The following UUCF members have been nominated for open positions on the Board of Directors, Endowment Fund Committee or Nominating Committee. If elected, their terms of office will start Jul. 1, 2017. The candidates have submitted these brief biographies to help members get to know them and their qualifications for their respective roles. The election will be held during the UUCF Annual Meeting on Sun., Jun. 4.
Board of Directors – 3-year terms
There are three candidates nominated to fill three open 3-year positions on the board.
I came to UUCF in 2011 at the behest of Mark Vogel, then director of music and arts, whom I had met through our mutual participation in the Vienna Choral Society. I came to UUCF to sing. I stayed because UUCF felt like home. From the campus – which reminded me of the community center of the Quaker homestead where I grew up – to the kind people, it was one of the first times I had participated in a fully welcoming religious community. After singing and serving for 5 years, I officially joined in 2016. During my time at UUCF, I have participated in the Chorale, Catalyst (the UUCF Chamber ensemble), on the Worship Associates team and am a member of the 3rd Service Task Force and Music and Arts Task Force, and am a founding member of the UUCF People of Color Caucus, among other small groups and initiatives. I am the granddaughter of a Baptist minister and the daughter of a mother who encouraged my younger brother and me to maintain an open mind, do right by people and let love be our guide – no matter what. I explored and expanded my faith (and at times, lack thereof) through heartfelt discussions with my peers and classes like “The Problem of God” at Georgetown University. For the past 15 years, I have focused my career on B2B business development and marketing, and in that time I: settled in Fairfax (2009), married my husband, Steven (2010), and got my MBA from Georgetown (2014). I am at the point of my life where service is even more critically important to me. I am passionate about inclusion, outreach and providing support to those in need. Should I be elected, I welcome the opportunity to help drive the congregation forward as a sustainable and loving beacon for those in the county and beyond. Whether I am voted to the board or not, I will continue to be joyfully involved in our congregation. I am honored to be considered.
I found my first UU family at age 7 when a friend’s mom invited me to join the junior choir at All Souls UU church in Tulsa. I attended RE classes there for a couple of years before my parents started coming to services once a month to see me in the choir. By 4th grade, I was singing in UU congregations all over the country with the choir. Throughout high school, I attended youth rallies (conferences) across the Southwestern United States, sleeping on UU church floors one weekend of almost every month for the next 4 years, forging friendships with youth and adults alike that helped ground me and form me into the person I am today. After high school, I moved to New Orleans to attend Tulane University where I met my amazing husband, Charley, in our freshman dorm. After college, we moved to Northern VA, to be closer to his family. In early 2007, I joined All Souls Church Unitarian in DC, and we helped the congregation plan their inaugural service trip to New Orleans that spring to assist with post-Katrina cleanup and rebuilding. During that trip, Charley and I got engaged and decided to move back to New Orleans. I worked as an architect for several years in New Orleans before having my daughter, Hayden, in 2011 and “retiring” to stay home with her. As a stay-at-home mom, I become close friends with a group of evangelical Baptists. Being in close relationship with these men and women, whose idea of what a spiritually fulfilled life entailed differed so greatly from mine, ignited an introspective spark in my mind. I began to reconnect with my UU community, in part, to ensure my daughter would have the intellectual and moral grounding in her life that I was lucky enough to find. In 2014, we decided to move back to Northern VA and I returned to the architecture firm where I started my career 10 years earlier. In the fall of 2015, we visited UUCF and felt we had finally found our new congregational home. We became members in spring 2016, and I attended the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) General Assembly (GA) in Columbus, OH, as a UUCF delegate. I have been involved with the Worship Committee as a Worship Associate, the Racial Justice Steering Committee and will be serving as a delegate once again this year at GA in New Orleans. I am excited about the future of UUCF and am humbled by this opportunity to be a part of it.
