BORN TO BE A NURSE

One year ago, quarantine lockdowns were announced in the United States due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Jennie Leininger’s job as a medical-surgical nurse in Washington changed but the spiritual connection of serving our sisters and brothers with health challenges remained the same. How did the pandemic change your job as a nurse? The general […]

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THROUGH THE EYES OF A MOTHER

Rose Datoc Dall is a painter whose art has been recently featured in multiple books produced by LDS-affiliated publishers. Throughout her career, she has focused on a woman’s perspective in presenting scenes from the New Testament, particularly the life of the Savior and His mother, Mary. When and how did you start painting? I’ve been […]

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Healing Found in Family History

Miyamoto Jensen came home from her mission depressed and anxious. She found healing and purpose in doing her family genealogy. Her work as a professional genealogist has informed how she thinks about the gospel, family, race, and trauma.  You are a family historian and genealogist. How did you get started in that field of work? […]

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Yearnings of the Soul

Dana Willard is the blogger, designer, and sewist behind MadeEveryday. She is well-known in the sewing community for fun fabrics and quick and easy tutorials. When the COVID-19 quarantine was announced in the United States, many sewists contacted Dana for guidance in making fabric face masks to stem the spread of the virus. The make-a-face-mask […]

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On My Road to Damascus

Robyn Burkinshaw is the secretary of her stake Relief Society, and a gay woman. She was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has always had a love of the Gospel. When she left the Church as a young adult and struggled deeply with depression, she felt a devastating distance between […]

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Saving Santa Cruz Sheep

Paula Garner always wanted to be a farmer. As an adult, the opportunity arose to care for a small flock of Santa Cruz sheep, a critically endangered breed. Due to her husband’s job moves, they have transported their animals from California to Louisiana to Connecticut. The Garners have one of the largest flocks of Santa […]

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Building a Future of Hope

Ruth Yeboah is a passionate advocate for women. Born in Ivory Coast, she immigrated to the Bronx, New York as a young teen. Ruth was raised in a religious home where she developed a love for Jesus Christ and a Christian life. She went on to become a Child Protective Specialist, a foster care system […]

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For Such a Time as This

Brigitte Madrian decided in eighth grade that she would get a PhD someday. She graduated from BYU with a degree in economics, then went on to fulfill her doctoral dream at MIT. Since then she has passed through the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University, to return finally as the first […]

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Searching for Truth, in Science and Faith

Listen to this interview at the Mormon Women Project podcast, available on all platforms. Emily Bates suffered severe migraines from a young age, leading her to pursue a career in science in order to study the genetic causes of the condition. She now is an associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and runs […]

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A Path of My Own

As a registered nurse who experienced her own life-changing neck injury, Abi Schnell has developed an empathetic heart that will serve her well in her future as a midwife. Abi’s love of people and adventure has taken her to a study abroad in Jerusalem, an internship in Fiji where she spearheaded an evaluation of the […]

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By Divine Design

Listen to this interview at the Mormon Women Project podcast, available on all platforms. Kristin Hodson is the founder and executive director of The Healing Group. As a LCSW and Certified Sex Therapist, she specializes in maternal mental health and healthy sexuality. In this interview she discusses issues regarding sexuality that are unique to conservative religious cultures, […]

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Beauty Redefined

Identical twins, Lexie and Lindsay Kite’s life missions became clear to them during their freshman year in college.  An introductory communications course coupled with the pain of having grown up with severe body-shame would be the catalyst for their MA and PhD research and the beginning of their non-profit, Beauty Redefined. Lexie and Lindsay’s mission […]

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Deep in the Sources

As a professional historian, Kate Holbrook has focused her career on telling women’s stories through the lens of two of her favorite topics: religion and food. Currently the director of women’s history at the Church History Department, she talks about growing up as an only child raised by her mother and grandmother, how the Church […]

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A Radiant Life

Camille Moffat was driving home late one night when she was hit head-on by a drunk driver. She suffered multiple fractures, a traumatic brain injury, and doctors thought that she might never walk or speak again. However, through a series of miracles, Camille relearned how to walk, and has retained her sense of wit, style, […]

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Open To All Possibilities

Anoush Anderson discovered a love for science when she was young, and her curiosity about the workings of the world motivated her to pursue an education and career in the sciences. She recently completed her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. Taking a scientific approach to life, Anoush has felt empowered to try new things […]

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Running With God

Merrecia James discovered her passion for running at an early age, as she navigated growing up in Jamaica. Running was an escape from poverty and from sexual assault, and provided a door to immigration and education in the United States. Merrecia always had a strong belief in God, but it wasn’t until she was introduced […]

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One Step Enough

Dr. Cynthia Owens knew from a young age that she wanted to go to medical school, serve a mission, and be a mother. With guidance from the Lord and from earthly mentors, and with the support of her family, she accomplished all three goals. In partnership with her husband, she has raised four children while […]

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A Divine Commission

Angela Johnson grew up with a burning desire to become an opera star. She wholeheartedly pursued that goal while she raised a family, until a powerful spiritual impression changed her life path. Entirely self-taught, she is now an accomplished sculptor who uses her gift to share her testimony of Jesus Christ, including in a permanent […]

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Hummingbird

At five feet tall, Esther Yu Sumner has a big vision for life. The 39-year-old marketing professional, now a published children’s author, is always in pursuit of her next creation—her energy and creativity has led her friends to call her a “hummingbird.” Whether she is sewing an apron for her niece, making grape juice from […]

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A Future Only God Could See for Her

This complete interview may be heard at the Mormon Women Project podcast. Eva Witesman is a professor of public management at BYU, and also serves as an advisor for several non-profit organizations. Her path has surprised her at times, as she has sought revelation from God and made deliberate choices to follow the counsel of […]

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The Creative Impulse

Erica Glenn believes in the power of music and the healing process of creativity, and has seen from experiences around the world how creativity fosters communities. She started composing her own music from a very young age and has written and produced her own musicals, including The Weaver of Raveloe, which was performed at the […]

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A Quest for Self-Knowledge

Luisa Perkins began reading and then writing stories as a young girl as a way to find peace and escape from a troubled home life. She is now an acclaimed author who has published many books and essays, including Dispirited and The Book of Jer3miah: Premonition. Her latest novel, Prayers in Bath, centers on an […]

