Skye Perryman is the president and chief executive officer of Democracy Forward Foundation. She is on Good Faith Media’s strategic advisory board for news and opinion.

  1. What story, verse or passage from your faith tradition’s sacred texts has significantly influenced / shaped your life?

Queen Esther endured a number of extreme hardships and then found herself in a position of power as the queen of a powerful empire. She used her position to advocate on behalf of people facing the threat of extermination, and in so doing, put her own position of power and her life at risk. Her advocacy style was smart and strategic (including throwing a party with a purpose!) and she understood the importance of using her platform and risking her individual privilege.

Luke 12:48 states “to whom much is given, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” This passage – and the stories of people who live in this spirit throughout the Old and New Testament texts – has significantly influenced my life.

  1. Who are three people (other than your family) who have shaped your life and worldview? And why?

Dr. Robert Baird, professor emeritus of philosophy at Baylor University, who chaired the Department of Philosophy when I was an undergraduate student. His exacting approach to our courses and assigned papers honed skills I would use in law school and in my career. The even greater gift he gave his students was impressing upon us the importance of critical thinking: he taught us that nothing need be off-limits to honest examination and that there is no conflict between critical, rigorous examination and one’s spiritual or religious commitments. In fact, not rigorously examining one’s strongly held beliefs can cheapen them. Dr. Baird is among so many professors and scholars in the Baylor family who shaped my worldview and for whom I am grateful.

The Honorable Chet Edwards who served my hometown of Waco, Texas, for nearly three decades first in the Texas Senate and later in the U.S. Congress and encouraged so many of us who grew up in central Texas to consider how we can use our lives to make our communities stronger. In my teenage and young adult years, I found great inspiration watching the way he and his family gracefully handled unfair attacks on his principled and unapologetic commitment to fundamental freedoms in the U.S. Constitution, such as freedom of speech and religion and his support of women’s rights. I always admired Chet’s fierce advocacy for the broad and diverse community in central Texas, including for those in the armed services and the time he continues to spend mentoring younger generations.

The late Barbara Jordan whose regal, relatable and principled approach helped many Americans find faith in the country’s ability to progress and be better. She passed away when I was in my teenage years; the very example of her intentional life and the obstacles she overcame have shaped my worldview and approach.

  1. List three of your “desert island” books, movies or TV shows.

Books: Any poetry collection by Mary Oliver, Richard Rorty’s Achieving Our Country, Frederick Buechner’s Listening to Your Life.

TV Shows: reruns of “Designing Women,” “Murphy Brown” or “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Movies: I’d let my husband pick.

  1. What is one of the most critical issues people are facing today?

There is the tendency for people, including many of good faith and good intent, to approach the major problems facing our society as spectators – as if their own lives are too small and cannot make a difference.

I firmly believe that if we all saw the power we have in our own lives – the way we treat colleagues in the workplace, the way we raise our kids, the way we use language, the way we approach those who live differently than we do, the way we vote, the way we engage in community – the moral universe would bend more quickly than we think possible.

  1. What are a few of your hobbies?

Cooking, traveling, reading, being outdoors, playing board or card games with my son and family.

  1. If you could freeze your life into an already-lived 10 seconds, what would they be?

Walking from the door of my childhood home with my high school boyfriend (now husband) to go on a date.

  1. Our tagline at Good Faith Media is, “There’s more to tell.” What’s your “more to tell”?

Never give up and never shy away from a good cause and a worthy fight; in so doing, you’ll no doubt find inspiration and meaning and will probably make some friends and have some fun along the way.

Or, as Rev. William Sloan Coffin more eloquently put it, “May God give you grace never to sell yourself short. Grace to risk something big for something good. And grace to remember that the world is too dangerous for anything but truth, and too small for anything but love.”

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