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Olson nominated to lead church's Women?s Division

By Linda Bloom*
June 18, 2007 | NEW YORK (UMNS)     

Harriett Jane Olson

Harriett Jane Olson, an executive with the United Methodist Publishing House, has been nominated as chief executive of the Women's Division, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

If elected, Olson would join the division in the fall, succeeding Jan Love, who left the post at the end of 2006 to become dean of the Candler School of Theology in Atlanta.

The Women's Division is the administrative arm and policy-making body of United Methodist Women, a denominational organization of approximately 1 million members whose purpose is to foster spiritual growth, develop leaders and advocate for justice.

"Ms. Olson is a woman of many gifts and will serve the division with distinction," said Kyung Za Yim in a June 13 letter to Women's Division directors. Yim is division president and chairperson of its search committee.

Yim said Olson is "the closest match for our unique needs at this time in our history" and noted that she was one of eight candidates initially interviewed and among the three finalists. With the approval of directors, the committee had started a second search process for the position last year to expand the field of candidates.

Division directors will vote on the search committee's recommendation in August and share that information with the personnel committee of the Board of Global Ministries. The full board is scheduled to vote on the matter during its annual meeting in October.

Lois Dauway, who leads the division's Section on Christian Social Responsibility, has served as interim chief executive since Jan. 1.

Olson said she is "thrilled" to be the Women's Division nominee and looks forward "to what the division directors, the staff and I can do, together with the members of United Methodist Women, to work toward the spiritual and physical wholeness that was God's desire for the creation from the foundation of the world."

Since 1996, Olson has been senior vice president for publishing, editor for church school publications and UMC book editor at the United Methodist Publishing House in Nashville, Tenn. She supervises a staff of 125 to 150 people responsible for the development, production and trade distribution of resources from Abingdon Press, Cokesbury and Kingwood Books.

Before joining the Publishing House, she worked for the Pitney, Hardin, Kipp and Szuch law firm of Morristown, N.J., from 1983-96, where she was a partner in the real estate department, with a specialization in environmental law, from 1991-96.

From 1988-96, Olson was a director of the United Methodist Board of Discipleship and was a delegate to the 1988, 1992 and 1996 General Conferences of the denomination. She also served on a number of committees with what was then the Northern New Jersey Annual Conference.

She is a member of Morristown (N.J.) United Methodist Church and an affiliate member of McKendree United Methodist Church in Nashville.

Olson is a 1983 graduate of Harvard Law School and has a bachelor's degree from Houghton (N.Y.) College, where she serves on the board of trustees.

She is a board member of the Protestant Church Owned Publishers Association and Bible Translation and Utilization Committee of the National Council of Churches.

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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