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The Lord Really is Kind

Cecilie Lundgreen, known as CC, is a Norwegian professional golfer. As she was climbing the ranks of European pro golfers, she lost several loved ones in a short space of time. She became friends with two Mormon women golfers from Africa, her coach Reeve Nield and golf pro Laurette Maritz, who offered her a glimpse […]

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Giving Her All

Kay Conder was only 34 years old when she and her husband of 13 years divorced, in 1984. She was left to raise six kids between the ages of 2-10 by herself. Now at 68, she discusses how she managed, how views within the church membership and leadership have changed over the years, and the […]

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Be Transformed by the Renewal of Your Mind

Mariana Castro Heath has traveled around the world for her studies and her archeological work. Born and raised in Lisbon, Portugal, Mariana graduated with a BA in Archeology and Anthropology with Honors at BYU, and is now an Ertegun Scholar and MPhil Candidate in Classical Archeology at the University of Oxford. She has been described […]

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A Well-Educated Heart

Marlene Peterson believes that the desire to learn any subject begins in the heart, and is sparked by stories, music, imagery, and poetry — the Arts. She has built a free online library called Libraries of Hope: an open-source collection of stories, poetry, and classical artwork which parents and teachers can use to educate the […]

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All the Women Should Be There

Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye grew up in the Church. She earned her BA and her Ph.D. from Harvard University and now teaches history at University of Auckland in New Zealand. She and her husband, Joseph, are the parents of four children. You have a long family history in the Church. Can you outline it for me? […]

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The Doors Are Open to You

Carly Sessions, an Arizona native, found herself unemployed and bored after college and a year-long teaching internship. On a whim she decided to apply for law school with her husband. It was there that her passion for immigration law was ignited. Carly discusses her journey to become a lawyer, and the heartbreaking and often frustrating […]

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Beyond the Barriers

When Amelia Bell and her husband were faced with financial and physical trials that required a change in perspective, she turned to her Heavenly Father for direction and was able to move forward with faith and purpose. This interview was conducted in 2015, six months prior to her graduating from a Physician’s Assistant school that […]

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A Journey That Began With Roller Skates

Leslie Huber’s passion for genealogy started with a simple story about roller skates, and after exploration of the career path, she decided to make family history her life mission. Leslie discusses how she got her professional start and how her faith in the eternal significance of family history work intersects with her professional industry.  Would you […]

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Dressed Like A Queen

At age 16, Rosie Card seemed to be living the dream: she was a runway model traveling the world. The experience has given her unique perspective into how women view their bodies and how Satan uses our bodies to distract us from our abilities to gain skills and be creators. Now, Rosie is focusing her […]

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To Sit At The Feet of Christ

Christie Frandsen feasts on the scriptures. And she has taught eleven children and the two hundred missionaries that have gone through her seminary and institute classes to do the same. In this interview, Christie talks about how she studied the scriptures formally and on her own, how she taught others to love them too, and […]

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Collect, Preserve and Share

As the Global Acquisitions Curator for Art for the Church History Museum, Laura Allred Hurtado has a unique understanding of how art impacts our worship. She also understands how vital it is to increase the representation and breadth of women in our artwork, and she has made some revolutionary strides in rectifying this dearth that impact […]

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On Listening, Music, and What it Means to Be Human

Catherine Ramirez is a professional flutist and teacher whose music has been described as spiritual, elegant, acrobatic, and earthy. When she speaks about her musical achievements, she’s modest. But when you hear her play, her passion is hard to hide. She shares how her Latino heritage influences her perspective and performances, and how we can all learn lessons from music when we stop to listen.

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Ready to Blend

Heather Staker is the founder and president of Ready to Blend. She speaks and trains about blended learning, which is any formal education program that combines brick-and-mortar schooling with online learning. She also co-founded and helps produce “Brain Chase,” an online-learning program for 2nd-8th grade students that involves a worldwide hunt for buried treasures. In this interview she talks about the experiences that helped shape her professional interest in improving schools, how she’s felt “quickened” in her efforts to balance motherhood and career pursuits, and her views on the need for a nuanced approach to screen time for kids.

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Life, By Design

Always a “mother at heart,” Alyson Von Feldt is an organization design consultant, author, speaker, published religious scholar, seminary teacher, and mom of four. She discusses her forays in and out of the workforce, the blessings of scripture study, and how she’s integrated theories from her profession into a more mindful family life.

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A Family Production

Erin Morley has risen to become one of the most celebrated opera singers in the world today. With her four-year-old daughter in tow and often her husband too, Erin travels the world to sing leading roles in the world’s greatest opera houses. In her interview, she talks about her education in voice and opera, the joys and challenges of raising her daughter on the road, and the carefully constructed balance she and her husband have at work to support their busy family life.

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Where Her Truth Is

Morgan Lyon Cotti grew up with a mom who worked in politics. These early experience shaped in own future as she stepped into advanced education and made choices about work, marriage, and motherhood, managing the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah. She shares her experiences in these areas – and current thoughts on women in politics.

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School, Sacrifice, and Service

Although raised on an Idaho potato farm, Rachel Esplin Odell is now a PhD student in International Relations at MIT with a focus on Asian security issues. Her decision to study Chinese and become an expert in Chinese international affairs occurred while she was an undergraduate at Harvard, and Rachel feels a spiritual draw to being a representative of the Church in Chinese affairs. Speaking eloquently of the sacrifices and balances of being in a dual career marriage with her husband, who is also a PhD student, Rachel talks about her desire to contribute to and draw from her home community and parent her 18-month-old son with her husband.

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The 3 Browns

Deondra, Desirae and Melody are three of the 5 Browns, a piano performing quintet composed of siblings. The sisters all attended The Juilliard School together and tour and perform with their brothers, gaining the highest accolades in the classical music world and performing in some of its finest venues. Three years ago, their father was sentenced to ten years in prison for sexual abuse involving the girls, and Deondra and Desirae founded the The Foundation for Survivors of Abuse, which focuses on changing the statute of limitation legislation across the country.

