To mark International Women’s Day, we have compiled a list of 15 iAdventist women. These are amazing women of influence who have overcome several challenges and reached remarkable success.
Through every turn in life, Veena’s life is a testament to the fact that the Lord has been by her side.
The first-born to a newly converted Rajput family from Rajasthan, India, she was influenced by her father’s zeal (being the first of his family to convert to Adventism) and life-long passion to serve. An interest in languages motivated her to study Sanskrit which culminated in a PhD in Comparative Linguistics. This academic success led her to serve as a Professor at Spicer Memorial University, Pune.
Driven by circumstances, Veena came to the U.S. and started a new life, rising from the bottom of the ladder in eldercare which has led to the vision and purpose for her life. She has turned that vision into achievement as the Founder and CEO of AlfredHouse Eldercare (boutique assisted living facilities). Additionally, she is an active member and leader at the Southern Asian Seventh-Day Adventist Church and has translated It Is Written study guides into Hindi.
A Certified Dementia Practitioner, Veena has many professional highlights, but her heart is also in her work with non-profit organizations such as Visions for Africa and Manavar, providing educational assistance/opportunity for over 1,000 children. Her guiding motto is, “My best for the Highest.”
Veena is blessed with three sons and three grandsons and has a deep love for Indian Classical Music.
Kaye and her husband Kevin have been serving in Papua New Guinea on the Island of New Britain at Sonoma Adventist College of Higher Education, since 2019. Kaye's main roles at the college include Staff Development, Quality Assurance and Research Coordination for Academic staff.
Kaye began her service for the Seventh-day Adventist church in New Zealand in 1975 as a primary teacher. Since then she has served as a leader in Early Childhood Education in New Zealand, and in Australia as an early childhood center director and as a lecturer and manager of tertiary education programs.
Kaye is a PhD candidate at Andrews University and hopes to graduate from the Philosophy of Leadership program in 2022. Her thesis investigates the ways Christian early childhood professionals manifest Christian love in their service. She has published papers in Christian academic journals.
Kaye and Kevin continue to work for Sonoma but have been recalled to serve from New Zealand until it is safe to return to work in Papua New Guinea. Serving in New Guinea has become a highlight and perhaps a capstone for their careers. There are substantial needs in every area at Sonoma. There is a need to reimagine what mission service could look like for people in developed countries. The Sonoma motto permeates every area of ministry on the campus: "To know, to love, to serve".
Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, Ph.D. (University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, USA), MPH (Loma Linda
University, USA), MBA (Claremont Graduate University, USA), Bachelor of Theology
(Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies, Philippines) is the first woman to be
elected as Director of Education at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
As Director of the Education Dept., she headed an organization that by the end of 2019 included 6,621 primary schools, 2,713 secondary schools, 37 vocational “worker training” schools, and 118 colleges and universities with a total enrollment of 2,044,709 students around the world
She has been an educator and administrator at primary, secondary and tertiary levels in Finland and in public and private schools and universities in the USA. She has served on more than 110 accreditation visits and currently chairs the board of the Accrediting Association of Seventh-day Adventist Schools, Colleges and Universities.
Lisa Beardsley-Hardy provided spiritual care as a healthcare chaplain at Lakeland Medical
Center, St. Joseph, Michigan. Her clinical pastoral education was at the Methodist Medical Center of Illinois, and she holds ecclesiastical endorsement by the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (NAD) and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists as an
associate chaplain in healthcare and as an educational chaplain.
Dr. Beardsley-Hardy has over 70 publications, focusing on education in the health professions and faith and learning. She is married to Dr. Frank W. Hardy, and they have a daughter and two grandchildren. British by birth, of Finnish and Japanese ancestry, she is also a citizen of Finland and the USA.
Dr. Lyn Behrens was Dean of the School of Medicine, Interim Dean, and President of Loma Linda University. In 1995, she was appointed President of Adventist Health Systems/Loma Linda (AHS/LL). In 1997, she became president and CEO of Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center (LLUAHSC), the successor corporation of AHS/LL and the new umbrella organization for Loma Linda University and Loma Linda University Medical Center. She served as president of Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center from 1999 to 2004. In 2008, Dr. Behrens was named President Emerita of LLUAHSC (now Loma Linda University Health).
