TEDxMileHigh Imagine speaker Paula Stone Williams is an internationally known speaker on gender equity, LGBTQ advocacy, and religious tolerance. She is the Teaching Pastor at Left Hand Church in Longmont, Colorado and a Pastoral Counselor with RLT Pathways.

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As a Kid, What Did You Want to Be When You Grew Up?

I wanted to be a girl when I grew up, and what do you know? I am! Because, as I always say, “the call toward authenticity is sacred and holy and for the greater good.”

What Was the Biggest Turning Point in Your Life?

The biggest turning point of my life was when I was watching the last season of my favorite television show of all time, Lost. There comes a point in which the protagonist of the show (Jack, if you are a fan) realizes he has been called by God to die. And, I knew then that I had been called to be true to who I was. When I came out, I lost every single one of my jobs, but I found the kind of deep joy that only comes from living authentically.

What Are Three Facts About You That Are Completely Unrelated to the Subject of Your Talk?

  • I used to be the host of a middle-of-the-night national television show on PAX-TV
  • I have five granddaughters, all between 8 and 11 years of age
  • I work out six days a week, either running, mountain biking or road biking

Who Are Three People, Living or Dead, That Inspire You the Most? 

  • Dag Hammarskjöld, the UN Secretary-General who, shortly before he died in a tragic airplane accident, wrote these words: “For all that has been, thanks. For all that shall be, yes.”
  • Jacob, the son of Isaac and brother of Esau, who wrestled with God and lost. He realized you can win a wrestling match with God, but understood it is not a good thing to win when your opponent is the Lord of the Universe
  • David Whyte, the contemporary poet, who said, “When you write poetry, you write things you did not know you knew, and that you may not necessarily want to know.”

What’s Your Favorite TED or TEDx Talk?

Susan Cain’s talk on Longing presented at the TED Summit 2019. In one short talk, she captured the power and beauty of a single human emotion. This particular talk is not available online at the moment, but you can learn more about Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution and the power of introverts:

What’s a Piece of Advice That You Live By or That You Give Other People Constantly?

The authentic life is sacred and holy and for the greater good.

What’s the Biggest Challenge You Face in Your Day-To-Day Work?

My biggest challenge is having lost my male privilege. 

I am reminded every day of how clueless I was about how much the world is tilted in favor of well-educated white males.

Name One Thing We Aren’t Spending Enough Time Thinking About as a Society. What Would Be a Good First Step?

We are not thinking enough about gender and racial inequity.

A good first step would be for men to do their own work on issues related to gender inequity and white people to do their own work on issues related to racial inequity.

If You Could Achieve One Goal in the Next Year What Would It Be? 

I would want to move the bar forward just a tiny bit on creating gender equity in the world.

What Action Can the TedxMileHigh Community Take to Support Your Big Idea? 

In your environments, especially at work, advocate for conferences and education opportunities focused on gender inequity in the workplace.