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Trail Blazing in Belgium

When Linda Vergauwen joined the Church in Belgium in 1978, neither she nor her friends and family knew anything about Mormons. Today, Linda is a pillar of the Church in Flemish Belgium and the principal of an elementary school, proving that she has earned her community’s trust despite her membership. Linda describes the challenges of raising children in a community where the Church is small and growing slowly, going to the temple with no preparation, and the joy that comes from a life of dedicated service to the Savior.

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"Prayer Changes Things"

Willie Douglas has weathered some storms. She has been part of many of the tumults in America’s history over the last fifty years. She battled racism while working to integrate her place of employment in New Orleans. She lost one of her sons to fatal illness during the AIDS epidemic. She fled her home in the face of Hurricane Katrina–and then returned to New Orleans to help rebuild her city. But Willie’s faith has sustained her throughout. In the words of her favorite hymn, “The world may crush you, but you don’t have to fret / My God remembers when others forget / One thing I know, yes, I surely know / Prayer changes things.”

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Street Smart and Math Wise

Young Women General Board member Janet Nelson raised four children in New York City. And while she was doing that, she was chipping away at a Master’s degree in Mathematics and periodically teaching high school math. In 2012, after 20 years of classwork, Janet received her graduate degree. Janet feels her extensive experience with urban high school students gives her unique perspective into the realities of being a teenager today, and despite her city life, her love for camping and the outdoors makes her the perfect chairwoman of the general Young Women’s Camp Committee.

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Choosing Good and Making Change

Bethany Brady Spalding takes her knack for dissatisfaction and turns it into life-giving action. Whether she’s planting gardens for at-risk children, directing community health programs, or sharing scripture stories with her own daughters, Bethany tries to build positivity and partnership. Bethany is a co-author of the book, ‘Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Courageous Women from the Bible.’ She believes that telling women’s stories is vital for our spiritual health.

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Choosing God and Abundance

McArthur Krishna did not expect to be where she is. And the path she took to get there was an unusual one. McArthur lives in rural India, an overnight train ride from the nearest LDS Church congregation and a world apart from her former life in Washington DC. But her unique experiences have confirmed to her the importance of maintaining her personal relationship with God and trusting in His ways. The result, she says, is an abundant life filled with vibrancy and delight. McArthur is a co-author of the book, ‘Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Courageous Women from the Bible.’ Writing about women who choose to follow God is one way that McArthur feels actively connected to her faith.

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All Here Together

In her work as a filmmaker, Bianca Morrison Dillard sees storytelling as a way to build community, and a way to help people feel heard and understood. Her views are shaped by what she sees as the essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: “Love and inclusion. Everything that is virtuous and lovely and of good report and praiseworthy.” Bianca talks here about honoring the nuance and complexity of individual lives–one of the goals of her current project, the documentary film ‘Far Between,’ which features personal stories about what it means to be gay and Mormon.

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Aspiring Mormon Women

Just when Naomi Watkins thought she was done with school forever, she felt the Lord redirect her path. Now she wants to encourage other women to find that inspiration for themselves. To help with that goal, she founded Aspiring Mormon Women, a non-profit organization intended to support and celebrate the educational and professional aspirations of LDS women. “God does not place limits on us,” Naomi says, “and learning to listen to and follow the Spirit are paramount skills to develop.”

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We Are Made for Love and Light

Rachel von Niederhausern has always had a passion for humanitarian work, but she wasn’t sure what she would do with an MBA until she realized she was meant to be a social entrepreneur. “I care about social change and I love serving people,” explains Rachel. She has co-founded two non-profit organizations and is now on the board of Family Humanitarian Experience, which empowers communities of developing countries through village-driven, sustainable projects. Rachel talks here about how she’s managed to meld her education, talents, and interests with her family life, including how she encourages her four children to discover joy in service, and how her own life of service helps her find peace of mind.

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An Advocate of Faith

Laura Asioli made two important life decisions before she was ten years old. She decided she wanted to be baptized in the LDS Church, and she decided to become a lawyer. Laura says that as she studied law, she often felt the Spirit confirming to her that justice and divinity are closely intertwined. Today she is a solicitor practicing compliance law in the City of London. In this interview she reflects on balancing her Italian and English cultures, navigating a career while raising her two young children, and realizing that sometimes unexpected blessings come about after unexpected failures.

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Snapshot Portrait: Laura Breksa

“God was like a neighbor who lived a few houses down the street. I’d go to him when something was broken, come back to collect the repaired problem, wave my hand in unspoken thanks, and speed back home.”

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Toujours à Servir et à Aider Les Autres

Bérengère Doby s’est toujours considérée comme altruiste, et elle cherche des moyens de mettre son amour en pratique. Son enfance dans le sud de la France a mené à sa service missionnaire en Suisse et puis une carrière en santé. Récemment elle a mis à côté sa carrière en podologie pour élever ses enfants. Dans cet interview, Bérengère parle des leçons qu’elle avait apprises en tant que missionnaire, qui l’ont préparée au mariage, à la maternité, et à une vie de service.

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To Always Serve and Love

Bérengère Doby says she has always had an altruistic personality, and looks for ways to put love and into practice. Her childhood in southern France led to her mission service in Switzerland, and then a career in health care. Now she has put a career in podiatry on hold to raise her children. Bérengère talks here about how the lessons she learned as a missionary prepared her for marriage, motherhood, and a life of service.

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PEOPLE LIKE US DO THINGS LIKE THAT

Raquel Cook’s biography so far might read like an adventure novel—living and working in Korea, meeting the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa, studying at Oxford University, surviving the violence of 9/11 in New York City—but she’d rather you wrote your own adventure. Now a professor of education, Raquel reflects on her unique path and how she encourages her students to get out and see the world. And she explains how her study of world religions helped her better appreciate her own Mormonism. “There is truth everywhere,” Raquel says, “and there is happiness everywhere, and there is beauty everywhere, and people are good. Ugly is rare. People are just beautiful and good.”

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Finding A Lifeline

For twenty-seven years, Rhyll Crowshaw and her husband have been working through the effects of his sexual addiction. With the help of therapists, bishops, introspection and prayer, Rhyll has developed the strength she needs to keep herself safe. She now also helps other victims of sexual addiction feel safe through her organization S. A. Lifeline.

