The Girl Child & Her Long Walk to Freedom is a joint project of the Imago Dei Fund and the Institute for Faith and Gender Empowerment. The project launched in 2018 with a mission to nurture a community of faith-inspired change agents putting “faith to work through love” to liberate the world from the deep roots of patriarchy. Our vision is a world where girls grow up feeling safe and equally valued and everyone can become all they were meant to be. It is dedicated to the authors’ daughters, Lexi Jones and Mimi and Emily Misolo, and girl children around the world, represented in our universal protagonist of the Girl Child. She is rising up to reclaim Her full human agency from centuries of traditions, ideas, and practices that have systematically denied Her of the dominion we are all created to enjoy as image-bearers of the Divine. And it is for Her that we take whatever next step is ours to take to create a better world.
We offer a hope and a prayer for Her rising. May we think new thoughts for Her. May we not lose faith. May we set Her free from the chains that still bind Her and the human family. May we create a world that gives Her wings to fly. May She lead us to the better world we all seek.
The Girl Child & Her Long Walk to Freedom project is grounded in core values that represent a journey, from inquiry to the emancipatory path that we believe is universal across all cultures and faith traditions.
CURIOSITY is the driving force behind the Girl Child: Her innocent and persistent questioning— wondering, What’s going on here?—takes Her down unexpected pathways that can lead to discouragement alongside deeper truths and understanding. She intuits that inquiry can be a central expression of faith in action and embraces the seekers She meets along the way.
AWARENESS grows as the Girl Child’s questions are answered: Why wouldn’t girls and women be able to contribute to our shared journey in faith? How are boys and men, alongside women and girls, prevented from realizing their highest and best selves and expected to fit into neat boxes of behaviors and beliefs? The more She learns, and the more Her consciousness expands, the more rooted in love Her faith becomes.
LIBERATION is achieved as more of us seek to cast off old, oppressive paradigms. No matter our age, gender, religion, or politics, we know that the Promised Land welcomes all believers who are committed to a journey of knowing and righteous action. Our pursuit of shalom insists on liberation for all people seeking a better future.
About the Authors
Emily Nielsen Jones
is a donor-activist engaged in promoting human equality, justice, and peace around the world. She is particularly passionate and engaged in the nexus of faith, gender, and development and working to mobilize our faith traditions to more fully and unambiguously embrace gender equality. In her role at the Imago Dei Fund, Emily has helped the foundation to adopt a “gender-lens” in its grantmaking with a particular focus on partnering with inspired female change agents, locally and around the world, to build bridges of peace and create a world where girls and women can thrive and achieve their full human potential. Emily brings a contemplative posture to both faith and philanthropy and is passionate about supporting the inner lives of change agents to lead with love and be their best selves in the challenging work they do.
Emily is actively engaged in the women-led philanthropy movement, and is the author of numerous articles. She is the recipient of the Christians for Biblical Equality 2013 Micah Award and was named a 2014 Women’s eNews “21 Leaders of the 21st Century” honoree.
Emily has served on various boards including the Boston Women’s Fund, Women Thrive, New England International Donor Network, Girl Rising, Union Theological Seminary, Nomi Network Campaign Leaders Council, and Sojourners Founders’ Circle.
Emily has a BA in Government from Dartmouth College and a Master’s in Educational Policy from Boston University. She is a trained Spiritual Director through both the Selah Spiritual Direction Certificate Program and the Still Harbor Spiritual Direction Practicum.
is an ordained priest in the Anglican Church of Kenya in the Bondo Diocese. After discovering biblical equality online through CBE International, Domnic became a tireless advocate for gender equality, working in myriad ways to change the harmful gender norms that he witnessed firsthand as a child growing up in a polygamous household, many of which are still highly prevalent in his culture today.
With the blessing of his bishop, Domnic launched the Ekklesia Foundation for Gender Education (EFOGE) in 2013, now called Institute for Faith and Gender Empowerment (IFAGE), to promote gender equality across Africa. By facilitating dialogue and increased theological understanding, Domnic’s foundation is seeing church leaders become motivated and equipped to make gender equality a reality in their communities.
