A Message From Our New Board President – Mike Alcoff
I hope everyone is enjoying the early days of summer. As the new Board President, I would love to take this opportunity to re-introduce myself and talk a little about the early work of the Board.
I have been attending First UU Brooklyn with my wife, Mariasara, and our two children, Allegra and Marco, for close to twenty years. Both of our children were dedicated at First U and attended Sunday school for most of their childhoods. I am in my third year on the Board. I have served on two search committees, was on the Finance Committee, and was Head Usher for a year. Professionally, I have worked for the New York City Department of Education for the past 26 years as a teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal, and presently as a Network Leader. In my current employment, I lead a team that supports 28 New York City schools and their Principals. This work has greatly strengthened my understanding of successful organizations and organizational change.
The new Board has met twice thus far, first for an offsite retreat and later to conduct the business of the Board and the congregation. As you probably already know, the Board consists of nine members, five of whom are continuing their terms (Tom Check, Elaine Macken, Jeff Muller, Rachel Michael, and myself) and four of whom are new (Liz Davis, Devin Judge-Lord, Mary Most, and Kurt Steele).
At our offsite retreat in early June, members, together with Rev. Ana, Director of Educational Ministries, Meagan Henry, and new treasurer, Mitch Major, got the chance to get to learn more about each other. We developed a covenant to guide us in working together and in our relationships with the larger congregation. Included in this covenant is our commitment to transparency and ongoing communication. We also took the opportunity to share our visions for the future of FUUB. We reviewed research on organizational change, and specifically, transitional churches, which led to a very frank and enlightening discussion. All in all, it was a positive experience that left us eager to begin the work together.
That work began at our first official meeting on Tuesday, June 24. It was a productive meeting that led to consensus around a number of key decisions, some immediate and some forward thinking. The Board chose Derek Pearl (as a replacement) to represent our congregation at General Assembly. The Board approved a new finance committee comprised of Mitch Major, Devin Judge-Lord, Mary Most, Brian Dauth, Mark Holloway, and Darnell Dawson. Reverend Ana was happy to report that the Music Search Committee has identified a choice for new music director. The Board authorized the Music Search Committee to engage in preparing a contract with the candidate.
In our efforts to improve communications between the Board and the whole congregation, Board members agreed that major Board policies past and present will be posted on the FUUB website and placed in hard copy in the office. In either form, we are committed to making these policies accessible to all interested members. Board members also asked me, and I agreed, to prepare this report after every meeting. I will also use these reports to include a brief bio of each Board member.
With the Flatbush fund expiring in September of this year, the Board authorized the Flatbush fund oversight committee to take requests for proposals for mini-grants of up to $600 from programs within our church that further social justice and religious education. The total disbursement will not exceed $2000, representing less than 1% of the total fund that remains. We view this as a continuation of the commitment of the fund to support the great work of programs within our own congregation.
Finally, the Board considered next steps in the church growth transition process, begun by the previous Board’s study of this issue, including discussions with church growth experts, and the formation of the Forward study team. Lee Pardee, chair of that team, was in attendance at the Board meeting. Reflecting on the work previously done in this area by our own congregation and the previous Board, the new Board authorized the engagement of a church transitions expert to work with the Board and Forward team during the current church year as well as fundraising to cover the consulting fee. We will begin this work in September, and we will keep you informed about it as we move forward.