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The Art of Homemaking

Daryl Hoole’s first book, The Art of Homemaking, was published in 1967 and lasted on the shelves of Deseret Book for 25 years. The unofficial spokeswoman for home culture in Mormonism for the second half of the 20th century, Daryl has been in demand as a speaker for women’s groups throughout the United States and Canada. She served on the Primary General Board, is the mother of 8 living children and grandmother of thirty-six.

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Understanding What Is Real

As a molecular physiology professor at UNC Chapel Hill, Sarah Street is interested in the big questions of how the brain works: What is perception? What is reality? What is agency? In addition to having implications for how people of faith process spiritual experiences, but Sarah hopes her work can also show that people’s emotional experiences have impact on their physical health.

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Rescued From Exploitation

Stephanie comes from four generations of women who were trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Her own mother was sent into the trade at age twelve and had her first child when she was sixteen. But Stephanie’s mother broke the pattern by refusing to exploit her own children, allowing Stephanie to grow up outside the sex trafficking industry and join the Church in high school. Stephanie is now a wife and mother and the founder of two non-profits, Child Rescue and Backyard Broadcast, and she is an activist fighting against human trafficking.

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Just Say Amen Already

Kat S. is a family therapist in New York City and a Jewish convert to the LDS Church. She is also the semi-anonymous blogger behind the popular Tumblr page “Just Say Amen Already,” a light-hearted look at her Mormon experience. Kat says she was prompted to the task of making us laugh at ourselves. Here, she talks about the healing power of laughter and the beauty she finds in life and the Gospel.

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Coded in the DNA

Suzi Fei is a devout Mormon, wife, and mother. She’s also a computational biologist and an enthusiastic career woman who says her natural inclinations to pursue a profession often brought anxiety and loneliness while growing up in the Church. But her life changed when she met her biological parents, and Suzi began feeling more comfortable in her own skin. She encourages women to embrace their natural talents and spend more time trusting in God and less time worrying about cultural expectations.

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The House She Lives In

From our “Sisters Speak Out” series: On March 17, 2013, Kate Kelly launched OrdainWomen.org. Her efforts to draw attention to the possibility of female ordination have drawn both impassioned praise and criticism, but Kate feels that the example of her parents, the experience of her mission, and her training in human rights law has made female ordination a flag she’s prepared to carry.

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Cherish One Another

Cathy Stokes is a firebrand, common-sense Mormon. A pioneering member who was baptized in 1979, Cathy’s willingness to speak her mind has shaped her faith and helped bridged gaps among members of the church. Cathy recalls some painful memories of growing up in Mississippi, shares a beautiful reflection on tenderness, recites her favorite hymn, and speaks of the abounding goodness of God and the strength of Mormon women.

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Heart to Heart with Hart

Lindsay Hart is a woman of many talents, and she’s put them all to good use. As a Spanish speaker, she has helped build up Spanish-speaking branches in her area. As a photographer, she photographs children with terminal diseases for a non-profit she founded. She’s also acted as foster mother to her cousin. She’s working towards her own version of her personal best.

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“I Swore I’d Never Marry a Farmer”

While growing up in Alberta, Canada, Elizabeth Bectell swore she would never live on a farm. But after graduating from college and serving a full-time mission, Liz found herself back in familiar territory. Now she’s a cattle rancher’s wife near Cardston, finding happiness in her choices, her family, her community, and her trust in a loving Heavenly Father.

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Playing From Her Heart

Tina knew from a young age that music was her life’s calling and she is a professional saxophonist in New York. It took longer for Tina to realize that she is gay, but a period of inactivity from the Church didn’t stop her from paying her tithing every month. It was appreciation and practice of Buddhism that led Tina back to the Church in her remarkable journey back into activity.

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Her Version of Having It All

Marie-Laure Oscarson suggests that “having it all” means something different for everyone. For her—a mother, a university professor, and a convert to the LDS Church—it comes down personal revelation about specific life choices regarding her family, her profession, and her religion. Marie-Laure’s path has included the Catholic faith, French existentialist philosophy, a curiosity about the Amish lifestyle, and the Mormon missionaries who helped rekindle her faith in God’s love.

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Reflections on the Divine

As the co-author with her husband of the highly popular book, “The God Who Weeps,” Fiona Givens has thought deeply about the character of God and her responsibility to search out that true character in the scriptures. In this interview, she shares her personal reflections on how she searches for God’s true character, how her Catholic background has aided in her understanding of Christ’s importance, and how she passes that sacred knowledge to her children.

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Yoga for Body and Soul

When Joanne Dehlin first tried Bikram Yoga, she didn’t love it—but she knew she needed it in her life. Now she is a certified instructor and director of her own yoga studio. She sees the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of yoga, as well as the sense of community it fosters. “If you are in that place where you can love others and have the light of Christ,” Joanne says, “you are connected. You honor other people.”

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A Vision of Eternal Perspective

Kristen Cox balances her family life with a career in government, negotiating a busy world with the added challenge of blindness. Having worked under three governors in Maryland and Utah, she currently works under Governor Herbert in the Office of Management and Budget. Here she discusses priorities, support systems, and the challenge of learning to be content while driven to achieve. And how the gospel message of eternal perspective makes all the difference.

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A Champion for Diversity

As the founder of a consultancy that prepares and promotes women and minorities in politics, Sui Lang Panoke is trained to find opportunities for organizations to improve their representations of these groups. She sees her love of the Church as complementary, not in contradiction, to her professional training. As a single mother and Relief Society president in her Washington D.C. ward, Sui Lang shares her testimony of the Church’s divine organization and the opportunities the gospel gives each member to grow in her own relationship with the Lord.

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Lisa’s Courage

As the composer and lyricist of “Nephi’s Courage,” Lisa Hansen’s influence is felt in Primaries across the Church. But it is her work as the leader of a gay choir in Utah County that now occupies much of Lisa’s time. As a Marriage and Family Therapy graduate student at BYU, Lisa is a counselor for gay LDS youth and the author of a curriculum for LDS families of gay youth.

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Defending Freedom in the Air Force

As a public health officer in the United States Air Force, Janice recently completed a year-long “hardship” tour at Kunsan Air Base in Korea. She is now stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and her military career has also included a six month tour in Afghanistan during which she assessed every medical station. Janice discusses the importance of fasting and prayer in her work, and the meaningful role of the Church in her service career.

