Tamara Payne-Alex

I am endorsing Tamara Payne Alex for UUA Moderator.

We need to pass the leadership of our Association to younger leaders.

I do not have extensive experience with either candidate for Moderator.  I served on a small task force with Jim Key, and he is a wise and gracious man.  Our group did all our work on the phone, so I have never been in his presence. I have known Tamara for a long time; she was on the MFC when I met them.

Most of us do not have a lot of experience with either candidate.

That said, I believe that it is crucial for the leadership of our Association to pass to the next generation of leaders.  I don't think that we should do this because it will look good, or make us more attractive.  I think that Baby Boomers like myself no longer bring an innovating energy to our work.  We bring a perfecting energy to what we do.  We want to make our institutions and organizations work better, be more effective, and have better governance.  Noble goals and entirely appropriate to our stage of life.  And, from afar, they are where much energy is now going at the level of the UUA board.


It is clear to me that Unitarian Universalism is entering into a period of great change and uncertainty.  Over the next decade, we will have to radically redefine our message and our ministries to meet the needs of a changing world.  We need to change.

We need leaders of a new generation, on the board, in the staff, in the ministry, and in our congregations, to help us to see with fresh eyes, rethink our options and reset our course.

In a time like this, experience, competency and skill are not the most important criteria.  In times like this, it is not the most important thing to have harmonious governance, effective alignment, and even laser like focus.  Vision, experimentation and an ability to capture the spirit of the times may be more important.

I believe that Tamara Payne-Alex is the leader who can lead us through the process of change and innovation that these next decades will demand of Unitarian Universalism.


  1. Tom: much as I admire your thinking and dearly as I love you I have to disagree on this one. Tamara is a devoted Unitarian Universalist and a fine leader but Jim Key would make a far better moderator. The symbolic value of generational change is outweighed by our need for seasoned leadership to bring the Board and the Administration intop alignment. Jim is far more capable of providing that kind of leadership than his opponent. We don't need symbolic change we need real change. We need Jim Key!

  2. Tom,
    Tamara Payne-Alex is younger in age but old in the tooth regarding the ways we do things. In fact, it is Jim Key who is the new comer and does not have the history or baggage with the board. Jim brings new eyes and an outsider's perspective to the issues we face. If you are looking for innovation and change Jim is the candidate to endorse.
    Randy Burnham
    Unitarian Church in Westport, Connecticut

  3. Rob, if I thought it was only symbolic change, I would agree with you. Generational change is real change -- perhaps the realest of all. I wrote here a long time ago that the misalignment between the Board and the Administration was not the most important issue -- there was a fundamental lack of vision at work. The vision that has driven our association for however long now is exhausted. I don't doubt that Jim Key is seasoned and skillful and would moderate well. But what we need is rising tide of younger, more diverse, leaders empowered to put forward a newer vision of what we should be. Groups of visionary leaders create alignment and momentum. To me, the question comes down to "who is more likely to catalyze the creation of circle of visionary leaders in the UUA?" And the answer to me is that T A-P is more likely to be that one.
    You know that my affection and respect for you is what makes me willing to argue with you directly.

  4. Clyde Grubbs12:49 PM

    I am puzzled by the view of some that what we need is "alingment" and that one "seasoned" man can "align" the Board and Administration.

    The Board has a task outlined by the bylaws to hold the adminstration accountable for realizing goals and for having a good reason when it sppends money and ask over and over again whether that "reason" was accomplished.

    That won't solve the existential angst of Unitarian Universalism. That won't create a compelling vision that move us forward. But it is what the BoT was elected to do.

    And I am not sure that finding the solution to our angst will releave us of the job of holding ourselves accountable. And the vision won't make us "align" if we still have problems with qualiatative analysis of program outcomes. That is a big part of the job. Vision work is ongoing, but if the BoT doesn't do its job it would not bode well for confidence in the ability of the Association to carry out its vision.

    As a continuing Board member, I will not endorse either candidate but "who is more likely to catalyze a circle of visionary leaders..." requires the capacity to listen, and a humility and relational talent that allows that multicultural, multigenerational and multgendered "circle" to realize its power.

    Sort of like a Sunday School Teacher.


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