2022 Leadership Nominees

Mikaela Renz-Whitmore (Second Term)
Mikaela grew up in Albuquerque and is raising her family here. She joined First Unitarian in 2007. She volunteered with the Worship Team, Religious Education, and the Leadership Succession Committee before joining the Board in 2019. She is a professional community planner with strategic planning experience, which was recently put to work for First U’s Covid-19 Advisory Council. Her kids, Umea and Beckett, are 11 and 8, respectively.

Joyce Etheridge (New Nominee)
Joyce Etheridge has over 30 years of accounting experience in public and private accounting with a broad range of managerial duties and financial responsibilities. She retired in 2015 as Director of Internal Audit for a contractor to the Department of Energy. She also taught accounting at the college level for over five years. Joyce is the interim Treasurer for the Board and has been on the Finance Committee for several years. She previously volunteered as a religious education teacher for the church and as an after-school tutor. She has been a volunteer accountant for a local theater group for over 6 years and previously was the treasurer for the Albuquerque Public Library Foundation

Board of Directors

Dámaris Donado (New Nominee)
Dámaris began attending First Unitarian in 2004. Shortly thereafter, she joined the MaPaLos extended family group seeking community and became a church member. Dámaris is motivated towards building trusting relationships with diverse people which she believes is transformative work. She is a woman of color and a clinical social worker who is driven to challenging societal and racist inequities that permeate our lives and rob us of connection. She believes in the healing powers of a healthy church community that is willing to work towards social justice and agape love. Dámaris is married to church member Dimitri Kapelianis and has two teenage sons, Delino and Darian. In her free time, she loves to meditate while going on long walks.

Kathi Foy (New Nominee)
Kathi, a native New Mexican, moved back to NM in 2006 after living for 36 years in the Midwest and promptly joined First Unitarian Church. This year, Kathi volunteers on the Hospitality and Inclusion team and teaches 7-9 OWL. Kathi has served on two intern committees, chairing one. She has participated in and facilitated Covenant Groups. Her primary focus has been in the Religious Education Department where she has volunteered for over a decade. You may remember her as our DRE from 2010-2012. Kathi is a member of the clergy, a leader with the American Ethical Union. She is a retired hospice chaplain and was the first board certified Ethical Humanist Chaplain by the Association of Professional Chaplains in 2002. Rev. Dr. William R. Jones, a pioneer in anti-racism in the UUA, was Kathi’s mentor in the Humanist Institute in the late 1980s and his legacy continues to inspire Kathi’s work.

Bill Slakey (New Nominee)
Bill has been attending First Unitarian for more than 20 years. He has previously served on the Board, the Healthy Community Team, the Leadership Succession Committee, as a teacher in the RE program, and as a counselor at UU Kids camp. He is committed to working for a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive community at First Unitarian and beyond. He took part in a White Fragility book study at the church and has been actively engaged in DEI efforts in his work as an English teacher at Sandia Prep. He is married to church member Heather Clark.

Maya Stephenson (New Nominee)
Maya grew up at First Unitarian and became a member in 2017. She attended our Religious Education and OWL programs, and was active in the young adult group for several years. Maya was an annual participant in our UU Summer camp for kids, ultimately taking on a leadership role. In 2018, she served on the assistant minister search committee which brought Rev. Bob LaVallee to New Mexico. Maya completed her Bachelor of Science in Emergency Medical Services at UNM in May 2021, and currently works at Albuquerque Ambulance as a full-time paramedic.

George Bakula (Second Term)
George joined First Unitarian in 2008. He is currently vice president of the board and hopes to continue to support Mikaela in her last year as president. He co-chaired the capital campaign to raise funds for the building of the new sanctuary. Recently, he co-chaired the church task force that studied the feasibility and made the recommendation to purchase the ARC property, briefing the congregation before the vote to purchase last year. His other activities in the church have included after-school tutoring, changing the church sign, and helping mail out the hardcopy Messenger. He has led the highway cleanup team, participated in two different covenant groups, served on the Social Justice Committee and several Stewardship teams, and represented the church as a voting member at national General Assemblies. He and his wife, Gwen Sawyer, have been Unitarian Universalists since 1984, and are enjoying retirement, visiting family, and participating in church activities. Many services, you can find him in the A/V booth operating the video system. George uses “he, they. them” for his pronouns. He has had many hours of anti-racism and inclusion training throughout his career. Since retirement, he has participated in marches against racism, gun violence, and marched with the church in many LGBTQ Pride events.

Aroop Mangalik (Second Term)
A native of India and Doctor of Oncology, Aroop first heard of Unitarianism and their work with the civil rights movement in the early 1960s. About six years ago, he met a friend from First Unitarian and decided to visit. The sign at the entrance—“Non-believers and Atheists welcome”—was reassuring, and the sermons and discussions further gave him a feeling of belonging. He joined the church in December 2016. Since joining, he has worked with Beth Elliot and her Death Doula initiative which he hopes to continue and expand. He has also shared the pulpit with Rev. Angela and talked about the New Mexico legislative initiative on Medical Aid in Dying.

