Monthly Archives: October 2014

Finalized 10/25/14

Applications and Suggestions

On November 1, 2014, we will begin accepting applications from people who wish to be considered for our nomination. In addition, we will publicly solicit suggestions of people whom we should invite to submit applications. In collecting these suggestions, we will ask for names and contact information of the potential applicants. All people suggested to us will be sent information on the application process.

We encourage those who suggest names to talk directly with the people they would like to run. Members of the committee will also directly encourage people to apply; all applications will be treated equally once they are submitted.

Application (Due July 15th, 2015)

We will ask for basic information in a web-based form. In addition, applicants will be required to do the following:

Submit a resume, with a cover letter describing why you are applying and why you believe you are qualified for the position. Please include contact information for three references who know you from a variety of settings. Please also submit a sermon you have given (both written and audio/video if possible).

In addition, please answer the following questions (four pages maximum, total):

  • What do you see as the optimal relationship between Unitarian Universalist congregations/covenanted communities and our Association headquarters?
  • How would you be a prophetic, public voice of Unitarian Universalism?
  • What is your vision for achieving the Association’s Ends concerning transforming power, privilege and oppression?
  • Describe your personal spiritual practice and sources of resilience.

Guidelines for Applicants

Applicants will be asked to agree to the following guidelines:

The Presidential Search Committee believes that our charge and process were part of an effort to create a different kind of democratic process and election for President of the UUA, one that is less expensive, more transparent, and more accesible than those in the past. Therefore, the Committee discourages candidates from public electioneering of any kind before release of our nominations on February 1, 2016, notwithstanding the current provisions of Rule G9.13.7. Failure to observe this expectation will be detrimental to one’s application for nomination.

The Committee, per UUA By-Laws, is obligated to nominate at least two candidates for the 2017 UUA presidential election. Potential applicants should enter this process with the understanding that nominees will need to run a campaign for election.

The Committee will have opportunities for potential applicants to discuss with us their discernment regarding submitting an application, including at General Assembly 2015. Involvement in such opportunties will have no bearing (positively or negatively) on the consideration of one’s application. Once applications are submitted, Committee members will not discuss applications outside of the formal process.

Interview Questions

We will give our finalists these questions ahead of time, and conduct video chat interviews that are recorded for all of the committee to look at.

  • Why do you want to be the President of the UUA?
  • How would you deploy Association resources to best serve potential Unitarian Universalists and those who identify as UU but are not members of congregations or covenanted communities?
  • Describe a time in which you had to inspire people to overcome a difficult situation.
  • What would you say to a potential major donor to convince them to donate to the UUA?
  • How would the diversity of our movement be reflected in your priorities as President?
  • We’re looking at the many ways in which the UUA President needs to relate to power—from advocacy to fundraising to ceremonial and positional power. Given that, how do you claim power for yourself? How do you engage with people who themselves hold a great deal of power?
  • Describe a healthy organizational culture and something you’ve done to help create one.
  • Have you engaged in personal or professional behavior that is in significant opposition to contemporary Unitarian Universalist ethical standards? If so, what does the Search Committee need to know?
  • Understanding that the role of President makes you a public religious figure, is there anything in your past that you feel the Search Committee needs to know about?
  • Plus 1 or 2 others that will be individualized for the candidate

Timeline and Process for Making Our Decisions

  • Completed applications must be received by the committee on or before July 15, 2015. We will confirm receipt of applications when they are complete.
  • Before our August, 2015 conference call, PSC members will rank their top 5 and bottom 5 applicants based on the rubric to be developed.
  • At our August, 2015 conference call, we will decide which candidates to do initial reference checks on.
  • Initial reference checks should be completed by our September, 2015 conference call.
  • At our Fall 2015 meeting (October, 2015), we will choose people to interview. Interviews will be conducted by video chat that can be recorded so that all PSC members can watch all interviews. We will also do a deeper reference dive on interview finalists (contacting people not on their reference list).
  • Finalists will be asked to submit to a comprehensive background check.
  • January 2016: In-person meeting, possibly to include live interviews with several top finalists, in order to finalize nominations.
  • We will attempt to reach a consensus among committee members on nominating each of the final candidates, using modified consensus process. If that process does not result in at least two nominees, we will vote yes or no on the remaining finalists and nominate any candidate with 5 of 7 yes votes. If we still do not have at least two nominees, we’ll discuss.



