Ask  the youth in your congregation about this process! Who are they voting for and why? How is youth leadership developed, decided, and utilized in your congregation? Do you have a Youth Observer on your board?  For more information about youth on boards and committees click here.

All our youth have an opportunity to vote! This Sunday ask the youth in your congregation about the all-congregation, Association-wide, virtual voting process going on for a national youth position.  Every year prior to General Assembly, the Youth Observer (YO) to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Board of Trustees is elected. The Youth Observer to the Board is an important, national leadership position held by a UU youth who is appointed by Unitarian Universalist (UU) youth in a national election.

What’s the Youth Observer?: Job Description & Mission Statement

The Youth Observer is the primary liaison between GA Youth Caucus and the Board, but represents a larger youth voice on the Board. In collaboration with the Youth Trustee At-Large, the Youth Observer is charged with:

  • Informing GA Youth Caucus and Youth Caucus staff of relevant Board issues at the Youth Observer’s discretion;
  • Staying informed about the planning and activities of GA Youth Caucus;
  • Keeping abreast of national issues that are of interest to Unitarian Universalist youth in districts and congregations;
  • Linking and nurturing relationships between youth leaders in districts and congregations across the nation;
  • Seeking out qualified youth candidates as future Youth Observers and for other UUA volunteer positions.
  1. The Youth Observer shall serve their term without vote.
  2. Excluding matters of voting, The Youth Observer shall bear the same responsibilities and accountabilities as defined for trustees.
  3. With consent of the Board, the enumerated tasks of the Youth Observer may evolve as the structures of denominational youth leadership evolve.

The Mission Statement for the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees is:

“Guided by the vision embodied in the Purposes and Principles of the UUA and in anti-racist imperatives approved by previous Boards, the mission of the Board of Trustees of the UUA includes by is not limited to: Creation of goals for the Association, in cooperation with the General Assembly, administration, and our constituents; Establishment of policies for the Association, guided by those goals; Empowerment of our member congregations through Board leadership in cooperation with the UUA administration, staff, and volunteers; Modeling of UU values in our lives and in our roles as Trustees; Stewardship in developing and managing the resources of the UUA.”

Candidates for 2012-2013 Youth Observer to the UUA Board of Trustees

The following youth are candidates for the position of 2012-2013 Youth Observer to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Board of Trustees.

Erick Ditmars

Grade in school 2012-2013: Junior
Congregation: Pathways Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church, Southlake, TX

“Since beginning my time as a UU Youth, I have assumed leadership. From integrating the Gathered Here project into Small Group Ministry during the NTX Rally to participating in [the UUA’s] Youth Leadership Recognition focus group to planning religious education at SWUUSI for Youth and Adults, I have tried to make a positive impact on our faith. But the ultimate reason I do all of these things and am applying for this position is because I care about our faith. I have watched UUism console the depressed, help the impoverished, feed the hungry, and now in Arizona be the voice for the voiceless. I rely on UUism and want to contribute my talents and time by learning leadership at the highest levels by the elders of our faith.”

Katherine Allen

Grade in school 2012-2013: Senior
Congregation: Unity Church-Unitarian, St. Paul, MN

“As a member and moderator of the Youth Ministry Advisory Committee [YMAC] to the UUA president for the last two years, I’ve gained a broad perspective on the issues facing youth ministry across the country. Through YMAC and my years at GA, I’ve also become familiar with the theory and practice of policy governance. My commitment to youth ministry extends outside the denomination as I’ve had a leadership role in my local Interfaith Youth Leadership Coalition. I’m also active in my home congregation’s youth group and am a member of a ministerial internship committee. I’m excited at the prospect of representing my peers on the UUA Board of Trustees.”

Daniel Martin

Grade in school 2012-2013: Senior
Congregation: Mountain Vista UU Congregation, Tucson, AZ

“We are at a crossroads, a crossroads where we the youth can either stand up and speak our minds, or sit quietly and let others speak for us. The UUA is changing, and I want to make sure our voices are heard. I understand the importance of democracy so I will make it my primary goal to get opinions from all over the country, while promoting events where youth gather, such as cons, camps, and trainings. Throughout my life, I have involved myself locally, regionally, and nationally. I want to give you a voice, so vote for yourself, when you vote for Daniel.”

