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Spring 2021 Summit Overview with Jason Miles


Attending Sew Powerful's virtual Spring 2021 Summit is going to be one of the most rewarding experiences you've had in the past year. In this episode, Sew Powerful co-founder Jason Miles, walks us through the who, what and when of the May 13-14, 2021 Virtual Summit. A bevy of keynote speakers will share how they were activated by God to serve the poor. Perhaps the Summit can help us all answer, "What will I do with the next chapter of my life?" Besides the speakers, there will be breakout sessions focused on volunteer opportunities, sewing skills and a no-holds barred Q&A session with Jason and Cinnamon. Register before May 13, 2021 at


Caroline Barnett, Dream Center in Los Angeles, Betsy King LPGA Hall of Fame golfer, Kathryn Compton, World Vision, Princess Zulu, Esther M’kandawire, Jason Miles, Cinnamon Miles, purse making techniques, embroidery designs



The Sew Powerful Podcast shines a light on the people behind the mission to keep girls in school and create purposeful products in Zambia. Join us every week for a new 30-minute episode to meet new people, hear inspiring stories, and learn how you can join us in this global movement. Whether you sew or not, make purses or not, you will find something to enjoy in every episode. Listen today.


Host: Jan Cancila

Guest: Jason Miles


Jan Cancila, Host 00:04

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So let's get started.


Jan 00:20

Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Jason Miles, co-founder of Sew Powerful. And you may have already heard a little bit about this, but today Jason is going to tell us all about the 2021 Spring Summit. Jason, how are you today?


Jason Miles, Guest 00:37

Good. Thank you so much. It's great to be on the podcast.


Jan 00:40

Oh, good. I'm so glad you're here. We are so excited to hear about this Spring Summit. What gave you the idea to do this?


Jason 00:48

Well, we're really excited about it as well. You know, last year, we did something called the iSEWlation Challenge, which was an online virtual event. And we thought to ourselves, you know, for this year, what can we do to grow on that idea or play it out even further. And obviously, last year's challenge was really pursemaker-centric. And that was beautiful. It's wonderful. And we had a great time.


Jason 01:11

And for this year, we thought, you know if we can have a purse-centric component, but then we can also add some keynote speakers that might appeal to, you know, the ministry people out in the world in missions, or women's ministry leaders, or Bible study leaders, people who might not be sewists, or seamstresses, but who maybe are interested in the issues related to serving the poor, using your gifts and talents to make a difference in the world, those kinds of topics. And so, we started to reach out to specific keynote speakers that we thought might be interested in rallying around that idea. And it's come together. We're really excited about it. I think it's going to be a fantastic event that will appeal to both purse makers, who are the core of our community, as well as people who maybe don't make purses, but really want to know how to make a difference in the lives of people around the world.


Jan 02:04

Well, tell us, when is this event going to happen?


Jason 02:07

Yep, it's all happening May 13th and 14th, so just a few weeks away. We're starting the promotional efforts in serious, you know kind of, push here, you know, starting today and for the next couple of weeks. So we'd love to have people check out the summit. page, to claim their ticket to participate, and to learn all about the details, which of course, we can talk through more of the details, but that's the website people can check out.


Jan 02:35

Okay, so I'll view it on the website. So, I can use my laptop or my PC and browser or my mobile device to participate.


Jason 02:43

You got it. Yep.


Jan 02:44

Oh, cool. Well, that's easy. Okay. So, the first day is a Thursday, Thursday, March 13. And it starts in the afternoon the first day, right?


Jason Miles 02:55

Yeah, we thought what we would do is structure this over a Thursday evening, and then all-day Friday schedule, so sort of like a retreat or, you know, conference that you might go to. So, the starting sessions are at 3pm Pacific time, 6pm Eastern time on Thursday, the 13th of May. And then there's several sessions that first evening, and then the Friday schedule is fuller, yeah.


Jan 03:20

Yeah. Well, that sounds fun. Well, let's talk about the speakers that you've invited to participate. One of the keynote speakers is Caroline Barnett. Tell us about Caroline.


Jason Miles 03:31

Yeah. Well, it's just such an honor to have her speaking at the event. Cinnamon and I first learned about the mission and purpose of the Dream Center in Los Angeles in 1994, when we moved to Monrovia, to work for World Vision. And so, we heard about this new ministry starting called the Dream Center. And since then, it has grown and grown and grown into just an amazing ministry effort. And Caroline and Matthew, her husband, were co-founders of the Dream Center in 1994. And then also they're co-pastors of Angela's Temple, which is the originating church for a denomination called The Foursquare. Aimee Semple MacPherson is the original founder of that church denomination, and her church was called Angela's Temple. They became the pastors of that church years ago. And it really revitalized it and turned it into a major church in Los Angeles. And so, she's going to be one of our keynote speakers, and they reach as a ministry, something like 50,000 people a week with their recovery programs, feeding programs. It's just got a huge, huge set of ministry efforts, really trying to serve the most needy people in Los Angeles, and it's just a beautiful ministry. And we're just super excited to have her come and share her heart.


