Editor's note: We recently welcomed Abby Worland to the Denver Institute team as vice president of operations and finance. Abby and I talked about her prior work, her participation in the 5280 Fellowship, and what she’s most excited about at DIFW. Our conversation below has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
DM: How did you first connect with Denver Institute?
AW: At my previous employer, we moved into the office suite across the hall from DIFW and I saw the green sign that read “Denver Institute for Faith and Work.” I was curious about it, so I went and found the DIFW website and learned a little bit more about the mission. I saw something on the website about the 5280 Fellowship, joined the email list, attended an info session, applied for the fellowship, and now here we are!
DM: What was it about the 5280 Fellowship that piqued your interest?
AW: I was feeling very isolated at the time because of COVID; it was hard to go to church because everything was remote. I was working from home and it was a lonely, spiritually dry time. I was interested in the opportunity to have a cohort experience and meet other people, and I had never seen anything about the integration of faith and work. That concept was totally new to me. I have always been somebody who enjoys school and wants to do anything academic, so the fellowship seemed like the right pathway for me to learn more.
DM: As you were finishing up your time in the Fellowship, DIFW was looking to fill a new role for the vice president of operations. Why were you interested in deepening your relationship with the organization by coming on board as a staff member?
AW: Every interaction that I had had with someone at Denver Institute was positive. I was struck by how excellent the DIFW team was at their work. Whatever they were asked to do was done well – emails, programming, Ryan Tafilowski leading my Fellowship cohort – things that I experienced from DIFW were done really clearly and really well. One of the key things that interested me was working with the people and the events that I had experienced.
DM: What previous work experience do you bring to the role?
AW: I was an elementary school teacher for six years and then transitioned into human resources and talent management in the public school sector. My primary experience has been in public education through project management, talent, and HR activities.
DM: What will you be doing in this new role at DIFW?
AW: One of my major responsibilities is internal operations, making sure that we are clear on our priorities, achieving our goals, and functioning well internally. Additionally, I’m tasked with keeping a close eye on our finances, making sure we’re being fiscally responsible and good stewards of the money that we are entrusted with.
DM: Why is DIFW’s work important to you?
AW: The working world is at a critical juncture right now. If you open your news app, you're going to see people wondering what work is for, people wondering what they were ”called” to do, people resigning, people transitioning, people following their passion. DIFW asks questions like “What do people want to get out of their work experience 40 to 60 hours a week? And how does that relate to what God has called us to do during our time here?” God calls us to reach all nations and to be witnesses in our community, and for Christians, work is an area of that witness. This idea is something that is missing for a lot of people; it was missing for me before I saw the green sign across the hall. I feel really privileged to be able to support some of that work at DIFW.
DM: What are you most excited about as a staff member at DIFW?
AW: I'm excited for the opportunity to keep my fellowship experience going and to learn. One of the guiding principles at DIFW is to “seek deep spiritual health” and to “think theologically.” Those values are part of our day-to-day work, and that has already been great for me. I’m eager to explore the ways that we can reach new people with some of these ideas around how our faith interacts with our day to day work, whether that's through digital courses, publishing, or events. Being able to contribute to that and put my fingerprints on it is really exciting.
Dustin previously served as the director of communications for Denver Institute of Faith & Work, with prior communications and marketing experience at the University of Colorado Boulder and Wycliffe Bible Translators. He holds an M.A. in Communication from the University of Colorado Denver and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Florida. He and his family attend Storyline Church in Arvada.