The Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism Organizing Collective Board serves as the Board of Directors for the BLUU organization. This is a working Board whose collective work is to breathe life into the vision and mission of BLUU and be in relationships with various constituencies to build and grow a Unitarian Universalism that centers Blackness. Many members are also on BLUU’s staff. Members of the OC Board have various areas of expertise where they take primary responsibility for related work.
These areas include (but are not limited to): organizing, communications, infrastructure, fundraising, youth and young adult ministry, content development, organizational relationship-building, worship-leading, pastoral care, and event and gathering planning.
Reasons for a Board of Directors
To provide oversight and long-term visioning and planning to the organization.
It is legally required.
The BLUU OC was a self-established group, that received funding from the UUA to build out our mission and vision in the world. Here is a link to our original vision and mission, which has grown and shifted slightly since our inception. As part of our work in creating a platform focused on self-determination for Black UUs, we created a more collaborative model of organizational leadership. This model is what we called the ‘organizing collective’. It is centralized power, instead of hierarchical power. This is a subtle but important difference. It is a power that works through shared principles, values and a covenant (which we call working agreements), being transparent and by being grounded in community. Because we exist in a litigious and capitalist society, in order to legally continue our work with the generous financial investment from the UUA, we had to transition the Organizing Collective into a Board of Directors (OCB). However, we are not abandoning our aspirations of collective governance and nonconventional power sharing. We are now working to build a hybrid model to adjust to our legal requirements, while not eschewing our original commitment to collective leadership. Part of how we are doing that was by creating three other co-governing entities, in addition to the OCB, one is called the Financial Transparency Group, The Advisory Team and the BLUU Elders 360 Vision Council. Please refer to our bylaws for more information about these various groups and their relationship to the OCB and their areas of work.
A member of the OCB can serve up to three, two-year terms.
OC Board Members, according to our bylaws, are the decision-makers for the organization. However, the OCB is required to consult with all advisory groups in making major decisions for the BLUU.
Attend weekly OCB meetings.
Attend all working retreats. Usually 2 per year.
Attend all in-person gatherings (in the past this has been a Convening, Revival and a Symposium).
Agree and adhere to the OCB working agreements.
Engage actively in the work and help the organization grow, succeed, and develop.
Be Willing (or Willing to Learn) To:
Keep up with the fast-paced nature of project management and communications.
Be honest about capacity and ability to follow through with current projects.
Build project management skills interpersonally and in online platforms.
BLACK LIVES OF UU is no longer accepting nominations to the Organizing Collective Board.
Announcements of new members coming soon!
MEET THE ORGANIZING COLLECTIVE BOARD
Lena K Gardner is one of the founding leaders of the Black Lives of Unitarian Universalist Organizing Collective (BLUU) and the current Executive Director.
She worships and is a member at First Universalist Church of Minneapolis, lives in Robbinsdale with her cat Merlin and loves the Boundary Waters. She graduated in 2015 with her master of arts in Justice and Peace studies from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.
Dr. Takiyah Nur Amin is a native of Buffalo, NY and the daughter of Karima and the late Abdul Jalil Amin.
She is an alumna of the UUA's Multicultural Leadership School for Youth and Young Adults of Color (known today as THRIVE) and a former RE Assistant.
An intellectual by training and tradition, Takiyah earned a PhD in Dance and Cultural Studies (with certificates in Women's Studies and Teaching in Higher Education) from Temple University in 2011. She is an active member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, an advocacy organization on behalf of Black women and girls. A lover of reading, podcasts, shopping and travel, Takiyah currently server as the Black Lives of UU Content Director.
Takiyah servers as the Vice-Chair of the BLUU OC Board of Directors
My years in professional ministry and the IT industry served a good pathway when I became involved with Unitarian Universalism after leaving the Anglican faith. This journey took me to Connecticut, where my focus was on Adult Religious Education (chair) and Anti-Racism. I served in leadership in both these areas at the Unitarian Society of New Haven and years later at the UU Church in Meriden, where I also served on the Board of Trustees.