Jan 04:51

I'm really looking forward to hearing her speak. Who else do we have?


Jason Miles 04:54

Well, Betsy King is a famous professional Hall of Fame golfer, who I've known about and heard about for a long, long time. And we're just so honored to be able to have her share as well. Her ministry is called Golf for Africa. So, after her professional LGPA career, she really got passionate about clean water, and water and sanitation type project. And, and her ministry effort is in Zambia. And so, amongst other countries, I'm not sure if it's just Zambia exclusively, but they do work in Zambia. And so, we're really excited to be able to have her present, talk about some of her journey and experience in you know, LGPA world. But then also, of course, her passion for the water and sanitation programming, which, at sort of a high level, the menstrual hygiene management, the whole issue of girls having access to sanitary products, in some ways, technically, in the world of development, it sort of falls under that water and sanitation, programming type work. So, in a way, Betsy's program is sort of a cousin to ours programmatically, you know, on the ground in in Zambia. So that's really fun. And it'd be great to have her share her journey. Yeah.


Jan 06:12

Yeah, that is really cool. And I understand that she became passionate about this after she made a trip with World Vision. Is that right?


Jason Miles 06:22

Yeah, yeah, yeah, she, she went and saw the work, got, you know, really passionate about that topic. And I think it was life changing for her. I think it's one of those pivotal moments, hopefully, she'll talk about in our keynote, where she had a career. And you know, her time in that career ended, and it was like, okay, what's next in my life? And in my, you know, calling and in ministry efforts, how is God going to use me in this next chapter? And in a way, that's kind of what we want to challenge everyone who participates in the summit with is, what has God put on your heart for making a difference in the world? And maybe you've had a career and, you know, a corporate job or some vocation that you've worked in, and you're retiring from, and, and having to answer those questions of what's next in life type thing. So.


Jan 07:11

I think that'll be a really fun talk. And next on the list is Kathryn Compton. So tell me about Kathryn.


Jason 07:20

Kathryn is formerly my supervisor. She is my old boss. From the olden days, when I worked at World Vision, I was there from 1994 to 2010. So, for a good chunk of that time, she was my my boss, and she was the best boss I've ever had. And her heart for serving and making a difference in the lives of the poor and walking with the poor, is something to not just admire, but something to be inspired by and to want to replicate. And I guess you could say, in a way, sort of just her passion for service has just been a huge influence on our lives. And so, it's an honor to have her be able to speak. She has traveled extensively around the world for years and years and years, and is currently by profession, the Chief Development Officer for a programmatic, you know, emphasis within World Vision called Strong Women, Strong World. And that program is really designed to empower and support women in community with employment opportunities, and, you know, access to education, and on and on. And so I know it's gonna be a great time. She is just a vibrant, electric personality. She is literally all go, no stop 110% all the time.


Jan 08:48

Oh, wow.


Jason 08:48

And so that'll be really fun. If someone's coming into the summit a little down, a little discouraged or little low energy, she will rev all of us up with her passion for service. It'll be really fun.


Jan 09:01

I read a little bit about her. And one of the things that she says is that she's empowering girls, women, boys and men to be equally valued. And I think that's really, that's just really great. That's very inspiring, and I can hardly wait to hear her talk.


Jason 09:17



Jan 09:18

Okay. We have another keynote speaker from Zambia. Tell us about Princess Zulu.


Jason 09:24

Well, right Princess is our dear, dear friend. So, she is just a very special person. I first met Princess in, let's say 2005, 2006, something like that, when we were doing a lot of program work in response to the HIV/AIDS global pandemic. And as it happens, Princess is HIV positive. She was a local kind of caregiver worker, HIV advocate in Zambia and started a radio show. And her radio show caught the attention of people all over. And she was just so passionate about talking about getting tested for HIV and not being ashamed of it and having hard conversations with your family members or your spouse or whatever. And her advocacy on her radio show really led to us learning about her story. And then inviting her to come and speak in the United States. She started to come and speak in the US around that time, and is a passionate, passionate, advocate for women and girls and the poor, HIV/AIDS. And she's a Pentecostal speaker, so she really brings the heat when she speaks, and it's a thing to behold. And she's amazing in terms of her ability to present the issues. So, it's gonna be great to have her speak. Now, in her more recent career for the last five years or so, she was elected to be a member of Parliament in Zambia and is now a member of Parliament for her home constituency area, which is called Keembe. And so, it's just an honor to have her speak. And she'll bring such a rich, rich context, to the summit, and really an understanding of the reality on the ground for what's happening in Zambia. And I think people will learn a tremendous amount from her.