Rev. Misolo studied theology both at Great Lakes University of Kisumu and St. Paul’s University in Kenya. Currently, he is pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. He has been recognized as a social entrepreneur with high impact ideas for positive transformation both in the church and wider society. Among others, he was nominated as an “Inspired Individual” entrepreneur by Tearfund for his work on gender justice in East Africa.
Rev. Misolo has been awarded recognition by New York–based Worldwide Branding for his founding of the Ekklesia Foundation. He has been acknowledged and trained as a Canterbury Scholar by the Church of England at Canterbury Cathedral for his ideas on justice and equality for women and girls.
While working full time as the executive director of IFAGE, Rev. Misolo also serves as a part-time adjunct lecturer in theology and gender studies at Great Lakes University of Kisumu and at Bishop Okullu College of Theology. He and his wife, Christine, are blessed with four children and are partners in their shared work of promoting the empowerment of girls and women. With his wife, Domnic is the cofounder and board member of Geno Women Participatory Research and Development (GEPARD). For more about Domnic’s work and call into ministry, see his article “Truth Discovered” on the CBE International website.
The Girl Child Program Team
Marie-Rose Romain Murphy, Project Director
Marie-Rose recently joined the team of the Girl Child & Her Long Walk to Freedom as Project Director and brings her own personal story and multifaceted career as an entrepreneur and non-profit executive to this role. Born and raised in Haiti, she’s the Founder of ESPWA, Inc. (Economic Stimulus Projects for Work and Action), a Haitian-led organization focusing on the long-term development of Haitian organizations working in Haiti. She’s also the Co-founder of the Haiti Community Foundation, Haiti’s first community foundation. She has over 25 years of experience and a strong track record in community development, human services, humanitarian projects, philanthropy, marketing, executive leadership and social entrepreneurship. Her core interest is the creation of viable and sustainable pathways of development for low-income individuals, marginalized communities and developing countries.
Over the course of her career, Marie-Rose has worked as an executive director, a deputy director, a senior director, a project manager, and a consultant for local, regional, national and international organizations. She has served on boards and advisory committees for organizations such as the Boston Foundation, Respond, and JVS Boston, a regional US organization serving immigrants and refugees where she co-chairs the agency’s client services committee. She currently serves on the advisory council of the Equity Index, a UK–based project, and she is a member of Alliance for Empowering Partnership (A4EP), a network of Global South leaders focused on the localization of international aid.
Marie-Rose has received various awards from the city of Boston and other civic institutions and has also been the recipient of international fellowships from the Ford Foundation and Community Foundations of Canada, among others. She is currently a fellow for the Inter-Agency Research and Analysis Network, an international network of practitioners focused on humanitarian analysis and foresight, based in France. In 2019, she was selected to be on the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s international “Women to Watch” list. Marie-Rose has an MBA from Babson, an M.S. in Community Economic Development from New Hampshire College and a B.S. in Journalism with a focus on International Relations from Boston University.
Marie-Rose may be reached at email@example.com.
Sonya van der Meer, Project Coordinator
Sonya van der Meer is the Project Coordinator of the Girl Child & Her Long Walk to Freedom, and facilitates the onboarding and ongoing engagement of participants of the reading journey. She has a BA and MBA from Boston University. Her previous jobs and volunteer work have involved teamwork and collaboration across disciplines. Her awareness of the historical roots of patriarchy and its continued impact on girl children and women today developed as a participant in the reading journey pilot in 2018–2019.
Tory Dietel Hopps, Strategic Advisor
In her role with The Girl Child, Tory supports strategic planning and partner engagement and contributes insight as a past participant in the reading journey pilot in 2018 – 2019. She is a Managing Partner of Dietel & Partners, and guides clients in planning and managing their philanthropy. Tory manages portfolios for clients with both domestic and international interests, while assisting grantees with their strategies, resource development and capacity building.
