About us

Board of directors


The Rev. Jamie P. Washam

Board Position: President
First Baptist Church in America, Providence, R.I.
Region: American Baptist Churches of Rhode Island
Committee: Governance

The Rev. Jamie P. Washam pastors First Baptist Church in America, Providence, R.I., where she has served since fall 2015. The church remains committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ and Roger Williams’ founding vision of soul liberty. A native Texan, Washam graduated from University of Texas at Austin and Harvard Divinity School. She makes her home with her husband and son in Rhode Island. As an agent of God’s love, she considers it an honor to get paid to do what she would do in her free time anyway.


The Rev. Dr. Lacey S. Alford

Board Position: Vice President
Church: Wheat Street Baptist Church, Atlanta
Region: American Baptist Churches of the South
Committee: Governance

The Rev. Dr. Lacey S. Alford is immediate past president of American Baptist Churches of the South. She served on the General Board and the Board of International Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA. She is associate minister of Wheat Street Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, where she formerly served as minister of Christian Education. She holds a doctorate degree in counseling, a specialist degree in administration and a Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in Christian Education. As a child, her passion for home mission was ignited by her family, church and community.


The Rev. Dr. Leon E. Runner

Board Position: Corporate Secretary
Church: Lowville (N.Y.) Baptist Church
Region: American Baptist Churches of New York State
Committees: Executive and Finance

The Rev. Dr. Leon E. Runner has pastored Baptist churches in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New York for more than 25 years, focusing on “ministry of reconciliation.” In his current pastorate, he seeks to establish collaborative partnerships with neighboring congregations and social agencies to address the needs of northern New York State’s impoverished rural communities. Additionally, he serves as administrative coordinator for the Nehemiah Leadership Network, which provides professional development for American Baptist pastors in the Northeast and Midwest. Runner earned a B.S. at Cairn University, Langhorne, Pa.; an M.Div. at Southeastern Baptist Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.; and a D.Min. at what is now known as Palmer Theological Seminary, Wynnewood, Pa.



The Rev. Yamina Apolinaris

Church: Primera Iglesia Bautista de Caguas
Region: American Baptist Churches of Puerto Rico
Committee: Information to come

For the past 13 years, the Rev. Yamina Apolinaris has served as executive director of Corporación Milagros del Amor (“Miracles of Love Corporation”), Caguas, Puerto Rico, serving and working along with homeless individuals, senior citizens and survivors of domestic violence. In addition to being a past regional executive of American Baptist Churches of Puerto Rico, she has served over the years in various leadership roles on many boards at the denomination’s national level. She is interim pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista de Caguas. “The mission of the American Baptist family has been my passion throughout my life,” she says. “I value what we model as a denomination and what we stand for. Much of what I am and what I have accomplished, I owe to my denomination.”


The Rev. Laura I. Ayala

Church: First Baptist Church of Rio Piedras
Region: Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico
Committee: To come

Pastor of First Baptist Church of Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, the Rev. Laura I. Ayala excels in such areas as preaching, teaching, strategic planning and leadership development. Describing herself as a “communicator,” “motivator” and “bridge builder,” she has served on a number of committees and boards, including American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ Caring Ministries Task Force and American Baptist Women in Ministry’s advisory board. She is currently part of the executive committee of the Community Health Care center in her home town. After completing her first master’s degree, she returned from the United States to Puerto Rico to found the community service organization Corporación Milagros del Amor. She says: “Joining a team of highly committed American Baptists to further God’s mission within the United States and Puerto Rico is what is most meaningful to me about serving on ABHMS’ board.”


The Rev. Dr. Mia Chang

Church: NextGen Church, West Windsor, N.J.
Region: American Baptist Churches of New Jersey
Committee: Information to come

The Rev. Dr. Mia Chang is founder and senior pastor of NextGen Church, West Windsor, N.J. In addition, she is establishing the faith-based organization Capital City Community to serve students in Trenton, N.J., public schools, and she is president of Africa River of Life, a nonprofit organization that educates children in Kenya and Nigeria. She earned a B.A. in Early Childhood Education at Pace University and an M.Div. at Alliance Theological Seminary, both New York City, as well as a D.Min. at what is now known as Palmer Theological Seminary, Wynnewood, Pa. “I consider it an honor to be part of God’s mission,” she says. “I hope to continue planting new ministries both locally and globally.”


