UUA Celebrates First Elected Woman President
As my colleague in ministry, Rev. Meg Barnhouse, declared last week, “Let the celebrations begin! We’re embarked on a chapter with our first elected woman president of the UUA.”
Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, minister of the Phoenix, Arizona congregation, will be our 9th president since the Unitarians and the Universalists joined together. She will serve as the leader of a progressive faith movement encompassing 1,000 congregations with 200,000 adults and children in the United States.
Immediately following the announcement of her victory on June 24, the last evening of our General Assembly in New Orleans, the UUWF posted on Facebook that “history was made tonight within Unitarian Universalism.”
As reported by the UU World, after having been named winner in a three-way race of woman-identified candidates Frederick-Gray said, “I want to be clear, right up front, I am not the first female president of the UUA.” She then turned to applaud the Rev. Sofia Betancourt, who had served three months as one of three co-presidents appointed to complete the term of President Peter Morales.
The UUWF conducted interviews with the presidential candidates and published the transcripts on our website prior to the election. Here are a few of the highlights of the conversation with Frederick-Gray:
How do you see the relationship between the UUA and the UUWF currently?
“I think the UUWF as a source of growing women’s leadership for the larger movement is really important … I think that one of the ways the Associate organizations can be in a stronger relationship with the UUA is through collaborative conversations about the future of our faith … How we imagine the next 25 years of Unitarian Universalism … needs to be informed by women’s voices. It needs to be informed by people of color. I think that’s a key thing.”
What do you feel is the most pressing issue for women within our denomination?
“I think we still have a lot of work to do in overcoming patriarchal structures. Overcoming patriarchy even in our own faith … [O]ne of the challenges is feeling like a perception (which has truth in it) … that half our ministry currently is women. That we have a long history of women’s leadership in our faith. But we haven’t really overcome all the obstacles to women and women’s voices shaping how we run our association. How we lead as a spiritual and moral faith community, and so probably one of the challenges is figuring out how to continue to move forward, to continue to encourage and push our association forward in collaborative and non-oppressive ways of being and leading.”
What are your pet projects or personal passions on behalf of UU women and girls?
“Healthcare for women and girls. Healthcare for mothers … [T]his is an issue where, across the board, whether it’s cuts to childcare stipends, cuts to food stamps, cuts to women’s health and reproductive care. These are all going to be incredibly damaging to families, to women, to their children.”
For our new president’s responses to questions about where gender fits within intersectionality within Unitarian Universalism; how she sees the UUA currently addressing issues surrounding women and girls and her leadership around them; the role of our movement in the future of trans women’s rights and safety, especially trans women of color; and how the UUA and UU congregations can improve the health and lives of women they employ; and more, see the entire interview on our website.