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Interministries Summit
Children’s Ministries - Family Ministries - Women’s Ministries

Speakers of the Summit

Heather Dawn Small

Heather Dawn Small

Heather-Dawn Small presently holds the position of director for Women's Ministries at the General Conference of SDA. Heather-Dawn is the wife of Pastor Joseph Small and the mother of a daughter Dalonne and a son Jerard.

Prior to coming to the General Conference in 2001 she held the position of Children's and Women's Ministries Director for the Caribbean Union Conference located on the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago for five years.

Heather-Dawn loves air travel, reading, embroidery, scrapbooking, and stamp collecting and she enjoys ministry to women. As she travels the world she has three passions - to see more women involved in evangelism, to encourage women to be involved in ministry to others – especially young women, and to share the joy that God has given her in spite of life's many challenges. Her favorite word is "JOY" and her favorite saying is "Don't let anyone steal your joy."

Katja Reinert

Katja Reinert

Dr. Reinert is a family nurse practitioner and public health clinical nurse specialist. She holds a PhD in Nursing from Johns Hopkins University with focus on research in Interpersonal Violence in the Family and health outcomes among adult survivors of childhood trauma. She serves as Health Ministries associate director for the General Conference and coordinates the Adventist Recovery Ministries Global and Youth Alive programs. She enjoys volunteering as a primary care clinician at Shepherds clinic in Baltimore, MD, serving vulnerable families and immigrants. Dr. Reinert is the host and content producer for Speak Up, a TV show focusing on mental and emotional health produced by Hope Channel. She has published scientific research articles, books, periodicals. She has an interest in mental health and preventive medicine and a passion is in helping people experience healing, reaching their full potential in Christ.

Frauke Gyuroka

Frauke Gyuroka

Frauke Gyuroka is currently living in Vienna, Austria’s beautiful capital. She holds a degree as a state certified translator for English and Arabic and is working as a self-employed translator mostly for the church. In 2016, she started a M.A. in Islamic Studies at the Adventist Middle East University in Beirut, Lebanon. She enjoys making new friends and is growing in her own faith through this experience. She is married and has two adult children.

Raquel Arrais

Raquel Arrais

Raquel Arrais presently holds the position of Associate Director for Women's Ministries at the General Conference of SDA. Raquel Arrais is the wife of Pastor Jonas Arrais who is the Associate Ministerial Secretary at the General Conference and they have two sons, Tiago and Andre, two daughters' in-law, Paula and Natalia and a grandson, Benjamin. Raquel grew up in a pastoral family and is a third generation Seventh-day Adventist.

Prior to coming to the General Conference Raquel was Women's Ministries and Shepherdess associate director for the South American Division (2000-2003) and Children's Ministries director (2004 – 2005).

For 20 years Raquel worked as an educator and administrator in Brazil. In 1997 she received her master's Degree in Pastoral Ministry from Andrews University.

Raquel loves reading, walking, playing the piano, and collecting pictures of women's faces. She enjoys spending time with women, ministering to them, and learning from them. She has a desire to see more women accepting God's call and being involved with the mission of the church.

Eliza Spătărelu

Eliza Spătărelu

Eliza Spătărelu is wife and mother of three children, two of whom are adults. She holds a bachelor's degree in Theology and one in Pedagogy at Adventus University, a Master in Education Sciences at the University of Montemorelos and a Doctorate in Education Sciences at the University of Bucharest. She served in the Youth Department at the Muntenia Conference and the Romanian Union and in the Women's Ministries Department at the Muntenia Conference. At present, she is lecturer and director of the Department of Theology - Social Assistance - Education Sciences at Adventus University in Romania.

Roberto Iannò

Roberto Iannò

was born in Sesto S. Giovanni, MI (Italy), raised in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and baptized when he was 14 years old. He is married with Anna Calà, a kindergarten teacher, and has two sons: Gianluca (27) and Daniele (24).

He is a SDA minister since 1991—ordained in 1998—and a former Italian Union Executive Secretary.

He is the director of the Family Ministries Department. Besides, he is an Adjunct Professor at the Italian Adventist University “Villa Aurora”, teaching Christian Education and Theology of Family.