Milver (Milo) Valenzuela
I migrated to the U.S. from my native Ecuador in 2001, leaving a country embroiled in a deep economic and social depression and arriving to one that was in shock from 9/11 and preparing for war. Despite the turbulent environment, I came to love this country and was particularly attracted by its promise of a society that upholds a strong social contract amongst its diverse membership. I married Natalie (a Pennsylvania native and special education teacher) and we were and are blessed with two active and precocious boys – Gabe (9), Danny (6) – and a dog, Gambit (1). Our search for a non-dogmatic congregation focusing on science and the human experience led us to UUCF, where we finally found a community in which “belonging” came naturally. The welcoming congregants and outstanding Religious Exploration program helped us decide to become members of UUCF in 2015. I am an engineer and a technologist who has worked to advance the awareness of the impacts of climate change. My deep passion for racial justice led me to become active in groups that help increase UUCF’s racial and cultural diversity and to co-lead the Racial Justice Steering Committee.
Board of Directors – 1-year terms
These two candidates are nominated to fill two vacant positions and serve 1-year terms on the Board of Directors.
Mary Odell Butler
I have had two memberships in UUCF: the first back in the Fairfax Unitarian Church days from 1987 to 1992; and the current one from 2001 to the present. I stopped attending in late 1992 because I thought I didn’t need a church; I came back in 2001 because I discovered that I was wrong about that. I very much needed to be part of a warm and loving community. When I went to new member orientation in 2001, I discovered that every one of the 20 or so people there were looking for a community just as I was. UUCF has more than filled this need. And I think I learned that to have community, you need to work at community. So I jumped into congregational life with both feet. In 2002, I joined the Chorale after 40 years of no choral singing. In 2003 and for several years afterward, I chaired the Fall Adult Retreat Committee. I was on the board from 2006 to 2008 and on the Nominating Committee from 2009 to 2011. In the years of membership, I have participated in almost the entire spectrum of congregational activities. I have sung and danced and argued and managed and cooked and cleaned and thought deeply about important things. Less important things about me: I am an anthropologist – an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in the early part of my career, 25 years of doing program evaluations mostly for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the middle years, and returning to college teaching after “retirement.” I still teach graduate courses at the University of Maryland and advise graduate students. I also hold elected office in the American Anthropological Association where I help graduate students make the transition from academia to careers in the “real world.”
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve UUCF. It has become our spiritual home and way to pursue our ambition to join with others to make a difference. My spouse, Bobbi, and I became members in 2007 after learning from UUCF that we’ve been UUs all along, we just didn’t know it until then. As an international trade lawyer and publication editor, I have sought (it’s hard of course to actually find) balance through the many dimensions of UUCF. I believe that UUCF has an important role to play for our members, our community and for the world. I want it to thrive. I have been enriched by service through UUCF in so many ways, including Rebuilding Together, and many others. As many of you know, inspired by other leaders at UUCF, the Hypothermia Shelter work we do each year with FACETS has been an important role for me – I have seen the strength of this community caring for our neighbors. I served on the UUCF board from 2009 to 2012, during a challenging time in which we confronted important questions about the future of UUCF, including the work that became the REACH campaign, to transform UUCF in so many ways. I want to do what I can to be sure that UUCF continues to thrive.
Endowment Fund Committee – 3-year terms
There are two candidates nominated to fill two open positions on the Endowment Fund Committee. All committee members serve one 3-year term.
I have been a member of UUCF since 2010. I have had the opportunity to partake of the many benefits of UUCF membership: Auction, bridge, Circle Dinners, Global Affairs Discussion Group (GADG), Humanists of UUCF, Monday Book Club, Oberlin concerts, Science Reason & Religion, Yard Sale and UN Envoy correspondent. I represented the GADG, which I co-coordinate, on the Adult Program Committee. What I believe I offer the Endowment Committee is my experience in international and domestic community development. I have worked for 50 years in more than 30 countries and across all 50 states of the U.S. in designing, implementing and assessing organizational, community and sectorial development projects. I have been a development director, writing numerous business proposals, and I have reviewed project proposals for the Corporation for National and Community Service, Health and Human Services, Peace Corps and the U.S. Agency for International Development. I have been involved in Fairfax County, collaborating with a number of not-for-profits. My perspective on development and change is one that is grassroots and community-driven. My favorite quotes are: “If you’ve come to help, stay home. If you’ve come because your liberation is bound up with ours, then let us work together,” “Participation is not asking individuals to fill out a questionnaire, it’s asking them what are the questions that should be asked!” and “Change happens at the speed of trust.”
