The Team

Following after the model left by Jesus, the General Conference Youth Ministries Department has adopted a servant-leadership model. Our team is responsible for seeing the vision and direction of the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist® Church implemented. Each person is responsible for their area of ministry to plan, implement, and execute the overall vision and focus of the Youth Ministries Department of the Seventh-day Adventist® Church.


DR. Pako Edson Mokgwane | Associate Youth Director

Dr. Pako Edson Mokgwane is the firstborn child of the late Thulaganyo Mokgwane and Masego Mokgwane. He is married to Ayakha Babalwa Dywili, and together they have two sons, Akim Thulaganyo Mokgwane and Pello Tshwaro Mokgwane. Pako is a pastor’s kid. He is inspired by the lyrics of the hymn “We Speak of the Realms” as it awakens the reality of the Maranatha motif—Jesus is coming again!

Pako draws strength from 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” His leadership philosophy is founded on sociability; the more leaders connect with people, the more they wield their influence and relevance, yielding an authentic opportunity for discipleship.

He is passionate about Youth Evangelism through the various forms of media. Media and physical opportunities prompt each young person do their part to expedite the coming of the Lord, contributing to TOTAL MEMBER INVOLVEMENT and more intentionally TOTAL YOUTH INVOLVEMENT. Pako is very sociable and outgoing.

Dr. Pako Mokgwane is a product of Adventist Education, from primary school to graduate school. He obtained a Bachelor of Theology from Andrews University (MI, USA), a Master of Theology, a PhD in Leadership from the Adventist University of Africa, Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to joining the Youth Ministries team of the General Conference, he served as the Youth, Stewardship, and Communications Director for the Botswana Union Conference, and as a frontline pastor in both North Botswana and South Botswana conferences. Dr. Mokgwane is an endorsed chaplain (SID) and an ordained minister.


Dr. Andrés J. Peralta | Associate Youth Director

Chaplain Peralta is a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He graduated in 2003 from Antillean University with a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Theology. He graduated from Andrews University Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity in 2006. He concluded Doctor of Ministry in 2009 in Urban Ministry and Teamwork. He completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) with Emeritus Hospital, Hagerstown, Maryland. As a volunteer Chaplain, he offered spiritual guidance and pastoral care to patients and their families at Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. He has also been trained in Police chaplaincy and endorsed as University Chaplaincy by North American Division. He is National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) and Victim Relations Certified.

For the past 4 years as a Lieutenant Chaplain, he has been an active member of the NOSC Baltimore Funeral Honor Detail team and has participated in 80 funerals across the Baltimore area. He is a reserve Chaplain at the Second Navy Expeditionary Logistics Regiment in Williamsburg, VA. There he provides religious ministry and support by facilitating the religious requirements of those from all faiths during drill weekends, cares for all service members and their families including those subscribing to no specific faith in the base, and advises the command in ensuring the free exercise of religion for two battalions. Over the past 19 years, Chaplain Peralta has served as University Campus Ministries Director, Volunteer Hospital Chaplain, local Church Pastor (Puerto Rico, Michigan, New York, Massachusetts & Maryland), Conference Youth Director, and Union Youth Director. Currently, he serves as the World Pathfinder Director for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and oversees Youth Leaders in 217 countries. In this role, he provides support and resources to 13 Divisions under the General Conference Adventist Youth Ministries umbrella. Chaplain Peralta effectively leads a team of youth directors from all continents to plan and execute multiple worldwide events meeting the spiritual, social & physical needs of approximately 10 million Adventurers, Pathfinders, Master Guides, Youth and young adults.

