The GIVEN Institute

The GIVEN Institute seeks to activate the gifts of women that both the world and the Church are very much in need of. The primary goal of the GIVEN Institute is to help young women receive the gift that they are, realize the gifts they’ve been given, and respond with the gift that only they can give. This mission is materialized through the Institute’s flagship event, the GIVEN Catholic Women’s Leadership Forum, as well as year-round programming such as regional events, leadership skills training, and prayer initiatives.

2024 GIVEN Fiat Award

Pope Francis has written about hidden saints. Your grandmother might be one of them, he says. Many of the women and men who do the work of daily virtue and faithfulness in the world will not be canonized saints, and yet they are living the Gospel in unacknowledged ways. At the GIVEN Institute, a leading organization dedicated to activating the gifts of young Catholic women, we celebrate women whose lives demonstrate for the rest of us that it is possible to live the Catholic faith in the world — even in the most secular venues. This is why we are overjoyed to be honoring Mary Ann Glendon with this year’s inaugural GIVEN Fiat Award in recognition for her dedication to upholding the values of the Catholic Church through her remarkable academic works, and unwavering commitment to defending human rights and religious freedom worldwide. The award will be presented in the context of the Catholic Women Leaders Celebration held on the final evening of the GIVEN Forum, Tuesday, June 11, and will include a “Fireside Chat” between Glendon and Montse Alvarado, President and COO of EWTN News.

Mary Ann Glendon is the Learned Hand Professor of Law, emerita, at Harvard University, and a former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. She writes in the fields of human rights, comparative law, and political theory. Glendon chaired the U.S. State Department Commission on Unalienable Rights (2019-2020) and served as a member of the Commission on International Religious Freedom (2012-2016), and the U.S. President’s Council on Bioethics (2001-2004). She received the National Humanities Medal in 2006. In 1991 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences from 2003 to 2013, and a member of the Board of Supervisors of the Institute of Religious Works (Vatican Bank) from 2013 to 2018.

Meet the Executive Director

Michelle Hillaert brings more than 25 years of experience in roles relating to technology and communications to GIVEN. With an undergraduate degree in Communication Arts from Franciscan University of Steubenville, her portfolio includes emergency management, web, application and graphic design, marketing and social media management, podcasting, and online consulting. In her previous employment, Michelle played a major role in the development and improvement of internal systems as well as the development and expansion of the Quality Management System. She also managed processes and communication with stakeholders in major application builds of state-run programs.

In addition to this work, Michelle has dedicated herself to helping women live their full potential as a doula, life and fitness coach, motivational speaker and author. Having four daughters, nine sisters, and having journeyed with many women over the years, Michelle has experienced first-hand how as women, we often hesitate to respond with our gifts because we don’t recognize that we are uniquely gifted and that the world – especially those we encounter on a daily basis – needs us to share these gifts. In light of this, she has a passion and proven capacity for flourishing young women in the Church through mentoring and leadership development.

Suggested Interview Questions

  1. Can you tell our audience what the GIVEN Institute is and how it got started?
  2. What does the application process consist of for any young woman discerning involvement with GIVEN?
  3. How are GIVEN’s mentors vetted and ultimately chosen to accompany those in the program? What kind of formation do they provide?
  4. Who are some notable GIVEN alumnae? Can you explain their projects and what they are doing now?

Media Requests

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