The Association of Adventist Women (AAW) recently honored six women from around the world as Women of the Year at its 40th annual awards banquet in Loma Linda, California, United States, on October 8, 2022. One man was awarded a Champion of Justice award.
Verna Alva, a Peruvian child psychiatrist, accepted AAW’s Woman of the Year award for Lifetime Achievement. She is past president of the Peruvian Society of Child Psychiatry; past vice president for Latin America-World Association of Medical Women; former associate dean of the School of Medicine at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia; and Director of Maternal Child Health at the Ministry of Health. Alva was instrumental in the creation of the Seventh-day Adventist university in Peru and was its first dean in the School of Health Sciences. She is an Adventist church member who has served on the executive committee of the South American Division (1991-1995).
The first woman editor in the 120-year history of Message magazine, Carmela Monk Crawford, has a soft spot for the poor and underprivileged. She has been honored for her legal work for victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and police abuse. From these experiences she strives to make Message relevant, highlighting how people can work to make God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. AAW awarded her with the Woman of the Year award for Outstanding Achievement.
The Woman of the Year for Church Life award was given to Nandi Fleming, an Adventist pastor in South Africa. During the pandemic, her pastoral counseling practice was closed, so she wrote and recorded a Christian mental health podcast called NCSA Mental Health Devotions that helped filled the need for a Jesus-centered approach to well being. The podcasts have since been published in book form and on video. About six years ago, Fleming facilitated an online space for encouragement and support for all English-speaking female pastors worldwide. Determined to serve God always, she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in practical theology and is currently studying for her doctoral degree.
Sylvia Klinger of Hinsdale, Illinois, United States, is a dynamic global nutrition expert, international speaker, business owner, award-winning author, and member of several boards of Fortune 500 companies. Klinger received the Woman of the Year award for Outstanding Achievement. As a Loma Linda University School of Nutrition and Dietetics graduate, she daily spreads the message of healthful living, specializing in culturally relevant translations of nutritional information in the Hispanic or Latinex communities.
Margaret Solomon received the Professional Life Woman of the Year award for designing low-tech educational curriculum for some of the world’s poorest students. After a lifetime of Adventist education, Solomon’s encounter with a grade-school student waiting under a tree for instruction one afternoon a week in a poverty-stricken area of India changed Solomon’s purpose. She received two Fulbright-Nehru Visiting Scholar Awards (2010, 2017) for developing low-resource curriculum and training teachers to compassionately educate children in the poorest slums in India. She is a faculty member at La Sierra University, California, and received her award via Zoom from India.
Judy Lello and her husband, Graham, are a remarkable literature evangelism team. They have shared God’s love for more than 50 years, traveling 750,000 miles (1,200,00 km) together, mainly in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Judy, or “The Bible Story Lady,” as she is widely known, has been a steady and beloved presence in the Amish country of south-central Pennsylvania for 26 years. She visits families whose members remember her visiting their grandparents. Graham is the manager and has carefully documented his wife’s US$3,449,808 in sales. Her work has contributed to the development of the West Salem Mission, a group of fifty Amish who have become Adventists.
Loma Linda University Church’s senior pastor, Randy Roberts, was awarded the AAW Champion of Justice for his dedication to sharing stories of God’s Spirit working through women in ministry both in the Bible and in current women pastors. A dedicated church leader, author, and pastor, Roberts also served as a chaplain at Loma Linda University Medical Center, developing a grief recovery program. He has been associate dean of the School of Religion at Loma Linda University and is currently the vice president for Spiritual Life and Mission for Loma Linda University Health.
AAW strives to advocate for the participation of women in all leadership roles in Seventh-day Adventist organizations, congregations, and communities around the world. AAW is an independent organization supporting, but not affiliated with, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, its churches, and organizations.