The Rev. Dr. Corey S. Fields

Church: Calvary Baptist Church, Newark, Del.
Region: American Baptist churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware
Committee: Information to come

The Rev. Dr. Corey S. Fields is senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, Newark, Del. Known in the community for ministry to the poor and to refugees, Calvary was among the churches instrumental in founding the city’s day center for the poor. He hopes to expand Calvary’s solid tradition of mission by exploring ways to connect it with his research and experience in community development, cross-sector partnerships and justice. “I am passionate about making a real difference in people’s lives,” he says, “and putting the love of Christ into action.” Fields earned a D.Min. from Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Shawnee, Kan.; an M.Div. from Baptist Theological Seminary, Richmond, Va.; and a B.A. from James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.


Denise Gibson-Bailey

Church: Metropolitan Baptist Church, Largo, Md.
Region: D.C. Baptist Convention
Committee: Information to come

Denise Gibson-Bailey believes that one’s professional and Christian lives must stand together. Thus, her dedication to ministry is as strong as her business acumen. As president of Gibson-Bailey Associates, she provides management consulting and customized training to nonprofit organizations. As an adjunct professor of Business Communications at the University of the District of Columbia, she mentors undergraduate business students. Yet she continues to seek creative ways to serve God and to heal communities. “Through my church and other local organizations, I am actively involved in ministries that are designed to meet the human needs in my community,” she says. She earned a B.A. at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and an MBA at Emory University, Atlanta.


The Rev. Douglas Harris

Church: North Shore Baptist Church
Region: American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago
Committee: To come

Believing that his calling was ordained before birth, the Rev. Douglas Harris entered ordained ministry at age 17. He has served in a number of roles over the years, including as youth/young adult minister in several churches; church pastor in Detroit; pastor at North Shore Baptist Church, Chicago, which worships in four languages; and as interim executive minister for American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago. He most recently served as president of the Ministers Council of American Baptist Churches USA. “I have spent my entire ministry making certain that everyone feels welcomed and empowered in God’s family,” he says. “The witness of ABHMS through the years has been inspiring to me, especially in times when some wanted to close doors on people who were different.”


The Rev. Dr. Conley H. Hughes Jr.

Church: Concord Baptist Church of Boston, Milton, Mass.
Region: American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts
Committee: Finance

As senior pastor of Concord Baptist Church of Boston, Milton, Mass., Dr. Conley H. Hughes Jr. seeks to develop strategies and resources that can help people engage with each other in healthy ways and that can provide them with a sense of appreciation for their worth and life contributions. He is working with a group to plan a center to assist young adults in Barbados with vocational and life skills following detention. He earned a D.Min. at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, Mass.; a Th.D. (A.B.D.) at Boston University School of Theology; an M.Div. and M.S.T., both at Boston University; and a B.A. at Florida Memorial University, Miami. He says of ABHMS’ board: “I’m excited about continued work on a board with so much faith and results-oriented thinking, energy and creativity.”


The Rev. Trevor Hyde

Church: Berean Baptist Church
Region: American Baptist Churches of Metro New York
Committee: To come

The Rev. Trevor Hyde is pastor of the historic Berean Baptist Church, Brooklyn, N.Y., where Dr. Arlee Griffin Jr. is senior pastor. Hyde’s role is many-fold and includes supervising staff and servant-leaders; planning special worship and programs; overseeing the operational budget; managing IT services; and engaging the community. Additionally, he is liaison among the church and its subsidiaries, including Berean Credit Union, Berean Community & Family Life Center, Berean Gardens Senior Housing and Berean Housing Development Fund Corp. “Most meaningful to me about serving on the board of directors for ABHMS is the opportunity to partner with a Christ-centered organization that is striving to address the social ills of society with the Gospel of Christ as its lens and excellence as one of its main attributes.”