Jan 11:26

Well, and I understand that she's the first female member of Parliament from her area, and the first openly HIV positive lawmaker in Zambia. So, she's broken some barriers.


Jason 11:39

Absolutely right, yeah. And she is just a fantastic advocate for the needs of the poor. And it's just, it's gonna be really great to have her share with everyone. I'm looking forward to that.


Jan 11:51

Well, okay. And then there's somebody else that I think if you've been involved with Sew Powerful for a while, you've heard the name, but maybe you've never had a chance to meet. And that's Esther, from Zambia, tell us about Esther.


Jason Miles 12:06

Sure. Well, she's been our longtime partner. I almost said partner in crime, but I didn't think that would be appropriate to say, but she's been our long-term collaborator, and just dear, dear friend since 2009. And we've worked together for all these years, just so, I guess you could say effectively, but it's more than effectiveness. It's just we just feel like she is just, I don't know, a kindred spirit. All I can say is just it's been the highlight of our life to be able to collaborate with her to help women in her community find employment, and not only employment, but employment that does a huge service to the local community in terms of the impact.


Jason 12:47

And so, the first program, as most people know, who are listening to this was school uniforms. And we ran that program for about four years. They still make school uniforms there. But then, of course, the reusable hygiene product since 2014-15, has become a greater and greater emphasis. She's also, of course, leading the soap team, as well, making thousands and thousands and thousands of bars of soap that are hugely helpful in the purse program and beyond. And, and does so much else beyond that. She's just a tremendous ministry partner. And she's been a tireless worker in one of the most challenging places you can imagine. And I realized, you know, the urban slum in Africa is hard for people to understand, wrap their minds around unless they've been there and kind of experienced what's happening on the ground. But it is some of the most complicated and challenging, you know, context in which to ever operate a program. And she's done it for two decades, really, really effectively. So she's going to be a huge blessing to everyone. We're going to tape her session ahead of time, just so that the video doesn't turn problematic for us, the live stream, but she'll, she'll have a great conversation with folks, and they'll get a chance to hear her heart. And that'll be really, really fun. Yeah.


Jan 14:09

Well, I'm looking forward to it. I've never had the opportunity to meet Esther, so this will be the next best thing.


Jason 14:15



Jan 14:16

Well, and then you and Cinnamon Miles will be the co-hosts of the event. How will we see you and Cinnamon during the two days?


Jason Miles 14:27

Sure, yeah, we're gonna help kick it off and be a part of the keynotes as they go, just in terms of hosting the sessions, and, and greeting people. We'll also try to make it fun throughout the day and a half event and really spend time and energy, you know, in conversation and getting to know people. Our hope is that people really meet each other. And we're gonna try to facilitate some of that conversation and those types of things throughout the event.


Jason 14:55

But we also have other breakouts which we shouldn't overlook here. We have some breakout sessions that are going to be really fun. So, beyond Cinnamon and I participating we have other key volunteers that are going to give us some insights. You know more detail on that almost than I do at this point. But talk to us a little bit more about the breakouts too.


Jan 15:12

Well, yeah, so we have at least two, and we might have some surprise guests, I think. But we have at least two of our very talented volunteers who are going to have sessions. The first one that I'll talk about is Elizabeth Mitman, is going to lead a breakout session where she's going to share three, but maybe there's a bonus at the end, three of her techniques that she uses to make her purses. And if you've ever seen a photo of Elizabeth's purses, they're more than a purse, they're really works of art. And Elizabeth breaks it down and shows us how we can become artists like Elizabeth, and it's going to be really, really fun. And Elizabeth has such a contagious, bubbly personality, you will really love that session.


Jan 16:04

The other one I want to talk about is with Peggy Creighton. And Peggy is, well she's very talented and very gifted as an embroidery digitizer and an embroider. And Peggy has figured out how to make most of the parts of the purse, in the hoop. If you have an embroidery machine, rather than using your sewing machine, you can put all these pieces one by one on your embroidery machine and Peggy is going to take us through. And then the last stop is that you do pull out your sewing machine and sort of put a few of these pieces together. But it's really a very innovative way. And Peggy has digitized some special designs expressly for Sew Powerful and for the summit.


Jason 16:52



Jan 16:52

You'll enjoy that as well.


Jason 16:54

In The hoop.


Jason 16:55

In The Hoop.


