Waking Up Goliath


In writing Redeeming Power, I interviewed over 40 ministry leaders to learn about how they have wrestled with questions related to the healthy and holy use of power in their own leadership journeys. I enjoyed talking to bishops and social media influencers, school superintendents and chancellors, pastors and CEOs, program directors, and even a rabbi!  Highlights from these interviews are shared in this new podcast series, with bi-monthly episodes released beginning December 2023.  Subscribe to this podcast:



Jared Bryson 1

Dr. Jared Bryson

I had the great joy of getting to talk with Dr. Jared Bryson, the CEO of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, when he was only 100 days into his new job.  Jared had been 14 years with Mercy Health before stepping into this position—a background that prepared him well for understanding the board and ecclesial relations he’d now be managing.  But when I talked with him, he was still trying to figure out how to steward the new powers with which he’d been entrusted, and in a particular way he was wrestling with the heighted power of his speech.  This interview formed the basis for much of what I ended up writing about in Chapter 2 of Redeeming Power. Fortunately, Jared has a background in the study of spirituality, and in particular monastic spirituality, that he was already relying upon to ground him long before he started in this new role.  But as you’ll hear, fidelity to regular spiritual practice and direction was becoming even more important to him now. (Released April 12, 2024)
Kevin Baxter 1

Dr. Kevin Baxter

Can you imagine at the age of 39 being named the school superintendent for all 216 Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles?  No, neither can I.  But Kevin Baxter can.   Kevin took the fast track in Catholic leadership.  Indeed a mere six years after being named the elementary school superintendent, he became superintendent of the entire LA Catholic school system serving close to 80,000 students. Dr. Kevin Baxter is now the Director of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana where braves the bitter (not LA) winters to oversee the formation of Catholic school leaders from around the country.  He is the co-author of “Greatness in Smallness: A Vision for Catholic Microschools” (NCEA, 2021) as well as co-editor of “Conscience & Catholic Education” (Orbis Press, 2022).  (Released April 5, 2024)
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Rev. Jenni Ho Huan

I met Jenni Ho-Huan in Fall 2022 when the two of us had the good fortune of being neighbors at the Collegeville Institute on the campus of St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota.  Pastor Jenni, as she is most often called by her congregants, is an ordained Presbyterian minister in Singapore with an abiding interest in the spiritual practices of monasticism (especially around hospitality) and how those practices can help persons tangled in busyness and consumerism to live more authentically.  In a multi-religious country where less than 20% identify as Christian, Jenni is the founder of the “To Really Live” online community that seeks to foster relationships among those seeking something more but who may not be interested in joining a traditional church. She also devotes significant time to mentoring Christian women ministers—still a relatively rare phenomenon in Singapore.  One of the most fascinating points of my conversations with Jenni around power involved the different nuances the Chinese and English languages offer regarding the term.  As you’ll hear in this interview, language often gives us the conceptual boxes in which we talk about power and think about its role in our own lives. (Released March 22, 2024)
Eric LeCompte 1

Eric LeCompte

I had the good fortune of meeting Eric LeCompte in Fall 2022 when we were fellow resident scholars at the Collegeville Institute on the campus of St. John’s University.  While I was researching power, Eric was researching the intersection of social action and liturgy, and he tried to live what he studied.  As someone who has engaged in social advocacy around human rights for over 25 years now, Eric placed a high priority on being able to pray each day with the monks at St. John’s Abbey. Eric LeCompte cut his teeth in social activism with SOA Watch – an organization committed to ending the U.S.’s role in state-sponsored violence in Latin America.  He is currently the Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network—a coalition of more than 750 religious organizations who share a common concern around international debt relief.  He has spoken at the United Nations on multiple occasions and regularly appears in such media outlets as the Washington Post, National Public Radio, the Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, MSNBC, and the Associated Press. (Released March 15, 2024)
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Dennis Gonzales

My guest today is Dennis Gonzales, the Senior Director of Mission Innovation and Integration at the Catholic Health Association.  A former Lasallian Christian Brother, Dennis began his career in the classroom with youth, but for many years now has worked in Catholic health care, including 15 years with Christus Health Care in the southwest U.S. Having already interviewed others in the Lasallian world, it was fascinating for me to hear how the educational charism of John Baptiste de la Salle (who I profile in chapter 5 of Redeeming Power) could also inform the work of a health care leader. Dennis talks about the service-oriented, relational understanding of power that he has tried to strengthen among health care leaders, especially through his coaching of new executives.  He also describes his own learning goals for this season of his career, modeling that the healthy exercise of power is never a stagnant accomplishment but rather something we’ll be working on throughout our lives. (Released March 8, 2024)
Letitia Ochoa Adams 1