Quinton Roman Nose

Church: Watonga (Oklahoma) Indian Baptist Church
Region: American Baptist Churches of the Central Region
Committee: Information to come

Serving with respect for the sovereignty of each tribal nation, Quinton Roman Nose advocates for American Indian education policy at the federal, state, local and tribal government levels. He is president of Riverside Indian School, Anadarko, Okla., and serves on the Tribal Enrollment Committee and the Tribal Health Board for the Cheyenne Arapaho Tribes. In addition, he has served with the National Indian Education Association and on the board of Bacone College, Muskogee, Okla. A lay leader known for his bridge-building abilities, he has been moderator for the Oklahoma Indian American Baptist Church and currently serves on the American Baptist Indian Caucus.


The Rev. Sanetta Ponton

Church: First Baptist Church, Englewood, N.J.
Region: American Baptist Churches of New Jersey
Committee: Audit

The Rev. Sanetta Ponton is assistant pastor at First Baptist Church, Englewood, N.J., for which she assists in leading worship, preaches twice monthly, teaches weekly adult Bible study, advises the music ministry, counsels congregants and visits the sick. In addition, she is the full-time managing director of academic programs for a law-related college preparatory organization in New York City. Ponton earned a Juris Doctor degree at Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Mass., and a Master of Divinity degree at Duke Divinity School, Durham, N.C.


Dr. Barbara Ragland

Church: Third Baptist Church of Chicago
Region: American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago
Committee: Audit

Dr. Barbara Ragland serves as president of the Lydia Group Institute: Faith-based Strategies for Congregational Agility, Olympia Fields, Ill., which provides clergy, lay leaders and executives of faith-based organizations with leadership development and training aimed at operational efficiency and organizational agility. Clients have included congregations, seminaries and religious organizations from across the United States. No stranger to ministry with other boards of directors, Ragland finds that her strengths include organization development, change management and program development. Her experience includes mission with the Progressive National Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Convention and the Ghana Baptist Convention. She looks forward to serving with ABHMS’ board because, she says, she seeks “to be a partner in helping to strengthen organizations, congregations and communities throughout the Baptist expanse.”


The Rev. Kathryn Ray

Board Position: Special director from Board of General Ministries
Church: North Shore Baptist Church, Chicago
Region: American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago

As pastor of Discipleship at North Shore Baptist Church (NSBC), Chicago, the Rev. Kathryn Ray enjoys opportunities to minister in ways she never imagined. “NSBC is a multicultural community with four congregations that speak four different languages: English, Spanish, Japanese and Karen). Each congregation has its own pastor. I work across congregations to build intercongregational connections, facilitate educational programs and oversee online communications.” She earned an M.Div. and AM in Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and a B.A. in Religion at Oberlin (Ohio) College. Between undergraduate and graduate school, she worked in the Capuchin Franciscan Volunteer Corps for 2 1/2 years–at Hope House in Milwaukee, Ill., and at two Agnesian schools in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. She is fluent in English and Spanish.


The Rev. Dr. Gary V. Simpson

Church: Concord Baptist Church of Christ, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Region: American Baptist Churches of Metropolitan New York
Committee: Information to come

The Rev. Dr. Gary V. Simpson is lead pastor at Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Concord Baptist Church of Christ, which remains on the forefront of justice nearly two centuries after its founding. “I am excited,” Simpson says, “about building this community of believers and watching God move from a congregation in the center of Brooklyn to all parts of the world.” In addition, Simpson is an associate professor of Homiletics at Drew University Theological School, Madison, N.J. He holds a D.Min. from United Theological Seminary, Trotwood, Ohio; an M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary, New York City; and a B.A. from Dennison University, Granville, Ohio.


The Rev. Karen T. Yee

Churches: New Life Christian Fellowship, Castro Valley, Calif., and Iu-Mien Friendship Baptist Church, Richmond, Calif.
Region: American Baptist Churches of the Central Pacific Coast
Committee: Finance

Of her ministry as associate pastor at New Life Christian Fellowship, Castro Valley, Calif., the Rev. Karen T. Yee says that she enjoys serving a culturally and economically diverse congregation dedicated to living the gospel and making a difference. As English-speaking pastor at Iu-Mien Friendship Baptist Church, Richmond, Calif., Yee says, “I am excited about re-connecting this church and this ethnic group to the American Baptist family and to moving them toward becoming more involved with the community and social justice issues.” She earned a bachelor’s degree and multiple-subjects credential in graduate education at University of California, Berkeley, and an M.Div. at American Baptist Seminary of the West, Berkeley.