Elissa McDavid

Grade in school 2012-2013: Senior
Congregation: Saltwater UU Church, Des Moines, WA

“I love our faith. I want it to shine, from all corners and cracks. Since my freshman year, I have served on my district’s Youth Empowerment Services team and have helped staff several youth conferences, most recently I was co-dean at this year’s fall conference and this will also be my second year as one of the Worship Coordinators for the Youth Caucus at General Assembly. As a youth leader within my district and nationally, I understand the issues youth face, I know how much heart and community we have. But more importantly, I want to bring my passion to the youth observer role. I want to bring our voices to the forefront of our association. So, us youth can shine. So we all can shine.”

Voting Process for Youth Observer to the UUA Board of Trustees

The voting process for the election of the 2012-2013 Youth Observer to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Board of Trustees is based on the process used to determine the number of congregational delegates at General Assembly.

Voting Eligibility

Voting youth must be active in their religious community. “Active” may be defined as regular participation, registration in the religious education program, or congregational membership. Each congregation determines what “active” means for their community.

Voting Formula

How many votes each congregation gets is determined by how many active youth are involved in the voting process: one vote for every 5 youth up to 30 youth, and one vote for each additional 10 youth or a fraction thereof.

Voting Process

Review the Youth Observer Candidates information (you may also print out ahard copy (PDF)) and discuss the candidates as a group. Use whatever decision making process works for the youth in your congregation to make your voting choice. Each congregation submits their ballot as a group. You have the choice to submit via an online ballot or a printed ballot.

Online Ballot

Complete the online ballot per the directions listed on the ballot, using the Voting Formula and Voting Process above.

Printed Ballot

  1. Print out the Youth Observer Voting Ballot (PDF)). If you have more than twenty youth participating in this voting process, you will need to print out more than one ballot, but do not exceed your total allotted votes among your ballots.
  2. Have each youth print and sign their name on one of the lines on your congregation’s Voting Ballot. Check the box(es) next to the candidates indicating your voting intention. Each box indicates one vote (per the Voting Formula above). You may split your total allotted votes among different candidates.
  3. A minister, religious educator, or congregational president must sign the completed ballot for voting verification.
  4. Submit completed Voting Ballots TO BE RECEIVED BY MONDAY, APRIL 23rd in one of the following ways:
    • Mail to: UUA Office of Youth & Young Adult Ministries, 25 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108;
    • Scan and email to:; or,
    • Fax to: (617) 367-4798.

Voting Deadline

Ballots must be received by Monday, April 23, 2012 at midnight (in your time zone) or postmarked by April 20.


Another Leadership Opportunity:  Luminary Leaders.

Luminary Leaders is a new initiative that will recognize youth leaders throughout the Association, highlight the tremendous gifts that youth bring to our communities, and provide opportunities for youth to connect with their peers, opportunities for involvement, and the larger Association. It encourages youth to seek out leadership roles and for our congregations and communities to invite youth into leadership and provide new ways for youth to be involved. Developed with a focus group of nearly thirty youth from across the country, Luminary Leaders recognizes youth with a diversity of leadership experiences and styles.

Beginning in June 2012, youth will be able to apply for recognition as a Luminary Leader.


About the Author
Tandi Rogers


  1. Veroniica

    I love that you are highlighting Sophia Lyons Fahs and was happy to stlubme on this blog post as I was looking for something else on the Union website. She’s one of my heroes. I’m reading one of her books on religious education right now and it’s shocking how modern it seems.A small clarification is due, however. Sophia Lyons Fahs was not the first woman to be ordained to the Unitarian Universalist ministry. The Unitarian Universalist Association came into existence in 1961 when the Unitarians and Universalists consolidated. The first Universalist woman to be ordain was Olympia Brown in 1863.Regardless, keep up the good work!


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