Elected UUA term ends.
At General Assembly in June, Ladd will complete two four-year terms
as financial advisor, the Association's third-ranking elected position
after the president and moderator. The financial advisor, a volunteer,
is elected to an at-large Board seat with the special responsibility to
provide "an independent and expert evaluation of financial issues
and the fiscal health of the UUA,"; as Ladd explains it on the financial
advisor's section of the UUA Web site. The advisor is a voting member
of the Board of Trustees and its Executive Committee, and its Administrative,
Organizational, and Personnel committee; in addition, the advisor serves
as a member of several UUA bodies: the Investment Committee, the Compensation
Benefits and Pension Committee, and the Congregational Properties and
Here are some of the good things Ladd has noted:
Socially responsible investing: The Association's long commitment
was given new life through a shareholder activism initiative. "If
we show up at an annual meeting, and we hold shares, and push for changes
in employment practices or environmental practices, they often actually
change,"; Ladd says. "This can really have an impact.";
Church staff compensation: After a slow start, he
says, the UUA's effort to elevate compensation standards for clergy,
religious education directors, administrators, and other church staff
has made great progress.
Endowment performance: About 40 percent of the UUA's
revenue comes from earnings from its endowment, so how it is invested
is crucial. After returns took a dip compared with other endowments,
asset allocation policy and investment advisors were changed. "I
think our endowment is in very good shape at the moment,"; he says.
Audit Committee: This new board-appointed committee
hires and monitors the UUA's external auditors. "Now there's
more than just one person, the financial advisor, monitoring financial
behavior,"; Ladd says approvingly. "They offer perspective
that no one in my role would have in total.";
Ladd, 55, is the fifth financial advisor since the position was created
in 1967. He is national director of higher education practice for Grant
Thornton, a global tax, accounting, and business advisory firm, and
has long experience in nonprofit financial management. Dan Brody of
Newton Highlands, Massachusetts, is running unopposed to succeed Ladd;
an election will be held at GA.
"The role of financial advisor is unique in my experience of for-profit
and not-for-profit organizations,"; says UUA President William G. Sinkford.
"It epitomizes our collective distrust of authority. I will miss Larry's
sense of history and easy humor. We've lived through some difficult
financial times. Our respect for one another made even these difficult
times a pleasure."
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Tom Stites was the editor of UU World from 1997 to 2006 and retired as its publisher in 2007. He is a member of the First Religious Society of Newburyport, Massachusetts.