Rebecca, let’s start by you sharing why Blueprint 1543? Why did you co-found this organization?
I am motivated by work that matters and I want to make an impact on a larger scale. I am also highly motivated to help others achieve their potential and improve. The mission of Blueprint 1543 – to integrate Christian theology and the sciences to answer life’s biggest questions – feels both important and exciting to me. I also think our positive big picture vision – to increase the number of Christians making key contributions in the sciences – is a really positive and important angle.
I co-founded this organization with Justin because I love questions and developing people, and this particular mission uses those passions as tools to do something important. This organization touches on a real practical need in the world, and I am excited to add my contributions to this larger movement.
What personal story drives you in this work?
I really want my son to grow up in a world where everyone believes that people of faith, and Christians in particular, are incredible scientists. More than that, not just incredible scientists, but people who add significant value to scientific advancements because of the unique way they approach the world’s current problems and life’s biggest questions.
In sixth grade I went to Space Camp. I loved every minute of the experience, and it encouraged me in my (then) goal of becoming an astronaut. I do however remember distinctly how I felt like I stood out like a sore thumb. I was one of only two girls on “Team Saturn,” and the two of us stayed up late every night talking about what it would be like to be the first woman in space.
The school I attended growing up was a very small Christian school, and while many aspects of that experience were positive, I got to high school science class and I didn’t know what a lab was. I also was incredibly uncomfortable – plug your ears and say, “I can’t hear you” kind of uncomfortable – with a lot of the topics presented in my public high school. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I began to internalize the idea that Christians just don’t do science. I opted out, without consciously making a choice, of pursuing a career in the sciences because I believed I couldn’t do it.
I don’t regret the career path that I have taken, and I think the education and experiences I have chosen are a really great fit for me. And, now I want to do what I can to cast a positive vision for people of faith, and for women of faith, that we have an important role to play in the world because of who we are and how we think. I love that now I get to play a role in changing the larger landscape for the future of believers making contributions to life’s biggest questions.
What are you excited about?
I love the phrase “game changer,” and I’m excited because I think the combination of our positive vision, practical focus, and unique emphasis on equipping and “theologically robustifying” scientists has the potential to be a real game changer.
On a more personal note I’m excited to bring together all of my professional passions into one job. I get to develop leaders and people on their way to positions of influence. I get to use my professional coaching skills and drive people a little crazy with the power of questions. I also get to be creative and develop individual projects and larger programs. The job itself is a dream combination of things, and that is so fun. I have been part of the church my whole life so I am feeling the need to alliterate here; I get to do the 3 P’s of my personal professional passions. Develop people, projects, and programs! We might call that the 3 x 3. (Yes, you can cringe now…)
How did you get here? Tell us a little about your background.
I am all about people development. Everything I do is oriented around helping great people do extraordinary things. The way I’ve gone about this can be summed up by two key foci: higher education and professional coaching.
Most recently I was the Managing Director of the Office for Science, Theology, and Religion Initiatives (STAR) at Fuller Seminary. Prior to my 5 years with STAR I was the Manager of the Thrive Center for Human Development. In both roles I developed and oversaw the business side of research and coached faculty members and researchers through project and team development. I also had the opportunity to develop and run my own grant project – the Conversations in Community project, where I was able to bridge my previous work in student development, coaching, and leading grant projects.
Prior to Fuller I was the Creative Director and a Professional Coach at CoachNet Global. I’m also a professional certified coach (PCC) through the International Coaching Federation (ICF). I started my career in Student Life at LCC International University in Lithuania. I wanted to live abroad and fully immerse myself living in another culture, and I had the incredible opportunity to move to Lithuania to do just that. In the three years at LCC I created a leadership development program, worked with student leaders, and taught in our first-year seminar program.
My time in student development directly motived my choice to earn a master’s degree in Higher Education and Organizational Change from UCLA. My BA is in Organizational Communication from George Fox University. Ironically both my BA and MA mascots are the Bruin bear, so I’ve only ever had to learn one college chant – GO BRUINS!
My favorite job just may have been when I was a barista in a coffee shop in college because I got paid to talk to people and make cool drinks that made people happy. I’ve also been a tutor, involved in radio, a dance teacher, worked in a call center, done an internship at the state police forensic crime lab, been a hotel housekeeper, and made copies in a legal office.
What else makes you who you are today?
I’m a super extrovert, so I am happiest when I’m with people. I really strive to achieve and to improve and develop myself as well as those around me…which means I have been accused of being pretty intense more than once. I turn everything into a competition, even with myself. Some of my first words were, “race guys!” I think it could be easy to see me in “full Rebecca mode” and not understand where my motivations are coming from. Yes, I really do say things like, “I want total world domination!”…but what I really mean is I want to always be doing my best, learning and growing, and pushing those around me to be the best version of themselves too.
That does sound a bit intense, you’re right. So when you are not at work what are you doing?
Playing with my family – my husband, Pisey, and my son, Reuben. We are really active and love to be outside as much as we can. I grew up in the hometown of Steve Prefontaine, which for anyone who knows running culture that name would ring a bell. I grew up running and I still love to go for a nice long run to clear the chaos of my day and recharge. We also dance around the house a LOT. We love to move around and do music too.
Ok what about some pop culture. What’s a favorite line from a movie?
My team constantly shakes their head when I talk about my favorite movies, but one of my all-time favorite movies really is, Hitch, starring Will Smith. In the opening sequence Smith’s character, Hitch, says, “begin every day as if it’s on purpose.” I’ve had that line posted on the wall in my office for 15 years because it’s a constant reminder that our lives are made up of a series of individual days. Those seemingly insignificant little days are what actually matter. They add up, and who we are and how we show up each day is what matters.