Our congregation is self-governing. The overall management of congregational activities is supervised by an elected Board of Trustees acting in accordance with established bylaws. The Board delegates management of specific activities to lay leaders, committees or other groups. Ministers are chosen by the congregation. Ultimate authority resides in the members of the Congregation.
Board meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month. They begin at 6:30 PM in the Board Room (and on Zoom until we are able to meet in person), and are open to all.
Meet The Board:
LESLIE NORINSKY, PRESIDENT
It was the late 1990s when I first walked through the doors of the UU Fellowship on Stony Point Road. I was looking for a community, and I had had fond memories of getting to know some UU members through my young adulthood as a member of the Berkeley Co-op, where many UUs were active. I found more than just community at the UU Fellowship. Raised by parents who eschewed religion of any sort, I did not find dogma. Instead, I found a people who individually had different ideas about the great unknown universe, about the concept of God, and about what this whole “life” thing – this existence we share with one another – is about. I found a people who shared laughter and meals and music together.
My relationship with our UU congregation has been a lot like a marriage, with ups and downs and compromises and lots of learning about myself. Over the years I have worked with the youth group teaching the OWL program to teens, I have been a worship associate, and I have worked on the committee that planned the annual All-Congregation Retreat. Hey, I even met my husband at a retreat. Upon retiring in 2017 from both teaching and high school administration, I found ways to contribute to the congregation through my membership in the Diversity Project and the Borders and Beyond committees. I am proud of our work and so happy to be a member of a congregation that is growing, not in the sense of numbers, although that is important as well, but in the sense of allowing each of us to expand our thinking, our compassion towards one another, and towards ourselves.
JOHN MASON, VICE PRESIDENT
I was born and raised in Yorkshire, England, and attended the Anglican Church (Church of England), but had little interest in organized religion (frankly I was more interested in the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, although I do have a brother who’s an English vicar!). I began my career in book publishing, then with my wife Barbara Kezur moved to Connecticut where we raised our three daughters. I worked for 28 years as a marketing director at Scholastic Books (publisher of such bestsellers as Harry Potter and The Hunger Games!).
At some point along the way we joined the Unitarian Church in Westport, Connecticut, and were active members for 15 years, including my serving on the Board for 6 years. I retired in 2014, and we moved to Santa Rosa and joined UUCSR in 2016. UUCSR is such a friendly congregation. It’s an honor to serve on the Board at this exciting time of exploring our growth potential, because I think now more than ever the world needs what we offer!
JAN HESS, (CO-TREASURER )-BOARD MEMBER
After I retired as a Project Manager from Sonoma County Facilities Dept; I began a journey to work on my spiritual life. I have been a UUCSR member for 17 years. in addition to attending Services and Buddhist Meditation I have worked on various committees, including Endowment, Finance, Budget, Welcome Table, and Glaser Center. As a worker bee, I have helped with the Library, Candles, Sunday Money Counting, and Office Helper. I am very committed to this Community and will do everything possible to further our mission.
LINDA BALABANIAN (CO- TREASURER )- NON BOARD MEMBER
I grew up in a UU household in upstate New York and joined this congregation in my 20’s, when we were located on Stony Point Rd. I taught in RE when my daughter was younger and being one of the younger members, liked to help with the more physical work that needed to be done in our old building. I took a few hiatuses over the years mainly when work took me out of the area for periods of time but always came back. I have been very involved in Women Together, the Glaser Center Committee, and the Stewardship Team and did an earlier stint as Treasurer several years ago after I retired from Public Accounting. UUCSR is my home. and I am honored to serve.
TAMARA MURRELL, CORPORATE SECRETARY
A native Californian, I grew up in the rural Central Valley and moved to Sonoma County in 1989. I retired from Sonoma County Behavioral Health after over 25 years as a clinical social worker. My childhood religious experience was in the Lutheran-ELCA church. A long, winding, spiritual path brought me to Unitarian Universalism and UUCSR in 2014. Given my long time work in the healthcare field, I was drawn to our congregation’s commitment to racial and social justice—particularly the focus on the most vulnerable and marginalized members in our local communities.
At present, I’m serving on the Advocates for Social Justice-Diversity Project and active with my Neighborhood Group in West County/Lower Russian River. Other service roles I’ve had in the congregation include the Lay Chaplains Team, the Saturday Breakfast, and being a Mystery Pal with Children’s RE. I am incredibly grateful to be part of this beloved community and be given the opportunity to serve UUCSR by being on the Board of Trustees.
I live in Forestville with my sweetheart, Liz Larew; our enthusiastic Australian cattle dog and an incredibly tolerant cat. When not at UUCSR, you can find me in the kitchen cooking good food. Because telling our stories over a shared meal is sacred and can change the world.
MARGARET BREGGER COSTON is a third generation UU and has been part of congregations of all sizes and in many areas of the country. Since the death of her husband in 2013, she has returned home and become fully committed to this community. Her career as a nutritionist was in diverse communities in the county hospitals of San Mateo and San Francisco and the last 20 years with Sonoma County Indian Health Project before retiring in 2004.
Currently, she coordinates with a partner a Soul Matters Group and the Welcome Table. She participates in the Wednesday meditation group, Saturday morning breakfast, the Older and Bolder ladies, the neighborhood and book groups, and the Borders and Beyond Committee. She is motivated to serve UUCSR on the board during this critical transition period.
In the mid-1990’s, I joined a Unitarian Universalist congregation in the Los Angeles area. I felt I found a community of like-minded people who could explore spiritual growth and social justice. Most of my adult life I considered my social justice and anti-war activism my religion. Along the way my UU friends showed me how to expand my spiritual self. And I continue to explore the “the interdependent web of all existence” around me. During this time, for thirty plus years I worked in healthcare administration from managing a tribal health center to managing the resident doctor training program of a large hospital.
When I retired I moved to Sonoma County and immediately looked for a UU community, which brought me to UUCSR. Here I found a congregation willing to risk taking on difficult issues and struggling to be together as they move forward. In addition to being on the Board, I work with the Human Resources Committee, volunteer as an office helper and participate in the book club. I have facilitated a Soul Matters group, helped with Saturday Breakfast and annual auctions.
Joining the Board will give me another opportunity to contribute to the UUCSR community.
BIO TO COME.
Scott Miller has been a member of UUCSR since 2006. He served as a Worship Associate for several years. He also has served as an OWL teacher, as an RE teacher, and as a musician, and he has also been active in supporting the men’s retreats and men’s gatherings. He attends with his wife Susan and child Noah (11 as of 2021), and he and Susan have long attended Art of UU Parenting classes. In his professional life, he is a Professor of English at Sonoma State University.
Maria Praetzellis has attended UUCSR since 2017 and became a member in 2018. Maria grew up in Santa Rosa and moved away after finishing high school. After many years away, including ten years in NYC, she happily returned to the area to be closer to family in 2016. Maria works in the library technology field for the University of California, specializing in research data and developing tools supporting Open Science. Maria has served as Chair of COSM for the past two years. You may recognize Maria’s oldest child, Diana (13 years), who recently played The Grinch in UUCSR’s holiday pageant. Her son, Xavier (6 years), can generally be found in search of cookies after service on Sunday.
DEE RAY, RECORDING SECRETARY