A new Unitarian Universalist Association president—the public, spiritual, and executive leader of the UU movement and the UUA organization and staff—will be elected at General Assembly 2023, for a six-year term.
The person elected will succeed President Susan Frederick-Gray, who was elected at the UUA’s General Assembly in 2017.
The Presidential Search Committee (PSC), which the General Assembly created in 2010, is tasked with evaluating applications for president and selecting at least two nominees.
The PSC posted the application form online on Monday, April 4, 2022. From this day on, it began accepting applications. The deadline to submit applications is July 15, 2022. Nominees will be announced on November 15, 2022.
The six-member Presidential Search Committee comprises the Rev. Theresa Soto; the Rev. Jaimie Dingus; Denise Rimes; Cathy Seggel; James Snell; and Marva Williams. The team said that, while it anticipates nominating two nominees, it would consider nominating a third if there are three standout candidates.
Candidates may also run by petition rather than through the PSC process. The petition process opens on December 1, 2022, and closes on February 1, 2023.
In accordance with the job description, UUA bylaws, and Massachusetts law, a candidate must be “a member in good standing of a UUA member congregation; a resident of the United States; at least 18 years of age; able to travel extensively and work both weekdays, weekends, and evenings, and able to spend a significant amount of time in Boston.”
Candidates may also run by petition rather than through the PSC process. The petition process opens on December 1, 2022, and closes on February 1, 2023. Candidates who run by petition must follow a process outlined in Bylaw 9.6a (PDF), which requires that their petition is signed by no fewer than fifty certified member congregations, including at least one congregation from three of the UUA’s five regions.
Continuing the UUA’s commitment to dismantling white supremacy culture and other systems of domination and oppression—and receiving a wide pool of diverse applicants—is a top commitment of the search committee.
It is addressing this commitment in a variety of ways, including making sure its members have done continuing education, along with the rest of the UUA staff, on disability justice, and accessible and inclusive hiring practices. The PSC will also be doing work around implicit bias in order to be open to a variety of candidates.
While the committee is basing much of its process and timeline on the previous PSC’s work, it has a more condensed timeline because the presidential election period has been shortened.
As the process for applications is heavily dependent on written communication, the PSC offers any potential applicant the option to contact the committee with suggestions for a different form of application that better shows off the applicant’s gifts and perspectives, and it hopes people take that opportunity.
The PSC is also seeking input and advice from different stakeholders. Members of the committee are meeting with a variety of UU organizations, including DRUUMM (Diverse & Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries), BLUU (Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism), TRUUsT (Transgender Religious professional UUs Together), and EqUUal Access, to get their input and to encourage members to apply or to nominate leaders from their communities.
The 2023 election is only the second election in which the PSC has been involved. While the committee is basing much of its process and timeline on the previous PSC’s work, it has a more condensed timeline because the presidential election period has been shortened.
The committee has also sought the reflections and input of the previous PSC, as well as from current UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray and other candidates from the 2017 presidential election in order to learn and to improve the process based on their perspectives.