He holds a BA and a MA in Education, a MA in Religion and a MA in Family Counseling. He is currently studying at Andrew University for a DMin in Family Ministry.

Willie and Elaine Oliver

Willie and Elaine Oliver

Willie and Elaine Oliver are directors of the Department of Family Ministries for the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church World Headquarters since June 2010.

An ordained minister, Willie Oliver holds a Ph.D. in Family Sociology; an M.A. in Pastoral Counseling; an M.A. in Sociology; and a BA in Theology. He is an adjunct professor of Family Ministries at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University, and of the Adventist University of Africa. Willie Oliver is the former Director of Family Ministries for the North American Division, the Atlantic Union Conference, and the Greater New York Conference. He also served as a lead pastor in New York City.

Elaine Oliver holds an M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling; an M.A. in Counseling Psychology; an M.A. in Higher and Adult Education; and a BS in business management and accounting. Elaine Oliver is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. She is an adjunct professor of Family Ministries at the Adventist University of Africa. Prior to her current position, she served as a university administrator and as a marriage and family consultant for several organizations.

The Olivers have conducted marriage conferences, retreats, relationship seminars, and leadership training conferences around the world. They are founders of From This Day Forward marriage conferences, Journey Toward Intimacy marriage conferences, authors of the Relationship Rx column in Message magazine, the Real Family Talk column in Adventist World Online. They are editors of the annual Family Ministries Planbook, and authors of two books, Real Family Talk: Answers to Questions About Love, Marriage, and Sex, and Hope for Today’s Families—the world missionary book for 2019. The Olivers also produce and host a weekly family strengthening program on the Hope Channel called Real Family Talk with Willie and Elaine Oliver.

Willie and Elaine Oliver have been married for 34 years and are the parents of two young adults -Jessica and Julian. In their spare time, they enjoy taking long walks, beach vacations, gardening, exotic cuisines, and spending time with family and friends.

Fabiana Bertotti

Fabiana Bertotti

Fabiana Bertotti is a journalist, author of 6 books, mother of little Theodooe and pastor’s wife. In recent years she has dedicated herself to studying human behavior and the relationship with the internet, and she herself has a strong and influential social network where she shares her faith and lifestyle with thousands of followers. Third generation of  Adventist family, she studied at Unasp and worked at the Ellen White Research Center, where she learned to deeply research the writings of the prophet and apply them to the Christian modern life. Her hobby is being in family and to read a good book.

Marjukka Ostrovljanovic

Marjukka Ostrovljanovic

Marjukka grew up in Finland, surrounded by lakes and forests. Her teenage years were rough, and she struggled with drugs, alcohol and anxiety. All of it led her to a point where she had to choose between life and death, and choosing life meant also choosing God. He guided her through years of struggle, rooted her in His Church and led her to study Theology in order to know Him better. During her Theology Studies she discovered a deep passion for the Biblical Hebrew language and the Old Testament Narratives. Translating and studying the Old Testament in Hebrew became her way of learning more about God, His plan and His will. Through this intensive study of the Word grew also the wish to share her journey of discovering the strange, uplifting, encouraging, puzzling and life-changing texts of the Bible. That’s how their Vlog, The Treasure Hunt, came into existence. Currently she is working as a pastor in Bavaria, South Germany.

Rick Chromey

Rick Chromey

DR. RICK CHROMEY is the founder and president of MANNA! Educational Services International, a non-profit faith-based organization that creatively inspires and equips leaders, teachers, pastors and parents. Rick is the author of over a dozen books, including Thriving Youth Ministry in Small Churches, Sermons Reimagined and the forthcoming GenTech: An American Story of Technology, Change and Who We Really Are.  He's been a pastor and professor of church ministry for nearly four decades, and enjoys connecting people, collecting experiences and building the Kingdom of God. www.mannasolutions.org

Karen Holford

Karen Holford

Karen Holford is the Family Ministries Director for the Trans European Division.

