Find out more about the new Young Women general presidency

Called during April 2023 general conference, President Freeman, Sister Runia and Sister Spannaus will begin their service on Aug. 1

A new Young Women general presidency for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was sustained Saturday, April 1, as part of the April 2023 general conference.

The new presidency — along with five new General Authority Seventies and new counselors in the Young Men general presidency — were part of the sustaining of all Church leaders presented by President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, in the conference’s Saturday afternoon session

The current Young Women general presidency — President Bonnie H. Cordon; Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor; and Sister Rebecca L. Craven, second counselor — will continue to serve through July.

Following is a brief look at each member of the Young Women general presidency, who will take office on Aug. 1. A more in-depth profile on each woman will appear in coming weeks.

President Emily Belle Freeman

Young Women General President Emily Belle Freeman and her husband, Brother Greg Freeman, pose for photos at the Church Office building in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 3, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Many people may already be familiar with Emily Belle Freeman as a speaker, author, podcaster and teacher. But for those who don’t know her — and for those who do — President Freeman hopes the first thing they understand is that she has a deep and abiding belief in Jesus Christ.

“It is through personal experiences with Him that I have come to know Heavenly Father and I’ve come to experience revelation,” she said. “That has been the defining factor in my life — that lifelong companionship with Him.”

As she began her work as an author and podcaster, she asked herself what she wanted her focus to be — and the answer was to testify of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. 

She was born Dec. 31, 1969, in Boston, Massachusetts, while her father, McKinley McVichie Oswald, attended Harvard University. President Freeman said her mother, Leslie James Oswald, was one of a line of women “with a lot of energy and a lot of love.” 

Growing up in Sandy, Utah, as the oldest of six children, President Freeman’s life changed during her senior year of high school when her parents were called to lead the California Ventura Mission. The children took part in every mission, zone and stake conference with their parents. After high school graduation, President Freeman left California and entered Brigham Young University.

Gregory Garth Freeman happened to be serving as a missionary in that mission. When he returned home to Bountiful, Utah, his mission leaders asked him to go watch their daughter at one of her speaking engagements in Utah. They started dating soon after and were married Dec. 19, 1989, in the Los Angeles California Temple. They have five children.

President Freeman has written more than a dozen books and spoken at a variety of conferences, workshops and gatherings. She taught for many years in the Church Educational System and has served as a gospel doctrine teacher and Young Women and Relief Society president in her ward.

While her new role as general Young Women president may require her to step back or put on hold some of her current public projects — as it has for others who have accepted similar callings — President Freeman plans to continue with all her professional commitments through Aug. 1. 

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Sister Tamara W. Runia

Sister Tamara W. Runia, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, and her husband, Brother Scott Runia, pose for photos at the Church Office building in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 3, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Throughout her life, Sister Tamara W. Runia has held a variety of callings — stake scripture class instructor, stake Relief Society presidency counselor,  Australia Sydney Mission leader — but most of her service has been spent with the young women.

“I’ve loved every calling that I’ve served in … but I have to say I feel at home with the young women,” she said.

Sister Runia said she’s been to Young Women camp more than 20 times. One year, she was even asked to attend as the “camp cheerleader.”

She wants all the young women to know how much their Heavenly Father loves them.

That love is “wide as the sky, deep as the ocean,” she said, noting that He “wants them all back home.”

Feeling that connection will be life changing, she added, “because it has been for me.”

Sister Runia was born March 2, 1961, in Concord, California, to Vincent Alma Wood and Gail Hilton Wood. She grew up in Walnut Creek, California.

She was a freshman at Brigham Young University studying broadcast journalism when she met her husband, R. Scott Runia. They married on May 23, 1981, in the Oakland California Temple and have seven children. They now live in Provo, Utah.

She was sustained April 1 as first counselor in the Young Women general presidency and will begin her service on Aug. 1.

In addition to her other callings, Sister Runia has served as a stake Young Women president. She also spent 20 years on the board of the Food & Care Coalition in Provo.

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Sister Andrea Muñoz Spannaus

Sister Andrea Muñoz Spannaus, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, and her husband, Brother Alin Spannaus, pose for photos at the Church Office building in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 3, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Andrea Veronica Muñoz was 9 years old when Latter-day Saint missionaries began teaching her family about the restored gospel.

Living in Argentina, she and her older sister attended a Catholic school. They had never been exposed to other religious teachings. 

Soon after the missionaries finished their lesson and left, her mother explained that there was more than just one religion. 

“I remember exactly the moment. We were in the kitchen. We were standing,” she said. 

She asked her mother what church she thought represents God. Her mother replied, “I think it is this one” — the Church the missionaries were teaching them about, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

All her life, Andrea had always “wanted to please God,” she said. She worried about embracing a new faith.  

The feeling lasted only a few minutes, however. It was replaced by a desire to move ahead.

The family was baptized, “and we started a new life,” she said. “It was really wonderful the way that our family life changed all of us.”

Andrea Veronica Muñoz Spannaus was born on May 18, 1968, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Carlos Alberto Muñoz and Elida Menicucci, and grew up in Beccar, Argentina. She married Alin Spannaus in the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple on Oct. 22, 1992. They are the parents of two daughters and live in North Salt Lake.

Sister Spannaus earned a degree in early childhood education and studied art and interior design. She is currently serving on the Relief Society general advisory council. Previously, she served on the South America South Area FSY Conference Committee, on the FSY Utah Latino Conference Committee and with her husband as a leader of the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission. She also served as a ward Relief Society, Young Women and Primary president, early morning seminary teacher, YSA Spanish-speaking ward adviser, and a missionary in the Argentina Resistencia Mission.

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