In 2017, he was awarded the North American Division and Canada “Youth Ministry Excellence” award. Chaplain Peralta is an ordained, dedicated, enthusiastic, and optimistic servant leader with a passion to empower chaplains to grow in Christ, practice servant leadership and ministry of presence. He is adept at training leaders, utilizing interpersonal and teamwork skills to create unity in vision and mission while maintaining a positive attitude and a spiritual focus. He is an international speaker and has spoken in over 100 countries training leaders. Chaplain Peralta co-authored “The Loving Father Bible Studies,” a small group study guide. Additionally, he has authored various published articles and his latest two books “Change the World” and “Jesus’ Dream Team”. He is the Editor of the “I Will Go” book and the Adventist Youth Leaders Magazine for the World Headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Springs, MD. Chaplain Peralta also functions as the Chief Editor of the Adventurer Curriculum 2021 which will be utilized by one million children in 186 countries. He is a social media influencer with over 100k followers and has a passion for Media and designs.

Chaplain Peralta is married to Martha and is father to Melany, 6, and Amy, 2. He enjoys reading, writing, traveling, sports, and spending quality time with his family.


Maria A. Manderson | Editorial Assistant

From her start as a teenager in Kingston, Jamaica West Indies, to coming to Silver Spring, Maryland, Maria has seen every position the Lord has blessed her with as an opportunity to serve God through serving others. Maria lives with her family in Baltimore, Maryland. The mother of three young adults, she enjoys traveling and being with her sons Andrew, Jonathan, Nathaniel and his wife Kalandra. Her hobbies are cooking, driving and reading and her favorite ice cream is grapenut.

“Over the past years I have learned many lessons and truths, but one of the most important ones is this, that, ‘God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.’ (Romans 11:29, Message Bible). That is sometimes a very scary reality, but it is also humbling because it makes me realize that each of us have to walk in the calling that God has called us to, and His way is always the best.”


Kenia Reyes-De León | Senior Editorial Assistant

Kenia Reyes-de León was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. She is of Guatemalan and Honduran descent and is the eldest of three sisters. She attended Lehman College and majored in English Literature. During her childhood, she was taught to always give her all when it came to serving the Lord and that He had great plans for her life. Since then she has dedicated her talents and centralized her passion to serving young people. In her ministry, she hopes to always demonstrate God’s love so that love for Him may be awakened in others. Kenia is motivated by the words found in Romans 12:11-12, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

She has been a Master Guide for 10 years and during her time at the Greater New York Conference she served as a Pathfinder and Adventurer Area Coordinator, Drilling and Marching Instructor, and Drilling and Marching Coordinator. At her local church, she served as Adventurer Director, Pathfinder Sub-Director, and A.Y. Sub-director.

 During her spare time, Kenia loves to read, take walks in nature, watch documentaries, and sing. Above all, she truly enjoys speaking life into others and motivating them to fulfill their God-given purpose. As a true Pathfinder, she seeks to always be a servant of God and a friend to man.

She is happily married to Pastor Wilson de León. They enjoy working together for the Lord and his church. They currently live in Silver Spring, Maryland.


Mwenya Mpundu | Administrative Assistant

Mwenya Mpundu is a young adult who is passionate about Jesus, serving others, and Young people. Mwenya was born in Zambia and moved to New York at the age of 8. Mwenya Studied Business Administration and Communication in her undergrad classes. She loves to read, is very competitive, a lover of all things nature, and is terribly afraid of heights. In her free time, she enjoys being surrounded by those she loves. 

At a young age she realized her love for ministry, she acquired her Master Guide and AY Leadership certification. She also served as a director for several ministries in her local church as well as being a coordinator in the Greater New York Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Mwenya assisted in the planning and executions of Congresses, Camporees, and other events for the conference and union. She helmed the digitalization of the department using smart technologies. 

In her own life, 1 Timothy 4:12 has served as her guiding verse of what she hopes to achieve through her ministry: “Don’t let anyone despise your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” Mwenya hopes to show everyone the true love of God and his unyielding Mercy through all she does. Her largest passion is introducing youth and young adults to the lover of her soul, Jesus Christ.


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Division Youth Directors

Thirteen division youth directors support the General Conference Youth Department.

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Our History

Twice in our past, brave writers have undertaken the task of putting the Youth Department history into print.

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