Finalized 10/25/14 by the Presidential Search Committee

The President of the Unitarian Universalist Association is the primary public and spiritual leader of Unitarian Universalism and the executive leader of our Association.

The President:

  • Serves as the Executive under Policy Governance, with responsibility for interpreting and implementing the Association’s Ends as set by the Board.
    • Accountable to the Board, which is the designee of the General Assembly, in relationship to Executive Limitations policies.
    • Acts as head of the UUA Staff.
    • Effectively manages and deploys the resources of the Association in service of the Ends.
  • Serves as ex officio, non-voting member of the UUA Board.
  • Acts as the prophetic voice and the face of Unitarian Universalism.
    • Speaks to Unitarian Universalists and on our behalf.
    • Represents Unitarian Universalism in the public square and with other faith leaders.
  • Extends and strengthens Unitarian Universalist institutions.
    • Inspires generosity rooted in Unitarian Universalist values.
    • Builds, nurtures, and sustains strategic relationships.
    • Plays a leadership role in UUA fundraising.
    • Provides a pastoral and ceremonial presence in support of beloved community.
  • Provides leadership for the Association’s Ends of transforming power, privilege and oppression.

Our ideal candidates will:

  • Be able to authentically and accountably represent the whole of our movement and its diverse members.
    • Have a broad, intersectional cultural competence and a commitment to grow and develop it.
    • Seek out the wisdom and experience of those often unseen and unheard.
  • In personal and professional relationships, conduct themselves ethically and with integrity, seek justice and right relations, and engage with others compassionately.
  • Live a liberal religious spiritual life in word, deed, and personal practice.
  • Be resilient with a strong sense of self and an established support network.
  • Be capable of engaging with power, money, and people who hold them.
  • Be passionate about Unitarian Universalism, its institutions and covenanted communities.
    • Have a vision for the growth of our movement.
  • Be a faithful risk-taker in service to a compelling vision

Our ideal candidates will possess the following skills, knowledge and attributes:

  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including an understanding of the evolving landscape of communication technology and media.
  • Impressive leadership skills, including especially the ability to manage a complex organization, delegate to others, and assess and plan for effective work.
  • An understanding of systems theory and organizational development
    • Understands both the explicit and implicit ways the Association works
  • Ability to inspire others, including (but not limited to) staff, donors, and leaders.
  • Emotional and pastoral intelligence and good listening skills.
  • Talented ordained or lay preacher.

Potential nominees must be:

  • A member in good standing of a UUA member congregation (per UUA By-Laws).
  • Able to travel extensively.
  • Able to spend a significant amount of time in Boston.
  • At least 18 years of age (per MA law).


Helpful Links:

October 24-25, 2014, In-Person meeting
Unitarian Universalist Church of Atlanta, GA
Present: Wayne Arnason, Joanna Fontaine Crawford, Matthew Johnson, Liz Jones, Michael Tino, Elandria Williams, Jacqui Williams.

UUA Board Meeting Report

Jacqui gave us an update on her report to the UUA Board last week.  They discussed the Board’s concerns about working with a president who will be charged with implementing Ends policies that they did not create.  We will need to be intentional about how we put the job description and application out, understanding that it describes an ideal candidate and encouraging people who come close to it to apply.

Susan Ritchie found the resolution brought to the General Assembly, and sent it to Matthew.  What actually happened was that a motion was made from the floor at the 1976 GA saying that the President is the spiritual leader of our Association, and it failed.  We see no implication for our work in this.

Here is what Susan sent us:

“We know that Conrad Wright published a statement that the 1976 GA rejected a proposal to define the President as the spiritual leader of the Association.  I therefore imagined I had this resolution, given I have all the GA minutes.

“Yet the 1976 GA Minutes show no such resolution.  Those minutes do show the rejection of a proposal to eliminate both the position of Moderator (so that the Board could appoint its own chair) and that of President (so that the Board could appoint its own CEO).  This proposal was not a part of resolution coming from the delegates or congregations, but was the result of a report of a subcommittee of the board.  The board itself, in presenting to GA, endorsed the subcommittee recommendation regarding Moderator, not the President.  Apparently a compromise was suggested from the GA floor that would define the President as the Spiritual not Administrative leader (still allowing the board to have a CEO).  And apparently that conversation got rather bogged down in humanist concerns about ‘spiritual.’  Anyway, all proposals were struck down.”

