The final District vote took place on Saturday, April 27, 2013 and all three Districts voted YES to creating the MidAmerica Region.
The MidAmerica Region has its own governing board, replacing Prairie Star, Central Midwest and Heartland District Boards as of July 1, 2013. Your UUA Field Staff did not change and continues to serve you.
Prairie Star District
Central Midwest District
Regionalization proceeded on two fronts: Governance and Services to Congregations
While our Central Midwest, Heartland, and Prairie Star District Boards moved forward on a timeline that led to votes in April 2013 on forming a new regional Governance structure, the Field Staff worked to create new Program Delivery and Administrative structures that began July 1, 2013.
Regionalization for PSD will mean sharing the services of district field staff. We will be moving from now to July 2013 to having all six co-funded staff from the three districts serve the whole region. Regional Field Staff are shown at the bottom of this page. The process has already begun with the online workshops offered twice monthly—workshops planned and hosted by all six staff members and made available to congregants in all three districts.
September 1, 2011, Nancy Combs-Morgan, formerly with Heartland District, began working with youth and young adults in all three districts.
July 1, 2012, Gretchen Ohmann, formerly with Central Midwest District, began working as MidAmerica Technology Coordinator serving all three districts. Beginning July 1, 2013, Sarah Greene, current PSD Administrator, will fill the position of Regional Administrator 1 (full-time position), and Peggy Boccard, current Central Midwest Administrator, will be Regional Administrator 2 (half-time position).
From Nancy Heege and the regional Field Staff
While our Central Midwest, Heartland, and Prairie Star District Boards are moving forward on a timeline that will lead to votes next April on forming a new regional Governance structure, the Field Staff are working to create new Program Delivery and Administrative structures that will begin July 1, 2013, regardless of the outcome of the votes about the Governance structure.
As part of that work, we’ve made some hiring decisions and want you to know our news.
When our Prairie Star District Web Coordinator Ben Stallings let us know he’d be moving on over the summer, we decided to hire a regional Tech Coordinator now to serve all three districts – Central Midwest, Heartland, and Prairie Star. We are delighted to announce that we have appointed Gretchen Ohmann as the Technology Coordinator for the MidAmerica Region! Gretchen has worked as the webmaster and communications person for the Central Midwest District for seven years, but as of July 1st, that position was expanded to cover web and other technology solutions for the entire MidAmerica Region. Her initial work will be with us as we design and create a new MidAmerica website, and she will also be responsible for keeping the current web sites of the three districts running. Her webwork both for Unitarian Universalist sites and in other venues provides her with the skills to work on the three differing platforms we now have, and help move us to a unified site. Gretchen will also help us learn about new technology, and we expect that she will also be able to work with congregations in MidAmerica to help them answer questions about their technological future. Stay tuned for more details on that aspect of her work to be revealed sometime later this fall.
Beginning next July our other administrative positions will serve the entire MidAmerica Region (Central Midwest, Heartland and Prairie Star). While these new positions will officially begin on July 1, 2013, you’ll see increasing collaboration among our three districts’ administrative and program delivery staff in the next year.
We are happy to announce that we have appointed Sarah Greene as the full time Regional Administrator 1 beginning July 1, 2013. The Regional Administrator 1 will oversee the administrative operations of the MidAmerica Region, including communications, meeting and event support, web work administration in consultation with and support of the Technology Coordinator, and miscellaneous administrative responsibilities. Sarah has worked as District Administrator for Prairie Star District for 22 years. Sarah’s long experience in administration provides her with the skills to help us combine the administrative functions of three districts and move forward as a region.
We are also pleased to announce that Peggy Boccard, currently District Administrator for the Central Midwest District, will become the Regional Administrator 2 for the MidAmerica Region, a half time position next July. She has worked for the CMwD since 2006, and before that had extensive experience in management in not for profit and corporate environments. In her capacity of Regional Administrator 2 she will, among other duties to be determined, be responsible for research, analysis, data organization and reporting; setting up and managing event registrations; generating communications with regional members; and supporting regional committees and staff. She will also likely be acting as back up for the work of the Technology Coordinator and a new Bookkeeper [yet to be hired].
