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Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership

Where Grace Meets Power

Edited by Kathe Schaaf, Kay Lindahl, Kathleen S. Hurty, PhD, and Reverend Guo Cheen

6 x 9, 288 pp, Hardcover

Also Available in Paperback


Large Print edition also available from


A dynamic conversation on the power of women’s spiritual leadership
and its emerging patterns of transformation.

“We invite you to come with curiosity into this living community of spiritual women, listening deeply as they share their personal stories of how their spiritual journeys have shaped and honed them as leaders.... We do not offer answers to all of the complex questions facing us as a human family, but we invite you to join us as we surrender to the mystery of being open, present and engaged together in these uncertain times.”

—from the Introduction

This empowering resource engages women in an interactive exploration of the challenges and opportunities on the frontier of women’s spiritual leadership.

Through the voices of North American women representing a matrix of diversity—ethnically, spiritually, religiously, generationally and geographically—women will be inspired to new expressions of their own personal leadership and called into powerful collaborative action.

Lisa Anderson • Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD • Karen R. Boyett, MA • Fredelle Brief • Reverend Guo Cheen • Joan Chittister, OSB • Phyllis W. Curott, JD and HPs • Dr. Barbara E. Fields • Rachelle Figueroa • Carol Lee Flinders, PhD • China Galland • The Right Reverend Mary Douglas Glasspool • Shareda Hosein • Kathleen S. Hurty, PhD • Musimbi Kanyoro, PhD • Valarie Kaur • Kay Lindahl • Dawn T. Maracle, MEd, EdD (ABD) • Courtney E. Martin • Susan Quinn • Jan Booman Saeed • Adelia Sandoval • Ann Marie Sayers • Kathe Schaaf • Reverend Lorenza Andrade Smith • ALisa Starkweather • Lynda Terry • Diane Tillman • Yoland Trevino • Karma Lekshe Tsomo • Nontombi Naomi Tutu • Jamia Wilson

“Outstanding contributors.... Create[s] a ‘dynamic conversation’ about women’s spiritual leadership power.... A comprehensive and invaluable volume with strong mainstream appeal.”

American Library Association’s Booklist starred review

“Showcases [women’s spiritual leadership’s] hallmarks: listening and collaboration. Use the provocative, creative suggestions as a practical guide for sharing the insights and extending the reach.”

Mary Hunt, co-founder/co-director, Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER); coeditor, New Feminist Christianity: Many Voices, Many Views

“An essential tool, an exciting read and a gift on the journey toward a transformed future.”

Dirk Ficca, executive director, Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions

“Empowering.... Highly recommended ... for women of all faiths who seek to use their feminine wisdom to heal a broken and troubled world.”

Publishers Weekly

“Full of wisdom and speaks the truth on difficult issues.... For people of all faiths—or no faith—it helps spark reflection on how true spirituality for our time can be re-shaped by empowering women.”

Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, editor, New Jewish Feminism: Probing the Past, Forging the Future

“Unique, timely and valuable.... Here is a testament to the power of the word, of women, and above all, of faith.”

Azza Karam, PhD, senior adviser, Culture, United Nations Population Fund

“A powerful plunge into the views, values and extraordinary endeavors by women on the leading edge of spirituality and leadership.”

Roshi Joan Halifax, founding abbot, Upaya Zen Center

“Informative and moving.”

Episcopal News of Los Angeles

“Thought and action provoking ... a resource for women of all walks of life who seek to use the wisdom and knowledge of women to create a culture of peace and well-being for all.”

Mary Wiberg, executive director, California Commission on the Status of Women

“A rallying cry for the twenty-first century, as it highlights the vision and activism of women bridging divides ... of faith, class, race and generation to bring real hope, healing and wholeness to our broken world. Women of deep faith and spiritual conviction everywhere owe it to themselves to read this compelling collection.”

