14 June 2023

The Real Possibility of Changing the World with our Sacred Promises

Author: Kellie Hackney and Serena Ryan

Little did we know the impact of answering the call. It became the catalyst for both Kellie Hackney and I to discover the real possibility of changing the world with our Sacred Promises.

Kellie Hackney wasn’t in the habit of checking her spam folder. In her own words ‘I can count on one hand’ just how many times she checked her spam folder in her life. But this particular morning before work, she decided to check her spam folder. There it was. She had received an email in response to her application. ‘Congratulations’ was in the subject line. Her heart started racing. She had officially been chosen to share her story as a part of the collaboration with Dr Tererai Trent, also known as Oprah’s all time favourite guest.

Serena Ryan (yes that’s me) was very reluctant to speak up. I truly felt, at the time, my story wasn’t significant enough. I’d seen that Tererai was doing the collaboration and I’d even recommended to other friends to be a part of it. It really didn’t occur to me that my story would be worth sharing. Boy was I wrong.

What is a Sacred Promise?

I’d first heard about a Sacred Promise in 2018. I was reading Dr Tererai Trent’s book ‘The Awakened Woman.’ In the book Tererai challenges the reader to discover ‘What breaks your heart?’ She goes on to say, ‘What breaks your heart, is your Sacred Promise.’ This stuck with me. I’d never considered before the power of defining what broke my heart, aka, my Sacred Promise. This moment in February 2018, became a cornerstone for my very own transformation. I learned that when you can identify your Sacred Promise, your life’s purpose makes sense and everyone you are surrounded by, family, friends, community, benefits.

What is the Sacred Promise?

The ‘Sacred Promise’ is a book compiled by Dr Tererai Trent with 36 co-authors. Sacred Promise is an amazing collection of true stories courageously exploring the deeper meaning of existence, the journeys we travel and the challenges we overcome, inviting us to consider the true purpose of our lives and how we can take action on the sacred promises we make for ourselves.

Sacred Promise has a profound message, if we are true to the inner voice that guides us we will find meaning, beauty, clarity and direction, even in the darkest of times as we navigate our way to our true purpose. This collection shares with us voices deeply embedded in diversity and unique perspectives, with each author sharing their own stories and the sacred promises they have made to themselves. Each story is so different yet brought together by the collective sisterhood and a universal longing for hope and positive change for the world.

This book courageously explores the deeper meaning of existence. The journeys we travel and the challenges we overcome.

Sacred Promise invites us to consider the true purpose of our lives and how we can take action on our own sacred promises to ourselves.

I love the philanthropic ethos of the Sacred Promise book. Proceeds from the sale of Sacred Promise go to creating generational change through investing in girls education with Tererai Trent International Foundation. The Foundation works in poor rural areas in Zimbabwe where girl child marriage is exacerbated by poverty. Investing in girls’ education is life changing for these girls, their families and their communities. Providing this opportunity yields not only better economic growth, but also, increases life expectancy, better health outcomes and improved quality of life for these girls and future generations.

There are 36 authors from 10 countries. This I still find staggering. I still remember the moment all the authors met via a Zoom video call. Each author has to say their name and where in the world they were from. Kellie Hackney introduced herself and stated she was from Newcastle. I burst with excitement. When it came to my turn, I forgot where I lived and blurted out ‘Newcastle is my 2nd home!’ I knew I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to meet Kellie in person. Incredibly our first in person meeting wasn’t in Newcastle, it was in Melbourne at the Sacred Promise book launch in October 2022.


The book has a truly global feel. For me it’s more than that. It’s a physical representation of women supporting women. In June 2023 as 2 local authors, both Kellie Hackney and I were honoured to be guest speakers for Hunter Business Women’s Network.

Who Is Kellie Hackney?

Kellie Hackney’s leadership and life happens in the not for profit (NFP) space where she has worked and volunteered for decades. Kellie was 15 years old when she first volunteered at a Not for Profit. The variety of roles she has held have been vast. Roles including unpaid and paid volunteer, paid employee, Leadership and Management teams, Board Member and Committee of Management Member.

Resources can be light on, particularly for grassroot organisations. The value Kellie brings to this work is that of curiosity, courage and creativity allowing her to be innovative and effective in the NFP space.

