Priorities include shift to policy governance, accountability to congregations, antiracism, and 'excellence in ministry.'
Courter, a member of the UU Congregation of Grand Traverse, Mich., and the Church of the Larger Fellowship, is founder and partner of TRIAD Consulting, an information technology consulting firm based in Buckley, Mich. In October 2003 the UUA Board of Trustees appointed her acting moderator after Moderator Diane Olson resigned. The following June, the 2004 General Assembly elected her to complete Olson’s term. The 2005 GA then elected her to her first full four-year term. UUA bylaws permit moderators to run for two full terms.
In the early 1990s Courter served on the Michigan District board, now part of the Heartland District, and in 1995 she was elected to the UUA board, a position she held for eight years. She has also served on the UUA Finance Committee and the GA Planning Committee.
The moderator presides at meetings of the board, its executive committee, and the General Assembly, and also represents the Association on special occasions. A bylaw change in 2007 named the moderator the UUA’s “chief governance officer.”
Serving as moderator during the Gulf Coast flooding disaster following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Courter said, “shaped me and my service in some important ways: You can’t spend much time in the Gulf without deepening your feelings about racism. Spending time with our congregations there and with community groups and our partners in the Gulf has been a critical piece of not just my leadership but also my personal growth.”
Her primary goals, Courter said, have included helping the Association better serve congregations with programs and curricula, finding new ways to deliver services, and bringing more congregational leaders to General Assembly. Approximately one-third of congregational presidents currently attend GA.
Courter wants more. “We’re still not to the point where we are helping congregations enough to engage in the Association,” she said. “It’s really hard for GA to represent congregations when the only way most people get there is to be willing to use vacation time and their own money.”
Courter’s goals for a second term start with completing the UUA’s transition to a “policy governance” system, a model developed by John Carver that defines a board’s role as deciding an organization’s ends while leaving the means to its employees and members. She believes this model will enable the board to govern more effectively and will help congregations have a greater voice.
“The board also needs to figure out how to be in authentic, meaningful, and accountable relationship with our congregations,” she said. “That’s going to take some work.” Work on racism, multiculturalism, and class are also priorities, she said, as is continuing the work around the Excellence in Ministry initiative, in which the board is examining how theological education is funded and provided.
“I love working with the UUA board,” Courter said. “The members are passionate about our faith.”
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Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.