Mr. Barb Greve and Elandria Williams served as the Unitarian Universalist Association’s first co-moderators.
From right: UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray presents Co-Moderators Elandria Williams and Mr. Barb Greve during the General Assembly Opening Celebration in 2019. (© 2019 Christopher L. Walton)
In 2017, Mr. Barb Greve and Elandria Williams were appointed as the first co-moderators of the Unitarian Universalist Association, a historic co-leadership that followed the UUA’s first co-presidents, who served in spring 2017. Lifelong UUs who identify as genderqueer, Greve and Williams have served in many positions as faith leaders, including in people of color and trans identity spaces. Highlights of their service, they say, include changing board culture to be more collaborative among board members and with the administration, and collaboration with the Commission on Institutional Change.
With their tenure ending after Virtual General Assembly 2020 this June, here, they and others reflect on their service as chief governance officers of the UUA:
Mr. Barb Greve: “We are not the same as the cis, white, economically stable, older folks who have traditionally been in the position . . . which provides the gift of approaching the work from a different perspective and with different resources. [O]ften we experience resistance from folks who are not accustomed to their leaders holding different identities from the ones they hold.”
Elandria Williams: “Barb and I brought a different type of presence and wanted and needed the culture to be totally different. It was important to put care at the center and then impact and then deliverables. [Hopes include:] For our faith to be much more theologically rooted and grounded in the what are we here for, and how in the time of a pandemic do we support and nurture each other for now and the long haul.”
President Susan Frederick-Gray: “A gift of their tenure has been their commitment to partnership with me as president and Carey McDonald, the UUA’s executive vice president. We created a level of collaboration and power-sharing that felt historic and allowed us to take risks together to advance the work of justice, equity, and inclusion within and beyond the UUA.”
Executive Vice President Carey McDonald: “Their approach to collaborative, transparent governance and collective, inclusive decision-making has helped hold the center of our Association through some of its most tumultuous years. Their personal, professional, and theological commitment to antiracism and institutional transformation will have a profound imprint on the UUA for decades to come.”
Trustee Greg Boyd: “[Their] bold leadership, willingness to disagree publicly with one another and with the board as a whole, as well as their depth of experience in service to our congregations has been invaluable to a board that deeply wanted to move in a different way.”
Trustee Kathy Burek: “[Co-moderatorship] was an important step in opening up key leadership roles to people who were young and working full-time jobs, and to members of our historically marginalized communities who often don’t have the socioeconomic assets to spend up to thirty hours a week on a volunteer job. [Greve and Williams] have strong commitments to systemic justice [and] taught me more about institutional oppression and racism than I ever would have learned from traditional ‘diversity’ training.”
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Elaine McArdle is a UU World senior editor and a member of First Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon. An award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she has also written for the Boston Globe, Harvard Law Bulletin, and others.