A message from: Rev. Dr. Terasa Cooley, Director, UUA Congregational Life staff team; Rev. Nancy Bowen, District Executive, UUA Mountain Desert and Lead, Pacific Western Region; and Janine Larsen, District Executive, UUA Pacific NW

We are very pleased to announce two new staff positions to serve the UUA Pacific Northwest District, Mountain Desert District and the Pacific Western Region, effective immediately:

  • Jennica Davis, Youth Ministry Specialist
  • Lori Ragona, Training & Communications Specialist

Both are 3/4-time “acting” positions through the 2012/13 fiscal year, providing an opportunity to address current high priority needs in the region while allowing a year to assess the positions and the process. This is the first time the districts of the Pacific Western Region have structured shared funding for UUA staffing across district borders.

Jennica Davis has been employed by the UUA Mountain Desert District as Youth Ministry Consultant since 2010. In that position, she has designed and organized youth conference planning teams, developed policies, procedures and practice guides for youth conferences, directed QUUest Camp for youth, facilitated youth advisor trainings and youth leadership retreats, and consulted with religious professionals and volunteers to strengthen youth ministry in MDD member congregations. She also managed the MDD youth ministry blog and Facebook page, and was an active contributor to the district e-newsletter and list-serves. Prior to and during the first year of her work with MDD youth ministries, Jennica was the Youth Coordinator and R.E. Assistant for First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, UT. She also served three years as Campus Ministry Coordinator for the University Church of Vancouver, B.C. Jennica is a life-long UU dedicated to building and sustaining partnerships with and among youth, parents, religious professionals and volunteers, and UUA staff.

In her expanded role as Youth Ministry Specialist, Jennica will serve both MDD and PNWD equally. She is excited to promote and support a healthy Youth/Adult leadership model in both districts, helping to equip and empower UU youth to articulate their beliefs, develop spiritual discipline, engage in social justice firmly rooted in faith, love and trust, and to foster personal and religious resilience in living UU identity. Jennica will also work with field staff and youth ministry leaders throughout the Pacific Western Region to move towards regionally aligned best practices and policies, and help plan dynamic youth programming for the Regional Assembly in April 2013.

Says Jennica, “I’m particularly looking forward to meeting the PNWD youth community, as a staff member at Goldmine Youth Leadership School this summer, at the fall and spring Youth Cons, and in the congregations. I love PNWD’s commitment to youth ministry that is radically welcoming, spiritually vibrant and religiously contagious! I think our districts have a lot to learn from each other, and it’s going to be a great journey.”

 

Lori Ragona has served as PNWD’s Webinar & Training Coordinator for the past year, steadily increasing responsibilities during that time. Lori initially joined the district’s staff to assume webinar support for the Pacific Western Region while former Program Specialist Tandi Rogers reduced her district commitment to take on additional assignments for the UUA. Lori quickly moved into event planning,  assuming development of the training calendar for the Pacific Northwest, managing event budgets and updating and aligning events policies. Lori has also been the region’s point person in working with UUA staff to explore various virtual meeting platforms and social networking tools, and educating PNWD staff and leaders about these resources. She has supported the district in building its News blog as an integrated part of the PNWD website, taking the lead in coordinating technical development of PNWD’s website as well as moderating the district’s Facebook page.

Prior to her work with PNWD, Lori had a 17 year career as a teacher and consultant for deaf and hard of hearing students in Oregon and Montana. In addition, she has enjoyed offering basic graphic art and website designer to nonprofits including her own UU congregation and District as well as volunteering for her local library teaching computer skills.

As Training & Communication Specialist, Lori’s expanded position will serve the Pacific Northwest District approximately half time and the Pacific Western Region approximately one-quarter time. She will continue to develop and support webinars for congregational leaders throughout the region, and training resources for the PNWD. New to Lori’s duties will be coaching for congregations and support for the districts in advancing dynamic use of web-based media (e.g., social networks, electronic communications, websites). Lori will also work with regional staff to produce a shared web presence, including a coordinated calendar of leadership training events in the Pacific Western Region. And, she will assist in the planning and presentation of the 2013 Regional Assembly.

We recognize that webinars and distance learning offer access to real-time training resources even for our smallest, most remote, and emerging groups, affordably and without the time and environmental impact of travel, considering the vastness of the Pacific Western Region (or any one of its districts). Lori is particularly sensitive to the truth that while some use social media with gusto, not everyone is comfortable with the idea of virtual meetings and fellowship, even though it’s become essential these days — and she’s glad to be able to help ease the way.

Lori says, “I found a home at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis, OR, 25 years ago when my son was 11 months old. Since then I’ve continually had life-changing opportunities as a UU, from being a Youth Advisor with a very dynamic youth program, traveling to Transylvania and India for ICUU Youth projects, to learning how to be a life partner of a UU minister. Originally I wanted a safe place for myself and my family to be who we are without having to be closeted. What I found and what I’m still finding is a place to be me even beyond what I expected of myself. I had the privilege of calling the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Bozeman, MT, home for 7 years, and am now making a new home at the Woodinville Unitarian Universalist Church in Washington State.”

 

Welcome, Lori and Jennica! You can reach them at their new UUA email addresses, or at least for a while, through their former district addresses:

Lori Ragona, lragona@uua.org or training@pnwd.org

Jennica Davis at jdavis@uua.org or at youthministry@mdduua.org

 

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