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


Administrative Staff

Birch Spick, Faith Formation & Congregational Life Coordinator

Birch (they/them/theirs) works closely with our Faith Formation and Congregational Life committees and volunteers to deepen and enrich our shared community and the programming that sustains it. They are a graduate of Iowa State University, and currently enrolled in the Masters of Divinity program at Meadville Lombard Theological School. Prior to joining staff at First Unitarian, they worked in refugee services & housing services.

515-244-8603 Ext. 103  •  ffoffice@ucdsm.orgcloffice@ucdsm.org

40 hours/week
Office Hours:
Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.


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.

Hannah is responsible for:

  • Ensuring digital presentation (via Zoom) of Sunday services, Sunday forums, and other events as assigned, and that digital elements (slides, videos, recordings) are prepared and presented professionally.
  • Managing post-production posting of services, events, etc. via YouTube, podcasting, and other media.
  • Maintaining the church calendar, coordinating requests from the Minister and staff, lay leaders, Board, and outside users. Posting and updating the public calendar in ways the congregation can access it easily.
  • Coordinating with the Minister and staff to help promote events and manage scheduling conflicts. Creating digital outreach content as needed
  • Providing courteous, professional reception and assistance to members, visitors, vendors and others. Routing messages. Receiving deliveries.
  • In collaboration with the DFA, ordering office supplies and coordinating with vendors.
  • Maintaining staff mailboxes and staff bulletin board
  • Assisting the Coordinator of Congregational Life in the maintenance of the membership database
  • Managing access cards and establishing a record system for these
  • Acquiring nametags for staff and congregants
  • Conducting criminal background checks of volunteers when requested
  • Maintaining a scheduled digital presence for the church, including regularly scheduled posts to Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms.
  • Coordinating Childcare Staff

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

Faithyna Leonard, Communications & Rental Coordinator

Our very own Faithyna “Faith” Leonard, Childcare Lead, is now also our new Communications & Rental Coordinator. Faith will be working part time flexible hours and will be managing communications and outside rentals.

Faithyna Leonard (she/her/hers) joined us on February 24, 2023, working in the childcare room, and now has officially joined our Office Staff as of August 21, 2023 as our Communications & Rental 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. She also works for the City of Des Moines.

Faithyna is responsible for:

  • Organizing all outside rentals and communications with outside groups.
  • Providing tours to potential renters and answering any questions renters may have during the duration of the renting relationship.
  • Providing building access and answering all questions about building usage for outside renters.
  • Updating and creating the Intercom each week.
  • Maintaining the church website.
  • Working with the Office Manager to ensure internal and external events and groups are properly communicated.

515-244-8603 Ext. 106  •  fleonard@ucdsm.org

Available By Appointment

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.