May 12, 2021
The Nominating Committee of the MidAmerica Region has submitted their slate of candidates for election at the Annual Meeting on June 26, 2021.
Under the MidAmerica Region Bylaws, individuals may run by Congregational Action. The Bylaws read:
Article VII. Nominations
“Section 2. Nominations by Congregational Action. A member of a congregation in good standing with the Region may be nominated for any position to be elected by formal endorsement of the governing bodies of at least ten (10) congregations within the Region. Nominations by congregational action must be received by the Secretary no fewer than thirty-five (35) days in advance of the Annual Meeting at which the election is to be held.”
Any endorsements for an individual who wishes to run must be received by MidAmerica Board Secretary, Jim Moir, by no later than May 22, 2021. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MidAmerica Region UUA 2021 Slate of Nominees
As of May 9, 2021
- Rae Jane Araujo - Incumbent (Term Expires 2024)
- Hans Kelson - Incumbent (Term Expires 2024)
- Rev. Mandy Beal - New (Term Expires 2024)
- Helen Dwyer - Incumbent (Term Expires 2023)
- Maureen O’Keefe - New (Term Expires 2023)
- (open position - candidate withdrew)
- Nancy Spargo - New (Term Expires 2024)
- Robert Lovell - New (Term Expires 2024)
Rae Jane Araujo
Rae Jane Araujo is a member of Heritage Universalist Unitarian Church located in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has been a UU for 40 years. She is active in her church’s Social Justice Collaborative, is treasurer of the Unitarian Universalist Council of Greater Cincinnati (cluster). She is a past board member of UUJO (Ohio’s state- wide social justice network), and past President of the Midwest Unitarian Universalist Conference.
She has been active in her church, serving several times as Treasurer, and has been involved with the following: Co-Chair of the Universalist Convocation Planning Committee, Labyrinth Arts Festival Steering Committee, Finance Committee, Stewardship, Welcoming Congregation, and Ministerial Search Committees. She was Chair of the Building Committee when the church was built in 1985. She served on the board of the Heartland District (before the creation of the MidAmerican Region) and served as its Treasurer. She is also involved with a wide range of non-UU social justice movements including the Coalition for a Just Hamilton County.
Before retirement in October of 2018, Rae Jane was the Technical Sales Manager for Howden American Fan. She is married to her husband, Russ, and is the mother of two grown children (who are also UUs). Rae Jane loves spending time with her four granddaughters and one great-granddaughter.
Hans Kelson has been a Unitarian Universalist since he was five years old, when his family joined the UU Church of Bloomington, Indiana. He became a member in his own right in 2016 at the age of sixteen. Since then, Hans has served as youth liaison to the board, attended the Youth Midwest Leadership School in 2016, served as a delegate to General Assembly in 2019, and been involved in regional youth leadership activities. Currently, Hans serves on the MidAmerica Young Adult Steering Committee and as an At-Large member of the MidAmerica Board.
Homeschooled throughout his schooling years, Hans has been able to take advantage of many opportunities to forge his own path. In 2015, he helped found the Interfaith Community of Environmentalist Youth (ICEY) which organized local home weatherizing events, started the area’s first “solarize” campaign, and traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s annual Spring Lobby Weekend. He currently works for Monroe County Government as a computer technician, and is starting his own tech consulting company. In 2018, he was elected to the Benton Township Board, where he is working to raise awareness about local governance and shore up fire protection services for his rural community. Hans enjoys playing guitar, reading high fantasy, and participating in a local pool league.
Rev. Mandy Beal
Rev. Mandy Beal (she/her) was called as the Senior Minister/Executive of Birmingham Unitarian Church (Bloomfield Hills, MI) in June 2018. She is a graduate of Andover Newton Theological School and trained for the ministry at First Parish in Lincoln, both in Massachusetts. Prior to that, she was a social worker specializing in the administration of workforce development programs. She has also held several Religious Education positions in UU congregations in Texas and Massachusetts.
Rev. Mandy has a deep love of high church and traditional liturgy, but is also committed to worship as an inclusive and transformational experience. She's really into the idea of worship that reaches the head, heart, and soul. She also believes social justice is an essential component of Unitarian Universalism.
Rev. Mandy lives in Brighton, MI with her spouse, Jesse Beal (they/them). Jesse is the Director of the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center at Michigan State University. Rev. Mandy and Jesse are currently in the process of adopting a teenager and look forward to sharing more information about their newest family member when the adoption finalizes.
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.
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.
Midwest UU Conference
Nancy Spargo has been an active member of Eliot Unitarian Chapel in the St. Louis region, since 2005. Her current involvement includes a leadership role in the Immigration Justice Team, the spiritual book group, and a focus group facilitator for the Ends Statements.
Historically, Ms. Spargo has been a RE leader for the junior high group, a covenant group leader, and has served on too many workgroups and committees to list. Her biggest role was as Social Justice Coordinator, a half-time volunteer position, which provided the opportunity to create and implement a model for social justice.
Ms. Spargo is a graduate of the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and completed a post graduate clinical externship in Family Therapy at the Institute for Juvenile Research of the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the co-founder and the CEO of Sparlin Mental Health in St. Louis, which is a small organization that provides mental health services, advocacy, and organizational consultation and training. She is adjunct faculty at the Brown School of Washington University.
Her commitment to strengthening families as well as their communities has led her to serve a variety of clients, including immigrants and refugees, foster and adoptive families, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) populations, and the homeless.
Passionate about social justice, Ms. Spargo is a staunch advocate of human rights, and has been active in a variety of causes since her youth. She is the mother of four young adult children, lives with her partner, and father, who she has cared for over the past nine years, and co-parent to Henry, the beloved family dog. Outside of spending time with family, Ms. Spargo enjoys live music, the outdoors, and entertaining friends at home.
Robert (Bob) Lovell
Bob Lovell has been a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing since 1980. Bob has served on the MidAmerica Nominating Committee from 2017-2019 and as its Co-Chair from 2018-2020. At his church, he has served as Coming of Age Mentor, Ministerial Search Committee Chair, President, and is currently a Board member. He has been an alternate or delegate to the Regional Assembly many times and he and his wife Kathy are Chalice Lighters. He has also enjoyed volunteering at the last seven General Assemblies and plans to do so again in this year. In addition to church work, Bob is a volunteer with the Meridian Township Transportation Commission. He is a retired statistician, manager and teacher. He looks forward to contributing to the MidAmerica Region in a new role as a member of the Midwest UU Conference.