Tereza Byrne/ANN Staff
Ralph S. Watts Jr., president of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) for the past 16 years, has announced his intention to retire.
Acknowledging his gratitude for the support and commitment of ADRA’s leadership and staff worldwide, as well as its board chairs and directors, Watts says, “During this time-span, I believe God has richly blessed ADRA’s unique ministry to hundreds of millions of people.”
Under Watts’ leadership, ADRA has grown into an internationally known humanitarian agency, employing some 4,000 people, and operating in more than 120 countries. In 2000, ADRA provided humanitarian assistance to more than fifteen and a half million people in places such as Azerbaijan, Ghana, Vietnam, the United States, and Zambia.
Jan Paulsen, president of the Seventh-day Adventist world church, responded to Watts’ announcement, saying, “The dedication and commitment that you have brought to your leadership of ADRA has lifted the organization from virtual obscurity in the early 1980s to the place of international prominence and professional service that it occupies and offers today.”
A recommendation for a successor to Watts will be considered by the ADRA board at its September 24 meeting in Silver Spring, Maryland, according to Lowell C. Cooper, ADRA board chair. At that meeting, the transition of leadership will also be determined.
Watts is owed a “huge debt of graditude,” says Cooper. “ADRA has built a reputation for timely and practical service often under the most difficult circumstances.”
As the humanitarian arm of the Adventist Church, ADRA focuses on five key areas: food security, economic development, primary health, disaster response and preparedness, and basic education.
ADRA traces its beginnings to 1918, when the Adventist Church responded to the needs of those impacted by World War I. The Seventh-day Adventist Welfare Service (SAWS), the forerunner of ADRA, was officially established by the Adventist Church in 1973. Eleven years later, SAWS was reorganized under the current name, Adventist Development and Relief Agency, International.
More information is available at www.adra.org.