Jeanne Pupke will be a respected and effective leader right away

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Who is most likely to produce results?

It isn’t easy to decide your vote in this UUA presidential election.

There’s little real difference in analysis or platforms. Arguments I have heard based on platforms seem forced to me, rationales to justify a decision based unconsciously on other factors.

We are tempted make the decision based on simplistic reasons. Some will decide based on the generation of a candidate. Some will decide based on the eloquence of a candidate. Some will look at how personal history may shape behavior.

Those are tempting but insufficient reasons.

I urge you to vote for who is most likely to produce results. It isn’t age or eloquence that matter, it’s whether the candidate has the appropriate experience and skills to move our association forward, from the first day on the job to the last.

I’ve known and watched each of our presidents, their successes and failures. Most entered the job with confidence, after rousing us all to enthusiasm, but were intimidated and overwhelmed by what they found when they assumed the position. They were accustomed to the more modest and less complex environment of a congregation. The UUA’s complexity is very daunting. They were less successful than we hoped.

Jeanne Pupke is more likely to produce results than the other two fine candidates. Her experience demonstrates actual executive talent at a high level including supervisory experience of hundreds of individuals. Her experience includes leadership on the UUA board, so she will know from day one how to work with the board and keep everyone on the same page. Her board experience includes deep knowledge of the UUA’s budget, so she will spend minimal time understanding how to align resources with strategies. I’m not describing skills that a less experienced president can gain from appointing a chief operating officer. While a good executive delegates effectively, she still must be able to judge whether the delegated work is accurate, effective and accomplishes what she intends.

I’ve seen quite a few presidents enter the job with impressive ministry resumes only to falter in their new role because the presidency is so different from parish ministry. Because of her broader background, Jeanne Pupke will be a respected and effective leader right away.

Why is “right away” so important? Because even with highly effective leadership, change is slow in an organization like the UUA, and time is short.

We have the capacity to harness our collective vision and resources to deepen and grow our religious community if we choose strong experienced leadership like Jeanne Pupke offers us.

Lawrence R. Ladd
Former Financial Advisor of the UUA
Director, National Higher Education Practice
Grant Thornton LLP