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The Intimate Side of Marriage

As a psychotherapist practicing in Chicago, Jennifer understands how important sexual intimacy can be to healthy, honest marriages. Jennifer professionally helps LDS women find ways to overcome cultural and psychological barriers to sexual desire, and shares some of her wisdom in this interview.

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The Power of A Snowflake

Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill has dedicated her professional life to the study of peace and how to bring peace to the lives of women around the world. Both as a professor of psychology at Fordham University in New York City for 30 years and as the director of the Women’s Research Institute at BYU for 16 years, Bonnie has demonstrated the power of one to inspire kindness and love coupled with a fierce fight for women’s freedoms.

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Fostering A Love of Science

Crystal came from a tumultuous upbringing, passed from foster home to foster home before settling with her grandparents as a teenager. It wasn’t until she was a young single mother that the missionaries knocked on her door and brought a whole new light into her life. Now she is a successful cellular molecular biology professor, a devoted mother, and advocate for women. Crystal embraces every opportunity to teach others the joys of science, of being a woman, and of the love Jesus Christ has for them.

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Honoring Her Heritage

Janice was born into a Christian Palestinian family, but didn’t gain a deep appreciation for her heritage until she was a young adult. Now, as the Curator of Education for the Arab American National Museum in Michigan, Janice has daily opportunities to educate others about her culture. Balancing her Arab identity with her spiritual life as a Mormon, however, has been a challenging and isolating journey, even with the Lord’s continual presence in her life.

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Her Castle On A Cloud

Sandra Turley lived the dream of many aspiring performers when she was cast in the role of Cosette in Les Miserables on Broadway at the age of 21. She recounts her journey to the stage and how the gospel influenced her decisions regarding career and family. Now “happily retired,” she has taken on new roles, becoming a mother after lengthy infertility struggles, recently releasing a CD of Broadway hits, and inspiring young women around the United States as a professional speaker.

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Saving Lives, One Mother At A Time

Since her childhood days in Alberta, Canada, Dana Allison has been an advocate for women, and now she has dedicated her life to saving other lives: those of new mothers in underdeveloped countries. The 32-year-old executive director of Women’s World Health Initiative shares her experiences starting a nonprofit, transitioning to married life in England, and her hopes for women everywhere.

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A Humanitarian at Heart

Suzanne Harwood didn’t always want to be a nurse. In this article, she explains how she felt guided to nursing and how that decision has affected her life and the lives of countless others in Guatemala, India, TImor Leste, Mozambique and beyond.

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A Model of Many Talents

Summer Bellessa spent her youth living in Paris, Japan and New York as an international model. So it was an easy transition for her then to start Eliza, a magazine for “women who want to be stylish, sexy, and engaged in the world while retaining high standards in dress, entertainment and lifestyle.” Now as a new mom, she’s shifted her talents to producing and staring in a variety television show with American Idol alum, Brooke White, while continuing to be a representative of her faith.

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Goodness Has A Lunge to It

Raised in Bahrain and Dubai as the daughter of a falconer, Catharine had early exposure to the life cycles and rituals of animals, which deeply informed her understanding of the gospel. Today, she embraces the complexity and messiness of life, believing that answers to spiritual questions come from lifelong wrestles with God and interaction with other members of our church communities.

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Celebrating the Unseen Woman

At a very young age, Heather Farrell began thinking about her role as a woman and the place of women in God’s plan. That led to a Women’s Studies focus at BYU, a passion for studying women in the scriptures, the publication of her blog, Women in the Scriptures, and deep-seated feelings about birth and motherhood.

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Holly on the Hill

As the first professional midwife elected to a state legislature in modern times, Holly Richardson already has an impressive influence. But her reach doesn’t end there: as the author of one of Utah’s most influential political blogs, Holly on the Hill, and as the mother of 24 children (20 adopted from 8 countries), Holly desire to serve, improve others’ lives and be involved in her community inspire countless people. Holly talks about her journey into adoption, the death of four of her children, her love of politics and her desire to follow the Spirit wherever it leads next.

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The Art of Education

As the Director of Education at Brigham Young University’s Museum of Art, Ann Lambson has made it her life’s work to connect people with art. She uses museum education to engage the local community with art in ways that are accessible and meaningful. Raised in a family that encouraged education and creative thinking, Ann believes the arts are essential to holistic learning and fundamental to who we are as children of God.

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Always In Style

Trained as a doctor, Jenny Sato abandoned her medical practice when she left her native China to marry her Japanese husband. Now in Yokohama, Jenny is engaged in volunteer work and lending her varied talents to the expatriate community there. She focuses on her new membership in the Gospel and her 12-year-old son.

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A Woman of Character

A popular professor at Brigham Young University, Susan Easton Black was the first female full-time professor in the school’s religion department. When Susan become a single mother to three sons, she was forced to evaluate how to best provide for her young family. In her academic pursuits, Susan rediscovered her childhood love of church history stories and has crafted a vibrant career for herself which includes her most recent publication, Women of Character, which profiles a hundred well-known LDS women through our history.

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A Worldwide Sisterhood

Judy Dushku has built a life and career that suits her unique identity, although some may perceive contradictions in the multiple facets of her life: she was a single mother of four children who managed to introduce her children to world travel and people of many cultures; she is a stake Relief Society president whose husband is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; she is an accomplished academic and the founder of a nonprofit in Uganda that works with survivors of war. She describes how her life has evolved, the choices that have shaped her path, and the importance of sisterhood along the way.

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Taught In All the Learning

Born in Bolivia and raised in California, Dayan traveled the challenging road of becoming the first college graduate in her family. She knew she wanted to help young people like herself who had great potential, but often lacked the knowledge of how to go to college. Inspired by her 2007 Brigham Young University Thesis project, she founded Teens ACT, a nonprofit that helps at-risk students go to college.

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Flunking Sainthood

Jana Riess was baptized in her final year of study at Princeton Theological Seminary. Her career plan to be a Protestant pastor derailed by her conversion, she now is an editor for a religious publishing house, teaches college, and writes about religion. Her most recent book, Flunking Sainthood, is a memoir about a year’s journey through spiritual practices.

