Our Staff

The people who support our congregation’s work and worship carry out our Seven UU Principles every day as they serve our members and support the programs we value. Get to know them!

Our Minister

Rev. Meredith Garmon, Interim Minister

515-244-8603 Ext. 102  •  cell: 352-682-8492  •  mgarmon@ucdsm.org

The Reverend Doctor Steven Meredith Hotetsu Garmon (“Just ‘Meredith’ is fine”), raised by rationalist humanist academics, for a time in young adulthood, went into the family business: rationalist humanist academics. He has Bachelor’s degrees in philosophy (West Georgia College, 1979) and in English (West Georgia College, 1980), Master’s degrees in communication studies (Baylor University, 1983) and in philosophy (University of Virginia, 1991), and a PhD in government (University of Virginia, 1992). He was then an assistant professor of philosophy at Fisk University for four years (1992-96).
A lifelong Unitarian Universalist, Meredith then attended seminary and was ordained in 2004. Prior to coming to Des Moines, Meredith’s ministerial career has been as a settled minister. He has served our congregations in El Paso, Texas (2004-2006); Gainesville, Florida (2006-2013); and, White Plains, New York (2013-2023).
Meredith has been a serious student and practitioner of Zen Buddhism for over 20 years, and was the founder and leader of Border Zen Center in El Paso, Dancing Crane Zen Center in Gainesville, and Boundless Way Zen of Westchester in White Plains. For his sabbatical in 2019, Meredith was in residence at Great Vow Zen Monastery in Oregon for six months.
Since 2000, Meredith has been married to Rev. Dr. LoraKim Joyner, a community UU minister and avian veterinarian and conservationist. Together they have an adoptive adult son. Meredith also has two adult children from a previous marriage.
Introductory Video

 

Rev. Dr. LoraKim Joyner, D.V.M. – Community Minister 

Rev.  LoraKim Joyner is both a wildlife veterinarian and Unitarian Universalist minister, having served in parish ministry for 10 years and community ministry for 14 years. Currently she serves as a community minister affiliated with this congregation. She draws on her training as a Certified Trainer in Nonviolent Communication and over 35 years as a conservationist and wildlife veterinarian to co-lead One Earth Conservation.  With her team, they support others through their international Nurture Nature Program that seeks to empower the people saving the planet. She directs projects in Latin America to stand in solidarity and witness to the plight of the parrots of people there, and do what she can.  One Earth’s projects extend to Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Guyana, and Suriname. She has written three books, “Conservation in Time of War,” and “Nurturing Discussions and Practices,” and “Prionm” with Birding for Life to be published later this year.

Administrative Staff

Tracy Aukes, Church Administrator

Tracy (she/her/hers) serves as our Church Administrator, bringing a wealth of expertise and dedication to our congregation. Tracy holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Texas A&M University and furthered her academic journey by earning a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Stephen F. Austin University. Having roots in Texas, Tracy has also cultivated experiences in Ohio, North Carolina, and currently, Iowa.  

With a background in church administration and human resource management, Tracy plays a pivotal role in providing essential support to our Minister, Board of Trustees, and volunteers. Her responsibilities encompass supervising custodial services, collaborating with the grounds and building committee, and negotiating contracts with vendors. Furthermore, Tracy manages the church’s database, oversees communications, and processes invoices.  

Beyond her professional endeavors, Tracy resides in Adel with her husband, John, alongside their cherished fur-baby companions – two dogs (Tiko and Charley) and one cat (Mozart). Together, they have two adult children, Nathaniel and Chris. Tracy’s dedication and diverse contributions make a significant impact on our community, reflecting the values of service and leadership within our congregation.  

515-244-8603 Ext. 103  •  admin@ucdsm.org

40 hours/week


Office Hours:
Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Hannah Notch, Office Manager & Childcare Coordinator

Hannah Notch (she/her/hers) officially joined us on November 2, 2021 after filling in at the front desk for a month. Growing up through the Unitarian Church has been a significant part in her journey towards enjoying spirituality and leading her life with love and kindness. She has a huge passion for kids and finds purpose in teaching them and helping them feel understood. Hannah is currently pursing a degree in Sociology. In her free time, Hannah enjoys spending time with family most of all, and is glad to have that opportunity more frequently following the COVID-19 vaccination. Her favorite thing about her job is getting to be the first face of the church and meet all of the new people.

515-244-8603 Ext. 107  •  hnotch@ucdsm.org

Office Hours:  32 hours/week

Tuesday – Friday:    1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Faithyna Leonard, Faith Formation & Congregational Life Coordinator

Faithyna Leonard (she/her/hers) joined us on February 24, 2023, working in the childcare room, and officially joined our Office Staff as of August 21, 2023, as our Communications & Rental Coordinator. Faith now will be serving as the Faith Formation & Congregational Life Coordinator. Faithyna obtained her BA in Human Services from Simpson College. In her free time, Faithyna enjoys being expressive through art and writing. Her favorite thing about her job is getting to meet all of the new people.

Faithyna has experience in childcare, management, administration, event coordination, marketing, and much more.

515-244-8603 Ext. 101  •  ffoffice@ucdsm.orgcloffice@ucdsm.org

40 hours/week


Office Hours:
Tuesday – Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Other appointments as requested are available.

Talia Lombardi, Bookkeeper

Talia is a native Iowan and she has spent the last ten years with a small company managing the books, as well as the company and staff. She has a very strong background in administration as well as 14 years in bookkeeping.

When she is not rock hunting with her granddaughter she enjoys reading and kayaking, not necessarily at the same time.

515-244-8603 Ext. 109 • bookkeeper@ucdsm.org 

Office Hours:  10 hours/week – flexible

Karen Kraemer, Choir Director

Karen (she/her/hers) is the director of our UU Singers and the founding director of the Bell Ave Ringers. Having spent her youth and adult life singing in church and community choirs, Karen returned to college as a “life-long learner” and received a BA degree in music. In addition, Karen is a part-time audiologist, tennis enthusiast, and avid music composer.

Contact Karen at choir@ucdsm.org

Bruce Martin, Pianist

Bruce (he/him/his) serves as our accompanist for services and our adult choir. His musical versatility surprises and delights all, whether he is accompanying congregational singing, joining in concert with frequent guest musical performers on stage, or in his virtuoso solo performances.

Barb Martin, Special Music Coordinator

Barb (she/her/hers) plans and coordinates special music for church services. If you would like to offer your musical talents, please contact her at specialmusic@ucdsm.org.

Audio/Visual Technician

Joah Hogan (he/him)

I have an 18 year old daughter Avery who is about to graduate from Roosevelt High School. I have lived in Des Moines most of my life and currently live in the Lower Beaver neighborhood. I’ve been an AV dude for over 20 years and currently work at the Iowa Hospital Association as the Director of Digital Media and Communications. Picture attached (The WV does not stand for West Virginia but Wapsie Valley where my brother couches football!)

Childcare Providers

 

Caylie Robinson

Hi! My name is Caylie Robinson, a few little things about me I am married, I live with my husband and our 2 cats and dog, we are getting ready to move again in our 2nd home. A few other things I love are French fries, the Hyper Energy Bar, stuffed animals, and every color of the rainbow.

Emilie Stewart

Hello! My name is Emilie Stewart and I’m a senior who is active in competitive cheerleading, girls wrestling, tennis, and band. A bit about me is that I love writing, poetry, music, and working with kids! I am very excited to be a part of this great community as a member of the childcare team!