The Rev. Dr. Katharine R. Henderson, president, Auburn Theological Seminary

“Many religious institutions still hold to explicit glass ceilings that keep women from formal leadership. This obscures women’s extraordinary spiritual roles, their potential to change what we mean by religion and spirituality, and what a spiritual lens can offer to the world’s leading problems. Exploring vital and complex themes like communication and leadership with freshly defined terms, the editors and contributors look to a world governed by new conceptions of power and success. The personal spiritual journeys of a diverse group of women offer glimpses of the types of transformations that women spiritual and religious leaders might bring to society.”

Katherine Marshall, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University; executive director, World Faiths Development Dialogue

“Vitally important.”

Presence Journal

“We all long for inspiration and guidance. With enormous sensitivity, Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership gives us gems that are both joyous and poignant. Prepare to be uplifted and transformed!”

Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College

“Call[s] us as women to the urgent task of developing a deep spiritual identity, not for our own good but to better equip us to be agents of transformation in a deeply divided world. Rejoice as you read this inspiring book and ready yourself for transformation.”

The Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, Department of Religion, Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, New York; author, Living into Hope: A Call to Spiritual Action for Such a Time as This

“This carefully crafted collection of women’s insights into leadership from a spiritual root goes a long way in connecting the concept of power with the concept of love. Such a linkage stimulates moral courage, encourages social justice and opens one to deeper, more authentic, spiritually grounded relationships.”

Helen LaKelly Hunt, PhD, author, Faith & Feminism: A Holy Alliance; president, The Sister Fund

“Beckons readers to discover how inherently brave and capable and beautiful we all are.... Very timely.”


“An important book for this pivotal moment. Its collection of voices embody a non-denominational, invitational and inclusive approach to spirituality, while also addressing the nitty-gritty practicalities and challenges that leadership in this transformative time requires of us. It offers a systemic overview of a landscape we’d all be advised to visit, frequently—that of the intersection of diverse women (and men), reinventing leadership to address a pivotal moment of change in ourselves, our communities and the world, while staying connected to the mystery, or sacred, within and surrounding us all. It offers useful practices and perspectives for how we may cultivate ourselves to return to right relationship with ourselves, each other and the Earth.”

Nina Simons, co-founder/co-CEO, Bioneers

“If human civilization is to not only survive but thrive, it will be because of women: radical, gutsy, revolutionary women; women who don’t simply become leaders, but who reinvent leadership; women who don’t simply become clergy, but who reinvent religion and spirituality. We don’t need women taking their place in a man’s world—we need women to topple that world and lead us to a new and better one. The wisdom in Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership points us in the direction of a new world with a new heart and a new mind. This book gives me hope.”

Rabbi Rami Shapiro, translator/annotator, The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature: Selections Annotated & Explained

Kathe Schaaf, Kay Lindahl, Kathleen S. Hurty, PhD, and Reverend Guo Cheen are co-founders of Women of Spirit and Faith.

Kathe Schaaf is co-founder and past president of Gather the Women Global Matrix. She currently anchors many collaborative conversations connecting women and women’s organizations internationally. Kay Lindahl, a Certified Listening Professional and founder of The Listening Center, is author of The Sacred Art of Listening. Kathleen S. Hurty, PhD, a teaching fellow in leadership studies at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, is a consultant for the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions, an educator and a public speaker. Reverend Guo Cheen, an ordained Buddhist nun and active in interfaith dialogue, is founder of The Compassion Network. All four were ambassadors for the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Kathleen Hurty is available to speak on the following topics:

  • The Alchemy of Power and Grace
  • New Models of Leadership in Religious Contexts
  • Re-imagining Mary as an Ecumenical Symbol
  • Peace and the Power of Interreligious Understanding

Click here to contact the author.

Kay Lindahl is available to speak on the following topics:

  • The Sacred Art of Listening
  • The Power of Listening
  • The Transforming Nature of Listening
  • The Lost Art of Listening
  • Is Anybody Listening?
  • The Importance of Listening for Health Care Professionals

Click here to contact the author.

