Robyn Davis has answered a new call from God.
Robyn has been named President and CEO of Brown County United Way, which serves Green Bay and its surrounding county in northern Wisconsin.
It’s a move she says is a perfect fit for the same passion and compassion she brought to Freedom House a decade ago.
“My passion continues to be the sharing of God’s truths either in word or action as well as compassion for the homeless, hopeless and hurting,” she says. “The work of the United Way is that of both charitable fundraiser and community mobilizer around targeted community solutions to elevate the quality of life for all Brown County residents.”
And, the Pinnacle Forum Partner says her new role with the United Way expands the opportunity God has given her to impact and influence the culture of her community.
Robyn Davis has a passion and compassion – and she’s drawing on both to execute on her God-given calling to impact individuals, families and the culture for Christ.
Her passion, says the Partner in Pinnacle Forum’s Wisconsin Chapter, is “sharing the truths of God’s Word” – something she does in everything from one-on-one situations to church studies and services to speaking engagements in Christian and non-Christian settings.
Her compassion is for the homeless and hurting – something born out of personal experience that led her to leave a promising law career to become president of Freedom House, a non-profit serving “the homeless, helpless and hopeless families” of Green Bay and its surrounding county.
And at the center of both her passion and compassion is the Lord and Savior who led Robyn along the path from “success to significance” that is a desired goal of Pinnacle Forum’s Four “E” Strategy to encourage and equip leaders to engage and execute on their God-given calling.
“I cried out to God early one morning in September 1991 in the ladies room at my law office,” Robyn says in recounting her coming to Christ during “a time of desperation.”
“It seemed that I had done all the ‘right things’ throughout my life up to that point: I always went to school, received good grades, found a job to help my mother when we suddenly became a single-parent household due to domestic abuse and mental illness, attended college, graduated from law school and began working as an attorney.”
In other words, she continues, “I had done all that I knew to have a life of peace and fulfillment and I was successful to the outside world.” But she knew something was missing, and “that morning I hysterically called a friend who told me to find a quiet place where I could put my hands up and ask God to help me. The next thing I remember was being in the ladies room with my hands lifted. I immediately felt the weights fall off that I had carried since childhood and I knew that God was real.”
While she soon found a church and “officially” accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, she says that “nothing can ever change that initial divine moment alone with my God.”
And even though she was enjoying great success in the legal world – in 1992, she left her legal practice to become Rhode Island’s first-ever African American woman judge – God had other more significant plans for her.
“I remember thinking that ‘this God thing’ is pretty cool,” she says. “Little did I realize just how much I would learn of God’s goodness, protection, provision and faithfulness through the years.”
In time, Robyn would leave the practice of law to serve in ministry with a woman who was her spiritual mentor, “a bible teacher and preacher that God had called to travel and teach wherever the Lord would open doors.”
It was, she says, “a rich time of studying God’s Word, praying, and experiencing God in a way that has forever shaped my walk with the Lord.”
That walk would open doors for speaking engagements, starting with the first one at a church women’s event when she was still a judge.
“I was a pretty new believer and was surprised that anyone would ask me to speak,” she recalls. But her mentor helped her craft a message based on Proverbs 31, called “Will The Real Liberated Woman, Please Stand Up,” subtitled “Don’t Buy the Lie.”
“I remember the pastor of the church was very nervous about the title until he heard the message and realized that I wasn’t preaching a message about the women’s liberation movement, but about the freedom that women already have in Christ.”
Today, Robyn is a frequent speaker, “sharing the truths of God’s Word” at seminars, churches and other settings.
Robyn’s faith walk also led her in 2007 to join the board of directors at Freedom House, where the organization’s passion is clear: “We believe with all our heart that everyone – including homeless families with children – deserves to live an abundant life; the life that God has planned for each and every one of us.”
Individuals and families arriving at Freedom House are told, “We believe that every person who comes through our door is here for a reason and a purpose. The goal of this ministry is to help you break free from feeling like you are just surviving and help you to not only survive and thrive within society, but to come alive.”
To accomplish that, the Christ-based organization provides education and counseling; teaches appropriate behaviors and solid family practices; and offers spiritual guidance through an 8- to 12-week Family Life Advancement Program.
Freedom House’s passion, purpose and heart for helping the homeless connected with Robyn’s own life experience — as a youngster in New York her family was without a home for a time – and made her a perfect fit for the board.
And two years after joining she was asked to head Freedom House.
“I was not at all enthusiastic about serving as the president due to fear,” she recalls. “I was afraid of the ministry ‘going down’ on my shift.”
Rather than “going down” though, eight years later Freedom House is stronger than ever, both financially and operationally. The organization is debt-free, and operates an emergency shelter, a transitional living facility and a child care center in Green Bay.
“The most satisfying results have been seeing families thrive while they are with us and beyond,” Robyn says. Over the past 25 years, some 1,300 families and 2,500 children have been served by Freedom House – and 92 percent of them have never returned to homelessness. Among the success stories are three former residents who now serve on Freedom House’s board.
Despite the successes, Robyn and the Freedom House staff continue to look for ways to reach even more hurting and homeless families.
“Homelessness can be the start of a new chapter in a family’s life instead of the continuation of a bleak cycle of poverty,” Robyn writes on the website. “As a community, we should never give up on those that are struggling. A hand up may be all that a family needs to start over and become ‘givers’ rather than ‘takers’.”
Robyn’s journey with Jesus serves as a great example for Pinnacle Forum men and women seeking to live out their Ephesians 2:10 calling.
In 2013 she had been invited to attend an informational meeting for Pinnacle Forum’s Chapter being formed in Wisconsin.
“I had never heard of Pinnacle Forum, but I was looking for a ‘safe’ place to meet with other leaders in our community to grow as a leader, celebrate successes and share leadership challenges,” she recalls.
Even though she was the only woman and leader of color at that meeting, Robyn was excited by what she heard. She became a Pinnacle Forum Partner soon after the Forum started meeting, and recently started the first women’s Forum in Wisconsin.
She made the Partner commitment because of the value she sees in Pinnacle Forum:
“The fact that it is centered on Christ is the key,” she says, in describing what makes her Forum experience special. “Even though we come from different backgrounds and denominations we’re all speaking the same language. And even though we’re in different positions, the challenges we face (as Christians) are the same.”
And, she adds, “Pinnacle Forum’s mission and the Four “E” Strategy provide a confidential peer-to-peer environment that fosters Holy Spirit-led dialogue, prayer support and accountability within a Biblical worldview. When these elements are at work, people will discover, develop and walk out their God-given calling.”
For more information on Robyn Davis and Freedom House, visit the website at www.freedomhouseministries.org