Behrens’ passion for the role of spirituality in healing has been one of the hallmarks of her leadership, and has resulted in increased emphasis in the area of spiritual life and wholeness throughout the organization. She has also cultivated an expanded vision for the organization’s global impact. Among numerous international outreach initiatives has been LLUAHSC’s assistance in the development of Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, the first hospital in mainland China to be awarded the Joint Commission International certificate for quality health care.
Behrens is retired and have three daughters, a son, and eight grandchildren.
Celeste Ryan Blyden has been serving the Seventh-day Adventist Church for 27 years. She started as a volunteer after college and today serves as vice president for the Columbia Union Conference leading strategic communication, public relations and crisis communication. She also serves as editor and publisher of the Columbia Union Visitor magazine and host of the Visitor News Live online program. As an officer of the union—the first woman—she serves on several boards and committees, including WGTS 91.9
Celeste is the author of the 2013 book Crisis Boot Camp, editor of the 2020 Communication Handbook, and publisher and project manager of the union’s 2021 Words of Life devotional book. She’s been invited to speak in Africa, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, the Middle East, and many places across the United States.
Celeste earned a Master’s in Organizational Communication, is working on a second Master’s in Pastoral Ministry and would like to pursue a doctoral degree in Leadership. She is an ordained local church elder who is married to Austin, an ordained deacon, and they have two amazing daughters—Larraina and Sarita.
In 2017, Celeste was inspired to establish Adventist Women Leaders to affirm, celebrate, mentor and advocate for women called to ministry and leadership. What started with lunch for 15 women leaders has blossomed into a global community of nearly 300. Read more at https://adventistwomenleaders.com/
Sharlet Briggs is a Christian senior healthcare executive with many years of consulting, mentoring, and coaching. She is the author of numerous books and a blog focused on leader well-being and thought platform to bridge the information gap and change the way new leaders feel about success in the workplace.
She is known in the healthcare industry for turning hospitals with failing operations, quality, and finance into thriving organizations with long lists of awards and top-tier performance. Sharlet has been awarded Leapfrog Top Hospital and is on the committee to design a CAPE Fellows Program. She is known for turning competitors into colleagues while still aggressively competing for business. Sharlet is often called to be a keynote speaker and sits on two volunteer boards. Currently she is writing a book for young leaders.
Growing up in war-torn Zimbabwe, Earlymay longed for peace, and aspired to academic excellence and Christian service. Her staunch Adventist parents sent her to Seventh- day Adventist schools where her love for God and Christian service was nurtured. Stories of missionaries captivated her and enlarged her dream to serve God and humanity. She earned a teaching degree, married Mwewa Chibende, and moved to Zambia, his home country.
Earlymay has enjoyed a career as teacher and administrator in the Seventh-day Adventist church for 21 years. She successfully served as a lecturer at Solusi University, Zimbabwe, from 2000 to 2002. Her family then moved to Malawi Union, where she significantly built up Kabula Hill School’s enrolment and status during her tenure as school administrator and teacher.
Back in Zambia, her term as Editor and Marketing Manager at the Zambia Adventist Press from 2006 to 2013 saw exponential growth in the output of the press. In 2013, she became a lecturer at Rusangu University, where in 2015, she was appointed Registrar, a position she currently holds. Her passionate love for young people has enabled her to nurture and mentor many. She is currently pursuing a PhD at Andrews University.
As a Takoma Academy student in the 1960s, Bonnie (Wharton) Dwyer was fascinated by the New Journalism then blossoming in newspapers across the country, including the Washington Post. At Sligo Church she was equally drawn in by the sermons of William Loveless. Her love of news and stories led her into a journalism career of investigative reporting and editing. She began writing for Spectrum, the journal of Adventist Forum, while a student at La Sierra University. Over the ensuing years, she reported on major stories within Adventism—the Davenport financial fiasco and the discipline process that it provoked, restructuring of the church in the Pacific Northwest, and the Colin Cook controversy, to name a few. In 1998, she was named editor of Spectrum where she has overseen its growth and development on the world wide web as well as in print. She has continued to report regularly on the meetings and actions of the General Conference, significantly on the issue of women’s ordination.
