By Susan Keaton, Special Contributor…
Dawn Wiggins Hare, an Alabama circuit court judge who was honored this year for leadership in her Alabama-West Florida Annual (regional) Conference, has been named the top executive of the UMC’s Commission on the Status and Role of Women.
The commission’s board elected Hare, of Monroeville, Ala., to the position effective Jan. 15. The commission, one of 13 general agencies of the United Methodist Church, advocates for full and equal participation of women in the total life of the church and promotes stronger policies to address ministerial sexual misconduct and sexual ethics.
“Dawn is an authentic leader with a passion for making a difference in the church and world,” said Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett, the commission’s board president. “Her ability to relate to persons from a variety of backgrounds and walks of life will serve her and the church well in her role as general secretary.”
Hare will succeed Garlinda Burton, who has led the agency since 2003, and had announced plans to retire at the end of the year.
Judge Hare, the first woman elected judge in the 35th Judicial Circuit in Monroeville, has been a member of the First United Methodist Church in Monroeville since 1988. She was a delegate to The United Methodist Church’s General Conference, its chief lawmaking body, in 2008 and 2012.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the church in a mission that has been part of my personal ministry and work, both in the church and in the private sector,” Judge Hare said. “I am humbled to have been selected by the board to the position of general secretary and look forward to beginning the work of the commission in January.”
Judge Hare served as a delegate to the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference session the last 12 years and was a member of the conference’s local Commission on the Status and Role of Women. In 2012, she was honored with that group’s Alice Lee Award for her service to the church and for her work breaking down barriers for women.
She chaired the task force that developed the conference’s policy on clergy sexual misconduct and served as a trainer of that policy in the conference.
Judge Hare has served on the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits since 2008, working on the appeals committee and serving as recording secretary.
At her local church, she has taught Sunday school, sung alto in the Chancel Choir and served as lay leader and chair of the staff-parish relations committee.
Judge Hare earned bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Alabama. She was the first woman named partner in the Pensacola, Fla., law firm of Levin, Papantonio and worked as an assistant district attorney in Monroe and Conecuh counties in Alabama. More recently, she was a partner in the private law firm of Hare and Hare in Monroeville.
Ms. Keaton is the director of communications at the Commission on the Status and Role of Women.