Elisa Morgan has her audience eating out of her hand. Onstage, the petite dynamo with spiky hair and a warm grin regales the 5,000 women gathered in Nashville for the annual MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Convention with a hilarious anecdote about her preschool-aged grandson, Marcus, whom she unabashedly adores.
An engaging communicator, Elisa, 51, is the most recognizable face and voice of an international ministry that began in 1973 with a handful of moms in Colorado. The CEO of MOPS since 1989, Elisa has led MOPS, which empowers women to become the best parents they can be, through a period of expansive growth. Today MOPS boasts more than 4,000 groups in 36 countries and offers its membership a wide range of electronic and print resources, including books Elisa has authored or coauthored, such as What Every Mom Needs (Zondervan) and Twinkle (Revell). Get her talking about the future of MOPS, and her passion for a broader ministry reach to women is contagious. Elisa envisions a MOPS that maintains a lifelong connection with the women leaders who've "graduated" from the preschooler years. To meet this goal, in 2007 MOPS will launch events, online assessment tools and leadership training, as well as a new print publication called FullFill, for Christian women leaders, which debuts this spring. Elisa's hope, she says, is for women to become unapologetic about being "influencers."
Elisa's own influence may lead some to assume her life's been picture-perfect. Yet Elisa, mom to Eva, 22, and Ethan, 20, readily calls herself "Mother Inferior." Married 27 years to husband, Evan, Vice President of Ministries for RBC Ministries, Elisa acknowledges that a difficult childhood prepared her in unlikely ways for such a visible role. God, she'll tell you unequivocally, has shaped her deficits for his unique purposes. Here's what Elisa has to say to TCW about women in leadership, parenting in a less-than-perfect world, and wrestling with that elusive balance in life.1