She is married to Thomas Dwyer, an endodontist; they have one son, Mark, an artist and behavioral specialist for autistic children. She is an active member of the Roseville, California, SDA Church.
Kamala Jegadeesan is a well-known educationist, mentor, and counsellor of the Adventist church, South India. She started her career as a preceptor and a teacher in E. D. Thomas Memorial Senior Secondary School, Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India. She exemplifies the virtues of a teacher as from the very start she influenced her wards by molding and shaping their lives.
Her integrity, sincerity and diligence fetched more responsibilities on her shoulders. She became the principal of a school at the city of Madurai, and the school grew tremendously in size and popularity, reaching the zenith of its glory during her tenure. Even after half a century, the school has more than 3000 students and stands as a beacon in the educational arena. From that post she was lifted to be the educational superintendent of 25 schools of South Tamil Conference. She is also the editor of the Health Magazine in the vernacular language, Tamil (Nalvazhi).
Though retired, she is not idle. She translated some of E. G. White’s books into Tamil. Along with some laymen, she started a Home for Aged Women. She writes, speaks, raises funds and runs the home. Many deserted and homeless women are cared for there. Though she lost her husband and has no children of her own, she unflinchingly continues her ministry
Born to two missionary doctors in Thailand, Ginger Ketting-Weller grew up in Thailand and Malaysia, coming to the United States for college. She fell in love with the classroom in her one-room elementary school, developing an affinity and talent for teaching, both formally and informally, that was affirmed by many around her.
Her K-8 teaching career began on the Oregon coast and took her to southern California, and then to a position as a young professor at Pacific Union College. While there, she completed her doctoral degree from the Claremont Graduate University.
A dedicated fan of Adventist education, a cheerleader for excellence in teaching, and a lifelong learner, she has enjoyed 27 years in higher education, twenty of which have been in higher education administration. Ginger spent ten years as Vice President for Academic Administration at Walla Walla University, followed by seven years as Dean of the School of Education at La Sierra University. Currently she is president of the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies, a General Conference graduate institution located in the Philippines. At AIIAS she leads a multinational, talented faculty and staff in the preparation of students from 60 countries to lead in SDA institutions around the world. She considers her work at AIIAS to be the highlight of her career.
Dr. Ginger is married to Dr. Jim Weller, a K-12 principal and faculty member at AIIAS. They share three children—all working in healthcare careers—and eight grandchildren.
Nancy Lamoreaux was the first Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Her 42-year denominational career was a journey from being a legal secretary in the Washington Conference to an officer and field secretary of the General Conference. She was also the first woman Information Technology Director of Columbia Union and the North American Division. She travelled globally during her career to build partnerships and goodwill. Her vision included promoting women into leadership positions and bringing technology together globally.
During Nancy’s 15-year tenure at the North America Division, AdventistGiving and eAdventist church membership along with many other software packages were developed and implemented across North America. She always looked for what could be, while creating a vision for the future through the eyes of a technologist. In her 12 years at Columbia Union, she implemented technology throughout the Columbia Union and created a vision for service that is still part of their mission. She loves building partnerships and teams with equality. She continues to promote women in all areas of leadership globally while building a vision of what can be!
Nancy is married to David and they are long-time members of Sligo church in Takoma Park, Maryland.
Andrea Luxton is the sixth president of Andrews University, and the first woman to serve in that role.
Dr. Luxton’s life of service and leadership began at Stanborough School and Newbold College in England and later at Canadian University College (now Burman University) in Canada; she was the first woman to serve in leadership roles at those institutions. Dr. Luxton’s work at the Department of Education at the GC connected Dr. Luxton with SDA organizations and leaders around the world who worked together to make a difference for God’s kingdom.
