American Baptist Women's Ministries has been led by gifted and committed women, serving Christ through this organization. This is the list of executive directors of American Baptist women since the founding of the National Council of American Baptist Women in 1951.
(Vi), from the state of Washington, was chosen to be the first administrative secretary of the National Council of American Baptist Women, a position title later renamed executive director. One of the early woman graduates of the Berkeley Baptist Divinity School, Vi had twelve years’ experience with the denomination and had worked with many Christian organizations inside and outside of the Baptist fold. She had been a Christian Friendliness Missionary (a mission program with immigrants and, later, focused on racial and cultural relations) and director of Children’s Work for the Baptist Convention of the State of Washington, as well as serving in her local congregation. Her leadership of the organization in its formative years helped establish AB Women’s role in advocacy and outreach as well as experiences vital to the life of American Baptist women, such as national events and leadership development of women and girls. Violet has passed to life eternal in 1994.
Doris Anne Younger
(Dodie) was a member of Riverside Church in New York City, and a graduate of Yale Divinity School and New York Theological Seminary. She has been described as a qualified leader, organizer, administrator, and curriculum writer, with a passion for stimulating the same passion in women that motivated her concern for mission and social justice. During the six years of Dodie Younger’s tenure an endowment fund was established, membership issues were addressed, and her extensive array of gifts were used in the development of the organization built on its existing firm foundation. Dodie resigned to become general director of Church Women United, a post she held until 1989, when she then served as interim director on the ABC Commission on Ministry until 1990.
Rev. Martha Barr
served as ecumenical officer of the American Baptist Churches and assistant General Secretary. Martha’s rich and varied experience with the denomination were to make her a wonderful successor. She well understood the denominational structure and its many relationships. As the new executive she was ready to help AB Women’s Ministries carry out its purpose and goals and to guide in leadership development and growth programs. Martha passed to life eternal in 2006.
Isabel Needham (Interim Director)
served in many capacities prior to assuming the role of interim executive director of American Baptist Women’s Ministries. She was president of American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania/Delaware region (PA/DE), a member of the ABC General Board, and honorary co-chair of PA/DE Alive in Mission Campaign. She held roles in AB Women in her local church as well as regionally and nationally; she was sent as a designee of the PA/DE AB Women on a mission encounter tour to Zaire, Israel, and Eastern Europe. Isabel remembers carrying the charter of names from the Women’s Baptist Mission Society of Pennsylvania (the predecessor to ABW of PA/DE) to the charter dedication celebration at the third annual meeting of the National Council of American Baptist Women in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1954.
came with her unique set of skills and gifts. She had grown up as a Guild Girl with the ability to lead others. As she matured this propensity was recognized and she was soon in demand to provide leadership training events. Donna and her husband David had served as home missionaries with Native Americans. American Baptist Women recruited her to serve as national Christian Social Relations coordinator. She served for five years as a World Mission Support counselor, then associate director and, finally, director of stewardship services. After her role as executive director of American Baptist Women, Donna became an associate executive director of International Ministries, with oversight of field directors and missionaries. Her warmth and genuine joy at watching others grow and develop was infectious. Donna passed to life eternal in 2003.
The Rev. Dr. Lois Jensen (Interim Director)
is a graduate of New Jersey's College of New Jersey (formerly Trenton State College) and Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She served for many years as the secretary and then president of the American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware. She and her husband, the Rev. Dr. Charles H. Jensen, have served churches in Delaware and Pennsylvania. For the past 35 years they have served Cornerstone Fellowship in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.
Rev. Carol Sutton
has been in high demand as as Bible study leader, keynote speaker, worship leader, and preacher. She has worked for the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., Three years after she joined First Baptist Church there, a church that is dually aligned with the Southern Baptist Convention and American Baptist Churches, the church called her to be the minister of Christian education a home missionary for National Ministries and worked 11 years in the Office of Governmental Relations in Washington.
Marty Murray (Interim Director)
and her husband Stanserved for 22 years as International Ministries missionaries in Okinawa, Japan. Marty's jobs included teaching English as a second language, teaching Sunday School, working at the Christian bookstore and chairing the Board of Directors for Okinawa Christian School International. Marty and Stan did a lot of their ministry together -- planting churches, assisting existing churches, choirs, youth groups, and pastoral and lay leadership development. She also was a soloist for many years. The Murrays returned to the States in late 2000 when Stan moved into the position of Area Director for IM. It was during this period that Marty served as interim executive director. Rev. Karen Selig, who was the president for AB Women's Ministries during that time, is Marty's pastor in Royersford, PA. In 2001, Marty re-established the AB Women's Ministries group at their Royersford church.
Marty and Stan have been married for 42 years and have four children (all of whom were adopted in Japan) plus have three grandchildren. Marty spent the years 2002 through 2014 teaching nursery school at Royersford Baptist Church. Due to medical issues including heart surgery, breast cancer, and a tonsillectomy at age 64, Marty retired two years before planned. Marty and Stan are raising one of their grandsons, Jacob, who is nine.
2002 - present
Virginia R. Holmstrom
has been executive director since August 2001. Prior, she served as director of communications for Educational Ministries, ABCUSA, from 1990 to 2001. As executive director of AB Women’s Ministries, Virginia serves with other denominational leaders on the National Executive Council. Virginia received a bachelor’s degree in Christian Education from Seattle (Washington) Pacific University and a Master of Theological Studies from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer). She is a member of Exton Community Baptist Church in Exton, Pennsylvania, and serves on the North American Baptist Women’s Union’s executive board, Church Women United’s common council, and the Baptist World Alliance’s Human Rights Advocacy Commission. She serves on ABC's National Leadership Council and Mission Table, and is a member of the Minister's Council.