Adventist News

Columbia Union Names First Woman VP

Celeste Ryan Blyden is now vice president for strategic communication and public relations for the Columbia Union Conference. Four other staff members received promotions at the Executive Committee’s spring meetings. Celeste Ryan Blyden was promoted from assistant to the president for communication to vice president for strategic communication and public relations. Rubén Ramos, who served as assistant to the president for Multicultural Ministries since 2007, was promoted to vice president for Multicultural Ministries.

Beth Michaels, who has spent eight years at the Visitor magazine, the last two as managing editor, will now serve as editor in chief and the union’s associate director of communication. Tabitha Martinez, who has served as the union’s assistant treasurer since 2006, was promoted to associate treasurer.

“We appreciate the contributions you all have made to the mission of the church here in the Columbia Union. We applaud your dedication and service,” said Dave Weigley, union conference president.

Turning to Blyden, he said the union committee voted unanimously to elevate her to vice president. “It was one of those decisions where you could catch and feel the electricity in the room. It was time to do this. This is the right thing to do. It is the first time, to my knowledge, that the Columbia Union has had a woman vice president,” he said as the room exploded with a standing ovation.

Blyden has spent 12 years as editor of the award-winning Visitor magazine and has 25 years of communication experience. She has served the church as a journalist, editor, public information officer, marketing coordinator, media relations manager, corporate communication director, social media strategist, and television producer. In addition to her new duties, she will continue to lead the Communication Department and serve as publisher of the Visitor. During her tenure, Blyden and her team grew the Visitor brand to include a weekly e-mail newsletter, videos, Web sites, a popular annual calendar, social media, and other platforms.

Ramos, a champion for soul-winning and church planting, was born in Argentina and grew up in the home of missionaries. He holds a degree in education and theology from River Plate University in Argentina, has experience as a literature evangelist, and pastored several Hispanic churches in the Potomac Conference before serving as the Hispanic Ministries director there for 11 years.

Beth Michaels is now editor in chief of the Visitor. Prior to joining the Columbia Union Conference, Michaels worked for several non-profit organizations around the Washington, D.C. area, leading and assisting in their communication and marketing departments. She also spent five years at ADRA International helping and then leading its news and public relations efforts.

“Like me, Beth is a daughter of the Columbia Union and a graduate of Washington Adventist University. She also shares my passion to connect, inspire, and engage membersthrough the Visitor and our other communication platforms,” Blyden said. “We’re all thankful for her commitment to the ministry of communication in the Columbia Union.”

Tabitha Martinez is now associate treasurer. Martinez has also served four years as an assistant staff auditor for the General Conference Auditing Service. She holds a bachelor of business administration from Southwestern Adventist University in Texas and recently earned an MBA at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland. “Over the years, Tabitha has served as a dedicated and faithful member of our team,” said Seth Bardu, Columbia Union Conference treasurer. “As an associate treasurer, she will be presented with even more opportunities to serve her church.”

New Consultant Helps With Evangelistic School

Executive Committee members also voted to have Cindy Tutsch join the office team for a part-time, one-year appointment. Tutsch, who recently retired from her post as associate director at the Ellen G. White Estate in Silver Spring, Maryland, will help launch an evangelistic school for young adults in the Columbia Union. “Cindy has served as a pastor and conference youth director. She understands young people and has started a number of evangelistic initiatives with young adults,” said Frank Bondurant, vice president for Ministries Development. “She will serve as a consultant to our study committee as we lay the foundation and discuss core values, a mission statement, and outcomes for this school.”

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