The Diversity in Leadership Network has been developing in concept for a few years. The network was created as a result of the commitment to becoming a diverse and multicultural community of faith that offers employment opportunities at all levels to women and men of all backgrounds and nationalities. This commitment was among the six agencies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

The belief was that as leaders are identified within the church at large as well as within the agencies, each one of our agency partners will be enriched, and in turn the whole will be strengthened.

The Diversity in Leadership Network launched at Big Tent in June 2011. The immediate response was inspiring as many Presbyterians completed the registration while at Big Tent and in the days, weeks, and months that followed.

But even before the actual on-line system was completely finished, the network was working.

Vince Patton, executive administrator for the General Assembly Mission Council staff, recognized the skills and leadership abilities possessed by General Assembly Mission Council member, Olanda Carr. So referring him to the Presbyterian Foundation when a position became available was an obvious step.

“I truly appreciate Vince’s recommendation and guidance through the recruitment process,” Carr says. “Support and encouragement are valuable. It is easy to see why the network was created and why others should consider utilizing it.”

Carr added, “My only regret is that I had to leave the General Assembly Mission Council as I had forged many friendships during my service there."

Since that time, another leadership position has been filled as a result of the Diversity in Leadership Network. Rev. SanDawna Gaulman Ashley has been called as the new associate for leadership development for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The position is lodged in the Office of Vocation.

“I am very thankful for the opportunity to serve,” said Ashley. “The Diversity in Leadership Network is the answer for many highly skilled men and women in our denomination who are looking for the opportunity to fully use their gifts in the church.”

Previously Ashley served the General Assembly Mission Council in the Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries/Presbyterian Women ministry area as the associate for gender and racial justice with responsibility for facilitating ministries and programs at all levels of the church that assists the PC(USA) in becoming an inclusive, diverse, and racially just denomination.

“The network creates a check and balance within our own system to encourage diversity,” Ashley added. “It challenges the thinking that they are no qualified applicants for various positions. The network is not about meeting quotas, it is about matching highly skilled persons with calling agencies.”

The vacancies in leadership positions in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are few due to low turnover. This matching process is designed to provide quality, not quantity.

“As I shared information about the network in my travels within the denomination, it is often received with reservation. However, I am happy to be able to report that the Diversity in Leadership Network can work,” said Ashley. “I am in my new position because the administrators knew of my gifts and encouraged me to apply for a new position – all because of the network.”

To learn more about the Diversity in Leadership Network and become a part of the applicant database, visit their website.