In 2010, Dr. Luxton joined Andrews University as its provost, and became its president in 2016. As Andrews University president, Dr. Luxton spoke about how, as a former English teacher, she believes in the power of stories to change and strengthen our lives and our organizations.
In her first University Conversation address as President, Dr. Luxton noted: “Today’s chapter (at Andrews University) is about … how each of our individual stories intersect with the story of Andrews. Andrews will be changed because of your story. You will be changed because of the Andrews story. We will all be changed by the stories of each other—if we choose to engage.”
Sandra Roberts is the first woman to serve as a president in North American Division. She is the president of the Southeastern California Conference since 2013, with more than 70,000 members and 154 churches. Prior to her election as president, she served as the executive secretary at the conference for nine years. Since receiving her Masters degree from Andrews University in 1984, she has worked as a teacher, chaplain, youth director and pastor. In 2006, Pastor Roberts completed her doctorate in ministry at Claremont School of Theology.
Roberts chairs the conference Executive Committee, Administrative Council, and Board of Education. She also is a member of the board of trustees of La Sierra University. Pastor Roberts has been named Spectrum Magazine's 2016 Adventist Person of the Year. She was also one of three 2016 honorees of the Weniger Society. Recipients of the Weniger Award represent the best in Adventism and reflect the values of Charles E. Weniger.
Roberts grew up as a daughter of parents who served the Adventist church in the North American Division and as missionaries. Pastor Sandra is most passionate about staying open to God’s will and promoting excellence in ministry. Pastor Sandra is curious, adventurous and committed to a lifetime of learning. She enjoys walking on the beach, kayaking, reading, cooking, spending quality time with family and close friends, traveling and exploring the world. She is committed to a lifetime of expressing and modeling the joy that the journey of following and sharing Jesus can bring.
Ella Louise Smith Simmons, EdD (University of Louisville), has completed her third term as a general vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. She holds the distinction of being the first woman to serve as a vice president of the Seventh-day Adventist world church. Simmons was elected at the 2005 General Conference Session.
An educator and administrator throughout her career, Simmons has served as university professor, department chairperson (Kentucky State University), associate dean (University of Louisville), academic vice president (Oakwood University) and provost and academic vice president (La Sierra University).
Dr. Simmons has been a prominent member of accreditation and corporate boards within the church and in the community.
She earned her Master’s in Education from Andrews University, a Doctorate in Education from the University of Louisville, and an Honorary Doctorate of Pedagogy from Andrews University. Simmons' tenure has been marked by her leading role in shaping the global educational system of the now 22 million-member church.
She provides leadership education, administrative consultation, coaching and evaluation, with spiritual guidance to church leaders world-wide and to several General Conference departments. She chairs the Seventh-day Adventist International Board of Education, the University Council (Board) of the Adventist University of Africa, and the Board of Trustees of the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies.
She is married to Nord Simmons, a retired teacher and business owner. They have two adult sons, Darryl and Christopher, who are also educators.
Jennifer Tyner looks for leadership potential in everyone. She engages in her community as an advocate, looking to create positive change for those around her. Jennifer’s commitment to service was inspired her teachers (K-grad school) who nurtured her passions and grew her confidence. Now, with over 20 years of working with college students (La Sierra University and Pacific Union College), Jennifer is particularly passionate about equipping young adults to be leaders in their schools, communities, and careers. Currently, she serves as Director for Church Engagement for ADRA International building relationships with pastors and empowering emerging generations to become global change-makers. In her spare time, Jennifer can be found paddle boarding, listening to podcasts on a run, or planning her next travel adventure with her two daughters and husband.
She is married to Matthew Tyner, a regional manager for PT/OT departments; they have two daughters, Emma, a biochemistry/Honors major at Pacific Union College, and Sophia, pursuing an individualized study program at NYU. While members at Pacific Union College Church, Jennifer actively visits congregations throughout the United States..
The Sligo Women's Ministry Team is compiling a list of SDA Women who are the 50 most inspirational leaders in the world today. We are requesting people to submit names and a short (250 words or less) biography. Our deadline is June 1, 2021.