For 25 years, Tory focused on resource development, management and governance for non-profit organizations in education, health and human services. She trained with BoardSource as a nonprofit governance consultant, and served as a principal of Turning Point Consulting, specializing in strategic planning and organizational capacity building for nonprofits.
She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Health Care Without Harm, the National Advisory Board of Wholesome Wave, the Advisory Board of Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project in Uganda, Co-Chairs the Virginia Climate and Energy Funders Group.
Tory is a graduate of the Emma Willard School and the University of Vermont. She is an Alum of Rockwood Leadership Institute’s Art of Philanthropic Leaders Program and is an RSF Social Finance Integrated Capital Institute Fellow. She is a financial activist working to align her money with her values and encouraging others to do so. She’s the mother of two grown children and lives with her husband in Maine.
Kristie O’Brien-Oberlies, Systems Architect
Kristie manages all technological aspects of the Girl Child & Her Long Walk to Freedom effort. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Villanova University and specializes in systems integration. She has served as Director of Technology for the Imago Dei Fund since 2016. Prior to IDF, Kristie served as Director of Operations and Technology for non-profit Neighbor Brigade. Before her non-profit work, Kristie worked with a professional services firm, delivering analytical solutions to clients such as EMC, Fidelity and Staples. She spends much of her free time volunteering in her community, goofing around with her five kids, and enjoying the company of extended family and friends.
Leah Questad, Editor
Leah recently joined the team for The Girl Child & Her Long Walk to Freedom as an Editor for the project preparing for the October launch of the reading journey. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Emmanuel College in English Writing and Literature. Leah’s prior work has been in fundraising and development, and currently serves as a mentor and client service relationship manager for a multi-family office. She is excited to bring together her professional experience and passion for creating awareness around the Girl Child’s story and moving the needle forward.
Elyse Seal, Editor
Elyse Seal is an editor for The Girl Child book. Elyse has wanted to be a missionary and live oversees since she was a child. That resolve never changed. After high school, she did an overseas missionary school with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). When she returned from that life-changing experience, she went straight into nursing school. She graduated and two months later married her best friend Ryan. Within two years, they moved to South Africa to work with a mission group called TWR (Trans World Radio). Elyse started writing and editing health programs for TWR, but as so often happens, funding got cut and so did Elyse’s health programs. Unneeded and frustrated, Elyse looked to serve in other ways. She got involved in her local community. It started simple, helping people where they needed it. Sometimes it was just visiting lonely people and letting them play with her kids. When COVID-19 hit, Elyse and some friends started an informal soup kitchen to help the desperately needy. They ended up providing community instead of just food. She looks forward to reaching out to more women and girls in her part of the world through the inspiration of this book.
Co-founder and Co-director, Gender Equity and Reconciliation International
Dr. Charlotte Bunch
Founding Director, Center for Women’s Global Leadership and Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University
Christa Foster Crawford
Founder, Freedom Resource International
Executive Director, Threads For Wellbeing
Rev. Ashley Easter
Abuse Victim Advocate, Courage 365
Riane Eisler, Ph.D.
President, Center for Partnership Studies
Mimi Haddad, PhD
President, CBE International
Valerie M. Hudson, PhD
Founder and Co–Principal Investigator, WomanStats Project
Co-founder and Co-director, Gender Equity and Reconciliation International
Founder and Executive Director, Women’s Islamic Initiative for Spirituality and Equality
Katherine Marshall, PhD
Executive Director, World Faiths Development Dialogue
Dr. Jacqueline Ogega
Director, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion, World Vision
President / CEO, DAI
Chief of Mbeya, Iringa, Njombe, and Songwe (MINS) Field Office, UNICEF Tanzania
Executive Director and Founder, Chab Dai
Organizations listed are for identification purposes only.
The Girl Child & Her Long Walk to Freedom
A project of Imago Dei Fund
PO Box 170025
Boston, MA 02117