Endowment Committee

Peter Chestnut (New Nominee)
Peter joined First U in 1990, after attending for several years. He grew up in the First Unitarian Society of Schenectady, NY, where its RE program aimed him on a quest for truth and meaning. He has served on First Unitarian’s RE Committee, the board of directors, and played bass and sang for our first church band, Some Assembly Required.Peter currently serve on the boards of the Hopi Education Endowment Fund, the LaMontanita Food Cooperative, and the Senior Lawyers Division of the State Bar of New Mexico. His recreational activites include walking, playing music on bass and guitar, singing with Buzzy and the B. Goodes, and sharing time with family, especially grandkids.He is interested in building on the fine work done by previous members of the Endowment Committee, preserving the endowment, and supporting board initiatives to produce long-term benefits to our church.

James Gilson (New Nominee)
James Gilson has been a church member since 2003. He has served on the RE Committee, the Shared Use Committee (as a board member of La Puerta De Los Ninos), the Associate Minister Search Committee, and the Board of Directors. He has also participated as an RE volunteer, teaching at all levels as his children grew, and is currently serving as a Youth Facilitator. He is now in the middle generation of three generations of his family at First Unitarian, with his mother and son both having joined the church as well. James is deeply committed to being a part of a welcoming community at First Unitarian.

Tim Nisly (New Nominee)
Tim has been attending First Unitarian since 2017, and joined the church in 2019. As a realtor and investor, he specializes in buying and rehabilitating derelict properties across Albuquerque and helping others do the same. He’s the former CEO of the nonprofit Rio Grande Community Development Corporation, founder of TEDxABQ, the SINC Nonprofit Incubator, and on the board of the Barelas Community Coalition, the Construction Industries Division at the State of NM, and the Small Business Regulator Advisory Committee at the City of Albuquerque. He’s an avid guitarist, and enjoys spending his free time with his dozen nieces and nephews in Albuquerque.

Peggy Whitmore (New Nominee)
Peggy has been a church member for more than 25 years. During that time, she has been involved with the Social Justice Council, the Family Promise program, ABQ Faithworks Collaborative, the Food Pantry, and other social justice-related programs. Peggy and her husband Kevin were Unitarians in Bettendorf, Iowa before moving to New Mexico in 1987 and they are devoted to the church and the work it does in the community.

Leadership Succession Committee

Sue Coates (New Nominee)
Sue has been a Unitarian all her life, and joined the Albuquerque church in 2011. Most of her career was as a professional contracts manager, and for fifteen years she managed sponsored projects that teach government contracting to small businesses. In 2010, she retired and enrolled at UNM, earning a doctorate in Organizational Learning in 2018. She was promptly hired as Adjunct Professor in Organizational Studies at UNM’s Anderson School of Management. She also teaches Grantwriting Step By Step at UNM Continuing Education. At First Unitarian, she ushers and has participated in Sip ‘n’ Sup, Wisdom Circle, Care Team, the Women’s March, Next Step Prep, and UU TheatreGoers, which she currently chairs. She lives with her two cats, near her cousins, and occasionally visits her ancestors in the Raton graveyard. Her hobbies include attending theatre and watching PGA tournaments on TV.

Judy Goering (New Nominee)
Judy joined First Unitarian in 2014, and has been active as a worship leader and as a member of the choir, several Covenant Groups, the Penguin extended family, and the Family Promise volunteer team. She currently serves as chair of the worship team, and on Rev. Bob LaVallee’s advisory committee. Through the church’s social justice programs, she is an activist for immigration, LGBTIQ rights, NM Dreamers, and has participated in the UUA’s Beloved Conversations program.
Judy has over 40 years of teaching, coaching, training, and leadership positions working with all ages of people with diverse backgrounds. As a former Air Force officer, Judy held multiple leadership positions inside and outside of the United States. Within the community she is active with Mission Graduate, Women Veterans of New Mexico, and is on the SAGE Albuquerque advisory board, serving as chair in 2019-2020. In 2020, she was appointed by Albuquerque’s Mayor to the Veterans and Military Affairs Advisory Board – a two-year appointment. She is interested in improving First Unitarian’s diversity, community involvement, and its growth, health, and programs.

Martha Ketelle (New Nominee)
Martha has been a member of First Unitarian for 10 years and served on the Board from 2013-2016, and as President in 2014 and 2015. She has been active in the church’s work in Immigrant Justice and support of asylum seekers. She is a life-long Unitarian Universalist, having been an active member of several churches and fellowships. She is interested in recognizing and developing leaders in our congregation.

Nancy Kilpatrick (New Nominee)
Nancy has been at member of First U for more than 20 years. She has served in many capacities—Facilities Master planning, Sanctuary and Social Hall Building Projects, Care committee, Coffee Crew Lead, Finance Committee, and has served on the Board as VP and President. Her community engagement revolves primarily around support to immigrants and refugees, as well as with the Afterschool Tutoring program at the church. She is currently working as a tutor for our citizenship classes.

Marilyn O’Boyle (New Nominee)
Marilyn has been a member of First Unitarian Church for 20 years. She helped found the Earth Web Team, served for 8 years on the Worship Committee, sings in the choir, and is a Covenant Group facilitator. She has served on the Board of Directors for two different terms, and was on the search committee that brought us Bob LaVallee. She is a retired Suzuki Method Violin teacher and trainer, and the mother of five, grandmother of nine. She enjoys gardening, reading, walking, and keeping fit.

Moderator (no term limit)
Michael McDonald
Michael has been an active member of the church since 1985. He is a former board member, has served on many church committees, was an active Religious Education volunteer, and helped found the weeklong UU Kids Camp. Michael’s favorite role is as Church Moderator, which he has filled since 2010 after serving for several years as Church Parliamentarian. He finds it rewarding to represent a congregation that works so well together.