A President You'll Want to Meet


Presidents’ Day Weekend is always a great time to travel, especially if you live in the blustery North and winter has begun to wear on one’s spirit.  I do not live in the North.  We have not seen snow in Georgia all year.  But we did have one day in recent memory where it was 12 degrees and I am a weakling.  That day alone was enough for me to book my ticket for sunny southern California. 

I spent the weekend as part of the Los Angeles RE Congress, which actually takes place at the Anaheim Convention Center, right next to Disneyland.  In the past, it was the only location in the region large enough to hold the number of participants attending Congress.  Since Covid the numbers have been smaller, leading to the sharing of the facility with some sort of national high school cheerleading competition.  So paint this picture in your mind:  a long avenue lined with palm trees, crowded with church folk and cheerleaders from all over the continent wearing an array of veils and Mickey Mouse ears, cassocks and miniskirts… and tennis shoes.  Lots of tennis shoes.  Because whether you have come with pompoms or are there to shop the massive exhibit hall, there’s lots of walking to be done.  Whenever I’ve gone to Congress, I’ve gotten my 10,000 steps each day without ever leaving the arena area. 

The exhibit hall at Congress is always an interesting place to be as the vendors are as varied as the participants.  This year I was particularly amused by the booth selling “Our Lady’s Face Skincare” committed to “restoring authentic beauty.”  This is the kind of thing that I can imagine causing some temple table-turning once upon a time.  Now it sounds something you’d read in “The Onion.”  But the exhibit hall is also the place to encounter lots of fabulous people doing lots of wonderful things in the world, promoting many noble causes to make the world a better place.  I got to hang out with friends from the publishing and podcast worlds, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, religious communities, advocacy groups.  You name it.  Truly a blast.

Best of all for me was the official launch of Redeeming Power.  It’s really nice to get to celebrate your book’s birthday with many of the people who helped to make it happen.  I’m happy to say that Women of the Church is hosting a virtual launch event with me on Tuesday, March 19 (6 p.m. CT / 7 p.m. ET).  I’ll be having a conversation with Dr. Kimberly Baker of St. Meinrad’s Seminary who will also be facilitating questions from participants.  Hope that perhaps you will be able to join!  (More information here.)

I can’t let Presidents’ Day slip away, however, without introducing you to one of the finest presidents I know: Kerry Robinson, the President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA.  You won’t find her face on Mt. Rushmore and that would never be her desire, but she certainly is someone who is making a huge difference in our country that will be remembered for generations to come.  I interviewed her last year before she took on this new role.  It was one of the most honest and substantive conversations that I did, and when you listen you’ll see why I say that.  By the time I interviewed Kerry, I’d interviewed many other leaders and some of the dilemmas around power that I was struggling to articulate earlier had begun to find language.  I knew how to pose the questions better.  And Kerry was the perfect person to raise these dilemmas with. She understood them well. I absolutely love this interview and continue to think about it.  If you’ve not listened to Waking Up Goliath already in the past, no worries, you can start right here.  There’s no place better to dive into the series.