Communicators in Portland

Texas Conference and Southwestern Union Receive Awards

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Portland, Ore. » Although a cool fall rain streamed outside for most of the event, spirits were bright, minds were eager, and conversations were lively at the 2017 Society of Adventist Communicators (SAC) convention held in the Portland, Oregon, area on Oct. 19-21. 

A blend of more than 250 professionals and students attended communication workshops, expert panel discussions, area media tours, and special worship services—all geared toward “Building Bridges” of communication with other Adventists and within the community.

One highlight from the event included a panel discussion on crisis communication. The dialogue centered around the convention theme, “Building Bridges,” and addressed how several Adventist communicators have handled crises that have impacted our organizations—schools, conferences, hospitals, and local churches. The discussion provided practical tips on how to navigate the unthinkable. Case studies included how communicators dealt with institutional closings, media inquiries, and tragedy.

“When a crisis occurs, administrators should be able to look to the communicators on their team to help the organization address the situation,” said panelist Celeste Ryan Blyden, Vice President for Strategic Communication and Public Relations for the Columbia Union Conference. 

Blyden, who is also the author of Crisis Boot Camp, emphasized the importance of knowing how to respond, what questions to ask, and what steps to take. “Our goal is to help our organizations respond empathically and effectively.”

During the Sabbath morning worship service 919 new pairs of socks were collected for Portland’s homeless as attendees filled red shopping bags and 12 baskets with their donations. In this drive coordinated by Adventist Health, the donated socks were handed off to a representative in attendance from Portland Rescue Mission.

“So often church groups arrive in a city for a convention—we gain knowledge and insight and then we leave without impacting the local community in a positive way,” said Dan Weber, Director of Communication for the North American Division and Executive Director of SAC. “We are so glad for the opportunity to partner with a local organization that is providing for the underserved population of Portland.”

The three-day event culminated with an awards banquet where almost 90 certificates were distributed to both professionals and students for communication projects in several disciplines.

Jessica Lozano, Southwestern Union Communication Director and the Record Editor, received an honorable mention short form feature award for her article, “God’s Fingerprints.” The article discussed finding God in nature and appeared in the April 2017 issue of the Record. The Texas Conference received an honorable mention for magazine design award for the conference publication, FLAME magazine. 

The 2017 Young Professional of the Year award went to Jason Busch, Texas Conference Communication Director. The 29-year-old was recognized for his contribution to the FLAME magazine, as well as his impact in Texas with social media, online marketing, crisis communication, and media relations. 

“Jason has demonstrated a strong work ethic, a passion for innovation, and a proven commitment to excellence in communication. He has a reputation as someone who is reliable, quick thinking, respectful, honest, and a true leader who loves Jesus,” said his nominators. 

Next year’s convention will be held on Oct. 18-20 at the new NAD headquarters in Columbia, Maryland. More information is available online at

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