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Zondervan's New Chief

On June 05, 2008

Recently I happened upon an interview from Christianity Today with the new President and CEO of evangelical publishing giant Zondervan. To my surprise, "Moe" Girkins' first name is actually Maureen, and she is a proven leader in the technological sector, as well as a current MDiv student at Trinity Evangelical Seminary—not exactly who I would have pinpointed as the company's top choice.

I'm really excited about Girkins for two reasons:

First, she's a woman. And not only that, but a woman with experience in other male-dominated industries. I would expect this gives her a healthy awareness of gender dynamics in the workplace—including the unfortunate existence of sexism—as well as the confidence to take charge at Zondervan, regardless of how she's received (though I hope it's warmly!). I am quite interested to see how a female CEO shapes publishing decisions, as well as the company's character as a whole. I'm not sure this is a "first," but it's certainly a big step in the evangelical world!

Secondly, I'm thrilled for an individual with both theological training and outside-the-bubble experience to be leading a Christian publisher. As much as I love Christian publishing, I think that much of the industry is theologically underdeveloped or irrelevant to anyone who didn't grow up in church. I think Zondervan already, however, publishes some really quality work, and Girkins could be just the person to help take that to the next level.

Supporting women in ministry has been an important concern of CBE members and other Christians for many years, and I've been encouraged to also see several discussions of gender justice, more broadly, of late. Still, with all the girls that need to go to school, all the sex traffickers that need to be prosecuted, and the like, the business world is one of the areas that can be neglected  in our conversation. I find that unfortunate. While it might not feel as urgent or glamorous as fighting inequality in poverty-stricken areas, there's still a great need for change in how we do business.

Can you even imagine what would happen if all Christians saw advancing women in the workplace—and through their for-profit work—as part of their responsibility as followers of Jesus? Christians would be part of the vanguard, that's for sure! Truly just business is something quite foreign to our world and offers so many unexplored avenues to building God's kingdom. As we celebrate Zondervan's news, may the rest of us consider how we might prayerfully do our own part to make a difference.

In the meantime, thank you, Zondervan, for bringing this issue to our attention. And congratulations, Moe!

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