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The Nominating Committee of the Central Midwest District has proposed the following individuals for election to the positions indicated at the 2013 District Assembly.

Warren Thom, Midwest Unitarian Universalist Conference, Director, three-year term

Warren Thom 2013Warren is a retired high school Chemistry teacher from Plainfield Illinois. He and his wife Susan have been active in the UU Church of Joliet since 1973. Warren has served on his local church board of trustees as president and was treasurer of the church for about ten years starting around 1990. He implemented computer bookkeeping and improved financial reporting. Warren has been involved with other activities such as Welcoming Congregation, by-laws, newsletter and leadership development. The Joliet church instituted an endowment committee and Warren served as a trustee and treasurer on the committee for the first two terms of its existence. In 2006 Warren was elected to the CMwD board as treasurer of the district. As district treasurer, he witnessed the fall and rebound of our economy, and the effects on district reserves. He was active annually in budget preparation at both the local and district level. During the years of 2011 to 2012, Warren worked with lay leaders and staff in Heartland, Prairie Star and Central Midwest in preparation for the movement towards regionalization.

The Rev. Bill Sasso, President

BillSasso-DA2012Rev. Bill Sasso currently serves as President of the Central Midwest District, and has served on the CMwD Board since April, 2011. A graduate of Meadville/Lombard Theological School, he retired from congregational ministry in June, 2012, after serving as Minister of the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship for 13 years.  During that time, Bill also served as Vice-President of the CMwD UUMA Chapter, and as President of the Carbondale Interfaith Council. Bill and his family reside in Carbondale, Illinois.

Tracey Howe-Koch, Secretary, (incumbent)

Tracy Howe-Koch 2008I have been active in Unitarian Universalism for the last ten years. As a member of Eliot Chapel, I served as the RE Committee Chair and volunteered as the Membership Coordinator. I also taught Sunday School for many years and volunteered as the Children's Library Coordinator. I am now a member of First Unitarian Alton. I am the current RE Committee Chair and teach the 4/5th graders. I am also involved with the UUSC as a

Regional Coordinator. Outside of church life, I am a stay at home mother to three children. I play in a German band and a woodwind quintet. One day a week, I volunteer as the librarian for my children's school. I have a Masters in Social Work and previously worked with local refugees in starting their own businesses.  I am currently serving as Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Central Midwest District.

The Rev. Dr. Sydney A. Morris, Ministerial Trustee, a one year term expiring in 2014, to replace Rev. Bill Sasso

Syndey MorrisThe Rev. Dr. Sydney A. Morris has been a UU parish minister for 27 years, the last 10 of them at the Keweenaw UU Fellowship in Houghton MI. She studied at Harvard Divinity and Meadville Lombard Theological schools, and has taught at Vancouver School of Theology and Michigan Technological University. She has been on the board of a socially responsible mutual fund company since 1981. She has served in UU national, district and UUMA capacities.  Her scholarly interests are science and ethics, particularly corporate ethics; in the parish: worship, growth, and pastoral care. She loves to garden, canoe and sing, though rarely all at the same time.

Suzie DeBeers, Trustee-At-Large, one year term expiring in 2014

Suzie DeBeers 2013With a growing family and new home back in 1973, my husband and I discovered Unitarian Universalism in Geneva, Illinois.  This has been our spiritual home and community since that time as we have lived in several states and towns.  

My involvement in church activities and governance has been in Religious Education as a teacher and/or helper and committee chair, on the Board of Trustees at two churches, member of a Ministerial Search Committee, chair of a pledge drive and chair or co-chair of Building and Grounds Committee, Caring Committee and the Human Rights/Social Justice Committee/Task Force.  In the past, I have served as Volunteer Network Regional Coordinator for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and today continue to promote this organization as Local Representative at Fox Valley UU Fellowship in Appleton, WI.

The UU community has given me inspiration and support in reaching out in my community and the world, particularly on issues of diversity and equality.  It is my hope that others who are seeking a spiritual home and community, not just of likeminded people, but of accepting people, will find a vibrant, loving UU home as I did.  This is the reason that I serve on the Central Midwest District Board of Trustees and continue to support the principles and work of our faith.

Erin McElroy, Youth Trustee
It is our policy to not display photographs of minors.

Erin McElroy has been a life-long member of the Bradford Unitarian Universalist congregation in Kenosha Wisconsin. She has served on the RE Committee of her church as Youth Chair and has been a very active member in planning for her church’s Youth Group. Erin attended the 2012 season of Youth Midwest Leadership School and from there has been putting forth more action in helping out her church. She is currently a junior in High School looking to pursue Music Education.

Ann Ruger, Nominating Committee

Ann Ruger 2013My husband Pete and I have been UU’s for over 45 years, first as members at First Unitarian Church in St. Louis, then at Eliot Chapel in Kirkwood, and now at the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship in Illinois. I served on Eliot’s board for three years before we moved to Carbondale in 1997.

How fortunate Pete and I were to become members of the Fellowship there just as it entered a period of phenomenal growth, both spiritually and physically. We were proud to cast our votes with the congregation as it called its first minister in 1999. I then served as chair of the membership committee, co-chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, and President of the Board during a successful capital campaign to construct a new building.

Although we remain members of the Fellowship, we now live in St. Louis again. In 2005, I was one of four co-founders of Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice, an education and advocacy organization working on such issues as health care, the environment, and poverty. 

Rev. Lori Hlaban, Nominating Committee

Lori Hlaban 2013The Rev. Lori Hlaban serves the Unitarian Universalist Church West in Brookfield, Wisconsin as the Assistant Minister for Membership and Congregational Engagement. As a clergy partner in Midwest Ceremonies, Lori also maintains a thriving independent ministry, creating personalized rites of passage for couples and families.

Lori was ordained to the ministry in May, 2010 by the congregation of Lake Country Unitarian Universalist Church in Hartland, Wisconsin, where she and her husband, Tom, are charter members.  She received her Masters of Divinity degree from Chicago Theological Seminary, and served her ministerial internship at Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church in Racine, WI, where she honed her pastoral and leadership skills.

Prior to entering the ministry, Lori was an active lay leader of her congregation, serving on the Worship Committee, leading adult discussion groups, teaching middle-school religious education, co-founding the Caring Committee, and served as a delegate to General Assembly several years. She’s a trained facilitator for the OWL (Our Whole Lives) program at both the junior and senior high school levels.