Kathe Schaaf is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Now Is the Time: Women’s Empowerment and Leadership
  • Grassroots for the Greater Good: A Glimpse at Global Women’s Leadership in Action
  • Making Local-Global Connections
  • Collaborative Leadership: A New Paradigm
  • Politics and Passions Colliding: Bridging the Divides
  • The Divine Feminine
  • Faith and Feminism for an Emerging Generation of Young Leaders

Click here to contact the author.

Lisa Anderson is the director of Women’s Multifaith Programs at Auburn Theological Seminary. She holds masters of divinity and masters of philosophy degrees from Union Theological Seminary. Currently she is a Union doctoral candidate in systematic theology. She has taught Black, Feminist, and LGBT theologies, Christian ethics and liturgy, and she has designed and led seminars on the connection between faith and social justice. She is a regular contributor at

Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD, is a psychiatrist, Jungian analyst, and internationally known author who draws from spiritual, feminist, Jungian, medical, and personal wellsprings of experience. She is the author of Goddesses in Everywoman, Crossing to Avalon, The Millionth Circle, Goddesses in Older Women, Crones Don’t Whine, Urgent Message from Mother, and Like a Tree. She is a major advocate of a United Nations Fifth World Conference on Women, a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and a former clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco.

Karen R. Boyett, MA, is the executive director of the Interfaith Council of Southern Nevada. She teaches religious studies at Regis University as well as anthropology and sociology at the College of Southern Nevada. She also serves on the board of directors for the North American Interfaith Network and on the editorial board for the Interfaith Observer.

Fredelle Brief, who works in public consultation and conflict management, has been a social worker, an environmental planner, and a television executive at Vision TV, the first multifaith television network in Canada. Her passion for peace-building and interfaith dialogue has animated her work. In 1998, Brief was awarded the Canada Peace Medallion from the YMCA. She has contributed to Stories in My Neighbour’s Faith: Narratives from World Religions in Canada, and Faith in My Neighbour.

Joan Chittister, OSB, a Benedictine Sister of Erie, Pennsylvania, is a bestselling author and well-known international lecturer on topics of justice, peace, human rights, women’s issues, and contemporary spirituality in the church and in society. She is cochair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, a partner organization of the United Nations, facilitating a worldwide network of women peace builders, especially in the Middle East. She is founder and executive director of Benetvision, a resource and research center for contemporary spirituality.

Phyllis W. Curott, JD and HPs, is an attorney, author, Wiccan priestess, and pioneering spiritual teacher of the Euro-indigenous revivals. Described by New York Magazine as one of the culture’s most intellectually cutting-edge thinkers, Curott is founder of the Temple of Ara, president emerita of the Covenant of the Goddess, and a trustee of the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. She is the author of the internationally bestselling memoir Book of Shadows: A Modern Woman’s Journey into the Wisdom of Witchcraft and The Magic of the Goddess.

Dr. Barbara E. Fields is the executive director of the Association for Global New Thought and cofounder of the Gandhi King Season for Nonviolence. She was program director for the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions centennial celebration in Chicago and cofounder and director of The Synthesis Dialogues I, II & III with His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet. Fields is a contributing author to The Community of Religions and Two Hundred Visionaries.

Rachelle Figueroa is founder of the Morning Star Foundation.

Carol Lee Flinders, PhD, is coauthor of the Laurel’s Kitchen cookbooks, and she wrote a syndicated newspaper column on natural foods for twelve years. She is the author of Enduring Grace: Living Portraits of Seven Women Mystics and writes regularly on the places where feminism, spirituality, and evolutionary science intersect. She has taught at the University of California–Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Flinders currently teaches at the Sophia Center at Holy Names University in Oakland.

China Galland, an award-winning author, speaker, university lecturer, and former wilderness guide, is the author of Longing for Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna, The Bond Between Women: A Journey of Fierce Compassion, and Love Cemetery: Unburying the Secret History of Slaves. Recipient of the Courage of Conscience Award from the Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts, she is also professor in residence at the Center for the Arts, Religion, and Education (CARE) at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. She is a member of the national Alliance for Truth and Racial Reconciliation.

