The Presidential Search Committee will announce the name of the candidate discussed in the below statement on Sunday, March 6th, at 4pm Eastern Time on this blog. We’re very excited to share the identity of this highly qualified and dynamic leader!

Statement by Moderator Regarding Candidates for UUA President


On Thursday, February 18, Rev. Sue Phillips notified the Presidential Search Committee (PSC) and James Key, Moderator of the UUA, that she has formally withdrawn her candidacy for President of the Unitarian Universalist Association. We are disappointed, but we are grateful for her current work and hopeful to see her continue in leadership roles within the UUA.

The Secretary of the UUA Board, Rev. Rob Eller-Isaacs, has asked the Presidential Search Committee to nominate another candidate to run for the presidency. The PSC has accepted this charge. We received applications from some of the finest leaders in our association during our initial process, and we have full confidence that we will be able to provide the name of another strong candidate. The decision and the announcement of the nominee will be made as soon as possible, so that both candidates may continue introducing themselves to our association.

The Unitarian Universalist Association’s Presidential Search Committee is pleased to announce that our chosen nominees for UUA President in the 2017 election have accepted our nomination. We nominate the Rev. Alison Miller (Senior Minister, Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, New Jersey) and the Rev. Sue Phillips (New England Regional Lead for UUA Field Staff) for UUA President. The selection of these two candidates was a unanimous decision by our committee, and we fully and equally endorse both candidates.

The Reverend Alison Miller has served as Senior Minister of the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship since 2005.  She serves as Chair of the Board of Church of the Larger Fellowship, and on the Boards of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of NJ and United Way of Northern New Jersey. Alison previously served as Assistant Minister at All Souls New York City, as Intern Minister at All Souls in Tulsa, OK, and as part of the UUA Development Staff for a $32 million Capital Campaign. Alison graduated from Bryn Mawr College and from Harvard Divinity School. She lives with her husband, David Snedden, and their four-year-old son Asher.

The Reverend Sue Phillips has served as a District Executive and now as the UUA’s Regional Lead in New England, since 2007. After graduating from Colgate University and Episcopal Divinity School, Sue worked at Partners for the Common Good, a socially responsible loan fund, the Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK, and the Housing Assistance Council, a $55 million community development loan fund serving the poorest rural communities in the US. She served as minister of the Keene (NH) Unitarian Universalist Church before joining the UUA field staff.  Sue is married to the Rev. Tandi Rogers. Together they have five children. She lives in Boston, MA and Tacoma, WA.

The Presidential Search Committee was charged with nominating at least two candidates prior to February 1, 2016, the starting date for formal campaigns leading up to the June 2017 election at the UUA General Assembly in New Orleans, LA. Nomination petitions from additional candidates may also be submitted according to the procedures described in the UUA by-laws and rules. The incumbent UUA President will reach the end of his term limit and is not eligible for re-election. The next UUA President will serve a single six-year term and will not be eligible for re-election.


In June 2010, the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations voted to create a Presidential Search Committee, composed of 5 elected members and 2 members appointed by the UUA Board. In Section 9.5 of the UUA Bylaws, they were charged:

The Presidential Search Committee shall submit no fewer than two nominations for the office of President for an election at the end of a presidential term or for a special election. The report of the Presidential Search Committee shall be announced by February 1 of the year before the General Assembly at which there is to be a presidential election, except in the case of a special election, in which case the report of the Presidential Search Committee shall be announced by December 10 of the year before the election.

The UUA Presidential Search Committee members were elected or appointed at General Assembly 2013 and began working together at that time. The members are: Wayne Arnason, Joanna Fontaine Crawford, Matthew Johnson, Liz Jones, Michael Tino, Elandria Williams, and Jacqui C. Williams.

As this was the first ever Presidential Search Committee (PSC), we began by creating a nomination and selection process. This included crafting a job description based on UUA bylaws, interviews with previous presidents, moderators, and stakeholder UU organizations. A preliminary job description was shared publicly, with an accompanying feedback survey. All surveys were discussed by the committee before the PSC finalized the job description.

In October 2014, the PSC published the finalized selection process, timeline, and job description. The application and forms for suggesting potential applicants was published November 1. All individuals suggested to the PSC were contacted and encouraged to apply.

At the 2015 General Assembly, anyone considering applying for the position of president was invited to meet privately with the PSC for the purpose of asking questions about the position as an aid to the individual’s discernment.

The deadline for applications was July 15, 2015. Each of the PSC members read every application and met in closed session to discuss applications and the results of confidential reference calls. Finalists were chosen and were interviewed in person by the PSC in Fall 2015.

Finalists were notified in November 2015 whether they had been selected as candidates for UUA President.


Over the last 2 and half years, the Presidential Search Committee has engaged in a deep discernment process about the way we select the President of our Association, the work of that person, and who we would nominate for this monumental job. Our task was set by the delegates to the General Assembly, in response to longstanding desires of our movement for a process that was more democratic, inclusive, and spiritually grounded. We are incredibly proud of the work we’ve done, and we are on schedule to announce our nominees by the deadline of Feb. 1st, 2016.

Yet our process and the intent of the delegates and the board has now entered dangerous waters. We are dismayed that some information about our decision-making process regarding our nominees has become a subject of gossip among people who should not have any information as yet. We need every Unitarian Universalist to commit to stopping this gossip in place. If this is impossible, we will be forced to move up the timetable for our formal announcement and abandon the proposed start date of the election campaign affirmed by the Board and voted by the General Assembly when the Presidential Search Committee was created.

The timetable for the formal beginning of any campaign is February 1, 2016, the date by which we are obligated to release the names of our nominees. This timing is particularly important to parish ministers who put in candidacy applications. Out-loud gossip, presumptions, detective work, and deductions by process of elimination will almost certainly violate the privacy and confidentiality we offered to all candidates, and make more difficult the process of notification that a congregation with a ministerial candidate for President is entitled to have. Our UUMA guidelines require ministers, in particular, to respect the integrity of the call.

In these next few months, we need your help to maintain the integrity of our process, protect the current ministries and congregations of our nominees, and keep our covenant together. We ask anyone who has been given information by anyone, whether they are entitled to knowledge about our decision-making process or not, to cease and desist from public or private gossip. We ask President Morales, in particular, to immediately notify his staff that they are to cease and desist from any public or private speculation about the nominees we are putting forward.

We recognize that people who have been given information about where we are in our process, whether they are our nominees or not, are in discernment and planning for themselves. We believe that this conversation can and should be limited to a very small group of campaign advisors who are willing and able to maintain confidentiality.

This first time through the Presidential Search Committee process has, in our view, gone very well thus far. To have this process degenerate into a gossip-driven “false start” to the campaign period which violates the agreements and limits made by the General Assembly would be a shame, and will result in some serous re-evaluation of the process. As is, our final report to the delegates, after the 2017 election, will surely include recommendations to address this issue.

We will be very excited to tell you about our nominees on, or before, February 1st, 2016. We believe they are wonderful people and leaders. The conversation they will lead and encourage over the next 16 months will be vitally important for our future. We hope their vision, their plans, and their presence will delight, engage, and even surprise you. But until then, we offer you a special invitation to the advent season of patient expectation. Enjoy your holidays, and you’ll hear from us in the New Year.