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. Victoria Safford (through June 15, 2023)


Office phone: 515-244-8603 ext. 102

Cell: 612- 405-3318

Rev. Meredith Garmon (beginning August 1, 2023)


Administrative Staff

Alice J. Stewart, Director of Finance and Administration

Alice has a master’s degree in anthropology (focus in religion, expertise in linguistics and biology). She served in the Peace Corps in Cape Verde, West Africa before returning to the US where she got her MBA. She’s served the Church in many roles for over 20 years, most often leading the business office. She’s a Certified Project Manager, consultant, and creative writer. Her fiction focuses on creative communities and collaborative leadership. Her academic work involves semiotics, sacred sites, and offering practices.

515-244-8603 Ext. 101  •  director@ucdsm.org

Office Hours:

Mondays: by appointment
Tuesdays – Thursdays: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Fridays: by appointment

Birch Spick, Faith Formation Coordinator & Congregational Life Coordinator

Many of you know Birch (they/them/theirs) through their service here at UCDSM as a celebrant and worship leader, and a Coming of Age mentor. A graduate of Iowa State University, Birch has worked most recently as a housing counselor in Des Moines. Birch works closely with our Faith Formation and Congregational Life committees and volunteers to deepen and enrich our shared community.

515-244-8603 Ext. 106  •  FFOffice@ucdsm.orgCLOffice@ucdsm.org

40 hours/week

Office Hours:

Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Emily Petty, Communications Coordinator

Emily (she/her/hers) joined the staff on November 9, 2021. Emily is a Southwestern Iowa native who has a love for communication with people and animals alike. She moved to W. Des Moines in May 2017 after graduating from Iowa State University with a degree in Communications Studies. Emily’s  previous work focused on teaching and website design in addition to data analytics and interdepartmental communication/collaboration.

She is responsible for:

  • Coordinating our internal and external communications and marketing strategy
  • Working with the Communications Team and Senior Minister to develop external marketing strategies
  • Creating the weekly Intercom newsletter
  • Maintaining our website
  • Providing internal communication for church members
  • Updating our UCDSM app
  • Working with the Social Media & Executive Support Specialist (SMESS) position to ensure that all marketing and communication accurately reflects our church

(515) 244-8603 ext. 103 •  communications@ucdsm.org

32 hours/week
Office Hours :

Tuesday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Friday: by appointment

Hannah Notch, Social Media & Executive Support Specialist (SMESS)

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.

Hannah is responsible for:

  • Handling the front desk office duties and maintaining the main office
  • Receiving packages from vendors
  • Scheduling events on the church calendar and room reservations
  • Making sure mail gets to the appropriate staff member or volunteer
  • Scheduling and Coordinating the Childcare staff
  • Providing the church with a weekly scheduled social media presence
  • Handling Sunday Tech needs
  • Creating YouTube videos and podcasts as directed
  • Working with the Communications Coordinator and Communications Team to make sure everyone knows what is going on!

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

Office Hours:  32 hours/week

Tuesday – Friday:    1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Sunday:    tech assistance during service

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.