Karen’s first qualification was in occupational therapy, and she worked in brain injury rehabilitation. Karen gained an MA in Educational and Developmental Psychology whilst Bernie was studying for his MDiv at Andrews University. When she stayed at home to look after their young children she began to write books and articles about Christian family living. She has written books for Pacific Press and Autumn House about creative prayer, family worship, Bible verse memorization, Sabbath activities, parenting and marriage.

She also studied Family Therapy and graduated with an MSc in Systemic Psychotherapy (family therapy) in 2005. Karen worked as a family therapist for four different non-profit organisations in Scotland, and also as a freelance writer, trainer and publicist, before being invited to work for the TED.

Karen and Bernie have three adult children, Bethany, Nathan and Joel, and three grandchildren, Zara, Leo and Max.

Karen has been passionate about inspiring and supporting families for more than three decades, and she is excited about nurturing families by providing resources, training and inspiration.

Francesca Mencaroni

Francesca Mencaroni

Francesca Mencaroni is a cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist. She works at her private practice in Rome and Viterbo, Italy.

She is an Online Trainer at Erickson Study Center in Trento, Italy. She deals with training courses for teachers and parents about the Developmental Psychology and everything that concerns the Emotional Education. She uses to work for European Projects (Eumoschool) about dropout prevention. The main work topics are wellness promotion and general anxiety prevention for children and teenagers, with a particular attention to aggressive behaviour and pathological addiction. She leads the parents of a pressure therapy Support Groups for Pathological Dependencies Service in Civita Castellana (Viterbo).

She worked as an expert tutor at Training School, Psychotherapy Specializing in Cognitive and Behavior Therapy (CBT) in Rome (Scientific Direction: Paolo Meazzini).

Sonja Kalmbach

Sonja Kalmbach

Sonja grew up in Freudenstadt, Germany, and studied at the University of Tübingen. She has lived in Sweden since 2001, where she has worked as a teacher and editor and now as a pastor. She studied Theology at Newbold College in England. In addition to her pastoral duties Sonja is also Women’s Ministries Director and member of the media board for the Swedish Union Conference. She has a burning desire to share the Kingdom of God in a language that is understood today. Sonja loves the outdoors and everything creative. If she had to pick two activities it would be knitting and kayaking.

Linda Mei Lin Koh

Linda Mei Lin Koh

A native of Singapore, Dr. Linda Mei Lin Koh is currently serving as the Director of Children’s Ministries at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. She has twenty-four years of teaching experience both in Singapore and in the United States. Prior to her appointment to the General Conference, Linda has served for nine years as Director of Children’s, Family, and Women’s Ministries at the Southern Asia-Pacific Division based in the Philippines.

Dr. Koh obtained her Ed. D degree in Educational Psychology and Counseling from Andrews University. She enjoys writing and has co-authored two books and has also contributed many articles for the Adventist Review, Adventist World, Elder’s Digest, Vibrant Life, Kids Ministry Ideas, and other church publications. She loves children and is a strong advocate for children, often seeking to bring awareness of the need to put children first in our church so as to nurture and disciple them for Christ.

She is married with two adult sons and six grandchildren.

Gabor Mihalec

Gabor Mihalec

Gabor Mihalec is a pastor and couple therapist in Hungary. Working with couples he won deep insights into the dynamics of marriage in different life stages. He is convinced, that by knowing the unconscious patterns that control the relationship, one can get the power over the trajectory of the relationship. His goal is to grant this power to the couples. He holds a PhD in pastoral psychology. Together with his wife Dora they have two children (Viktor and Bogi).

Sophia Nicholls

Sophia Nicholls

Sophia Nicholls has been involved in the Disability field for over 25 years as a parent of a young man with severe learning disabilities, as a University lecturer and as a Disability Awareness Trainer in faith based and non faith based organisations.

Sophia is a qualified health care profession with a degree in Podiatric Medicine. She also has MSc in Physiology and an MA in Education and Inclusion. Her work as senior lecturer at the University of Reading, Brighton and then as Eternal lecturer has equipped her for her role as an educator in the church and community. She is a co- Founder of the registered user- led charity Adventist Special Needs Association (ASNA).

Sophia is the South England Conference Disability and Diversity Director of the SDA church.