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Living Proof

Faced with her husband’s liver failure, Amy Jones turned to the resource she knew best: homeopathic medicine. As a doula and childbirth educator, she had spent many years teaching herself about the body’s many wonders, but in the time of her husband’s crisis Amy taught herself about herbs, essential oils, and, most importantly, the divine powers that come from living the Word of Wisdom to the fullest. As the founder of the LDS Holistic Living Conference, Amy helps others discover the “hidden treasures of knowledge” that come from God’s natural gifts.

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A Measure of the Spirit

Although born and raised in Lebanon, Joumana left Beirut for Paris to complete her studies as an artist. But it was when she joined the Church, through a friend in Lebanon, that she came into her own as an artist. Today, Joumana’s stunning paintings are infused with gospel symbolism and a measure of the Spirit that makes them undeniably moving.

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Une Empreinte de l’Esprit

Née et élevée au Liban, Joumana a quitté Beirut pour poursuivre ses études d’art à Paris. Mais c’est en découvrant l’Église par une amie au Liban qu’elle a trouvé sa propre voix d’artiste. Maintenant, les œuvres éblouissantes de Joumana sont imprégnées d’un symbolisme et d’une mesure d’Esprit qui leur permet de toucher les cœurs des gens. Comment avez-vous avez […]

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An Instrument of Homecoming

Joanna Brooks has emerged as an important commentator on Mormonism for mainstream media. In fact, this year Politico named her as one of 50 commentators to watch in America. She is currently the Chair of the Department of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University. She writes about Mormonism and politics for Religion Dispatches and is the author of askmormongirl.com.

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The Song of the Heart

Bonnie Winterton had distinguished careers as a conductor and as a professor at the University of Utah, all while raising six children. She feels God guided her musical and personal paths so that she could serve the church as a musician. Although she is eighty-one years old, she continues to teach twenty students, and her goal is to have at least one student when she is one hundred. More important than her accomplishments is her commitment to serving the Lord and to sharing the gift of music with others.

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A Champion Inside and Out

Involved in fitness training since high school, mother of three Claire Harries recently became a body-building champion in Holland. A native of South Africa who recently moved back to her home country, Claire talks about how body building has contributed to her mental and spiritual strength, her competitive nature, and her talent for entrepreneurship, including a surprising business for a body-builder: cake decorating.

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Finding the Balance

As a vice president at the Silicon Valley giant, Oracle, for 17 years, Liz Wiseman learned to say no to any commitment that wasn’t work, church or her four children. Now as an author and managing her own leadership consultancy, Liz works with her husband at home and recently visited her 32nd country. She feels her greatest honor, though, is putting everything she’s learned to work for the benefit of the Church.

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…Somewhere He Opens A Window

As an ambitious young lawyer pursuing her doctorate at The Hague, The Netherlands, Dagmar was introduced to the Church through her roommate. After serving a mission at age 29, Dagmar landed her dream job on the Yugoslavia Tribunal at The Hague, only to give it up when she was specifically recruited to work instead in the Church’s public affairs department for Europe. Now as a mother and wife, Dagmar still works part-time as a general counsel to the Church in Frankfurt, Germany. It has sometimes been painful and lonely for her to follow those doors that have been opened to her and leave behind those that have been shut, but she believes the Lord is aware of her and is making use of her tremendous skills.

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As Sistas In Zion

Sista Beehive and Sista Laurel started their blog, As Sistas in Zion, as a way to keep in touch with each other and express their sense of humor. But because they invite others to laugh with them about what it means to be Mormon, and specifically, what it means to be an African-American Mormon, their blog has grown. It’s not all fun and games with these two though: They speak honestly about the loneliness and misunderstandings they’ve faced as a cultural minority in the Church and how humor, friendship, and faith keep them going.

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Dressed for Success

When health challenges derailed CK’s dreams of being a dancer, she resourcefully pursued another interest, fashion design, which led her to start her own business: the modest dress company Shabby Apple. CK’s vision for her company stems from her belief that fashion can be a powerful tool for emphasizing women’s femininity and even their spirituality, as well as a tool for charitable giving. Recently married at 32, CK reflects on how the process of starting her own company has led to her mature views on marriage.

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Your Trial Is Your Greatest Treasure

A popular speaker to LDS youth and women around the world, Barbara Barrington Jones shares the events and lessons of her life that have allowed her to touch so many in her 24 years of public speaking. After a career as a ballet dancer and twelve years in an abusive marriage, Barbara married a much older man with whom she found the Church. With her trademark faith, strength and wit, Barbara tells her remarkable story and shares her pearls of wisdom.

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In Perfect Harmony

Liz Shropshire is the founder and director of the Shropshire Music Foundation, which provides free musical instruments and instruction to former child soldiers and refugees in Kosovo, Uganda, and Northern Ireland. Since 1999, more than 10,000 young people have participated in Shropshire Music Foundation classes.

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Reality TV vs Reality Mothering

Melissa Puente is an Emmy-winning television editor and a mother of two sets of twin boys, ages 4 and 2. With four boys under three, Melissa felt tension in her home that didn’t reflect her gratitude at having her children safely with her. She challenged herself to read parenting books and document her responses on her own website, Learning Mommy. She now takes her education as a mother as seriously as her education as a TV editor.

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The Way Already Prepared

Shu-Chih grew up in Taiwan, came to the United States by herself as a teenager and joined the Mormon Church. She had to overcome many obstacles, including family disapproval, living in a foreign country and raising three kids as a single mom. Shu-Chih is an accomplished artist and owns her own art school where she teaches a growing Chinese population in Irvine, CA.

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Marching to Her Own Drum

Elaine Bradley is the drummer for the rock band Neon Trees, which released their first full length album, Habits, in 2010. Their first single “Animal” has climbed to #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Alternative Rock Chart. Elaine discusses her journey towards spiritual honesty as a rebellious child and then as a missionary in Germany and now as a musician fulfilling her life’s artistic passions.

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A Spotlight on Faith

Erin has loved being theatrical since she was a little girl. She had her first agent at age thirteen, and, after graduating from BYU, she moved to Los Angeles. As a working stage and film actor in L.A., Erin reflects on the challenges and joys of her business.

