BRUSSELS (CNS) — U.S. communications expert Helen Osman has begun a four-year term as the new president of Signis, the World Catholic Association for Communication, based in Brussels.

An internationally recognized journalist, writer and communications professional, Osman is the first woman and first North American to be president of Signis.

She was elected in June to succeed Gustavo Andujar of Cuba, who was elected at the 2014 Signis World Congress in Rome. He did not run for re-election.


In a July news release, Signis said that as president, Osman will focus on strengthening the association so members “can communicate their inspiration and ideas more effectively and put into practice the mission of Signis ‘to transform our cultures in the light of the Gospel.'”

Osman has held different responsibilities in the field of Catholic communications in the United States for over 30 years.

After serving as editor and communications director in her home Diocese of Austin, Texas, for more than 20 years, she was tapped to be the chief communications officer of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, serving in the post from 2007 to 2015. She was responsible for organizing media preparations for the visits of Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 and of Pope Francis in 2015.

Osman also served on the communications team for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople during the pan-Orthodox Council of 2016.

Among other positions and responsibilities, Osman has been secretary and president of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, the only person in the history of the Catholic Academy of Communication Arts Professionals to receive its Clarion Award more than once, and a recipient of the CPA’s lifetime achievement honor, the St. Francis de Sales Award.

Osman currently lives in Austin, where she is a communications consultant for the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops and other clients.

She and other Signis officers were elected by delegates to the association’s World Congress in Quebec City June 19-21. Forty-four delegates from five continents took part in the election.

Delegates also elected two vice presidents, Lawrence John Sinniah of Malaysia (for a second term) and Father Paul Samasumo of Zambia; a secretary-general, Ricardo Yanez of Argentina; and a general treasurer, Emmanuel Bonnet of France.

Father Samasumo, head of Vatican Radio’s English Africa section, becomes the first African to hold one of the top three positions on the Signis board.

Also serving on the board is Father Luis Garcia Orso of Mexico, who was appointed in August 2015 by what is now the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.