by Monte Sahlin

By AT News Team, March 7, 2014
Celeste Ryan Blyden became the first woman to be elected a union conference vice president in the Seventh-day Adventist denomination on Thursday (March 6). She will serve as vice president for strategic communications and public relations in the Columbia Union Conference, the denomination's regional judicatory that covers eight states from the Mid-Atlantic to the Midwest.
Two other women were voted promotions by the union conference's executive committee. Beth Michaels, who has spent eight years at the Visitor magazine, the last two as managing editor, will now serve as editor in chief. Tabitha Martinez, who has served as assistant treasurer since 2006, has become associate treasurer.
“It was one of those decisions where you could catch and feel the electricity in the room," said Pastor David Weigley, union conference president. "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 experience managing Adventist media activities. 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. During her tenure, Blyden and her team grew the Visitor to a multi-media brand including a weekly Email newsletter, videos, web sites, a popular annual calendar, social media and other platforms.
Prior to joining the union conference staff, 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 assisting in and then leading its news and public relations activities.
Martinez has 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 will finish her MBA from Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland, in May. “Over the years, Tabitha has served as a dedicated and faithful member of our team,” said Seth Bardu, Columbia Union treasurer. “As an associate treasurer, she will be presented with even more opportunities to serve her church.”
In other personnel actions, the union conference executive committee promoted Pastor Rubén Ramos from assistant to the president for multicultural ministries to vice president for multicultural ministries. Ramos, a specialist in evangelism 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 and has served as the pastor of several Hispanic churches in the Potomac Conference before serving as the Hispanic Ministries director there for 11 years.
This story is based on a bulletin from the Columbia Union Conference communication department.