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Experimenting On The Word

As a graduate of Caltech with a PhD in Chemistry, Elizabeth Krider understands science. She also understands that spiritual experiences are real. Elizabeth uses her knowledge of science and her faith in God to ask questions about how the world works, and she is now passing along that skill of scientific deductive reasoning to her children so that they, too, can understand the world around them.

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Hooked on Creativity

Always drawn to art and the artistic process, Rebecca discovered hooked rugs when the youngest of her six children was in kindergarten. In the years since then, she has produced a large collection of rugs that reflect her spiritual searchings, her love for her children and family, and the joy she finds in creating something that inspires thoughtful contemplation in her audience.

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Being Her Own Role Model

Trained as a chemical engineer, professional female role models have been hard to come by for Lyn Greenwood. That hasn’t stopped her from having a successful career at ExxonMobil. But the lack of role models has forced her to pave her own way as a single working mother and later, once she remarried, forced her to build up her own confidence in the kind of mother, worker and friend to others that she wanted to be.

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Bearing Her Testimony in a Different Way

After graduating with her master’s of public health degree from Yale, Trang Thach moved to Romania to research drinking water with the aid of a Fulbright Grant. Her search for a career, along with her family history and temple work for ancestors from Vietnam, has helped strengthen her testimony of God’s love and mercy.

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The Beautiful Design of Motherhood

Gabrielle Blair is best known as Design Mom, the founder of one of the most popular design and motherhood blogs on the web, named as one of Time magazine’s Top Websites of 2010. In this interview, Gabrielle reveals the spiritual and personal motivations behind the blog’s origins and purpose, as well as her own philosophies about mothering her six children and developing all mothers’ innate creativity.

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I Am Home

Heather Willoughby discovered she had a destiny: To study ethnomusicology and return to teach it in the beloved country of her mission, Korea. Now a professor at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, the largest women’s university in the world, Heather teaches comparative culture classes, as well as classes on gender and human rights. She has a special appreciation for Pansori, a traditional Korean music, and feels a deep spiritual connection to this country she loves.

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Critical Thinking for a Critical Time

Catherine Humphrey was married to her first husband for 28 years. Parents of six children, Catherine and her husband served together as mission presidents in Brazil when she was 32 years old. Their marriage slowly dissolved after she learned that her husband had embezzled from clients and been disbarred. As a single mother, she went back to school, completing a master’s degree and a Ph.D. Thirteen years after marrying her second husband, he was diagnosed with an acute brain disease that has slowly robbed him of cognition and function.

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A Citizen of the World

This dynamic mother of five grown children shares her love of travel, of reading, of science and her admiration of her own mother. Camilla serves as the Church’s Public Affairs representative in the San Francisco Bay Area, and she further contributes to her community by being a trustee of the National Public Radio foundation, the UC Berkeley Bancroft Library, the San Francisco Interfaith Council, and Clog America.

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Seriously, So Wise

The anonymous creator, brains and author behind Tiffany/Amber/Megan/Nicole shares why she started Seriously, So Blessed, the highly popular Mormon mommy blog spoof. She speaks candidly about how she responds to Mormon culture as an author and as a member, and why humor is such a powerful tool for helping us look at ourselves in an honest light.

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More Than Skin Deep (with Photo Essay)

Kimmie is featured in our first photo essay. After a difficult childhood, Kimmie joined the Church in Korea. Now a successful business owner, Kimmie talks about how the healing properties of the algae supplements from her cosmetics company help people overcome debilitating illness. She has started a non-profit to help those who can’t afford the treatments have access to their benefits.

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Cutting With Confidence

Christie moved to New York City by herself at age 20 to work in a salon. Now ten years later, her clients include celebrities and magazine models. Christie talks about battling the stereotypes facing hair dressers and how she has gained confidence in her skills, intelligence and spiritual understanding despite not having an academic education. Christie also reveals how her sister’s death from a heroin addition brought her divorce-torn family together and healed her personally.

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Keeping Pace With Noelle

Noelle Pikus Pace is a world-champion skeleton athlete. In 2005, she was ranked number one in the world when she was injured during an accident at the Calgary Olympic Park. The story of her miraculous recovery is told in the documentary 114 Days. Eventually she was barred from competition at the Torino, Italy, Olympic Games in 2006 but she reclaimed her Olympic dreams when she came in fourth at the Vancouver Games this past winter.

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Healing Body and Soul

After her fourth consecutive miscarriage, Heather Oman turned to blogging to express her feelings about her experience and Mormon Mommy Wars was born. Heather also founded Living With PKD, an online community for people, like herself, with Polycystic Kidney Disease. Heather talks about what she does to take care of her body in the face of chronic illness and the important role of online support communities like the ones she’s founded.

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The Spirit of the Islands

Born into the Church in Samoa in 1944, Safalaia attended Brigham Young University, Hawaii, and was among the first group of dancers to open the Polynesian Cultural Center in 1962. Safalaia describes how the PCC helped her gain a greater appreciation for her own culture and for the church’s missionary program.

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I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go

As her name suggests, Ruth epitomizes wise, eternal choices: After being the only one in her family to join the church in her native Bolivia, Ruth came to the United States to pursue additional training as a dentist. The death of her first child was crushing, but she chose to endure two more pregnancies, each resulting in a healthy child although requiring months of bed rest. She is currently pregnant a fourth time. Ruth discusses how she uses her time while on bed rest, how she uses her dental skills for good, and how she appreciates being able to spend time with her children.

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Living Essentials

As a high school student, Rebecca decided that broadcasting was definitely not an industry in which she wanted to work. However, her dynamic radio personality and distinctive voice opened doors to television and radio work which she pursued piecemeal as her three sons were young. Now with grown children, Rebecca is the host of FM 100.3 in Salt Lake City and a host on BYU TV.

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A Better Doctor, A Better Christian

After serving a mission in her native Venezuela, Ines Pinate married another returned missionary only to have the marriage end three years later in a divorce. Now, with an 8-year-old son, this single mother is attending medical school. In her interview, Ines expresses her love for her Heavenly Father and explains how being a doctor helps her be a better Christian.

