Vitro Corp., one of the Washington area's largest private employers, has appointed a new team to manage the Silver Spring-based defense contractor.

Gilbert F. Decker, recently named head of Penn Central Corp.'s federal systems division, which includes Vitro, will assume the additional responsibility of president and chief executive officer, with responsibility for long-range planning.

Decker succeeds Robert C. Gormley, who will retire after a 29-year career with Vitro, including seven years as its president. Gormley will continue to serve as a consultant to Vitro, helping to manage the firm along with Decker and Raymond F. Carlin Jr., Decker said.

A 25-year veteran of the company, Carlin will assume responsibility for its daily operations under the new title of senior executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Decker said that the company had become "large enough and complex enough" that it needed dual management roles -- one for the ordinary, day-to-day operations of the company, another for evaluating long-term strategy.

The management restructuring, he added, also signals a new commitment by Penn Central to infuse the subsidiary with new funds for business development and R&D.

Since the spring, Decker said in an interview, "the three of us spent quite a bit of time looking at long-range strategy of the federal systems division and Vitro, the crown jewel of the whole operation. . . . We convinced our bosses at Penn Central to get on a program to invest in R&D and business development."

Vitro is one of the area's largest private employers, with 4,000 employes at its Silver Spring headquarters, offices in Crystal City and a new office opening in Rockville.

As the "crown jewel" of Penn Central's $430 million-a-year federal systems division, Vitro performs a variety of engineering and systems design work for some of the Pentagon's major programs, including the fleet ballistic missile program, the Navy's surface-to-air guided missiles and the cruise missile system. COMMUNICATIONS

Gannett Co. Inc. has named Don W. Davidson president of the Rosslyn communication company's billboard advertising group, Gannett Outdoor. Formerly executive vice president of the division, Davidson succeeds Harry T. Goss, who will retire March 31 but will continue to work on projects through the end of the year.

The Times Journal Co. has promoted Ruth B. Chandler to editor of Air Force Times, following the retirement of Bruce D. Callander. Margaret Harwood, formerly news editor, will replace Chandler as managing editor of the weekly, one of three covering the Armed Forces for Times Journal.

Ketchum Advertising has named as its new Washington office general manager Ron Bott, formerly with Needham Harper/Worldwide in Chicago. Bott succeeds Tom Rich, who has been named Ketchum's chief operating officer in Pittsburgh. In addition, Sam Rand and Chuck Husak have been appointed senior vice presidents in Washington.

Rebecca Kirtland, former media relations manager for the National Geographic Society, has joined the public relations firm of Rogers & Cowan as vice president and senior publicist.

TRT Telecommunications Corp. has appointed Kim E. Degnan manager of financial planning and service development. Degnan, formerly executive assistant to the director general of Inteslat, will focus on expanding the company's international business.

Satellite Systems Engineering Inc. in Bethesda has named Reinhard Stamminger, formerly director of Comsat's systems engineering division, to executive vice president. Other appointments include: Charles E. Emmert, as vice president for engineering; Ruth Pritchard, as director of publications, and Jay Liebenow, as a member of the company's technical staff.

Burchette & Co. Inc. has appointed Mark H. Lakefish executive vice president of its advertising production subsidiary, Production Works Inc. Lakefish was formerly production manager at Morgan Burchette Associates Inc. FINANCIAL SERVICES

John Hanson Savings & Loan has announced the appointment of three top executives. William F. Gisriel, formerly managing officer of Key Federal Savings & Loan in the Baltimore area, has become senior vice president in charge of all mortgage and retail lending activities. William A. Sapp, also from Key Federal, has become vice president for residential mortgage loans. And Richard A. Clarke, previously with a Delaware thrift, has become vice president for loan servicing.

Directors of National Permanent Bank have elected John P. Harding and John C. Simpson to senior executive vice presidents. Formerly senior vice president at the Federal National Mortgage Association, Harding will assume the responsibilities of chief financial officer. Simpson, previously executive vice president and treasurer of American Federal Savings & Loan, will become chief operating officer.

National Bank of Washington is taking on three new vice presidents: Russell E. Bruce, vice president for metropolitan lending; Jonathan C. Gallo, vice president of commercial finance, and Nancy J. Kenyon, vice president of the Pennsylvania Avenue office. MANUFACTURING

Frank J. DiLeo, formerly president of Dynascan Corp., a Chicago consumer products manufacturer, has been tapped by Universal Security Instruments in Owings Mills as executive vice president and chairman of its Cable Call subsidiary, which produces a 24-hour, home-emergency monitoring system.

The George Hyman Construction Co. has promoted William Amy, supervisor for the company's work on the Central Intelligence Agency facility in McLean and Techworld in Washington, and Joseph H. Smith, supervisor for the 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. project, to senior project managers. In addition, Peter Chase, formerly assistant superintendent at Washington Harbour, has been promoted to superintendent. PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

Former Carter administration budget official Gary L. Fontana will join the new Washington office of Thelen, Marrin, Johnson & Bridges, one of San Francisco's oldest law firms. He was recently with Van Ness, Feldman, Sutcliff & Curtis.

Mechanical systems engineer William L. Allen has switched firms, from Benbassat & Sporidis, in Silver Spring, to GNM & Associates Inc., an international engineering consulting firm also in Silver Spring, where he will be vice president.

ORI Group Inc., an employe-owned high-tech services firm and government contractor, last week said Howard Eisner will head Intercon Systems Corp., its computer systems and software subsidiary in California. Eisner had been executive vice president of ORI Inc., a Rockville subsidiary. UTILITIES

Virginia Power has announced three changes: Everard Munsey has been promoted to vice president for public policy, a new position. Tyndall L. Baucom, currently vice president for fossil and hydro operations, has been named vice president for procurement, succeeding William N. Thomas, who is retiring. William R. Cartwright, a maintenance and performance manager, has been named to succeed Baucom. RETAIL, WHOLESALE TRADE

Directors of Milton S. Kronheim & Co. Inc., the 82-year-old wine and liquor distributor, have elected Irving Falk as president and Samuel Ntiros executive vice president.