I then became a member of the GRACE (Growing Racial And Cultural Equity) Team of the New England Region, leading congregations in AR/AO/MC (Anti-Racism Anti-Oppression Multicultural) initiatives. And then I relocated to Sandusky, Ohio, and made Oberlin UU Fellowship my spiritual base and served as Board President.
One of my joys was organizing one of the first gatherings of People of Color (POC) in the Ohio Mid-Atlantic District, when ARE (Allies for Racial Equity) held their gathering in Cleveland in 2014. I also served on the General Assembly Planning Committee and currently on the Unitarian Universalist Funding Program.
Samuel serves as the Treasurer of the BLUU OC Board of Directors.
Rev Kimberly Quinn Johnson serves as minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork, on Long Island in Bridgehampton, NY. She has passion and expertise for racial justice work and ministry with youth. Before ministry, Kimberly worked as a union organizer with the UAW. She also taught Women's and Gender Studies at New Jersey City University.
Kimberly serves as chair of the UUA Appointments Committee and President of the Metro NY UUMA Chapter. She is also a member of the Central East Region Congregational Life Advisory Council and the Steering Committee for UU Class Conversations. She gets to work in the nexus of faith formation, youth ministry, and racial justice as a Program Leader with the UU College of Social Justice. And she's likely to be spending her summer working with youth through UU Summer Seminary or Thrive, leadership experiences for youth of color.
Rev. Mykal O'Neal Slack is a speaker, trainer, worship leader, community minister and congregational life coordinator in Unitarian Universalist, Metropolitan Community Churches, and interfaith settings. He has a ministry and calling to nurture spaces where people can connect in ways that heal, not harm, talk about and re-imagine church life that truly honors our differences, and make sustainable changes that are an outgrowth of spiritual practice, deep listening, and active engagement in community.
Mykal recently became the first Co-Director of the Freedom Center for Social Justice, a Southern-based, national organization working at the intersections of race, sexual orientation, gender and faith to effect culture shift in workplaces, communities of faith and schools. He has served as the founder and director of 4LYFE, an ecumenical, consulting ministry of Metropolitan Community Churches that develops anti-racist and anti-oppressive frameworks for church life and provides pastoral and educational resources to address sexual orientation and gender identity issues in spiritual communities of all kinds. He also served the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh as their first Director of Congregational Life, where his focus was on newcomer welcome, membership, community-building and communications. For his commitment to multicultural culture-building in communities of faith, Mykal was selected as both a Beatitudes Society Fellow and a Movement Fellow for the Southeast House of Soulforce for 2015-2016.
Mykal received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Emory University in Atlanta and a law degree from the City University of New York School of Law. After law practice that included a federal clerkship, insurance defense and LGBT civil rights litigation, Mykal discerned a call to ministry and went on to receive a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York.
Mykal currently sits on the Content Development Working Group of the Center for African American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice and serves as Vice-Chair on the Board of Directors for the LGBTQ Center of Durham.
Paige is a nomadic Southern and Mid-Western based Black Muslim troublemaker and faith-rooted organizer and abolitionist. Through her own continuous journey of self discovery, she believes that healing and justice are interdependent and desires to build a world that acknowledges how deeply we are connected to each other.
Her calling is to hold emergent spaces where people can dream and reimagine their communities and realities.
Paige is a training lead for ‘The Lorde’s Werq’ Black leadership development cohort of Southerners on New Ground, co-founder of the Half-Moon Healing House in Greensboro, NC, anti-racism trainer with Resist U, and freelance facilitator, speaker, and collage artist.
Paige earned a Masters in Middle East and African Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2015.
A lover of reading, travel, and music festivals, she is currently the Community Organizer with Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism.
PAST ORGANIZING COLLECTIVE BOARD MEMBERS
Rev. Carlton Elliot Smith
CDR Royce W James, Ph.D.