateful for having the honor of working with and for all Mennonite women these last 3 ½ years,” says DeBerg. “The work is guided by a profound mission and vision which will continue to inspire me even as I pass the torch.” Executive Director Marlene Bogard is leading the search committee to discover DeBerg’s replacement.

“Claire has a way of putting a bit of sparkle into her work,” says Bogard. “Her personality, faith, ideas and imagination have helped Mennonite Women USA be a bright spot in our denomination.”

DeBerg looks forward to expanding the freelance writing contracts she’s maintained for the last ten years as she recently opened her Minneapolis writing agency, Cicada.

“I love powerful communication and working for Mennonite Women USA gifted me numerous opportunities to move in the Anabaptist space equipped with purpose and grace—and that is priceless. Because of how I was nurtured and trusted in this organization, I feel empowered to bring that learning to enrich my work with my Cicada writers.”

DeBerg graduated with a BA in English from Bethel University in 2001 and earned a Master of Arts in English Creative Writing from University of Northern Iowa in 2005. She was a professor of English for three years before launching her commercial freelance writing business in 2007.

She is a member of Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Minneapolis, MN, is mother to Harold and Gloria and wife to Darren. She has completed her first novel and is working on her memoir. She blogs at clairedeberg.com

 

 

MW USA at Kansas City Convention :: Recap

Convention 2015 was truly amazing for Mennonite Women USA. If you were there, thank you for visiting with us at our booth, in our seminars and at our gatherings. If you weren’t there, thank you for your support and prayers over us during this important event.

Here’s a fun recap of how we were involved:

BOOTH

We had a polkadot theme this year as a kick-off to our mega polkadot theme for our 100-year anniversary being celebrated at the 2017 convention in Orlando. With visitors and friends wearing polkadots we had a lot of fun! (PS: I only wore polkadots so I was always easy to “spot.”)

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Here come the polkadots!

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Polkadot purse!

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A Word on Giving

Last fall I attended the Anabaptist Communicator’s Conference. This is an annual gathering drawing communicators from MC USA and MC Canada including editors, writers, recruiters, pastors, directors and many more people looking to enhance their communications with our Anabaptist sisters and brothers.

One seminar I attended was lead by Rebekah Burch Basinger. She has been instrumental in guiding Mennonite Women USA in powerful asking which results in generous giving. Her seminar “Fundraising and Storytelling: Asking that Touches Hearts and Inspires Imaginations” was brilliant. Even though I am not at the forefront of asking individuals for support, I am part of the creation of communications, so her seminar was particularly relevant.

Rebekah lead with this truth about storytelling as part of fundraising: Continue reading

Leaders: Do This, Don’t Do That

There are powerful leaders and humble leaders, horrible leaders and questionable leaders.

Throughout my adult life of working under various leaders—from churches to places of employment, from neighborhood associations to my children’s school board, from nonprofit organizations where I’ve volunteered to my own family—I’ve had varying experiences of leaders and come to understand that everyone is a teacher. They teach me what to do and sometimes what not to do.

1. Do this: Get your hands dirty

When I was a professor of English, I was impressed with the department chair because he always made a point of sitting with the new adjuncts while we graded papers during midterms. He was right there in the lounge grading his papers at midnight, too, coffee breath and all. He wasn’t above us, and that humility gave me pause. Similarly, the Humble Leader we love washed his disciples’ feet and got his hands dirty in the process, all while conveying a beautiful message with his actions.

2. Don’t do this: Feign interest

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My Son :: The Honorary Mennonite Woman

When I accepted the offer to join the staff of Mennonite Women USA little did they know they were getting a 2-for-1 deal. Two DeBerg’s for the price of one! What a steal.

Harold has been my faithful office partner while I work from my home in Minneapolis and do all the Timbrel editing, correspondence, proofing, designing and communications my job requires. I could not have designed a better situation like the one I find myself in with Mennonite Women USA. This is an organization that is respectful of where women find themselves.

I was determined to be with my son and continue breastfeeding while working. It has been a wonderful and wild journey working alongside my son for Mennonite Women USA. He has been with me to all our staff retreats, conferences, convention and even Women in Conversation.

I can guarantee you I’ve written emails with a nursing baby on my lap. I promise you I have taken a phone call from Ruth trying to whisper during the whole conversation so I wouldn’t wake my sleeping beauty. I was 15 minutes late to a call once with Lois because I had fallen asleep while nursing Harold down for a nap. When I finally called her and apologized she said, “Oh, that’s wonderful. You need to nap. Good for you.”

I am just so supported by this organization in both my gifts but also my family life. It is a risk for businesses and organizations to allow people to work remotely. Will they get the work done? Will they be honest with their time? Are they wearing pajamas on this call? I can answer all of those questions for myself: Yes. Yes. Yes.

But here is the thing…Harold stopped nursing at 2 and a half. And now there are other people in my house (ahem husband, daughter) who can put him down to sleep (oh the freedom!) and for the first time I am not bringing Harold along with me to the MW USA Staff Retreat and board meeting in a few weeks. My heart is a little lonesome for my dear travel companion.

So for a fun little change, here is a picture tour that will explain why Harold is an honorary Mennonite Woman:

Here he is under my desk with the box of Timbrel I received from the previous editor:

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Interview with Carol Knieriem of Dove’s Nest

I had the great fortune of sitting down with Carol Knieriem from Dove’s Nest to learn more about how this important organization was born and what we can look forward to in its growth and development.

Carol, tell me, how did you get connected with Dove’s Nest?
I’m vice director of a local organization that acts as special advocates for abused children having received court-appointed monitoring. I recruit and train volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children in the court system. We meet with the children and we talk with anyone involved in that child’s life. We even talk with professionals who are working with the family. Volunteers then write reports to the court about what’s going on and they advocate on behalf of the child. Continue reading

Once Anorexic, Always Anorexic

by Claire DeBerg

I haven’t put pen to paper about my anorexia in years. Maybe even a decade. As unbelievable as it is for me to be typing the next sentence, it is true: I was anorexic more than 20 years ago. I can pontificate (and perhaps I will at another time) on what life has been like since but I think what is important is to get inside the mind of an anorexic for a bit. That season of my life is vivid as though I’m watching short films of my life as a fifteen-year-old. I can see moments and everything distinctly: the clothes I wore, the eyes of my mother, the sound of stepping on the scale while the metal wheel of numbers spun around until settling on the big red line. Even though it was a scary, dark time it was also one where my body was working fiercely to stay afloat, stay alive, stay aloft this strangely creeping vine which is anorexia nervosa.

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