Board chooses interim moderator
by Tom Stites and Deborah Weiner
Gini Courter, whose long volunteer service includes eight years as a member of the UUA Board of Trustees and six as chair of its finance committee, was elected interim moderator at the Board's October meeting.
The unprecedented board election was made necessary by the resignation of Diane Olson, who was elected moderator at the 2000 General Assembly in Cleveland. She resigned October 2, citing health and personal circumstances.
The moderator presides over General Assemblies and meetings of the Board of Trustees and its Executive Committee; it is the UUA 's highest volunteer position.
“It has been a privilege to serve in this role and I'm deeply grateful for having had the opportunity,” Olson wrote in her letter of resignation. “My hopes are high for the continued powerful work of our Association.” UUA President William G. Sinkford, who was also elected at the General Assembly in 2000, led a chorus of voices expressing gratitude for Olson's service in many volunteer roles, including chair of the General Assembly Planning Committee before she was elected moderator.
Courter, who became a Unitarian Universalist two decades ago, ended two terms on the Board as trustee from the Heartland District last June; she then became secretary of the GA Planning Committee. She will serve as interim moderator through the 2004 General Assembly in Long Beach, California, where a special election will be held to fill the remaining year of Olson's four-year term. At the 2005 General Assembly in Forth Worth, Texas, a regular election will be held for the Association's top positions, including moderator, president, and financial advisor. Courter has said that she will seek election as moderator in Long Beach.
After Olson resigned, five people stepped forward as candidates for interim moderator. In addition to Courter, an information technology consultant, author, and speaker who lives in Traverse City, Michigan, the candidates were the Rev. Calvin Dame, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Augusta, Maine, and trustee from the Northeast District; Patsy Sherrill Madden of St. Louis, former member of the GA Planning Committee and a candidate for moderator in the 2000 election; Dr. Elisabeth McGregor of Sharon, Massachusetts, former first vice moderator and trustee from the Ballou Channing District; and the Rev. Douglas Morgan Strong of Plano, Texas, former member of the GA Planning Committee. After interviewing the candidates, the Trustees submitted their votes by secret ballot.“Serving on the UUA board has been one of the most pivotal experiences of my life,” Courter said in an interview after she was elected. “This association has an incredible board, a lot of leaders, and when given the space, leaders innovate. What I bring to the table that's different is that I have been on the Planning Committee and the Board, and on the district board. Being moderator is a chance to weave all that together.”