Kay Warren
Executive Director, HIV/AIDS Initiative, Saddleback Church

Who are you?

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A California girl who works far from home.

Kay Warren

Kay Warren is an evangelical leader, author, AIDS activist, and co-founder of Saddleback Church in Southern California. Along with her husband, Rick, Warren founded Saddleback in 1980 with just a single family to fill the pews. Today it has 120-acre campus, 22,000 weekly attendees, and has provided spiritual guidance and source material to over 400,000 ministers worldwide.

In 2002, Warren became "seriously disturbed" by the scope of the AIDS epidemic; she has since set up an AIDS ministry at Saddleback and spoken out about the disease around the world. Warren is the co-founder and co-director (with her husband) of The Global PEACE Fund, which fights poverty, disease, and illiteracy.

Warren has spoken to the United Nations Global Coalition on Women and AIDS. In 2006, Warren was among eight women honored for their humanitarian efforts at the CNN Inspire Summit. Warren is the author of Foundations Participant's Guide and Dangerous Surrender: What Happens When You Say Yes to God.


Question: Who are you?

Warren: I’m Kay Warren, I’m the Executive Director of the HIV/AIDS Initiative at Saddleback Church.

I was born in San Diego, so I’m a California girl. I lived there my whole life except for two years when we were in seminary in Fort Worth. I think being on the West Coast has definitely shaped me to experience life from a perspective of . . . I don’t know. We originate ideas. At least we’d like to think we originate ideas on the West Coast, and it seems like we’re always a little bit ahead of the curve.

My parents had a tremendous influence on me. My dad was a pastor in small churches. My mom was the quintessential pastor’s wife. And I think I learned about service from them. They . . . They not only taught me to love God, but they really showed me how to live a life of service.

And when I was a little girl, there really weren’t that many women that I knew of who worked outside the home, as they would say. My mom didn’t ever work outside the home once she had kids. Most of the women in the churches that I grew up in . . . So I really didn’t ever have a career goal for myself. I always wanted to be a wife and a mom. I studied to be a home ec teacher. I got my degree in home economics because at one point Rick and I thought we were gonna be missionaries somewhere around the world. And I thought, “What a great, great thing.” You know home economics. That was as very practical major. As it turns out we ended up in, you know, affluent Orange County California where nobody cares at all whether I can cook, or sew, or find the best price of chicken. I mean who cares? It seems irrelevant. But at the time it seemed like something good to do.

Recorded on: 12/11/07