Yesterday marked a significant day for me. It was my last day as president of The Constitutional Sources Project, or ConSource (www.ConSource.org). I co-founded the organization seven years ago in February of 2005 with a BYU football quarterback (now a successful medical-technology app entrepreneur) and antique collector (now an art historian), Matt Berry and Micah Christensen. I headed it up for the next four years, many of which I don't remember except for the friends I made along the way--both those living and those who helped to frame the U.S. Constitution in 1787.
When I got engaged and in preparation to start a Masters at Oxford in 2009, I stepped down from being president and executive director, but didn't step away, being involved from afar for the next year and a half before accepting again the presidency (Dave Marble was our part-time executive director throughout) beginning February 2011. The work from that point has essentially been unpaid and part-time, but it has continued to occupy significant mind space and energy.
Now, with the assumption of the full-time executive directorship by Julie Silverbrook (Dave remains on board as our director of technology), I am able to step down and away from the organization. I'll still be involved as a donor and hopefully by serving on the board, but yesterday marked the end of an era as an employee of the organization.
It also marked the beginning of a new era as an independent contractor and consultant helping countries and non-profits consider historical models in constructing constitution-writing process (see more on my professional blog, www.constitutionalisms.com, for this) and, most recently, helping advocates make better historical arguments in constitutional litigation.
As I make my foray as an independent woman into a new space, I have been somewhat self-conscious of the fact that when you Google my name, the first hit is this blog, followed by my professional affiliations and some of the work I have done. In a googling professional world, this means the first impression I will make will be that I am a Mormon. Do I want that to be the first thing people know about me? How 'bout first that I am a competent academic, a constitutional scholar, dedicated wife and aspiring mother (no, that is unfortunately not an announcement!)? I'd like to be given a fair shot at a good first impression before the discriminatory hounds are let out.
Last night, I attended a fireside for my faith at my local church building. Some of the general auxiliary (world-wide) leaders spoke. What they had to say wasn't particularly relevant to me and my circumstances, but the Spirit was there, and it taught me a beautiful lesson.
Here's what I learned: it's OK that people's first impression of me is that I'm a Mormon. I am. I need to be bold and courageous and proud--enough to have it be people's first impression of me in a profession where ideas matter and faith is frowned upon. It may be the way my missionary spirit can best express itself. I love my faith - it is not only something I do on Sunday, but it is me. I am a Mormon, and proud to be so.