Jan 16:55

In The Hoop.


Jan 16:56

We call it ITH.


Jason 17:00

There we go. Yeah, so this is the deep end of the swimming pool that Jason knows nothing about.


Jan 17:06

Well, but you have an acronym on this schedule. That's AMA. Tell us what AMA is?


Jason Miles 17:12

Oh, sure. We have a time that's an AMA, which is Ask Me Anything. And so we'll have an hour in the schedule that's an AMA, or you just Q & A time, I guess you could say, question and answer time. And so we'll have a fun AMA. And that'll be a fun one as well.


Jan 17:27

And hosted with you and Cinnamon. So, somebody could ask a purse related or a sewing-related question, and Cinnamon would field that one.


Jason Miles 17:37

For sure, exactly right. Yeah, well, this, this seems like a good overview to me. I guess the thought is, in my mind, maybe I'll ask a question and answer it myself, rhetorical question. But the question would be why would people attend the summit? And I think the the main hope is, we really hope to inspire people to tap into their vocational gifts and talents and figure out how to use them to answer a call to serve. And the speakers will share their own inspirational stories about how they've been on that journey. And obviously, we'll share about Sew Powerful and how people can jump in with us. One of the breakouts we'll do is going to be called the Volunteer Job Fair, where we actually have new specific volunteer roles that we, you know, invite people to consider. But that's the hope is that if people are maybe retiring, just retired, maybe they're, you know, in a change in their life, and they're at a point where they would say to themselves, what does God have for me? How do I leave a legacy? How do I make a difference with the time that I have left? And how can I serve most effectively? The hope is that this summit really speaks into their life and adds clarity in that conversation.


Jan 18:52

And give us the web address where we can sign up again, Jason?


Jason Miles 18:57

Yep, it's So, SUMMIT dot (just the period) SEW POWERFUL dot ORG and that'll load the summit page. Yeah.


Jan 19:07

Okay. And you're asking us to reserve a spot, right?


Jason Miles 19:11

Oh yeah, we didn't talk about what the cost is. So, we're asking people for a $10 donation to attend. We should mention that so just people are aren't confused about what we're doing. And so, we'd love to have you consider doing that. Claim your ticket, and you can do that right on the page there. All of the proceeds, 100% of the proceeds, will go directly to underwrite the program work on the ground in Zambia. And you know, if you're familiar with our story that we've launched in Livingstone in the last six months, and we continue to grow our team there. And so, we're eager to, you know, have this summit help us underwrite those costs, and it's a great way, we think, to be able to do that.


Jan 19:52

Okay, well, and so if you have friends, acquaintances, church officers that you would like to invite, we welcome everyone to attend. And all you have to do is tell them to go to, and they can reserve their own spot. And we look forward to seeing them. This is just going to be great. I'm so looking forward to this.


Jason 20:16

I am too. And my hope is that this lays the groundwork for a potential 2022 or beyond in person, actual live, post-COVID event where we could all actually gather together and we would do something like this as a special, you know, weekend event or something like that. Maybe it's on the front end of the Houston Quilt Festival, or, you know, we tie it to some, you know, some really fun festival somewhere. So people have a reason to, to go beyond just our summit. That's sort of the hope in the future, and I think, you know, if we can do a good job this year, hopefully we'll grow into that in the years to come.


Jan 20:53

I'm looking forward to seeing all of the podcast listeners as attendees at the summit. Jason, thank you so much for your time and sharing the information about the summit. It sounds like one of the most exciting things that we've done in the last year, and I'm really looking forward to it.


Jason Miles 21:11

Thank you so much. It's an honor. And if you're listening to this, and it's before May 13, or 14th, forward it to your friends, send them to the website and let them know about the event and invite them to join you in it.


Jan 21:25

Okay, well, I'll see you at the summit.


Jason 21:27

Thanks so much.  


Jan 21:28

Bye bye.


Jan 21:31

Thank you for listening. If you want to learn more about the spring 2021 summit, visit That's the place you reserve your ticket and learn more about the speakers. If you want to learn more about Sew Powerful, visit our website at Thank you for listening.


Jan Cancila has been making purses for Sew Powerful since 2014. She serves the organization as Director, Global Volunteerism, the Area Manager for Shows and Events-Mid/South USA and as the Houston Regional Coordinator. She was a public speaking major at Hanover College and holds an MBA from Our Lady of the Lake University. Jan had a 25-year career with The Coca-Cola Company before owning and operating a linen and party rental business in Houston. She is married with two grown sons, a lovely daughter-in-law and two remarkable granddaughters. Jan’s published work includes more than 100 online articles for Reach Jan with comments or suggestions at