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Chris Andersen WomenLead Scholarship Recipient: Vicki Penwell

Monday, August 14, 2023

In her own words, “it takes a special kind of grit” to be a hands-on provider of healthcare for women in Southeast Asia, run a nonprofit faith-based ministry, raise a family, and continue to be a life-long learner along the way.

Yet, that is exactly what Vicki Penwell is doing as she studies for a doctoral degree in creative leadership at Central Seminary in Kansas. She says, “One of my main goals over the decades has been to provide midwives and community health workers with the practical skills they need to save lives.”

A midwife with 40 years of experience, Vicki founded Mercy in Action Vineyard Inc., to provide maternity care to families living in abject poverty in the Philippines. Its latest pilot project follows babies born in sponsored birth centers until they are two years old.

“We hope to shift the odds in their favor to survive and thrive by providing safe and respectful maternity care, high-quality deliveries in our licensed and accredited facilities, and by identifying and treating malnutrition and common childhood disease and illness in vulnerable children.”

To the donors of this scholarship, Vicki says, “Sadly, I was widowed eight months after beginning the doctoral program, so your financial help is a blessing that will allow me to finish it debt free. I also want to thank you on behalf of the poor families we serve, as my degree is already helping me immensely in my work as a nonprofit leader.”

The Chris Andersen WomenLead Scholarship awarded over $100,000 to 32 recipients since its inception in 2017. The scholarship was made possible by the generosity of our donor base.

While no new scholarships are available at this time as Thrivent Charitable focuses on other educational initiatives, donors may be inspired to create their own scholarship fund.