Two new youth observers to the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees, Andrea Briscoe and Bailey Saddlemire, began their terms in June, immediately following the 2016 General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio.
Youth observers participate in all board activities, but do not vote and are not elected by the General Assembly. Two youth observers serve at a time. They attend the board’s four in-person meetings including General Assembly, attend monthly online meetings, and are assigned to board working groups that focus on specific issues. Youth interested in serving as a youth observer submit an application to the UUA’s Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries and are selected by a national, online election in which UU youth groups (but not individuals) vote. The UUA board then officially appoints those elected.
Briscoe, 17, is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist and a member of Main Line Unitarian Church in Devon, Pennsylvania. She has served as dean of the General Assembly Youth Caucus, co-chair of the Mid-Atlantic Youth Ministry Council, and youth representative to the Board of Trustees at her home congregation.
“I want to be able to both elevate the voice of the youth who want to be a part of the business part of the UUA, and I also want to help inspire youth who feel the business part is a waste of time and resources,” said Briscoe, who is serving a one-year term. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to teach youth that the stuff the Board of Trustees does directly affects social justice, spirituality, and everything else—there’s a direct connection.”
Briscoe loves alternative pop and musicals, and is currently making every effort to get tickets to Hamilton.
Saddlemire, 16, is also a lifelong UU. A member of First Unitarian Church of Providence, Rhode Island, she is serving a two-year term through 2018.
A youth voice on the UUA board is essential, said Saddlemire, who is a high school junior. “I think it’s important because [youth] are the up-and-coming members of the Board of Trustees,” said Saddlemire. “It’s really important for youth to know what’s happening so they can keep up to date. Sometimes youth can be in the dark, and I think I can combat that.”
Saddlemire is part of a School of Rock program, where she sings and plays ukulele and piano, and is a member of her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. She loves Unitarian Universalism, she said, because “it’s very encouraging of learning and deciding what you believe.”