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. They are held the third Thursday of the month at 6:00 p.m.
The agenda and archived minutes are published here ahead of each meeting. Other supporting documents are available on Realm.
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
The Board meets regularly on the third Thursday of the month at 6:00 p.m. CT.
2023–2024 Board Members
Term ends 2025
I grew up in First Unitarian, although I have just recently become a member. I currently co-lead our high school youth program, YRUU. I attended Iowa State University and studied economics and accounting. While in college I served on the board and finance committee at United Way of Story County. After graduation I moved back to Des Moines and earned my CPA license.
Board Committee Assignments: Financial Oversight
Term ends 2024
Jeremy (he/him) joined the church in 2019 after relocating from Dubuque with his wife Sarah and their two daughters Elle and Penny. He is part of the Religious Education Committee and a hospitality team.
Jeremy and Sarah were raised Catholic in Wisconsin but found a good fit at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Dubuque where Jeremy served as board secretary and president. He credits UUFD for sending him to the MidAmerica Region’s Midwest Leadership School as a student in 2017 and he returned in 2019 as treasurer.
Jeremy works at Principal, often commuting by bus and through that activity, found an opportunity to volunteer on the DART’s Transit Riders’ Advisory Committee.
Term ends 2024
Bio & Photo TBA
Board Committee Assignments: TBA
Term ends 2025
I have been a committed Unitarian Universalist for approximately 20 years. Now that I am retired, I enjoy giving back to the community. I am an excellent communicator, tolerant of opposing viewpoints, and good at listening and bringing people with divergent viewpoints together. My experience at the two Unitarian churches in Chicago should prove to be very valuable.
Board Committee Assignments: Leadership, Human Resources
Natalie Mason (she/her) has been a member of First Unitarian since 2014. You will most likely recognize Natalie from singing with the choir, performing special music or playing at the UU Coffee House. Natalie and her wife Sarah Letourneau live in Des Moines with their dog Maggie, and travel frequently to their native Kansas to visit family there. Natalie is on the management team for a call center and in her spare time enjoys playing board games, knitting, supporting women’s sports, eating garbanzo beans (or anything made with garbanzo beans) and of course singing and playing music. Natalie looks forward to deepening her connection to the First Unitarian community through serving on the board.
Term ends 2024
LeeAnn is married to Sherwin (Dash) Back and they have two adult children. They moved from Sioux City in 2016 and live in Indianola, joining the UU church in 2018. LeeAnn is a retired Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired.
LeeAnn is excited about serving on the Board of Trustees to learning more about how the church operates, meeting people, and contributing to the church community.
Board Committee Assignments: Human Resources
Kathryn Sutton (she/her) joined First Unitarian in 2015 and has enjoyed her participation and leadership for the past 8 years. She has been involved as a facilitator for Coming of Age for 5 groups, led the Young Adults group for 3 years and has attended several small groups. She is excited about the future of First Unitarian as a beacon of hope and healing in the community. Professionally, Kathryn is a digital designer creating websites for mission-driven nonprofits across the country; she is a thoughtful communicator who values inclusivity, kindness, diligence and honorable conduct.
Term ends 2025
Crystal Loving (she/her) officially joined the church in early 2020 after several years of off/on again attendance. She was raised in Des Moines and has always lived in DSM, with the exception of a few years in the DC Area during post-graduate training. She has two children, Naoma (14) and Benton (11).
Crystal is an active leader in AMOS, particularly around Mental Health Services for Children and Youth and Public Schools. Outside of church she volunteers as a parent with DMPS Community Legislative Action Team (CLAT) to bring legislators, family, and public school advocates together to enact legislation benefiting DMPS students. She’s a research scientist by day. She enjoys reading, watching her kids play soccer or skateboard, and seeing the world one town at a time. And good food with good company.
Board Committee Assignments: Governance
Walt Pearson returned as a member at First Unitarian Church after moving back to the Des Moines area in 2018 and is delighted with the opportunity to serve the church as a member of the Board of Trustees. He has been a member of All Souls Unitarian in Kansas City, MO; Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist in Adelphi, MD; First Unitarian Church in Des Moines, IA; Wildflower Unitarian Universalist Church in Austin, TX; and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva, IL.
Walt’s leadership service in UU churches consists of stints on the Personnel Committee and the Board of Trustees in Des Moines, service as a Compensation Consultant in two UU districts to support fair compensation practices and help prepare ministerial packages, service on the Interim Ministry Selection Committee at Geneva, and current leadership of the Adult Programming Council in Des Moines.
Walt’s career in the labor movement taught him the importance of volunteer recruitment and support for staff and volunteers, how to manage conflict in healthy ways, and the importance of inclusive democratic practice to organizational health. From his service in higher education (University of Missouri-Kansas City, Simpson College, St. Edward’s University, Lewis University, and Loyola University Chicago) he learned about good budgeting practices, effective recruiting techniques, and how to hire good people and help them succeed.