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So Much To Do, So Much To Learn

As a young clothing designer selling to Neiman Marcus and Henri Bendel, Maralyn’s clients included Jackie Kennedy Onassis. But because of influential parents and a mission to New Zealand, Maralyn was always grounded in loving others and teaching the gospel. In her interview, Maralyn discusses her ever positive outlook, her life with an inactive husband, and her continual quest for projects that keep her mind and spirit invigorated.

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“Just Call Me Ruth”

After being able to have only one child, Ruth Renlund became a personal injury trial lawyer. At the peak of a long and fulfilling professional life, Ruth has now become the wife of a General Authority serving in South Africa. In her interview, Ruth discusses the challenges of having an only child within Church culture, and how she’s transitioned from being an independent professional to to serving with her husband in a foreign country.

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Healing A Racial Divide

Margaret Blair Young teaches Creative Writing at Brigham Young University. In addition to authoring novels, articles and essays, Margaret co-produced Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons, a documentary film shown on PBS and at film festivals. Margaret is a mother of four children and a grandmother to three children. She became president of the Association for Mormon Letters in March of 2010.

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When Mom Wears The Suit

After working as the executive assistant for the editor-in-chief of Mademoiselle magazine, Marcia Nelson studied for her business school entrance exam while nursing a baby. Now, she’s enjoying a fulfilling career in finance while her husband is a freelance writer and stay-at-home dad to their two children, one of whom has had a recurring brain tumor.

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Singing His Praises

With three small children and a husband in his medical residency, Emily is a busy mother. But she has also committed herself to graduate studies in choral conducting, fulfilling a deep passion for praising God through sacred music. Emily explains why music and motherhood are so important to her, and why she’s chosen to pursue her studies at this point in her life.

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Keeping A Seat At The Table

Over a period of about ten years, Chrysula Winegar transitioned from being single and in a busy career in Sydney, London and New York, to being married with four children and consulting and blogging from home. Chrysula discusses why she made the choices she did, and how balancing her former self with who she is today is so important to her.

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From Concerts to Correlation

A gifted young pianist, Ruth was encouraged by musical professionals to consider a concert career. But a father’s blessing at age 16 told Ruth that the Lord had other plans in store for her. Instead, Ruth was the youngest person called to the Church’s general boards and served as the Young Women’s General President from 1972 to 1978.

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Service With A Smile

“Be useful” is Leslie Graff’s motto. Because of her training as a child life specialist, her youth in Turkey and her experiences on medical missions with Operation Smile, Leslie is committed to a life of global service and philanthropy, which, she proves, is not just for the wealthy. The sale of Leslie’s skilled paintings help fund her family’s giving.

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A World of Opportunities

Karen Bybee healed from the death of her first child by throwing herself into the planning of the 1994 Soccer World Cup event. Since then, Karen has developed a career in international sports management, and has been involved with six Olympic Games, four Soccer World Cups, and numerous other international sports events. She is returning to work now after a four year hiatus at home with her teenaged sons.

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A Road to Redemption

For almost four years Brittney has been writing about the 18 months she spent in Venezuela as a missionary. While she was there, her father, who was excommunicated from the Church when she was 14 and from whom she had been estranged for years, began sending her letters, photocopies from the journal he kept as a missionary in Colombia between 1973-75. This began a reconnection and reconciliation of their relationship which, by the end of her time in Venezuela, would become the most poignant and enduring conversion of her mission.

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A Blog of One’s Own

An American student at the University of Leipzig, in Germany, Michelle has spent the last two years studying “mommy blogs” and writing her Masters thesis on the subject. Michelle describes what motivated her to study in Germany, how her church experience is different there, and why Mormon women have special justifications for keeping blogs.

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Lost in Learning

As a teenager in Sophia, Bulgaria, Eva sought for truth and found the restored Gospel. Now a mother of three living in the United States, Eva’s passion for learning continues to drive her personal and professional pursuits: “Lost in Learning”, the culmination of her work as a professional photographer, features the original manuscripts and objects used by the world’s great discoverers as they too sought for truth. Eva homeschools her children so that they can share in her search for knowledge.

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Spirit in the Law

Robin joined the Church after September 11, 2001, when she reasoned that “if there could be such a force of organized darkness in the world then there has to be an equal opposite force of organized good.” That same year, at age 22, she married a member of the Church and cemented her life to the Gospel. Since attending law school, Robin has worked in energy regulation in Washington D.C. while passionate about resource and environmental issues.

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From Dancing to Diapers

Lisa Jones is the mother of two sons, one on a mission and one in high school. But before she was “mom”, she was a solo dancer at the New York City Ballet from 1975 to 1985 and a favorite of the company’s founder George Balanchine. Lisa talks about these two distinct eras in her life and why she was so ready to transition from thinking about herself as a dancer to thinking about someone else as a mother.

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Beyond This Mortal Coil

Two of Lynn Anderson’s natural born children carried a rare genetic disease — epidermolysis bullosa (EB) — which prevents a child’s skin from growing with their body. After thirty years of nursing her children and grieving their deaths, Lynn founded an organization that raised money for EB research at Stanford University. Lynn now rejoices in a newly-approved treatment that will save the lives of many EB children.

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Choosing Between Two Rights

In 2001 at age 20, Chelsea Strayer escaped cultural pressure to marry young by following a childhood dream: She bought an airplane ticket and enrolled at the University of Ghana. Chelsea spent the past year living in Ghana again, studying the healing ceremonies of traditional spiritual priests for her PhD dissertation research. She discusses the abundance of divergent but equally good choices in her life and how she’s learned to be true to herself.

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Dare to Dream

Whitney Johnson is a co-founder of Rose Park Advisors, an investment firm. She was previously Merrill Lynch’s Senior Telecom and Media analyst for Latin America, receiving the highest industry and peer awards in her field. When she’s not picking stocks, Whitney invests her time on building communities that do good and do well. She is the architect of the Know Your Neighbor and Dare to Dream communities.

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Faith of Our Foremothers

A doctoral student focusing on nineteenth-century Mormon women, Jenny Reeder feels passionate about bringing our foremothers to light and letting their stories inspire women today. Jenny not only studies Mormon women leaders, she’s worked with them: She represented young singles on the Visiting Teaching Curriculum Committee under Bonnie D. Parkin.

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The LDS Women Project

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