Belinda É. Samari

Belinda É. Samari

Belinda É. Samari is a psychologist who specialises in creative modes of expression. She commonly lectures and holds workshops on psychology, creativity, philosophy and biblical studies. She is fascinated by the human being, both practically in terms of what makes us tick, and theoretically, how our deeper parts affect various aspects of our lives.

Andreas Bochmann

Andreas Bochmann

Professor for Counseling and Pastoral Care at Friedensau Adventist University, Counselor (ACC) and Supervisor (DGSv). He served as pastor in Berlin, as chaplain at Waldfriede SDA Hospital, as pastoral counselor for the Adventist Welfare organization in Germany and as senior lecturer at Newbold College. His special interest is marital and premarital counseling (utilizing PREPARE/ENRICH for more than 33 years). After the death of his first wife, Carol, with whom he had three children and four grandchildren, he is now married to Claudia. They work together on a project “Prayer Oasis” in Wüstenjerichow Wüstenjerichow (a play on words in German – as Wüste means desert).

Claudia Sokolis-Bochmann

Claudia Sokolis-Bochmann

Ordained Pastor of the Baptist Church in Germany, Music- and Movement Educator with additional qualification in Poetrytherapy – Creative Writing. She has served in a street ministry for children in Hamburg as part of her calling as religious sister, studied theology in Wiedenest and Elstal and has pastored in Templin, Hamburg and currently Schönebeck, near Magdeburg. Her interests are in spiritual exercises, such as listening prayer and wholistic praise. Together with her husband Andreas she is working on a project “Prayer Oasis” in Wüstenjerichow (a play on words in German – as Wüste means desert).

Chidi Ngwaba

Chidi Ngwaba

Director, Health Ministries Department, South England Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Trained in Surgery, General Practice & Lifestyle Medicine in the UK and USA, Dr Chidi works to Reverse, improve or prevent many chronic illnesses including Heart disease, Cancer, Arthritis & Diabetes, with his programme “Life Colours”. He is the Health Ministries Director for the South England Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists. Has over 25yrs experience of National & International Health & Motivational Talks. Regularly features on British TV as a Health & Wellness expert. Dr Chidi's Passion & Pleasure is to reveal God's compassion to the world in a modern, relevant way through The Lord's Health message. In his free time, he runs 5km 5 x per week and likes to keep fit.

Bojan Godina

Bojan Godina

Dr. phil. Bojan Godina, Study of Theology, General Psychotherapy, Clinical Psychology, Behavioral Sciences (M.A.). Doctorate in Educational Science and Media Psychology. Dr. Godina developed the multi-award winning school project "Medienscout" in Germany, where students are trained to promote their classmates in the field of media literacy. He works as a lecturer in psychology, media education, ethics and practical theology in the seminar Schloss Bogenhofen (Austria) and other universities and institutes in Germany.

Josef Slowík

Josef Slowík

Josef Slowík, Ph.D. is an expert on special education, currently working as an assistant professor at University of West Bohemia in Pilsen (Faculty of Education). Both his research and practice is focused on education, personal development, and most of all social integration and inclusion of people with special needs. He also serves as a counsellor and supervisor in social services. Josef authored several books - e.g. Special Education (Prague, Grada, 2007 & 2016), Communication with People with Special Needs (Prague, Portal, 2010), or A Person with Special Needs in a Christian Community (Prague, Advent-Orion, 2015 & English version in 2019). He is an active Christian - an elder of SDA church in Cheb (West Bohemia), and a coordinator of Special Needs Ministries in Czech and Slovak union. He has raised two daughters with his wife.

Annika Looser Grönroos

Annika Looser Grönroos

Annika is a counsellor and theologian, however, her most significant training she experiences in her daily walk with the Lord, and in here role as a wife and mother. This is where the theoretical foundation meets reality, and thus gains depth and is filled with life. Annika is open-minded and communicative, but also a person who enjoys the quiet moments that are characterized by recreation and reflection. She is excited about simple decisions we make on a daily basis, about habits and attitudes because these allow us to shape and design our life in a sustainable way.

