UUA president names McDonald acting chief operating officer

The position is “acting” rather than permanent, Frederick-Gray explained, “so that we may use this time to think flexibly and creatively about how to build collaborative anti-oppressive leadership and practices into the UUA.”

UUA President Peter Morales introduced the chief operating officer role alongside another executive position, the program and strategy officer, in 2013 after Executive Vice President Kay Montgomery retired. Limpert served as COO from 2013 until he resigned April 20 amid controversy over UUA hiring practices. The Rev. Dr. Terasa Cooley served as program and strategy officer from 2013 until she stepped down in January 2016; her position was left vacant. Tim Brennan is continuing as treasurer and chief financial officer.

This spring critics accused Morales’s administration of failing to address systemic patterns that privileged white ministers for senior staff positions. After Morales resigned April 1, three months before the end of his term, the Board of Trustees appointed three people of color as interim co-presidents, charged them with launching a Commission on Institutional Change to look at patterns of white supremacy within the progressive but predominantly white religious movement, and called for a racism audit of the UUA. (Read all UU World coverage of the hiring practices controversy.)

McDonald, who identifies as biracial, joined the UUA Leadership Council in April at the invitation of the interim co-presidents, who announced a hiring freeze while they prepared new hiring diversity policies. In June, the co-presidents set a goal of 40 percent people of color for UUA staff in professional and management positions, only 15 percent of whom are people of color now, and 30 percent people of color for the staff overall; just under 20 percent of UUA employees are people of color. President Frederick-Gray endorsed the hiring goals.

The co-presidents appointed another person of color in a senior staff role,…

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