Kellie was led to become a first time published author when she saw the positive impact of Dr Tererai Trent’s work. Kellie was compelled to shine a light on her belief that living, loving and leading at the grassroots level enables creating pathways of connection and opportunities for belonging.

In addition to Kellie’s NFP work she is currently studying a Graduate Certificate in Professional Equity and Inclusion at the University of Newcastle.

Kellie’s incredible impact in the NFP sector and specifically in the Newcastle community has been recognised and she has won awards for her work at the 2023 Women Changing The World Awards hosted in London, England.

Who Is Serena Ryan?

Serena Dorothy Ryan is an award winning Entrepreneur. Serena stepped into digital marketing in 2004. In 2005 Serena created an online training program for 10,000 retail employees. At the time Serena was living in regional NSW.

Serena relocated to Sydney in 2006 and worked as a Trade Marketing Manager. Serena identified a need to train Pharmacy Assistants on the benefits of the products being sold using online tools. Serena went on to be the Internet Business Manager for Skin Doctors (2007-2010).
In 2010, Serena completed formal study in Digital Marketing via ADMA (Australian Direct Marketers Association) this led her to work for Visa and write draft Social Media Guidelines for Visa, including managing their online presence for one of their key projects in the payments sector.

Serena then went on to work in digital advertising and manage campaigns with 50+ team members and stakeholders working on world first uses of technology directly with Google.
In 2014, Serena Dorothy Ryan founded ‘Serena Dot Ryan®’ as a digital marketing agency specialising in education and optimising online presence. In 2021 this agency is now known as ‘Dotterised®’.

In 2018 after a medical emergency and a week’s stay in hospital, Serena’s world was turned on it’s head. She realised how important financial literacy was, not just in business life, but in personal life too. As a small business owner with a young family, she decided her priorities had to change. She set a resolution to increase her personal financial education and reduce her debt.

Serena successfully reduced her personal debt by $43,313 in just over 2 years without increasing her income. Serena see’s power in demonstrating and sharing with others how to make the most of what you have rather than looking to earn more to spend more.

Serena is on a mission to support others to make their own financial decisions based on their own circumstances. She is currently studying a Diploma in Financial Counselling. Financial counsellors are qualified professionals who provide information, advice and advocacy to people in financial difficulty. Their services are non-judgmental, free, independent and confidential.

How Can You Support the Sacred Promise?
Buy a Sacred Promise book. Available directly from Serena Ryan here: Order a copy of Sacred Promise signed by Serena Ryan.

Buy from the Publisher: Order a copy of Sacred Promise from WCW Press.

Buy via Amazon here: Order a copy of Sacred Promise via Amazon also available on Kindle

How Can You Change The World?

This statement used to get me overwhelmed. That was until I saw a quote attributed to Mother Teresa; “If you want to change the world go home and love your family.”

The true impact of change starts with a focus on starting with where you are with what you have. I see the focus on family and then community can then ripple all the way out into the world.

Kellie came to the same conclusion when she discovered that the word philanthropy whose meaning comes from ‘lover of mankind.’ To focus on giving love which is readily available.

If you don’t have a budget to help or even know where to start, read on.

Ready To Change The World?
Share your story.

Seriously. One of the most valuable lessons I have gained since sharing my story as a coauthor of Sacred Promise is that no story is too small or insignificant. Every story has impact and possibility to help heal and change yourself and others. The beauty of starting to share your story is that it’s yours and it doesn’t have to be a costly exercise to start storytelling.
Ways you can share your story include, but are not limited to your own website, Social Media, Hunter Business Women’s Blog, networking and coffee chats.
What all 36 authors have in common is they knew the power of their own story to transform their own lives and felt that if just one person could hear their story it could help them to see what could be possible despite their challenges.

What Kellie and Serena have realised is, that by sharing each of their stories, the process itself created more opportunities beyond what they thought possible.

“To be philanthropic is to give something, to be charitable is to give one’s own heart.” – Maya Angelou

Therein lies the shift that happened for Kellie and for Serena too. Our stories so different from where we started, yet we became connected when we both realised what we could achieve when we embraced who we were in the moment to contribute to the greater good. It didn’t need to happen when we had the financial means to do so, it started when we opened our eyes to the potential we had to love our own story and give others the opportunity to connect and learn and love what we can all bring to the world. Our stories are not insignificant. They are powerful.

What’s the narrative you have that you have that you want to work on?

Change the narrative, change the opportunities. – Kellie Hackney