João Martins

João Martins

Born in Lisbon, Portugal, João Martins is presently the Executive Director of ADRA Europe, after having served ADRA in Angola and Portugal. With a management background and a Masters in Applied Development Studies his motivation is to serve the Lord showing His love for Humanity. João is passionate about seeing the Adventist Church as an agent of relief and justice to the disadvantaged individuals of this broken planet. He is married and father of a 12 years old boy.

Noemí Durán

Noemí Durán

Noemí Durán is the director of the European branch office of the Geoscience Research Institute. She is passionate about Creation, both about the belief of a biblical, literal, recent 6-day creation, and about our responsibility toward the Earth and the fellow creatures that share the planet with us. After obtaining her degree in Biology, specialty of Zoology, in the University of Valencia in Spain, Noemí studied her PhD in Marine Biology in Loma Linda University, California, working on sea turtle ecology and conservation. Her educational background includes as well a graduate diploma in Social-Environmental Education, specialization courses on behavior and conservation of marine mammals and primates, and a Seminar on Intelligent Design in the Natural Sciences by the Discovery Institute in Seattle. Noemí loves animals and strongly advocates the need of reconnecting with nature, of spending time outdoors observing and studying the natural world to learn more about God and ourselves. During her five years of PhD field research, she studied sea turtles in a remote nesting beach in South Honduras. She has also done animal behavior research and educational work in zoos, and has extensive experience in designing and developing outdoor activities for children, teenagers and young people. In her current position for GRI, Noemí travels across Europe lecturing and teaching about Faith and Science in Adventist churches, schools and universities. She creates educational materials to promote creation and care for nature, and contributes to several nature and church magazines. She also continues her research on sea turtle conservation in Honduras, now focused on training and empowering local communities to become actively involved in conservation projects.

Svetlana Shchelkunov

Svetlana Shchelkunov

My name is Svetlana Shchelkunov. I live in Israel. I’ve been working as a director of the Children Ministries Department since 2007. I am married and I have two daughters and two grandchildren. I am entirely convinced that I was destined for teaching. I have had the inclination for it since my childhood. I remember my sister and I enjoyed immensely playing school. When I acquired a qualification in musical college, I got a job as a music teacher. But a more interesting part of my life began when I became a mother. I was interested in the methods of child early development. I found out that method by Maria Montessori is the best for the age of nurture. I got an education as a Montessori-teacher because I wanted to bring up my children according to this method. In 2001 a new interesting and important chapter in my family life started. We moved to Israel. My sister is a teacher too and we made a decision to open our own Montessori kindergarten. I was elected as the director of CM department in 2007. During these years, we have created a strong and creative team. And I thank our Lord for His help. These years were pretty fruitful. Seminars, workshops for children teachers, various activities, camps for our children, charitable exhibitions, seminars for parents. We have established several important and interesting traditions in the Israeli Field. I like my ministry. My experience as a Montessori - teacher helps me a lot in it. I like teaching and I adore studying. I am convinced that the real teacher does not cease to acquire new knowledge. I am keen on reading. My favorite authors are Lion Fehtvanger and Stefan Zveig. I like spending time with my family, I like nature and I love my God, He gives me a plenty of blessings every day.

Zenobia Niculiță

Zenobia Niculiță

Dr. Niculiță is a psychologist, psychotherapist and public speaker who specialises in family therapy and education. She has been teaching psychology courses for over 13 years as a lecturer at Adventus University, Romania. She holds a PhD in Sociology from the West University of Timișoara, Romania and is currently studying for a PhD in Psychology at the Romanian Academy, with a research focus on Couples' Psychology. For the past seven years, she has been co-hosting and hosting tv shows focusing on topics related to parenting and family relations. Her writing experience includes scientific papers, psychology books and storybooks for children, as well as numerous articles in online and off-line journals and cultural magazines. As a wife and mother of two boys, dr. Niculiță has taken her passion for relationships education to the next level and has spent the past five years teaching countless parenting and couples courses and seminars in churches, schools and universities both national and abroad.

