Contact the board at board@uusterling.org.


President – Koren Barwis

Why did you become a Unitarian Universalist?
Raised a “Christmas and Easter” Methodist, I struggled with accepting Christianity and the Bible. As an adult, I leaned toward Eastern philosophies and a more liberal approach. I longed for a place where my entire family could worship together and found it at UUCS.

Why did you join UUCS?
I joined UUCS in 2013 after attending a friend’s photography exhibit in the sanctuary. Intrigued, I checked out the next Sunday service. The prelude was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” a song with great personal significance (which of course I saw as a sign). I kept coming week after week, feeling a strong connection to the sermons, music, and the community. I signed the book a few months later.

Why did you say “yes” to being on the Board? What do you hope to accomplish?
UUCS is making the world a better place and I want it to succeed, grow, and thrive. I hope I can have a positive impact on both our short-term and long-term goals. Securing a new space is one of my top priorities, as is streamlining processes within membership. My other main focus is communications; with my experience in marketing, I hope to increase our reach utilizing events and social media. I also realize I have a lot to learn and am open to new ideas and suggestions.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I live with my husband Bob, teenage daughter Ruby, our two labs, and kitty in Ashburn. Working for AOL pays the bills, but my passions are writing and wellness. Good red wine and dark chocolate are my favorite indulgences.

Treasurer – Karen Hawley

Why did you become a Unitarian Universalist?
I became a Unitarian Univeralist because it’s what I truly believe about religion, spirituality and the way I want to interact with this world. As a new parent 9 years ago I began exploring religion and churches for my children, my family and myself after being disconnected for so long. I grew up Catholic and as a young adult rejected any sort of organized Christian religion. I desired a place that had a sense of community, somewhere that I alongside my family we could develop our individual beliefs. For my children I hoped for them to learn about world religions and to grow and develop their sense of values, spirituality and gain an understanding about diversity and open-mindedness. Being a UU challenges me every day to live my beliefs, be authentic and affirm the seven principles.

Why did you become a member of UUCS?
There are not many UU churches in the area however I did explore the handful that are. As soon as I walked through the doors of UUCS I felt welcomed and knew that I was in the “right place”. What continued to draw me in was the music, community, hospitality, religious education programs and families.

 

Why did you become a member of the board? What do you hope to accomplish?
I said yes to being on the Board because UUCS is one of my homes and I feel very passionate about the community, people and programs we offer. I have volunteered and served in many other roles within UUCS and being on the board is another way for me to give back, contribute my time and skills and create a positive impact and change within and outside our church walls. UUCS has grown substantially in many capacities over the past few years and I want to support that continued growth, our vision and impact the wider community.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my children and friends, reading and adventures. I love anything outdoors especially hiking, planting and grilling! I am a runner and recently I have become involved with a non-profit that promotes inclusion for all and have the honor of pushing children and adults in races in special running chairs.


Vice President – Albert Pucio

Why did you become a Unitarian Universalist?
Some time in my mid-thirties, I figured I needed a change. I had remembered that some of my most respected teachers and peers attended UU services. I figured I’d give it a shot. That was nine years ago, two in Houston, and 7 in Virginia.. I now happily spend my Sundays at UUCS where I feel I can be my whole self.

Why did you become a member of the board? What do you hope to accomplish?
I said yes, because I was asked and consider the invitation an honor. I am also curious to know how Church works behind the scenes. I hope to learn and contribute to the maintenance, operation, and growth of our congregation.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In my spare time, in addition to volunteering at UUCS and attending its potlucks. After work, I find myself surfing the web, reading science and engineering blogs, and tracking memes from the internet. I also dabble with web technologies in order to help me better understand technical concepts and methodologies necessary for my day job.

 


Member at Large – Ben Friedson

Why did you become a Unitarian Universalist?
My father was Jewish and my mother is protestant but neither religion was practiced in our household growing up. I felt a real void as an adult and wanted to make sure my family had a deeper spiritual experience. While in my late teens, I was first introduced to the Unitarian Universalist religion by my grandmother.  My wife and I started to actively attend UU services when Nadia my oldest daughter was born in Buffalo, NY back in 2006. The values of the congregation absolutely fit our beliefs.

Why did you become a member of the board?
In an effort to achieve more balance, I really felt it was time to get a little more involved in the congregation and find ways to put my skillset to use in a meaningful way. I also felt it was important to gain a better understanding of the “bigger picture” in terms of how we operate as an entity. I hope to help find ways to bring a deeper impact to the community at large. I still feel like we are the best kept secret in Northern Virginia and there are so many out there that could benefit from the support of our congregation.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In my spare time I enjoy spending time outdoors with my family including: attending concerts at Wolf Trap, coaching soccer, hiking, biking, snowboarding and camping.


Member At Large – Teagan Kutz

Why did you become a Unitarian Universalist?
I became disillusioned with organized religion in general as I entered adulthood. In my mid 30s after going through much personal upheaval, I felt the need to be a part of something greater than myself. Unitarian Universalism accepts us each as unique individuals while fostering the shared goals of a community. It does so in a way which feels genuine to me. It does not require me to compromise any of my beliefs. UUism also challenges me every day to live up to the seven principles.

Why did you become a member of UUCS?
“Whoever you are, wherever you come from, whatever your identity, age, ability or history, know you are welcome to bring your full self here.” These were the first words I heard at my first service; they made me feel instantly comfortable and welcomed. Also, as the parent of two young children, I was impressed with the large numbers of families in the congregation.

Why did you become a member of the board? What do you hope to accomplish?
I am very passionate about this place and this group of people. I was initially asked to fill in for a member who was overseas. I hope to help make UUCS an even more fantastic place by bringing my own sometimes-irreverent yet hopefully thoughtful style to our meetings.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Spend time with my two children, Irish fiddling, biking and running, crossword puzzles, creating mischief.


Member at Large – Jim Illetschko

Why did you become a Unitarian Universalist?
After losing faith in the Lutheran religion that my parents raised me in, I had to find a faith that fit most closely to my morals and would accept my beliefs. I’ve been challenged multiple times in my life where logic and reasoning could not provide the entire way forward. Finding a way to grow spiritually on behalf of myself and my family became a need of high importance. UU has answered that call multiple times.

Why did you become a member of the board? What do you hope to accomplish?
I truly believe that the key to successful congregation depends how much its members give. I have both taken and given to this congregation and feel that the time is right to increase what I can give. I hope that I can provide a unique perspective as our congregation explores new opportunities for the future.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Spending time with my two children, surfing the web, playing video games, reading, watching movies, spending time outdoors and working out by biking, running or lifting.


Member at Large – Paisley Ashland

Why did you become a Unitarian Universalist?
I was born into Unitarian Universalism and have grown to love it. I really love how accepting UUs are to differences among people.

Why did you become a member of the board? What do you hope to accomplish?
I decided to be a part of the Board because I feel I should help our church more. Our recent addition of two services means we have two times the work, which will be difficult but worth all the fun we will receive! I would just like to help make the church a home for everyone, just like church is a home for me.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love to spend my spare time running in Track and Cross Country, along with reading, writing novels, and learning more about history.