Leadership in Unprecedented Times

Reflections on the transformational presidency of Susan Frederick-Gray.


It has been an extraordinary time to be president of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

When Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray became the first woman elected as UUA president, in June 2017, the Association had been rocked by controversy over the racial disparity in its hiring practices, the resignation of the former president and other top staff, and the death of beloved UUA Moderator Jim Key.

Over the next six years, Frederick-Gray’s tenure played out against the Trump administration, the rise of Christian nationalism, attacks on democracy, a pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, the January 6 insurrection, the overturning of abortion rights, attacks on LGBTQIA+ rights, and the ongoing climate crisis.

With a passion for justice grounded in UU theology, Frederick-Gray seized the bully pulpit of the UUA presidency to amplify the voice of liberal religion and the values of the faith. Her twin rallying cries—“This is no time for a casual faith” and “This is no time to go it alone”—exemplified her commitment and that of her leadership team “to take more seriously our religion’s imperative to love, justice, and equity, and our commitment to one another to work in partnership and mutual support,” she says.


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