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Notable Women In Faith: Past & Present

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Ella Simmons

DR. ELLA SIMMONS

Dr. Ella Simmons serves as the only woman of any race to become a vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in the organization’s 157-year history.  Simmons is an educator and lead administrator, and is the highest ranking female in the 22 million member organization.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Simons earned her Bachelor’s and Doctorate in Education from Indiana University.  In between, she obtained her Master’s in Education from the SDA operated Andrews University.  She served for decades as an educator and high school principal in Kentucky and Indiana, and was also the chair and dean of the Department of Education at Kentucky State University.  Additionally, she was a professor in the School of Education at the University of Louisville. Dr. Simmons’s impressive career in education also included her tenure as the vice president for academic affairs at Oakwood University (also operated by the SDA Church) and as provost and vice president for academic administration at La Sierra University (another SDA institution in Riverside, CA).

Simmons was elected to her position as a general vice president in 2005, making history as one of the highest ranking Blacks in the organization still struggling with the ordination of women and the highest ranking woman in the denomination’s history beyond the founding era.  She is an icon for women’s empowerment as she guides the global educational system of an organization with over 9,000 educational institutions.

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