Karen (she/her) is a “born and bred” Unitarian Universalist who has led MUUSJA since January 2020. She had previously volunteered as a religious education teacher, high school youth advisor, and facilitator of adult/parenting curricula, and a leader in UU faith development, social action and racial justice committees. Currently a member of both Minnesota Valley UU Fellowship in Bloomington and First Universalist in Minneapolis, Karen has attended 13 different UU congregations in Boston, Pasadena, Chicago, Iowa City, Provincetown, and for 20 years in Minnesota. Her mother (Bonnie Wills) was a UU organizer, and her fathers (Frank Wills and Arthur Pike) were gay rights activists. Her ancestors were Scots-Irish, Dutch, Welsh, and French Canadian laborers, servants, farmers, and tradespeople.
As a pediatric neuropsychologist (now in part-time independent practice), Karen advocated for children with disabilities and special health care needs. Her coolest jobs before working with MUUSJA were teaching sign language to chimpanzees, coordinating Girl Scout jamborees, training child clinical psychologists, organizing volunteers to defeat the same-sex marriage ban, planning an inter-organizational conference and state capitol rally with Minnesota grassroots justice groups, and coordinating volunteers and field operations in successful campaigns for several Minnesota state representatives. She and her husband live in Bloomington, MN and love to visit their adult daughter in Los Angeles, especially midwinter!
Katharine Kline (Katie – she/her), resides in Duluth, Minnesota where she is the Director of Family Ministries at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Duluth. She holds a BA and MA in Religious Studies from the University of Chicago and is interested in inter-religious ministries. Previously she directed the Morris Cafritz Center for the Arts in Washington, DC. Katie brings extensive experience in integrating the arts into justice work and congregational life. As our spiritual director, Katie helps to ground our justice work in healing practices and UU faith values. As our climate justice lead, she partners with UUSC staff and frontline regional organizers to advance climate and racial justice movements.
Communications and #UUtheVOTE Director
for Minnesota, North & South Dakota
Allison Wyeth, from Minneapolis via Santa Barabara, California, is Director of Religious Education for the First Unitarian Society in Minneapolis. Holding a Master’s degree in education, Allison has worked in the public, private and non-profit sectors and brings extensive experience in volunteer coordination and training, business management, and communications, as well as youth engagement. In 2020, Allison will focus on organizing, training and managing volunteers for the #UUtheVOTE and UU Complete Census efforts across Minnesota, North & South Dakota, in collaboration with the UUA #UUtheVOTE team, our team of congregational liaisons and volunteers and other organizations working on voter education and mobilization. In 2021, Allison will focus on communications and development.
Meet our Board of Directors
Gail Bishop, Co-Chair
Gail Bishop has been a member of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Rochester for 25 years, having served as a past president of the congregation as well as in other leadership capacities. At First UU she currently is Chair of the Social Justice Council, a member of the Finance and Stewardship Committees, member of the Disability Task Force and serves on one of the church Hospitality Teams. She is an advocate for the disabled, serving for the past eight years on the Board of Directors of PossAbilties, an organization that creates opportunities for children and adults to contribute and connect with the Rochester community. Her family consists of one husband, two daughters and three Westie dogs! When not serving for causes on the ground she is in the air as an instrument rated, private pilot. “At altitude,” she says, “there are no differences – we all appear the same!”
Judy Foster, Co-Chair
Judy Foster has been a member of the St. Cloud Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (SCUUF) since 1979, having served in numerous leadership positions, including two terms as president of the Executive Board. Now retired as an English professor at St. Cloud State University, she is active in the community, currently serving on the St. Cloud Area Regional Human Rights Commission. At SCUUF she serves as newsletter editor and chairs the Community Garden and Technology committees. Her current social justice focus is justice for ex-offenders, a joint project with Spirit of Life Unitarian Universalist Church in St. Cloud.
Paula Ulicsni Halvorson
Paula Ulicsni Halvorson (she/her) is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Willmar where she serves as a social justice co-chair and board member. She is a public school music and orchestra teacher and active violinist. Paula lives in Atwater, MN with her spouse, cat, and three dogs.
Kathy’s commitment to racial justice, which came late in life, is passionate and consuming. She hungers to make a positive difference towards justice and equity in our bewildering society. Along with contributing to the health and happiness of her great grandchildren and keeping fit with daily exercise and mindful food choices, her life is filled with time spent with friends and advocacy on behalf of marginalized peoples.
Jeff Snyder, Treasurer
After living in Rochester for 38 years, and attending First Universalist Unitarian Church of Rochester for the last seven of those years, Jeff and his wife Karen moved to Minneapolis in June of 2014. While at First UU, Jeff served as a member and chair of the Finance Committee and was on the Board of Directors serving as Treasurer at the time of his departure. Jeff and Karen are new members of First Universalist Church where Jeff is now a member of the Community Investment Team. Jeff’s primary interest in the social justice arena is in the area of environmental justice. He is currently retired and plans to stay that way after a long career with IBM as an engineer and project manager. Jeff and Karen have an adult daughter and son living in Los Angeles and Minneapolis respectively.