Norbert Zens

Norbert Zens

Norbert Zens became an Adventist while he was studying business administration and auditing at the University of Passau, Germany. After being called to serve as business manager for Bogenhofen Seminary in Austria, he has been working for 6 years as staff auditor and regional manager for GCAS. Since 2010 he is the treasurer for the Inter-European Division of the SDA Church in Bern, Switzerland. He enjoys studying the Bible, running and spending qualitative time with his wife Christine.

Carlos Martínez

Carlos Martínez

Carlos Martínez was destined for the language of gesture and complicity. And for almost 40 years he has refined his craft in order to communicate freely around the world performing in theatres, schools, churches, civic centres and television. With his art, he embraces the spectator in a sincere and open conversation. And with his exquisite technique, he creates contrasting characters in an atmosphere of subtlety and wonder. He combines Mediterranean spirit and humour with precise rhythm to open up a world of suggestion and provocation. His feature-length mime programs include award-winning shows such as "Hand Made" and "Books without Words" or concept shows such as "My Bible" and "Human Rights". Seminars and workshops are an important pillar of the actor’s work; from pure mime workshops for beginners to advanced courses for prospective actors. He has recorded four DVDs and, inspired in many hours alone in front of the mirror, the book “From the Dressing Room” (2011) with a prologue written by Adrian Plass. Carlos Martínez is equally at home with business events or internal workshops for top tier companies as on a theatre stage.

Liviu Olteanu

Liviu Olteanu

Pastor Liviu Olteanu grew up in Brasov Transylvania, Romania, where he got his Bachelor degrees in Theology and Laws. He worked as a pastor in Romania and Spain. From 2000 on he was the director of the Ethnic Communities and assistant of the President. Since November 2011 Dr. Olteanu serves as the director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty of the Inter-European Division and the Secretary-General of the International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty (AIDLR) from Switzerland. Liviu took his PhD of Law studying at Oxford and Madrid Universities. He has Master degrees in Education, Theology, Human Rights and International Relations, Diplomacy.

Liviu Olteanu is initiator of international conferences and summits on religious freedom organized together with the United Nations. He is accredited and acting as Permanent Representative at the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the OSCE.

Valerie Dufour

Valerie Dufour

Director, Health Ministries Department, Inter-European Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

Valérie is a former economist, an accredited dietician and holds a Master in Public Health from Andrews University, Michigan, USA.

Since many years, she has a special interest for the widespread problem of overweight & obesity in adulthood or childhood and enjoys helping patients to regain healthy body weights. This also led her to do some research on “Dietary patterns and growth in elementary school children” or on the use of the “Transtheoretical model in childhood overweight: leading parents and children to change”.

She enjoys helping children to a healthy lifestyle through the Children’s Health Expo that she created in 2007, or by being the speaker at Children’s Health Weeks for children aged 3-6 and 7-12.

Valérie is passionate to share the Adventist Health message, its depth of science, its adaptation for our time, the great need for it in today’s world and how it testifies of a loving and all-knowing God. Her favorite holidays are amidst natural environments including by, on and in warm seas and oceans.

Paolo Benini

Paolo Benini

Paolo Benini holds the position of the Personal Ministries and Sabbath School, Advent Mission Office at the General Conference Inter-European Division. 

For 31 years he worked in the Italian Union as pastor, department, field president and Union President. For 10 years he was a guest teacher in the biblical doctrines at the Villa Aurora University in Florence (Italy). He has also published many articles on specific theological issues and written books and created Bible studies for different levels. He has given many public seminars and evangelistic campaigns in different parts of the World.

During his ministry in Sicily he started the missionary work in Malta and organized health activities with the Maltese Government. Presently he is holding the position of vice-president of the AISO association (Italian Association for the studies on the Origins). He also has been the president of the AUDA Association (Adventist University Students of Italy) and was several years the president of the Life and Health Association of Italian Adventist Church.

He loves cycling in the open air and fixing old bicycles and whenever possible he goes mountain climbing, he makes his own special homemade “Ezekiel” bread.

He is married to Angela Lazzara and has two sons Samuele and Gianluca, and one daughter Annalisa. He is also the proud grandfather of precious Mila.