I am honored to be nominated for the Endowment Committee. I have attended UUCF since 2010, although I did not sign the book until 2014. That is why I have two dates on my name tag. I have been a member of the Women’s Ritual Council (WRC) since 2010 and participated in a Women’s Spirit Circle for several years. I am currently a member of the Partner Church Circle (PCC) and led their scholarship drive in 2016. The PCC scholarship is dear to me because I received enough scholarship money for my education to graduate debt-free, and I remain deeply grateful to all who helped me and want to “pay it forward” for others. I was also the food chair for the Auction for 3 years, and I have provided food for two WRC retreats, PCC brunches, various potlucks and picnics, and the Caring group. In short, there is a good chance you have eaten my food. I look forward to sharing my non-culinary talents with my UUCF family, as well.
Endowment Fund Committee – 2-year term
This candidate is nominated to fill one vacant position and serve a 2-year term on the Endowment Fund Committee.
Who could have known then that my first visit to UUCF in 1992 was to be the beginning of a long and extraordinarily rewarding relationship? Since then, I have participated in a variety of activities, made many friends and found a spiritual community. I have made coffee, ushered, prepared lunches for Rebuilding Together, chaired committees to hire summer ministers, visited our partner church in Puriang, gone to GA and served on the Membership and Worship Committees and the Board. I have led adult education courses, helped facilitate a coming-of-age program and taught children’s RE. Memories of an adult play group that met Saturday mornings in the mid-90s still make me laugh. Currently, I co-lead a covenant group and serve on the Performance Evaluation Committee. At UUCF, I have experienced personal and spiritual growth, had great fun and made some of the dearest friends of my life. I live in Reston, have two grown sons, and am retired from my job as an organizational psychologist with the federal government. It is an honor to be asked to serve on the Endowment Committee.
There are five candidates nominated to fill three open positions on the Nominating Committee. All committee members serve one 2-year term.
I have been a member of UUCF since 2015. I am an atheist, after deciding in my teen years (surely the wisest period in anyone’s life), that the Protestant faith I was raised in didn’t make any sense to me. So I stepped away from organized religion. When my children were young, we went a few times to the Towson UU in Towson, MD, but that didn’t last. To my regret, my children, a son and daughter, who were raised to be caring, thoughtful, intelligent individuals, missed out on the opportunity to be part of the UU philosophy, organization and tradition. As I’ve grown older, I’ve sought a connection, not to a church, but to a community of strong purpose and integrity, and I have found that in the UUCF. Having been a musician (piano) all my life, I gravitated to the Music Program. I currently sing tenor with the Chorale and Catalyst (formerly the Chamber Choir), and am learning to play in the Revolution Ringers handbell choir. (It’s harder than it looks.) I recently joined the drum circle, and am a member of the Monday evening book club. I feel totally comfortable at UUCF, and feel that I’ve found a supportive home of people with whom I share many values and concerns, especially in the present political climate. I was born and raised in Steubenville, OH, one of the rustiest of Rust Belt communities, located on the Ohio River. I have fond memories of those days, because that’s where I learned to play the piano, and was part of the Big Red Marching and Concert Band. Those were glorious days! I moved to Columbus, then, after marriage, moved to Baltimore, where I lived for 30 years, raising my kids there. I graduated from Johns Hopkins University, with a master’s degree. My career has been in nursing at Hopkins, from newborn nursery, rheumatology, ophthalmology, emergency medicine (never a dull moment there), home health and hospice over a 30 year career. I currently work as pre-op nurse in an orthopedic practice in Herndon. I am passionately interested in history, biology, climate change and care of animals and wildlife, and wish to become more active in these areas. I moved to Herndon to be near my daughter and her family. My son lives in Baltimore with his wife and 4-year-old daughter. I am the lucky Nana of three granddaughters, and am close to my loving family. I look forward to my continuing membership at UUCF, and serving the congregation.
