The Board uses an organizational model called Policy Governance, which is a system that helps ensure that our Board and our staff are clear about who does what and why. Using this model maximizes the Board’s responsibility to our congregation members, and improves the ability of staff to support our congregation’s mission. Policy Governance promotes ideas such as accountability, transparency, effectiveness and efficiency.
Guided by established Roles and Expectations, the nine members of our Board serve staggered, three-year terms and meet monthly to review staff reports and discuss initiatives that help us carry out the goals of our congregation’s Mission.
Board work is also carried out by several Committees of the Board. Most teams are a collaboration of Board members and other congregations members.
Board meetings are open to all on the third Thursday of every month at 6:00 p.m. The agenda and relevant documents are published here ahead of each meeting. If you can’t attend, archived minutes and other reports are available for you to review any time.
We welcome your participation or input about our Board’s work! You may contact the current Board president at BoardofTrustees@ucdsm.org.
Next Board Meeting
Pandemic Update: The Board is currently meeting on the first and third Thursdays of the month at 6:00 p.m. CT via Zoom. The first Thursday focuses on visioning and any COVID-related issues. The third Thursday of each month is the official business meeting.
2020–2021 Board Members
Term ends 2022
Patty (she/her/hers) is a lifelong resident of Des Moines. She graduated from Lincoln High School, Drake University, and Drake University Law School. Patty has been a practicing attorney since 1992. Patty has six children, and married her wife, Meg, in 2010. Together they have nine children. Patty, Meg and Jayla, the youngest, age 12, recently moved from the south side of Des Moines to an apartment downtown. Patty has been active at First Unitarian since joining in 2011. She has taught RE, volunteered with Family Promise, and served on many committees, including the Ministerial Search Committee. Patty is currently in her second year of service on the Board, and serves as Board Chair. Patty has extensive experience in navigating the children’s mental health system in the state of Iowa, having served as a family peer support specialist for several years. She is always happy to help others navigate the system. In her spare time, Patty likes to read, travel, and look for treasures at thrift shops and consignment stores.
Term ends 2023
Greg (he/him/his) and his spouse, Dawn Connet, joined the church in 2002. He currently serves on the Board’s Financial Oversight Committee. Their children, now grown, participated in various youth activities and RE when younger. Greg has held numerous roles in the church in past years, including a prior term on the board and a year as Board President, a member of the Council of Congregational Ministries, on the Vision Quest and Endowment committees, the recent Ministerial Search committee, and as an annual meeting moderator. He is employed as the Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Community Relations at Iowa Student Loan, a West Des Moines-based nonprofit corporation. His other community activities include serving as a board member for the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center, the By Degrees Foundation, the Greater Des Moines Partnership Talent Development board, and on the Polk County Democratic Central Committee.
Term ends 2023
Fern (she/her/hers) has been a member approximately 10 years. Her interests have included Compassion and Choice, Marriage Equality and Hospitality. Within the last year she has been actively attempting to become more involved in participation and volunteering by helping with Family Promise, sewing quilts to celebrate births and adoptions, and becoming a mentor in the Coming of Age program. Outside of church, she serves on the board of the Des Moines Quilters Guild and morphed into becoming a proficient mask making fool since COVID has struck, first for family and neighbors, then Broadlawns Hospital, and most recently part of the team creating 12,000 masks for Des Moines Public Schools. She also serves as secretary on the Friends of the WDM Parks and Recreation Board which supports her love of nature and the outdoors. She says, “This church means the world to me and my intention is to serve it well.”
Scott Emison Clair
Term ends 2022
Scott (he/him/his) joined the church in 2003. He has served on the Religious Services Committee, and the Council of Congregational Ministries, facilitated multiple adult and youth RE Classes including OWL, Small Group Ministries, Soul Matters, Wellspring, and Coming of Age. As a Board Member he serves on the Governance and Ministerial Review Committees. Scott has also been active in a variety of health-related nonprofit work including founding a statewide HIV and Hepatitis Advocacy Group and serving on the board of a local Federally Qualified Health Center (Primary Health Care). He is married to Lori and they have two kids. Scott’s ‘day job’ is working as a data scientist determining the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.
Term ends 2021
Sue (she/her/hers) became a member of First Unitarian Church in 2010. She says it was liberating to be part of a church where the focus was not on sin, heaven and hell. Since becoming a member, she has found it very easy to be active in many different areas. She has attended and facilitated a variety of classes, and been a volunteer in our faith formation classes for children. Sue has also helped coordinate Family Promise and volunteered with the Immigration Justice Team.
Term ends 2021
Michael (he/him/his) joined the church in 2015 after attending periodically for many years. He was born outside the metropolis of Farming, Minnesota. He says, “I remember bringing the cows in from pasture and the warm cow pies squishing between my bare toes. But I also remember finding thistles with my bare feet in the pasture; I preferred the cow pie. Eventually we were able to afford to have shoes all year round.” During his years at the church, Michael has participated in many classes and book groups on racial justice, white privilege, and restorative justice. “This church and these classes changed my life,” he says. He is active in Immigration Justice issues and believes the many social justice foci of the church intersect in a way that can nourish and unite us.
Term ends 2022
Sara (she/her/hers), who joined the church in 2017, comes from a blended family: one parent is an atheist and one an evangelical Christian. And although this is not why she is a UU, it certainly is a contributing factor. Sara was born in Des Moines and moved back here with my family a few years ago. In the search for ‘our people,’ she and her husband, Darin, came to First Unitarian and became members within a few months. Her husband participated on the Search Committee and their son is a youth Celebrant. She says, “I happen to have a head for business, and so serve on the Board and the Financial Oversight Committee. We serve our UU community where we can, and are very grateful for the love and support we receive in return.”
Term ends 2022
Andrea (she/her/hers) joined the church in 2012. She has five grown children and two grandchildren, plus an assortment of grand dogs and grand cats. She has worked as a Distribution Specialist in West Des Moines for six years. She was a founding member of the Sacred Bridges Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) in May 2013. She teaches Pagan- and Wiccan-related classes through the Adult Faith Formation program, plus hosts public rituals for the Pagan Sacred Holy Days. She also makes an excellent green bean casserole. Andrea serves on the LENS of the Future Church Committee, which is studying options for reopening church safely in the wake of COVID-19.
Term ends 2021
Heidi (she/her/hers) has been a member of the church since 2017. She has served on the Building Tomorrow Team. Heidi is a certified Professional Project Manager and is currently an assistant professor of marketing in the College of Business and Public Administration at Drake University. Heidi serves on the Board of Trustees and the Board of Directors for the ACLU of Iowa. In her spare time, Heidi enjoys baking with her family and hiking. She’s visited over 45 Iowa State Parks and has hiked over 300 miles with her rescue dog, Lucy.