The Right Reverend Mary Douglas Glasspool was elected eighth bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles in 2009, the second woman to be elected bishop in diocesan history. Her areas of specialization include ecumenical and interreligious ministries, diocesan schools, LGBT ministries (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender), and overseeing one-third of the congregations in the diocese. Before her election, she served nine years as canon to the Bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.

Shareda Hosein is a graduate of Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut, with a master’s degree in Islamic studies and Christian-Muslim relations and a certificate in Islamic chaplaincy (equivalent to a master’s in divinity). She is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and serves as a cultural adviser for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

Musimbi Kanyoro, PhD, is the president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, an international grant-making foundation that supports women-led groups working to advance the human rights of women and girls throughout the world. Formerly she served as the director of the Population and Reproductive Health Program of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and as general secretary of the World YWCA. She is the author of In Search of a Round Table: Gender, Theology, and Church Leadership and Introduction to Feminist Hermeneutics: An African Perspective.

Valarie Kaur is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, advocate, and public speaker. Her critically acclaimed documentary film Divided We Fall (2008) on the rise of hate crimes after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, has inspired national grassroots dialogue. She has clerked on the Senate Judiciary Committee and traveled to Guantanamo to report on the military commissions. She teaches visual advocacy as founding director of the Yale Visual Law Project. She is also director of Groundswell, a broad-based initiative to spark and empower the multifaith movement for justice at Auburn Theological Seminary. The following is drawn from Kaur’s keynote speech delivered at the Alchemy conference.

Dawn T. Maracle, MEd, EdD (ABD), is a Mohawk from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Southern Ontario, Canada. She is currently an artist, muse, writer, educator, trainer, editor, consultant, and doctoral student writing about Haudenosaunee relationships with tobacco. She was formerly the national director of professional development for the National Centre for First Nations Governance and the National cochair of the Post-Secondary Education Working Group for the Assembly of First Nations and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

Courtney E. Martin—author, blogger, speaker, and “freelance mystic”—is author of Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists and the award-winning Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: How the Quest for Perfection Is Harming Young Women. A recipient of the Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics, she is coeditor of the anthology CLICK: Moments When We Became Feminist, editor emeritus at, and formerly a senior correspondent for The American Prospect. She was a resident with the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Centre and has also been a TED speaker.

Susan Quinn, born and raised in the Jewish faith, has also practiced Buddhism since the early 1990s. She leads a meditation group in Poinciana, Florida, and teaches several types of meditation. The author of The Deepest Spiritual Life: The Art of Combining Personal Practice with Religious Community, Quinn also publishes a monthly newsletter. She has owned and operated training and consulting businesses since the 1980s. Her specialties are managing conflict, helping organizations and individuals deal with change, and facilitating team building and problem-solving workshops.

Jan Booman Saeed is the director of spiritual life at Westminster College. She served as chair of the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and was a founding member of the Utah State Martin Luther King Human Rights Commission. She was instrumental in the publication of and additions to the Olympic version of World of Faith by Peggy Fletcher Stack and Kathleen Peterson and edited the section on the Baha’i faith.

Adelia Sandoval is cultural director for the Juaneno Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation, the indigenous people of Orange County, California. She is also an ordained minister of Lifesblessings Ministries in Descanso, California. Her ministry is called Song of the Earth, a Native American Healing service in an outdoor sanctuary. Sandoval is a Trustee for the United Religions Initiative, a global interfaith organization and an adviser to SARAH (the Spiritual and Religious Alliance for Hope) and to Orange County Interfaith Coalition for the Environment.

Ann Marie Sayers is the tribal chair of Indian Canyon Nation in Hollister, California, and the founder of Costanoan Indian Research, Inc.

The Reverend Lorenza Andrade Smith is with the Ministry for the Poor and Marginalized in the Rio Grand Conference of the United Methodist Church in San Antonio, Texas. She describes herself as “a five-foot Hispanic/Latina born in the U.S./Mexico border town of Brownsville, Texas.” She has been described by others as an ultra-radical, feisty,muckraking rabble-rouser, prone to calling injustice for what it is, and generally creating chaos and mayhem in the most peaceful way.

ALisa Starkweather is founder of many bold and unique initiatives to support women’s healthy leadership, including the Red Tent Temple Movement, an international grassroots initiative honoring our womanhood journeys, Daughters of the Earth Gatherings; the Women’s Belly and Womb conferences; Priestess Path; She Loves Life, an Internet TV show; and cofounder of Women in Power. A keynote speaker, writer, coach, as well as a certified facilitator of ShadowWork, Starkweather is featured in the documentary Things We Don’t Talk About: Healing Narratives from the Red Tent.

Lynda Terry is a writer, meditation teacher, and founder of Vessels of Peace, the international spiritual network for women that, from 2002 to 2010, nurtured and supported women subtle activists in service to humanity and the earth. Subtle activism is the use of spiritual or consciousness-based practices for collective benefit, such as certain forms of meditation, prayer, arts and media, healing practices, or ritual. She also has served as a communications consultant for humanitarian organizations, including the PRASAD Project and Children’s Hunger Relief Fund. Terry has offered service to a number of women’s spiritual organizations. Her areas of professional interest include nurturing the feminine spirit in women and girls, the evolution of women’s spiritual leadership, interspiritual practices and initiatives, peace-making, and subtle activism. She is author of The 11 Intentions: Invoking the Sacred Feminine as a Pathway to Inner Peace.

Diane Tillman is a licensed educational psychologist and the primary author of the Living Values Education (LVE) book series. Currently a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Association of Living Values Education International, she has coordinated content for this global educational endeavor since 1997. She has written nine educational resource books for educators of young people at risk. Tillman teaches meditation and has been involved with several international initiatives and global conferences over the past thirty years as part of her involvement with the Brahma Kumaris.

Yoland Trevino is principal of Transformative Collaborations International and the former executive director of the Vaughn Family Center, which became a “living lab” for testing out innovations based on spiritual and ancestral values. Involved with international interfaith and intercultural efforts for the past thirty years, she is cocreator, coordinator, and a faculty member of the international program Cities in the 21st Century: People, Planning, and Politics, based in India. Trevino is also founder of the Indigenous Global Initiative and the Women’s Global Initiative within the United Religions Initiative.

Karma Lekshe Tsomo is an associate professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego, where she teaches Buddhism, world religions, and comparative religious ethics. She is a past president of Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women and the director of Jamyang Foundation, an innovative education project for women in developing countries. Active in interreligious dialogue, she is the author of Buddhist Women and Social Justice: Ideals, Challenges, and Achievements and Into the Jaws of Yama, Lord of Death: Buddhism, Bioethics, and Death, among other publications.

Nontombi Naomi Tutu is founder and proprietor of Nozizwe Consulting (Nozizwe means Mother of Many Lands and describes the philosophy of the organization, which is to bring together the people of many lands). She has served as a coordinator for programs on race and gender and gender-based violence at the African Gender Institute in Cape Town. Formerly the associate director of the Office of International Relations and Programs at Tennessee State University, she is coauthoring a book on race and racism with Rose Bator, titled I Don’t Think of You as Black. This essay is drawn from Tutu’s keynote speech delivered at “The Alchemy of Our Spiritual Leadership: Women Redefining Power.”

Jamia Wilson—feminist activist, organizer, expat-brat, networker, truth seeker, cartwheeler, and storyteller—is currently vice president of programs at the Women’s Media Center in New York, where she trains women and girls so they are media-ready and media-savvy, exposes sexism in the media, and directs the WMC’s social media strategy. Formerly Wilson served in several roles related to youth leadership development, grassroots organizing, and communications at Planned Parenthood, People for the American Way, and New York University.

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