In Service to My Faith
With most of the then members of the Unitarian Universalist Minister's Association Board of Trustees.
The ethos I was brought up with is, when a colleague asks you to consider a leadership role that supports one of the institutions of our faith, you'd better say "yes" unless you have a very good reason for saying, "no." I care a great deal about Unitarian Universalism - a great deal more than I am interested in getting credit for work that simply needs doing. But, in terms of offering a fuller sense of how I've spent my time in service to the larger faith:
I've served as secretary to a number of different Unitarian Universalist boards and organizations. Once word gets around that you're capable of doing the job and willing to do it, I think there's a certain momentum. It's not a very flashy role but it is crucial to a high-functioning organization, so it's the sort of seat that always needs filling. And, I found out quite by accident, in an institution using Policy Governance or a variant thereof, secretary can be one of the most quietly powerful positions, since a mastery of the minutes goes hand-in-hand with an intimate understanding of policy and procedure.
I served for three years as secretary for the Massachusetts Bay Chapter of the Unitarian Universalist Minister's Association's executive committee. During that time, I campaigned for and helped to implement a change in the communication system for this largest chapter of the UUMA. It also ended up being sort of a farm team experience, as I got recruited from this volunteer job to the "majors" of
the UUMA Board of Trustees.
I served for six years on the board of the Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness - four as secretary and two as president. I served on the leadership team for two national conferences of the organization: one in Atlanta, GA, and one in Morristown, NJ. These were great events of which I'm quite proud, and they also taxed the board leadership to the breaking point in order to pull-off. My time as president was dominated by the intense debate surrounding a Boycott/Divest/Sanction resolution relating to the state of Israel and the plight of Palestine, which came before the General Assembly in 2016. Truthfully, it was among the most personally challenging leadership experiences of my professional life. I don't blame the membership or the organization for that; the circumstances were simply impossible, and the position of official neutrality I took as president (which I still feel entirely secure in as the right choice for the organization), satisfied exactly no one. Once the issue of the resolution was over (it found majority support but failed on a technicality), and after a period of discernment, I concluded it was time for me to make way for new leaders to help imagine the organization's next phase. UUJA has since gone on to reimagine itself somewhat, with a different, looser, and much more distributed leadership structure. I'm very happy to see it succeed.
I served for three years as secretary to the Unitarian Universalist Minister's Association's Board of Trustees, ending my term in June of 2018. It was a fantastic experience, and I say that despite the fact that it was also a time of extreme trial and upheaval for the institution, with the very public departure of our first executive director and a #MeToo crisis connected to the much-beloved Berry Street Essay. I got to work collaboratively with extremely capable, committed colleagues, and learn deeply as a participant-observer in a high-functioning "Policy-Based" organization. As I left office, the UUMA was just beginning an experimental leadership model with a three-person, shared executive filling and expanding the role of the previous executive director, and at my final meeting I got to shepherd through a raft of changes to our Code of Professional Conduct as ministers intended to move us (however incrementally and incompletely) away from a culture that protects perpetrators through silence and secrecy and towards a culture that believes and sides with survivors. That initial revision was the first step in an ongoing process of reimagining our accountability structures as ministers, responding particularly to hard truths shared by colleagues of color and trans colleagues about the countless ways our professional association had failed to support and protect them in the past. The final (for now) major revision of the system we, as ministers, rely on to hold ourselves accountable to each other was approved in 2020. I was very honored to be involved at the beginning of that process, and to have a minor role at the end when I served as parliamentarian during that meeting - with the specific brief of reforming the way we run our business meetings to prioritize voices from historically-marginalized identities.
With several co-organizers of Let Us Be Counted - a national gathering of Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness.