Celebrating Gospel-shaped innovation: ADM awards Christian women $60,000 for unique initiatives

From resources to improve pastoral care in schools to eye care in developing countries, 12 women presented five-minute pitches for innovative Kingdom work during ADM’s fourth Annual Funding Event on Wednesday, 4 September. The pitch event provided an opportunity to express and hear innovative ideas as well as gain financial support. 

“It’s inspiring to see the breadth and depth of creative ways God is leading women to use their gifts to serve him and their neighbours,” said Dr Kate Harrison Brennan, CEO of ADM. “The Annual Funding Event gives entrepreneurial Christian women a chance to bring initiatives into the light in ways that benefit all of us who listen.”

ADM received a large number of applications from Australian women around the world, each of which went through a rigorous assessment process. Four women were then invited to pitch in one of three categories corresponding to the stage of their initiative — idea, prototype or start-up and beyond — before an expert panel and an audience of over 60 guests that included Dr Michaela O’Donnell Long, ADM Visiting Fellow, entrepreneur and De Pree Centre Senior Director from Fuller Theological Seminary in California.

Harrison Brennan and Dr Annette Pierdziwol, Director of Public Engagement at ADM, then presented the awards in each category at the end of the day.

“ADM’s 128-year old commitment to theological formation, mercy and justice and public engagement is reflected across each of the categories,” said Pierdziwol. “Continuing the legacy of the Deaconesses and their innovative ministries, Christian women are starting organisations to speak to today’s pains and joys whether creative expressions, new ministries or businesses addressing social issues.”  

Capturing the prize of $30,000 in the start-up and beyond category was Sarah Crowe, leader of 4eyes Foundation and an ophthalmologist who has invented an inexpensive system of testing vision that local people in impoverished areas can use to provide frames and pre-cut lenses.

Julie Somerville of R3 Resolutions was awarded $15,000 in the prototype category for her dispute resolution company to develop legal chatbots that “flip the focus from an adversarial claims process to one centred on collaboration and restoration.”

Jessica Chilton and Michelle Walker were awarded $5,000 for their idea for Foundations, a pastoral care organisation that will help schools to inform and resource parents in their respective communities.

The People’s Choice award of $2,000 went to Natasha Thompson of the Women’s Justice Network Advisory Group that provides support and services to women in and exiting prison.

All of the other women who pitched during the day also received input from expert guest panellists and $1,000 in no-strings attached funding. Some of the women who pitched will also be invited to join the 2020 cohort of ADM’s incubator program, a unique year of support comprising of four retreats and a mentor-match to support women in growing their organisations.

“ADM is delighted to offer these awards and support, because we believe in the transformative power of Christian women living out their callings,” said ADM CEO Kate Harrison Brennan in her opening remarks on the day. “Transformative for the individual, yes, as she grows more and more into the likeness of Christ. But also transformative for the world. So, we work to catalyse this: to give opportunities, support, mentoring, and space to take the next steps on their journey.”


Find out more about the Annual Funding Event or contact Jo Kadlecek, ADM creative director, jo@deaconessministries.org.au

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