Barbara Hamilton, the well-respected and effective Heartland Administrator, has decided that this is the right time to try on semi-retirement, and to try some of the other ventures that she hasn’t had time for while working for the District. Her work for the Heartland District will continue through June, 2013.
We appreciate the excellent work of our three District Administrators and appreciate their efforts to help us through this transition in the next year!
November 12, 2011 marks a historic day for Prairie Star District. We took the first step toward building a governance structure for the 21st Century; one that leads a thriving, future-oriented religious organization. At our meeting, the PSD Board unanimously voted to work collaboratively with the Boards of the Central Midwest District and Heartland District to create a regional governance entity to replace the three individual districts. Our three boards are the first in the UUA to make this bold and creative proposal.
Creation of a new regional entity is an opportunity to form something more than a geographically larger district. The Board believes that by collaborating with our partner districts to the east, we can accomplish more than any one district can do by working alone. A regional entity, with one governance Board rather than three separate district boards as we have now, will also free more of our funds for programming.
The new regional governance structure will be on the agenda for approval by PSD Delegates at our 2013 Business Meeting. This gives us nearly 18 months for study, planning, congregational feedback, and communications. We will need to create entirely new regionally-oriented, processes for visioning, accountability, fiduciary responsibility, and communication.
I’m sure you have questions about how this transition will impact you and your congregation. I’ll try to address some of these in this letter.
Our capable staff will continue to serve you, with the benefit of additional resources from our partner districts. There will be six Field Staff, including our new regional Youth and Young Adult Coordinator. Each of these staff experts has talents and abilities that complement each other. Our congregations will continue to be well served.
Our PSD Annual Conferences have been scheduled and locations chosen through April 2014. There are no plans to discontinue our Annual Conferences. The Annual Conference planning committees continue to work hard to make these events successful. Our conferences are valued by attendees, and they pay for themselves. If we move to a regional entity, the Annual Conferences can still continue as they have, minus the Business Meeting.
Your PSD Board is committed to maintaining UniStar as a UU camp. We have charged our Enterprise Management Group with researching options for ownership of the camp if we move to regional governance. The EMG, consisting of representatives of the Board and the Unistar Management Committee, will make its recommendation to the Board in April 2012. A workshop at the 2012 Annual Conference will provide your first opportunity to hear the EMG report, and provide feedback. The Board, in consultation with the EMG and the UniStar Management Committee, will establish a process for hearing from the UniStar community following the Annual Meeting. Delegates will vote on the status of the Camp along with other proposals relating to regionalization in April 2013. Camp StarTrail will continue to be an offering, as long as there is sufficient interest.
There are no plans to make any staffing changes at this time. Our Field Staff (Nancy Heege and Rev. Phillip Lund) are already working as part of the MidAmerica Regional Staff, with primary responsibilities for serving the congregations of the Prairie Star District.
We don’t know yet. There is a lot of work to be done to create our new regional organization. We’ll need to write bylaws, determine governance style, etc. We’ll have to develop financial plans and determine how to transition financial assets. There will be a Steering Committee made up of the Presidents and Vice Presidents of each district. Dave Martin, our Vice President, and I will join Rev. Brian Covell and Nancy Armstrong of Central Midwest District, and Amy Taylor and Kathy Silver of Heartland District as members of the Steering Committee. The three district Treasurers will work together to resolve financial and budget issues. Bill Elwood from PSD will team with Warren Thom of Central Midwest District and Rae Jane Araujo of Heartland District.
If you are on the PSD newsletter list, you’ll get updates sent directly to your inbox. Please be sure we have your current email address. Information will also be posted on our website and Facebook page. From time to time, we may sponsor webinars, so that we can hear from you about more specific proposals. You’ll learn about those through emails, the website, or Facebook. Maybe I’ll even learn to tweet? We’ll also have a workshop at our 2012 Annual Conference to update you on the transition work.
