Acacia Mutual Life Insurance Co. has elected Duane B. Adams president and chief operating officer. Adams began his career in 1957 as an agent with Great Southern Life. He was senior vice president of Pan American Life before joining Acacia in 1975 as executive vice president for marketing.

Julian C. Nicholas has been named acting director of the District's Office of Business and Economic Development. He will serve in that position until a permanent director is named by the Mayor.

Robert A. Sykes has been appointed manager of employe development and utilization for Washington Gas Light Co.

Wendy L. Wachtel has been elected 1980 president of the Security Traders Association of Washington.

Dr. Robert M. Heyssel, executive vice president and director of The Johns Hopkins Hospital, has been elected to the boards of Union Trust Bancorp and its subsidiary, Union Trust Co. of Maryland.

The Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington, a service organization formed to meet the needs of cultural institutions and individual artists, has named the following people to its board of directors: Dr. Allison Bryant, executive vice president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce; George W.Hoyt, publisher of The Washington Star; Stuart E. Karu, president and chief executive officer of Henry J. Kaufman and Associates; and Jay H. Nussbaum, district manager for the Xerox Corp.

Lynn A. McIntosh has been named a regional manager in the stations relations department of the Mutual Broadcasting System.

Geoffrey Edwards has been named publisher of the Journal Newspapers.

Dr. Leonard nadler, professor of adult education and human resource development at George Washington University, has been named national vice president of the American Society for Training and Development.

Guy W. Mullen has been named assistant treasurer of the Mitre Corp.

Edward H. Covell, vice president and general manager of Country Pride Foods Ltd., Delmarva division, has been appointed to a three-year term as a director of the Baltimore branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

Jerry M. Hamovit has been elected to the board of directors of Washington-Lee Savings and Loan Association.