Dr. Ella Simmons
You’re invited to spend quality time with Dr. Ella Simmons, a General Conference vice president.
Simmons, who plans to retire at the upcoming General Conference Session, has served more than 15 years as a general vice president. In this role, she has provided professional leadership education and evaluation, as well as spiritual guidance to church administrators around the world.
She chairs the Seventh-day Adventist International Board of Education, whose decisions impact the more than 9,000 schools serving over 2 million students, according to the General Conference website. She is also chair, vice chair or a member of countless other boards including the International Board of Ministerial and Theological Education and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).
Simmons is the first woman to hold a general vice president position, which is the highest job ever held by a woman in the denomination. As such, she knows leadership is not easy.
Heather Crews is amazed at the doors God has opened in her life, continually “handing me my dream job.”
Crews, who has spent more than 20 years in ministry, is currently an associate director of Pastoral Ministries for the Potomac Conference and an associate director of the North American Division Ministerial Association. She coaches pastors and helps congregations find new pastors and connect with the Potomac Conference in Maryland and Virginia and supports women pastors across the United States, Canada and the Guam-Micronesia Mission.
As busy as her jobs may be, she’s learned “to put the first things first.”
“There will always be more to do. There will be always more things at the end of the day that I wish I had accomplished or that are sitting on my to-do list saying, ‘See you in the morning. Bright and early, please,’ ” Crews says. “I want to put in the things that are most important first and that is time with God, time with my family. They actually come above my calling.”
Gina Creek didn’t recognize her leadership ability until someone else pointed it out.
Now, almost 20 years later, as the executive director of AdventHealth’s Leadership Institute, she oversees its systemwide leadership development programs, serving thousands of leaders working in hospitals in nine states.
Creek describes herself while a student as a person who liked to partner with and assist those in charge. She didn’t see herself as a leader, but Chaplain Rich Carlson, now retired vice president for spiritual life and associate professor of psychology and religion at Union College in Lincoln, Neb., did. He asked her to coordinate a program and nurtured her as a leader. That experience continues to shape her view of who has leadership abilities.
“I think we all have the raw materials of leadership in us, but some of us are never called to solve a problem that requires leadership or that we feel compelled to exercise leadership in the presence of,” she says.
In each issue of our newsletter, meet women leaders who share their spiritual journeys, leadership lessons learned, and practical tips for success.