We need you to be an informed delegate to our Business Meetings. Please read materials that are sent to you, ask questions, and participate in webinars when offered. We also need your congregation’s continued Fair Share contributions. It takes money to provide the services you have come to expect from the District. If your congregation is not Fair Share, considering becoming a Fair Share congregation this year.
Please email me regarding governance issues discussed above. Comments about PSD programming and service issues should be directed to Nancy Heege.
We are embarking on an exciting journey. I look forward to making the journey with you. I know I can speak for the PSD Board in pledging to communicate fully, openly, and often as we move forward.
Peace and blessings,
Kathy Burek -- President, Prairie Star District
Dear Prairie Star District UU:
It’s been a busy summer for PSD leadership. We have been working on building our proposed MidAmerica Region, and are close to having a description of the organization and its governance that we can share with all of you. We consider it essential to move toward a regional model for purposes of economy and efficiency so as to more effectively provide services to UU congregations. To do so, we hope to secure the “yes” votes of 2/3 of delegates at each of our three district business meetings. Here, in abbreviated form, are the governance structures of our association, and what is happening in our district and region.
We are a “bottom up democracy” with the power and accountability coming from our independent congregations that make up our Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). This is why it is so important for our congregations to have delegates participate in meetings like General Assembly (GA) where our Association’s business is conducted. It is at these meetings where we elect our leadership (the President and Moderator are up for election in 2013), pass important resolutions (like that repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery at this year’s GA), and make important bylaws changes (e.g., adopting a more flexible understanding of “congregation” to keep up with changng times).
The UUA is made up of 19 districts. You probably know our Prairie Star District includes North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa and western portions of Wisconsin and part of Missouri. To the east is Central Midwest District that includes Wisconsin, Illinois, most of Missouri, and parts of Indiana and Michigan. Further east, Heartland District includes Kentucky, most of Indiana, most of Michigan and western Ohio. Our 3 districts comprise the MidAmerica Region, with 194 congregations and 37,000 members. The UUA has 4 other regions, each containing 4 districts.
Each UU congregation has a governance Board, and the same is true for each district. Regions do not have currently have any governance structure. This may be changing. Starting in 2010, the District Boards of the MidAmerica Region began exploring the possibility of a regional structure. In 2011, all 3 boards voted to work toward creating a regional board to replace the existing 3 boards. There are a lot of reasons for this which you will be hearing more about. But, a main one is increased service to congregations with a reduced administrative burden.
Just as each congregation sends delegates to General Assembly, we send delegates to our annual district conferences. Our Prairie Star District Annual Conference will be in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, April 5-7, 2013. It will be very important to send delegates to this meeting. The MidAmerica Districts will be asking for your vote to replace our district boards with one regional board. You will start hearing more details about this after the boards and lead staff of the three districts meet August 24-26 in Rock Island, Illinois, to fine tune the proposal. In September, we will start sharing information for comment and feedback and in April 2013 we will vote. Please look for information in future newsletters and information packets sent to your office administrators, ministers and boards. We will get information out in as many ways as possible so you can have input, make comments, and be informed before you come as delegates to the April 2013 PSD Annual Conference in Cedar Rapids.
Prairie Star District delegates will also be asked to vote on a proposal for the future of Camp UniStar. The PSD Board’s Enterprise Management Group is working on the details of a proposal to create a new organization, the Camp Unistar Foundation. This Foundation would own and operate Camp UniStar. The EMG will be proposing a way the new UniStar Foundation would be connected to the MidAmerica Region Board. The three boards will also need to consider this proposal when they meet in August.
The PSD Board is committed to openness and transparency throughout the process of developing a new regional structure. Any PSD UU is welcome to listen in to board calls. The Board meets by phone on the second Saturday of the month from 9:00 - 11:00 am. Agendas for these calls, advance materials and instructions for registering for our calls [were] available on the PSD website.
You may also email me directly ... with any questions or comments you might have.
Thank you for your continued commitment to Unitarian Universalism,
Kathy Burek -- President, Prairie Star District