Leticia Ochoa Adams

Born and raised in Texas, Leticia Ochoa Adams is quite at home in the Wild West.  And it is a good thing, too, because for the past decade Leticia has found herself in the Wild West of Catholic social media where the environment is harsh and the rules are few.  Leticia is a straight shooter, unabashedly posting not only about contentious moral issues in modern culture, but also grief and trauma.  She lost her own son, Anthony, to suicide in 2017.  Her frankness and fearlessness in describing the messiness of her own life journey have attracted over 7000 followers on Instagram making Leticia a significant influencer in the Catholic online world. But whereas once the label of “influencer” would have made her cringe, Leticia Ochoa Adams now owns it and is working hard to develop the pastoral skill, virtue, and knowledge needed to exercise this role responsibly.  As will become clear when you listen to our interview, Leticia resists any attempt to separate the word influence from that word responsibility, seeing the two as going hand in hand.  She takes as her model the 14th century influencer Catherine of Siena—another outspoken lay woman in the Church who drew quite a diverse group of followers.  At the end of 2022, Leticia released her first book about her faith journey: Our Lady of Hot Messes. (Released March 1, 2024)
Kerry Robinson 1

Kerry Alys Robinson

Kerry Robinson and I first crossed paths in the magnificent Catholic Student Center at Yale University.  I’d been invited to give a lecture there and was wowed by the facility and all the gatherings taking place there.  When I mentioned this to the pastor Fr. Bob Beloin, he said, “Oh, You need to meet Kerry.  She got this place built.”   Kerry, it turns out, had been the community’s development director and raised $75 million dollars to both build the new center and rejuvenate the Catholic presence at Yale.  Her success led to the publication of the award-winning book “Imagining Abundance: Fundraising, Philanthropy and a Spiritual Call to Serve” (Liturgical Press, 2014).  But Kerry had already been part of building new structures in the Church long before her work at Yale.  A member of the Raskob family, she had been active in Catholic philanthropy since the age of 14.  And Kerry has continued to build more structures—of the organizational nature—since her work at Yale.  Kerry was the founding executive director of the Leadership Roundtable—a network of Catholic leaders from both the business and church worlds building a culture of co-responsibility, transparency, and accountability in the Church.  Since the time I interviewed her, Kerry has now become President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. Kerry continues to use her power—most especially the power to convene—as a way to build the Reign of God. (Released February 16, 2024)
Casey Stanton 1

Casey Stanton

I first learned of Casey Stanton and her work in a rather bizarre way.  I was on a long drive several years ago when two friends from very different parts of my life both called me—only hours apart—to ask me the same question: “Have you heard of Casey Stanton?  Do you know of the Discerning Deacons Project?”  No, I had not heard of Casey Stanton and I did not know about the Discerning Deacons Project… but I figured I’d better find out.  I am so glad that I did.  Discerning Deacons is project spearheaded by Casey and her colleague Ellie Hidalgo in collaboration with many others that responds to Pope Francis’ invitation to discern whether the Roman Catholic Church should revive the ordained diaconate for women.  The project has been active in facilitating the listening work of the Synod on Synodality and in promoting the annual celebration of St. Phoebe—the first century deacon praised by St. Paul in his letter to the Romans. Casey is a product of Sacred Heart education and a devotee of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat (featured in Chapter 7 of Redeeming Power.)  But I will let her tell you more about how her education & formed her to be a “woman of courage,” unafraid of power—her own and others. (Released February 2, 2024)
Unni Berkes

Dr. Elizabeth Berkes

I reached Dr. Elizabeth Berkes on a crazy day in Fall 2022.  She was beginning her 11th year in administration at De la Salle High School in Concord, CA.  She had three kids at home—one entering their senior year—and time was of essence.  She was having trouble even figuring out when she would walk their dog.  Yet, she was gracious enough to give me an hour of her time to talk about power. Elizabeth (whom I’ve long known by her Malayali name Unni) has a masters degree in Molecular and Cellular Genetics from UC San Diego and a PhD in Science Education from Washington University in St. Louis.    She is the 2020 recipient of the “Multiplying Good One-in-a-Million Award” for her work in fundraising for mental health.  Since our interview she has now moved into full time development work at Moreau Catholic High School, part of the Holy Cross network of schools.  When you listen to our interview, you will quickly understand why Unni would be effective at garnering enthusiasm for any cause she puts her energy behind. (Released January 26, 2024)
Danielle Harrison

Danielle Harrison, J.D.

Danielle Harrison would be the first to admit that it has taken a long time to self-identify as a person of power.  With advanced degrees in both law and theology, Danielle spent many years as a sought-after educator and mission integration leader.  But in founding Mission, Faith, Equity Consulting in 2021, she discovered a way to constellate her many gifts around her deepest passion in life—bringing the resources of faith to bear on the difficult work of what is often known in the business world as “DEI”, seeking the creation of more just, inclusive communities. And as President of this new company, she has found joy in being able to influence this bigger conversation in her own unique, healing way. As you’ll hear in this interview, Danielle takes much of her inspiration from Sr. Thea Bowman—a Franciscan sister who paved the way for greater intercultural, interracial dialogue in the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s.  It was Danielle’s captivating description of Thea and the discovery of her own “Inner Thea” that led me to research Thea’s story more and include it in Chapter 8 of Redeeming Power. (Released January 12, 2024)