|Racial justice agency names Erin Hawkins as CEO|
By John Coleman*
Aug. 14, 2007 | WASHINGTON (UMNS)
The United Methodist agency that monitors and advocates for racial
inclusiveness has elected staff executive Erin M. Hawkins as its new
Erin M. Hawkins
Hawkins will become general secretary of the United Methodist
Commission on Religion and Race effective Sept. 1, and will officially
be installed at the agency's fall board meeting in October. At 31, she
is possibly the youngest top executive of a denominational agency,
according to the commission.
She has served as associate general secretary — a staff executive position — since 2001.
"We had outstanding and diverse candidates seeking this important
position, all of whom were eager to provide leadership for the critical
work we have ahead of us," said Bishop Linda Lee, president of the
commission's board of directors and leader of the church's Wisconsin
"We are moving into a fifth decade for this commission with a new,
visionary and proactive strategic plan for dismantling racism and
building up racial/ethnic inclusiveness in our denomination," Lee said.
"Our search committee and board members are convinced that Erin has the
optimal gifts of wisdom, experience, energy and faithfulness to lead us
forward into that promising future."
Hawkins led the commission’s staff in developing a six-year strategic
plan and a new agency evaluation plan approved by the board in March.
In addition, she has provided monitoring, consultation, resources and
training to general agencies and annual conferences to help them pursue
goals of racial/ethnic diversity and inclusiveness in their leadership,
programs and operations.
She has been the commission’s staff representative and resource
consultant to the Southeastern Jurisdiction, Black Methodists for Church
Renewal, The United Methodist Church’s Strengthening the Black Church
for the 21st Century Initiative and other ministries serving the
denomination’s black constituency. She is a Harry Hosier Life Member of
Excited to lead
"I am honored and excited by the opportunity to lead this agency that
has accomplished so much over four decades in its pursuit of racial
justice and inclusiveness, and to take it to the next level," Hawkins
said. "We are ready to support and lead the church as it answers God's
essential call to make disciples of Jesus Christ who embrace racial
inclusiveness and reconciliation as a prerequisite to transforming the
world for Christ. If we want to invite more people of color into our
predominantly white denomination, they must see themselves more among
our leadership and our ministries."
Before joining the Commission on Religion and Race, Hawkins was a
legislative assistant to U.S. Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald
(D-Calif.). She has a bachelor's degree in business administration and
two master's degrees, one in public affairs from Indiana University and
one in organizational development from United Methodist-related American
University in Washington.
A native of Los Angeles, Hawkins is a lifelong member of Saint Mark
United Methodist Church there, and has taught Sunday school and served
as an usher, liturgist and choir member. A certified lay speaker, she
has been a grant writer and program developer, a California-Pacific
Annual Conference youth delegate, and a frequent preacher, keynote
speaker and facilitator for local, district, conference and churchwide
Hawkins succeeds the Rev. Chester Jones, who left the commission July
31 to become a district superintendent in the Arkansas Conference.
Jones had led the agency since 1999. The Rev. Yolanda Pupo-Ortiz, who
retired from the commission as an associate general secretary in 2005,
is serving as interim top executive for one month until Hawkins assumes
her new duties.
*Coleman is communications specialist with the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race.
News media contact: Tim Tanton or Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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