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Dara Stephens felt a sense of meaninglessness and misery working in a money-driven insurance sales job prior to accepting the business manager role at the City of St. Jude Parish in Montgomery, Alabama. Her new position working with the parish leadership team at City of St. Jude has given Dara a new sense of purpose. Before attending the Amazing Parish Summit in Phoenix, Dara felt her new team at the parish was growing in vulnerability-based trust but had not fully embraced this behavior. Dara painted a metaphor of her team, likening it to a person standing right on the edge of a high-dive about to jump into the pool. They want to take the leap, but are hesitating due to fear. “I felt like we were on the brink,” Dara continued, “We didn’t know if it was safe to get in.”


On a personal level, Dara was not expecting vulnerability and healing to be emphasized at a leadership Summit. “There are a gazillion leadership programs out there, but I don’t see many that are focused on vulnerability, healing, and wounds. I loved it and was thankful to be a part of it!” She noticed that the Amazing Parish movement is more holistic than other leadership approaches she has encountered.  Dara is in her fourth year of sobriety as a recovering alcoholic, and because her struggle has affected her on a very public stage, she describes herself as someone who is comfortable with being vulnerable. Dara also understands how practicing this behavior can impact team cohesion and collective results. Prior to the Summit, she felt somewhat alone in her willingness to talk about her wounds and struggles, but she is confident that the three days spent in Phoenix was an impetus for change.


Dara believes that witnessing the vulnerability modeled by Archbishop Sample and those who attended the Amazing Parish Summit is what galvanized her team to practice trust and vulnerability in a deeper way. She explained that the example that was set at the Summit gave her team a feeling of safety. “If you see someone make the leap and not die, you know it’s safe to do yourself.” Dara continued by saying, “We all had the general feeling that we were headed toward vulnerability.”  Dara is certain that the trust her team is building today is what will give them the freedom and ability to become the healthy team their parish needs to revitalize the culture of unceasing prayer and bring more souls to Christ.


Dara Stephens, PLT Member & Business Manager

City of St. Jude Parish I Montgomery, AL

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