Friday, June 13, 2014 10:28 AM
Shannon Sedgwick Davis believes in listening to your heart, and doing exactly what it is you are uniquely created to do in this world. For the McMurry University and Baylor Law graduate, that purpose is promoting peace and fighting for social justice, international human rights, and ending atrocities across the globe.
“I believe each person is created with a very special, unique set of gifts and abilities to contribute to others, and to contribute to the world,” Shannon said.
Shannon has been passionate about helping others all her life. Prior to her professional career, Shannon believes the freedom she was given as a child and in her education at McMurry, helped shape and reinforce what it was she was created to do.
While enrolled at McMurry, Shannon was extremely active in a number of organizations and activities; including student council, Model UN, the political science department, and Servant Leadership.
“It was a real blessing to be a part of those opportunities that further prepared me for precisely what I was built to contribute in my lifetime. McMurry continued to further sharpen the heart that I had for service to others,” Shannon said.
According to Shannon, the Rwanda genocide is one that truly impacted her life. As a member of the Model UN team at McMurry, Shannon urged her teammates to choose Rwanda as their country to represent, regardless of its small size, because of her strong passion.
“It really is quite embarrassing to me as a human being, that a million people were wiped off the planet in a period of ten weeks and I feel like I didn’t even really hear about it until bodies were floating in the river that much later,” Shannon said. “It’s such an incredible sore on humanity.”
It’s these injustices that drove Shannon to help organize McMurry’s first annual service day, while she was a student at the school. The service day is still organized each year and unites the McMurry student body together in a variety of projects geared towards bettering the city of Abilene, and the community as a whole.
“The biggest benefit that McMurry brought to me, that I think you would really have a hard time finding in any other institution, would be the investment of the professors who were just extraordinarily invested in each student,” Shannon said. “As long as students have a real desire to want to understand and figure out what makes their heart beat fast, and how they should be investing in the world, those professors are there to help facilitate that.”
“It’s beyond academics. It’s about having teachers invested in who you become as an adult, and in your life on this planet. There’s just a true commitment from McMurry to that.”
Shannon was recognized by the McMurry Alumni Association Board of Directors in 2011 as the inaugural Spirit of McMurry Award winner. The award is presented each year to alumni who have shown excellence in their professions and in service to their community. Working for the better good of humanity is something Shannon is grateful to wake up and strive for each day.“The heroism of the mothers and children that I work with is incredibly humbling. They’re living on the front lines of some of the world’s greatest injustices, so when you hear their stories and they are being told to you, parent-to-parent, mother-to-mother, you have no choice but to respond with what you have, and it’s such a privilege to do that,” Shannon said.
“This amount of suffering, of five-year-olds being sold for sex in a brothel, kids dying because they don’t have enough food to eat while we live over here with crazy amounts of excess, children being forced to kill their parents and then carry a gun and fight in a rebel war with a cause that’s not even a real cause, it’s hard to reconcile those things,” Shannon said.
Shannon is currently the CEO of the Bridgeway Foundation, the charitable giving arm of Bridgeway Capital Management, Inc., a company that focuses whole-heartedly on their philanthropic mission of eliminating genocides and promoting peace, reconciliation and human rights around the world. The company donates at least half of their profits each year, many times more, in the pursuit of stopping injustice.
“Our heart is that we will live in a world where we all recognize how valuable we are to each other,” Shannon said. “Whether we live across the globe from each other, we’re next door neighbors, or biologically brothers or sisters, it’s that greater understanding of our interconnectivity that drives us to show up for others when bad things happen. Show up early and show up on time in a way that is able to affect the situations, and hopefully that’s leading to a more just and peaceful world.”'
She previously served as vice president of Geneva Global, a philanthropic consulting firm specializing in international development, global healthy, and poverty solutions; and as Director of Public Affairs at International Justice Mission, a human rights agency in Washington, D.C. that focuses on rescuing victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression.
The San Antonio native has accomplished much throughout her career, yet feels there is always more that can be done. Of her many accomplishments, she is most proud to be the mother of her two young boys, but as far as her mission work, she says it is each present day and the significant strides that make her proud.
“One of the biggest responsibilities I have as a parent is to model to my children a life that I would want them to pursue, and to not be scared to do the right thing in the face of injustice,” Shannon said.
Shannon has experienced first-hand what most have only read about. She has traveled to countries experiencing profound suffering and witnessed profound need. Her wisdom comes with years of fighting for peace, and for justice for all human beings.
“Every day, no matter where you are whether it’s here at home or overseas, we as human beings have the responsibility to show up, and show up on time. That’s such a key thing. The world tends to show up after the crisis has emerged and so what I do for myself, whether I’m at home or abroad, is to try to be fully present wherever I am,” Shannon said. “Just be present wherever you are. Take the lead. If there’s something stirring in your heart and it has been stirring in your heart more than once or twice, it’s probably because you were born to do it. If you listen to that, you can figure out what’s next and follow whatever dreams you have.”