I am thankful for this opportunity, but most of all, thankful that my wife got me up off the Sunday sports couch to come to UUCF. It all began a few years ago when Jan suggested we take Craig Clark and Tom Hillman’s retirement class. The first thing we learned was most people have few relationships outside of work and family. Other than a few neighbors, I had no friends close by. I joined UUCF shortly after that realization! Thankfully, I now have many friends here at UUCF and hope to make many more. UUCF has given me the desire to volunteer to help others. I was inspired by Jeff Snyder’s dedication to the Hypothermia Project and have committed myself to be part of that each year. A bad experience 35 years ago kept me from giving blood, but seeing that Bloodmobile, UU values and encouragement from my wife helped me do it. Thank you Ken Foley for your dedication to this project. I am looking forward to this nominating committee opportunity to continue my involvement here at UUCF. My wife and I have lived in Vienna in the same home since 1985. We have two children and 5 grandchildren. I am looking forward to retirement in 5 years where I intend to be very involved here, travel, and enjoy time with family.
A member of UUCF since 2009, I sing in the Chorale, have served as an usher, and volunteered as “baker of goodies” for the auction. Some of you also know me as The Cake Fairy. I also serve on the Racial Justice Steering Committee. My daughter, Catherine, is a realtor in Manhattan. Although I was raised in the orthodox Armenian Apostolic church, I learned basic “UU” values of community outreach and service from my family, who were all dedicated to public service. I have tried to follow their example in my professional and my personal life. As a family law attorney and mediator, I support people through difficult and stressful transitions, represent victims of domestic violence, serve in leadership positions in the Women’s Bar Association, and am liaison to the Commission for Women. I am also a proud member of Lawyers for Good Government, a national activist legal association founded in the wake of the 2016 election and dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation’s hard-won rights and liberties. I consider myself fortunate in that my personal, professional, and UUCF life are so compatible with my core beliefs. I am humbled to be considered for the Nominating Committee.
John A. Kun
It is an honor to be considered for a Nominating Committee position and I would be very pleased to serve you in that capacity. I have been attending UUCF since summer 2006 and in January 2007 I became a member. It is the best decision I made. I wish I had done it sooner! I completed a 4-year stint as Lay Minister for Membership and Outreach in June 2016. I continue to serve in the Membership Committee and in outreach efforts promoting UUCF. In my professional life, I have worked in public and private sector capacities in Boston, New York City and here in Washington. My education at Holy Cross College and Suffolk University helped shape my career choices. For the past 24 years I have been involved with the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, a non-profit supporting democracy, human rights and a free market for Ukraine. A recent joy of mine was having a six-member Ukrainian delegation of young LGBTQ leaders speak at UUCF in a Mar. 23 forum coordinated with the Global Affairs Discussion Group and Equality UUCF. I was a “jock” back in the day, enjoying the value, team-work and accomplishment in sports. Today, I coach boys and girls basketball teams in Reston. A son of Ukrainian immigrants, I grew up in New England. I was very fortunate to be raised by parents who were wise, hard-working and tolerant beyond the formal education they received growing up. I grew up in a home in which the role of religion (Ukrainian Catholic) was important in one’s life. Mixed in with the Unitarian imprint in Massachusetts, along with the colonial history, I grew up in an atmosphere that fostered being very independent-minded. I appreciate that independent-mindedness here at UUCF. I believe the freedom we have to think, discuss and worship in the way most appropriate for us in today’s world sets us apart from other religious groups. This is why we lead and serve.
Sue and I have been UUs since 1970. We have three children and four grandchildren. I have been a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for abused and neglected children since 2007 and am an avid hiker, camper and woodworker. We started attending UUCF in 1983, and joined a few years later. I taught both junior and senior high RE classes; participated in many lay-led services; delivered groceries for Our Daily Bread; and served on RE, Endowment and Partner Church committees. Housing rehab projects have been a focus: one of the 30+ UU members who participated with the Church of the Good Shepherd’s Lakota Mission Team renovating housing on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota; organizer of UUCF work teams for the Second Saturday transitional housing rehab program in DC; participant on Rebuilding Together teams and the Habitat for Humanity project; built the sign for the Iraq War cairn; and built the display case and end table for the new Partner Church room (stop by and view some UU history). Professionally, I am an economist who for 40 years wrote articles about market failure and the economic effects of taxation for the Congressional Research Service, the Congressional Budget Office and professional journals. I retired in 2007 and now work part time as the director of projects for the non-profit American Tax Policy Institute.