Survey Results

We discussed the results of our job description survey and highlighted things we need to discuss.  We received 65 responses to our survey.  We are very appreciative of all of the thoughtful responses.  We noted that a lot of the comments came from a small handful of respondents.

Job Description

We discussed the job description, focusing on the items highlighted in our discussion of survey results.

We noted that some of the concerns are beyond our control, mainly because they’re in our By-Laws.  This included President as CEO, necessity of President to be a member in good standing of a UUA member congregation, and the location of our Headquarters in Boston.

Some notes we made: we should hyperlink the Job Description and application to things like the Ends policies, the By-laws and other hard-to-find documents.

The finalized job description will be posted on separate from this report.

Conflict of Interest Policy

We were asked to sign the UUA Conflict of Interest Policy to indicate our understanding of it.  We discussed the policy and how it relates to our work.

We agreed that we would internally disclose all personal and professional relationships with applicants and, as a committee, discuss whether those relationships would make us biased, as per the policy.  In such a case, we would report that relationship to the Moderator and ask for permission to consider the candidate (with or without the conflicted person recused).

We agreed that in the earliest stages of considering candidates we would rely on recusal as an effective method of avoiding conflicts of interest.
We expressed concerns about the confidentiality of the process as well as the public perception of the process, and intend to hold ourselves to high standards with respect to both of those.

Presidential Pay

Harlan Limpert will get us the pay scale for President, a piece of information that several people requested.

Selection Process

We discussed the selection process, beginning with questions about the behavior of applicants between when they apply and when nominations are made and about appropriate campaign practices and guidelines.  Several of us had received questions about these things. Our finalized process and guidelines will be posted on separate from this report.

We will ask the Board to propose amendments to Rule G-9.13.7 that bring its timeline into agreement with the charge of our committee, disallowing fundraising or public campaigning before February 1 of the year preceding election. We should make sure that our nominees have the ability to create events and have booths at GA2016 if the deadline is Jan 31.


We need booth, a suite and a program book ad for GA2015. New guidelines mean we cannot share a booth, so we’ll need our own.

Upcoming Meetings

Phone: We moved our next phone meeting to Friday, November 21 at Noon EST/11am CST/9am PST.

In-Person: We decided to cancel our in-person meeting for April and go to San Diego next fall instead.  Tentatively scheduled for October 1-2 (arrive on September 30).

Next Steps In Application Process

Elandria Williams and Michael Tino will create the online form and submission process by November 1.

Communication from This Meeting

MJ and MT are willing and able to go on The VUU to discuss the application process.  Date TBD.

We will also disseminate the information from this meeting through the blog, Facebook, email lists, and personal channels.  Matthew Johnson will talk to UUA (website, UUWorld).  The rest of us will contact the people and organizations we interviewed.


The Presidential Search Committee met September 12, 2014 via conference call.

Next firm meeting will be in person October 24-25 in Atlanta. Oct. 10 is being held as a possible conference call if needed.
Meeting in Atlanta will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta. Tentative plans for a Spring meeting in San Diego were discussed, pending outcome of Atlanta meeting and confirmation of process timeline.

Jacqui C. Williams will represent the PSC at the UUA Board meeting October 17. We are on the agenda for 45 minutes to invite the Board into a conversation about the draft job description. The draft process outline will also be shared for information purposes. Additionally, there is still the open question of the campaign finance rule change that needs to be placed on the GA2015 agenda.

Elandria Williams and Michael Tino submitted a draft of a process, including application and interview questions. This will be discussed at our Atlanta meeting to finalize it.

Also discussed: the need for criminal background checks for finalists. Minister and DRE credentialing and UUA employment require it. If we do this, we need to have a clear understanding of what would disqualify someone from the position. Matthew Johnson will research what the UUA does for employees to have as a reference point.

Rough draft of application was discussed, especially around providing links to items referenced in application, e.g. Ends Statements. Process for nominating someone was discussed.

Question for Fall meeting agenda: What are the standards by which we will judge candidates (what is our rubric)?

Update on President as Spiritual Leader: We followed up on the suggestion that the GA had voted years ago to limit the President’s role as spiritual leader, but could find no reference to this. Unless someone is willing to dig through the archives for GA minutes from the 1970s, we’re at a loss with that.

Prior to Atlanta meeting, the PSC will study in detail the results of the job description survey results.