Women & Work

Work Done Well:
Deanna Southerling Clark

Deanna Southerling Clark

Senior Manager Internal Communications at GE Appliances

Deanna Southerling Clark is a current resident and native of Louisville, KY and a graduate of Syracuse University. She has 12 years of experience helping brands progress toward their goals and is currently working in internal communications at GE Appliances. She is active in her church, enjoys crocheting, and is a new convert to the Peloton life. She is a night owl who recently got married to a morning person. On nights and weekends, Deanna can be found trying new restaurants, going to Moth Story Slams, throwing axes, or playing Scrabble at home. 

Deanna, thank you for being willing to come and share with our readers how God is using your gifts and talents not only in corporate America but also in the local church. Please start out by sharing with us a little bit of your personal story and about the career journey you have been on over the past several years.

I am honored to be able to share about the journey God has led me on, personally and professionally. I was born and raised in Louisville, KY but left to attend college at Syracuse University, where I studied Public Relations and Political Science, and subsequently moved to NYC after graduation. In New York, I began my career at Edelman (one of the foremost PR agencies in the world) with Dove as my sole client. Working for Dove was a dream come true and the experiences I gained at Edelman while serving that brand are indescribable. What a gift from God that he provided this opportunity! I would have called myself a Christian during this time but I didn’t have a relationship with the Lord, or even really know that that was what He calls us to – I thought Christianity was just about rote obedience and I was failing miserably at that so wasn’t seeking Him or any Christian community at the time. A year after my mom passed away, I decided it was time for me to move back to Louisville but I was very anxious about what I surmised would be a boring next step there, career-wise. God used my anxiety to draw me back to Him and showed me that I wouldn’t be able to find a job in Louisville without Him, because actually I can’t do anything without Him. I turned over the job search to the Lord and He provided an amazing and very fun job in Marketing for the KFC Yum! Center, an arena for A-list concerts, family shows, and basketball games. Wow God!! I grew professionally there and was soon ready for my next career step of leading Marketing for the 29th largest public school district in the U.S., Jefferson County Public Schools. God used that work to mold me tremendously in having a heart for the marginalized, for equity. What public school teachers and admin do for kids every day is absolute hero stuff, by the way. I recently took the next step in my career and am now on the internal communications team at GE Appliances, where I amplify all of the things that make GEA a great place to work. 

Clearly, God has used your gifts and talents in many different career fields. How have you discerned when it was time to move on and what have you learned about that process along the way?

The main thing God has taught me through my career is that I can trust Him. He is on my side and knows what I need (Matthew 7:9-11). Knowing when it is time to move on to the next role, either because you’d like to continue growing professionally and have exhausted that possibility in your current job, because something about the role has become untenable, because you long to be using your God-given gifts and aren’t able to there, or because the needs of your home require a different pace, salary, or setting are all situations that require discernment. For me, discernment is necessarily a process that requires full-hearted, open contemplation before God, with the help of the Holy Spirit. You’ve got to ask yourself hard questions – am I wanting to make this move because my pride has been hurt? out of greed? desire for a life of comfort and ease? Is this job opportunity at a company whose function is necessarily out of step with my values? Will it aid or detract from my ability to be a part of my church community and the ministries I serve? – and give the Lord space and time to answer before you jump at anything. When I have tried to move faster than the discernment process takes, or with wrong/selfish motives, the Lord has lovingly put roadblocks in place until the time and the opportunity were right.

What are some of the ways you have taken the talents you use in your workplace and translate them to serving a local church body?

My field requires a lot of planning and strategizing around big goals and how to break them down tactically, understanding how information is received in various formats (including via design), and project management. In the women’s ministry at church, I’m using my gifts of administration to serve as the primary communicator for bible studies, helped with registration, check-in, and name tag design for various events, and was even able to create a communications plan for a church anniversary campaign that included multiple locations and various media. Public speaking and leading group discussions is also part of my work and something I’ve been able to do at church many times. 

What are some challenges you have experienced in the workplace and how have you seen God at work around you despite them?

I have only ever worked in the secular space, and challenges abound: budget constraints that require prioritization, working with people whose agendas differ, message penetration and perception change that are difficult to measure, unrealistic expectations, apathy – you name it! Our God is in the business of making all things new, of doing what seems impossible, of seeing His children flourish as they are shaped more and more into the likeness of Jesus. I have seen God give educators what seems like supernatural dedication to students, I’ve worked with people who bring light and peace to difficult situations, I’ve been given grace when something didn’t go as planned, and seen unexpected generosity. The Lord’s movements are not typically ‘in your face,’ and can be even harder to see in the secular space, but by being attentive to what is happening around you and beneath the surface, I’ve found that He is always with me and doesn’t leave His people alone to deal with what is before them.

 As a woman who has really lived through so many different seasons of life, from personal all the way to corporate, how would you encourage other women who feel stuck in their season and without hope?

Oh goodness, with Psalm 27:14: Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Through various job changes, being unmarried into almost my mid-thirties, the deaths of my mom and best friend, the Lord has shown up for me. In my joys, and in my sufferings. I would encourage women to be assured that the Lord will make a way for you, your prayers are being heard, and He DOES care. His ways are not our ways and He has something so much better in mind for you than you are even imagining and there is a reason that he is making you wait. However long it has been that you’ve been asking for the same thing, or trying to get out of a certain spot, just know that the Lord IS working on your behalf, 290 steps down the line, to set in motion every part of His good plan for your life, and it will come to pass. In the meantime, is there a new way you can serve Him where you are? Would you risk asking Him to show you newness there and believing that He can and will? 

I’d also challenge women who feel stuck to ask themselves if the thing they feel will make them unstuck has become an idol. At one point, I found that my desire for marriage had become something about which I had a hard time saying “And if not, He is still good.” If you want that thing more than you want God, or if not getting it makes you doubt whether His character is 100% good, you are in a dangerous place. Take heart though, the Lord will help you tear down that idol when you come to Him! He will show you how much bigger and better He is than allllllll of this that we can see or anything we contend with in our minds. Now, this challenge isn’t for everyone. Desiring something passionately does not automatically make it an idol, it may just mean that the Lord has put it on your heart in a big way or it may be a vision of a future season He’s preparing you for, but just remember that He must be the King of your heart.

How do you keep yourself encouraged that the work you’re doing is valuable and worthwhile when the world tempts women to believe otherwise? Are there any Scriptures God has given you to keep you present in the work to which He has called you?

Great question! Working in corporate America, it can be tempting to get that validation from the world, which is ready to give it through praise, promotions, and other benefits. Nonetheless, in the day to day of working toward a bigger goal, I have occasionally doubted whether my work matters in the grand scheme of things. In those moments, I try to remind myself that *today* this is the work the Lord has put before me; *this* is the place I’m supposed to be right now and doing my work well brings glory to the Father who has enabled me to do it and is using it to shape me. “Yours Lord is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.” 1 Chronicles 29:11

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