Nominating Committee

Please contact Helen Dwyer ( for more information.

MidAmerica Region Nominating Committee 2022-23

Helen Dwyer

Helen Dwyer, co-chair

(2019-2023) Helen Dwyer is originally from Grand Island, NY. After graduation from Franklin College, Franklin, Indiana, she became a member of All Souls Unitarian Church Indianapolis and has remained there over 42 years. Ms. Dwyer served on committees including Fine Arts, Marketing, Religious Education, Adult Education, Marketing, and Communications. Ms. Dwyer served 8 years as secretary on the Church Council.

Ms. Dwyer has served on the Region’s Nominating Committee since 2019. She has also been a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) working with Child Advocates since May, 2010.

Mel Priese

Mel Priese

(2020-2024) Mel Priese is a third generation Unitarian Universalist member of Eliot Chapel in Kirkwood, MO where she hopes to continue the legacy of involvement and leadership that her grandmother and mother began with Eliot’s founding. As a youth, Mel participated in RE, OWL and the Senior High group, often helping plan and lead activities. She also helped plan and host youth conferences as a member of the Southern Area Youth Council, and has attended various UU enrichment programs throughout her youth and young adult career such as the Youth Midwest Leadership School, Youth Summer Seminary, and the Meaning Makers spiritual retreat. Currently she works with Eliot's Young Adult Group to build a strong and inclusive community.

After graduating in May 2019 from the University of Missouri - St. Louis with a Bachelors of Liberal Studies in Art and Music, Mel completed a social justice internship through the UUCSJ, working with the Rural & Migrant Ministry, Inc. in New York State.

Maureen O'Keefe

Maureen O’Keefe

(2021-2023) Maureen has been a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington-Normal (UUBN) since 2006. She’s served on several committees and task forces, as a Director on its Board of Directors, and from 2017-2019 as Board President. She currently chairs the Shared Leadership Council that supports current and future lay leaders within the parish. She’s been active in the church’s social justice work and currently serves as a member of UUBN’s Safety Team. She’s completed the virtual session of the Midwest Leadership School and recently concluded her participation in an 11-week study group that included several Central Illinois UU congregations working with the Widening the Circle of Concern: Report of the UUA Commission on Institutional Change as a platform to better understand how the work to counter oppressive practices in our systems should be addressed at the congregational and community levels.

Maureen has been active in the McLean County League of Women Voters for many years, serving in various capacities on its Board of Directors including two terms as its Board President. She’s an enthusiastic contributor to a wide array of voter education and policy advocacy efforts at the local and state levels. She recently retired from State Farm Insurance Companies where she served in staff and managerial roles involving employee and leadership development and coaching. She and her husband Bob Grosse remain committed to actively supporting their church community at UUBN.

Jim Wilber

Jim Wilber

(2022-2024) Jim Wilber has been a member of the Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church of Racine, Wisconsin for 30 years. Prior to that he was a member of the Mainline Unitarian Church in suburban Philadelphia for three years. Jim has twice served on his congregation's Board of Trustees, including three years as Secretary and one as President. He has served in several other capacities including chair of the Interim Minister Search Committee, chair of the Policy Governance Task Force, member of the Committee on the Ministry (chair the third year), and chair of the Personnel Committee for several years.

A lawyer by training, Jim practiced law for 14 years and has been a principal of a national management consultancy since 1990 that provides its services exclusively to legal organizations (i.e., law firms and the law departments of non-profit and for-profit companies and government legal agencies). He has many years of experience advising these organizations on, among other things, financial responsibility, governance, decision-making, human resources and personnel matters. Additionally, he has done executive search work for law firms for the past 32 years and has considerable experience recruiting and vetting candidates, and hiring. For many years Jim provided legal representation to incarcerated people. This started when he worked for a prison legal aid clinic in law school, and continued during seven years as the executive director of Prison Legal Services of Michigan. After leaving that organization, while he spent seven years working as a lawyer for the United Auto Workers union in Michigan, Jim did pro bono work with the National Prison Project of the ACLU, prosecuting federal civil rights class action cases challenging the conditions of confinement against eight different state-wide prison systems in the U.S.

Jim is married and he and his spouse have a daughter and two grandsons. Their current dog is a beagle.

John Lunsford

John Lunsford

(2020-2024) John Lunsford lives in Terre Haute, IN and along with his husband David is a member of the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Terre Haute. John currently serves as chair of the Building and Grounds Committee as well as Board Member and Past Board Chair. On Sundays and most church functions he runs the Audio/visual system at the church. Technically retired since 2014, he enjoys boating on any river and the seemingly endless maintenance projects any church seems to need. David is active in the church and works at a local area hospital, they share their home with a small furry tornado named Molly.

Dr. Mary Lamb Shelden

Dr. Mary Shelden

(2022-2024) Mary Shelden, a white, cisgender, bi woman of size, serves as Director of Lifespan Religious Exploration at Countryside Church UU in Palatine, Illinois — the same congregation her family attended when she was a child.

She lives with her beloved same-sex partner/spouse of nearly 24 years. They have a beloved daughter, Marjorie, and son-in-law, Jake, and a beautiful beagle grandpuppy, Apple, who has magnificent velvet ears.

2021-22 Nominating Committee