A new General Presidency of the Primary was sustained April 2 during the second general session of the Church’s 158th Annual General Conference.
The First Presidency has called Michaelene Packer Grassli to be president of the worldwide children’s organization of the Church. Called to assist her are Betty Jo Nelson Jepsen, first counselor, and Ruth Broadbent Wright, second counselor.
President Grassli has served for the past eight years as second counselor to Primary President Dwan J. Young, who was released, together with her first counselor, Virginia B. Cannon.
“I am grateful for the trust the Lord has placed in us,” said President Grassli in describing her reaction to the new calling. “Both in our families and in our Church, we need to concentrate on those in their younger years,” she said. “When you influence a child, you help that child find his or her place in eternity.”
President Grassli was called to the Primary General Board in 1975 and was sustained as second counselor in the Primary General Presidency on 5 April 1980.
She is a member of the National Cub Scout Committee of Boy Scouts of America and is the recipient of the Silver Beaver Award. She has supervised the preparation of material used to implement the Cub Scout program in the Church. In addition, she has had responsibility for teacher development and in-service and for all audiovisual materials produced by the Primary.
Prior to being called to the Primary General Board, President Grassli served in several Primary, Young Women, Sunday School, and Relief Society positions on both the ward and stake level. She attended Brigham Young University and has been active in community service and school affairs. She and her husband, Leonard M. Grassli, a landscape architect, live in the northern Utah community of Pleasant View. They are the parents of three children and have one grandchild.
President Grassli’s first counselor, Betty Jo Nelson Jepsen, holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Utah State University and has taught at elementary, high school, and university levels. At the time of her call, she was supervisor of student teaching at Utah State University.
“I had three great years of service on the general board, and that was an opportunity I never thought I’d have,” she said. “We knew that there was a change coming, and I just hoped I could continue serving on the general board. The Lord has blessed this work to go forward, and I’m very happy for this chance to play a part in it.”
A member of the Primary General Board since June 1985, Sister Jepsen has served as chairman of the In-service and Curriculum committees and as a member of the Scouting and Children’s Sacrament Meeting Presentation committees. Prior to her service on the general board, she served in several Primary and Relief Society callings.
She has been active in parent-teacher associations, the 4-H program, and Scouting. She and her husband, Glen F. Jepsen, a pilot and air reserve technician, are parents of four children. They live in Pleasant View, Utah.
Sister Grassli’s second counselor, Ruth Broadbent Wright, holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Utah and has taught school in Utah and California.
“I’m grateful to the Lord for giving me the opportunity to serve him,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for more rewarding work than helping to bring the gospel to children.”
She was called to the Primary General Board in 1985 and has served as chairman of the Scouting Committee and the Children’s Sacrament Meeting Presentation Committee. She has also been a member of the In-service and Curriculum committees.
Before serving on the general board, Sister Wright served in many Church positions, including ward and stake Primary president and ward and stake Young Women president.
In addition to her Church responsibilities, Sister Wright has been active in parent-teacher associations. Her husband, Gary E. Wright, is an assistant vice president of the Property Management Department of Key Bank. The Wrights live in Salt Lake City and are the parents of five children.