Get to know one of our uncommon Concordians, Darcy Paape, D.C.E., director of the Women’s Leadership Institute. 

Get to know one of our uncommon Concordians, Darcy Paape, D.C.E., director of the Women’s Leadership Institute.

Darcy Paape is many things to many people. She leads the Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) at CUW. She’s on staff with Campus Ministry, working with L.I.G.H.T., Students for Life, and Congregational Ministries. She’s the author of a book on mentoring, Someone to Walk With, and a key contributor to the WLI’s mentoring workshop, Growing Together. She’s a wife to Dr. Adam Paape (associate professor of education), and mother to daughters Ava and Eliana. An —new this spring—she’s an adjunct professor, teaching a course in interpersonal communication. She’s also a skilled identifier of leadership potential, who often “taps students on the shoulder” to encourage them to step up into a particular role. For Darcy, all these roles come down to one thing: seeking God’s leading while helping others discover God’s purpose in their own lives.

Why is mentoring so important to you?

I have a passion for working with young adults, cultivated early on as a youth leader and a teacher, and then as a director of Christian education in a congregation. Here at Concordia we have students with all different spiritual backgrounds, and so we have this opportunity to help them grab onto God’s Word in some way and say, “This is real, this is relevant.” I’m here because I want to invest in that mission for students, alongside this strong community of Christ-focused, servant-hearted leaders.

Was there someone who tapped you on the shoulder?

My pastor, James Pingel Sr., from Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. He was that person who made me get in the car and look at CUW, and who really encouraged teaching and church work as a direction for me here. I tried to fight it at first, looking at other colleges and other degrees, but this place felt like home. I dedicated my book to him.

What led you to write that book?

I’ve always loved the “woman at the well” story, and it started there. There’s something really compelling about Jesus going out of his way to sit at a well in the heat of the day to meet with this woman, one to one. It changed her life. By Jesus meeting with the one, it brought the many because she could say, “Come and see!” I think of mentoring as that idea of “Come and see what God has done in my life—and he can do that in your life, too.”

What’s the most interesting thing that people don’t know about you?

Probably that I’ve climbed three 14,000-foot mountains. I also got within 500 vertical feet of summiting Mount Hood before our company had to turn around because two of our members got oxygen sickness. I’m still a little sad about that!

What’s a favorite childhood memory?

I grew up in a trailer park, and there were a lot of kids, and we had a lot of freedom. There was this trail that led to a “secret” pond, where we swam and caught frogs or turtles, then tried to sell them to the neighbors. Sometimes they’d take pity on us and give us a dollar, but then they’d throw them out the back door. Then we could catch them and try to sell them again. It was a pretty good deal.

For more information about CUW Women’s Leadership Institute or the Growing Together mentoring program, visit

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the spring 2022 issue of Hearts Together, a Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor Special Magazine edition. The fall/winter issue hit mailboxes in early October. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, email

— This story is written by Mike Zimmerman, corporate communications manager for Concordia University Wisconsin. He may be reached at or 262-243-4380.

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