Staff and Board

Ministers

Rev. Kevin
Rev. Kevin Tarsa
Lead Minister

Rev. Kevin is on sabbatical until June, 2023.

The Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains welcomed Rev. Kevin Tarsa in August 2016 as its second settled minister.

Rev. Kevin arrived in Grass Valley and parish ministry after a lifelong vocation in church music and 26 years of music ministry in Unitarian Universalist congregations. He is a graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School and a recipient of the school’s Faculty Prize for Religious Leadership. Prior to his call to ministry here, Rev. Kevin served as an Interim Minister in Beaufort, South Carolina; an Interim Minister of Music in Lansing, Michigan; an Intern Minister in Wayland, Massachusetts; and a longtime Minister of Music in Traverse City, Michigan.

Rev. Kevin identifies as a religious naturalist, explaining that he is a non-theist who believes that we are thoroughly human beings in an awe-inspiring and entirely natural universe, and that we are called by “life’s longing for itself” to live in ways that strengthen at the same time both our individual and our collective well-being. “Religion helps us to navigate the intersection of ‘I’ and ‘we’ to the benefit of all,” he says, calling us ever to our most whole and integrated selves. “Love is the symbol I use for the work at hand. We are called continually to figure out together what love asks of us now, in this moment and in this place.”

Rev. Kevin is a gay man, the second oldest of eight children from a devoutly Catholic and close-knit Michigan family. He is fed and energized by creative and artistic endeavors of many sorts. He finds special joy in meaningful interactions, group synergy, shared music making, and making and sending thoughtful cards to people. He is grounded by gardening, cooking, hiking, biking, swimming, and snowshoeing, and his eyes can never take in enough of the electric blue sky at mid-dusk, the deep hues of Lake Michigan, the brilliant greens of a spring woodland, or the dynamic edges and rhythms of the Yuba River.

Rev. Janet
Rev. Jan Onnie
Sabbatical Minister

To reach Rev. Jan please
email RevJanet@uugrassvalley.org
or call 530-278-5091

Office hours: Mon., Wed., Fri., 10am-2pm

The Reverend Jan Onnie has supplied pulpits, trained congregations in Lay Pastoral Care, and facilitated workshops on organizational and leadership development and conflict management. As an outspoken supporter of professional clergy Rev. Onnie has served as a mentor and intern supervisor to ministers in formation and a good officer to troubled ministries. She served first, as treasurer, then as President of the Florida Chapter of the UU Ministers Association. As a founder of and contributor to interfaith organizations she is a passionate advocate for social justice issues in cooperation with interfaith partners and allies and is a frequent contributor to newspapers and public forums.  In 2021 she was named Minister Emerita of the Tri-County Unitarian Universalists (FL), where she served for ten years.

Rev. Onnie retired to Staunton, Virginia, where she continues to supply local pulpits and, via Zoom, pulpits nationwide. In 2022 she completed service as sabbatical minister for a congregation in Canada. She also revived her pre-ministerial career as a professional musician, serving as volunteer coordinator for the Staunton Music Festival, as assistant conductor for the Flutes of the Shenandoah, and playing in The Charlottesville Band.

What’s Your Position Title?
Sabbatical Minister

Briefly describe what your role at UUCM.
To hold Rev. Kevin’s place during his sabbatical, which mostly involves not messing up his and the congregation’s good work.

When do/did you begin in your current role?
January 13, 2023

What does Unitarian Universalism mean to you?
An aspiration to be a model of an inclusive community of curious, vibrant, values-based, action-oriented people who examine questions of that which is of the “highest worth” (worship).

Where do you call your hometown?
Cleveland, Ohio

What do you love best about fulfilling your role?
Every day is a new thing. I’m never bored.

What do you find most challenging about fulfilling your role?
The time difference.

What are some things you do that the congregation might not be aware of?
Prior to ministry I made my way as a professional musician. And I lived on a tiny island for several years where I spearheaded the restoration of an historic church building.

How does your work support the mission of UUCM?
I’m here to be a cheerleader for the people who are actually carrying out the mission of UUCM.

Is there anything else you want people to know about your role?
As a temporary guest at the UUCM table, I support the work of the cooks and servers.

Tell us about your family (pets, people, etc.)
Two years ago I retired to Staunton Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley with my spouse of 54 years. Our daughter is a social worker who married a musician. They live in Asheville, NC. Our household is managed by an opinionated but generally placid ginger tabby cat. (The cat was NOT my idea!)

If you could pick one superpower, what would it be?
Mind-reading

What top three traits define you?
Tenacity, Optimism, Attraction to ‘things unseen’

What is the one thing you cannot resist?
Playing in a symphony orchestra

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Play my flute, cook, swim, care for the cat (which was NOT my idea), binge TV series

Where is your favorite place to be? (only non church answers allowed!!)
Right here in Staunton Virginia

What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know?
In a pantomime I was cast as the Lion in the “Wizard of Oz”

If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Chef’s choice from a 5-star restaurant

If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do with the money?
Renovate our basement for guests and give the rest away.

Our Staff

Office Manager
Bookkeeper
admin@uugrassvalley.org
Communications Coordinator
Minister’s Assistant
communications@uugrassvalley.org

Carol first came to UUCM as the Office Administrator in March of 2018 bringing her years of experience in administration. After four years of service Carol has added bookkeeper to her role of duties and is now the Office Manager.

She has been a Grass Valley resident since 2000 and has found it a wonderful place to raise her family of three beautiful daughters, along with much loved dogs and cats. She describes them as a household of nerds, obsessing on Hamilton, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, musicals, animated films and Sailor Moon. Carol also is a bit obsessed with history and spends a lot of time researching her genealogy.

Carol and her sister own New Life Nursery in Penn Valley. As a gardener she has a green thumb and a green heart as well. She loves plants, getting her hands in the soil, and watching things grow, especially heirloom tomatoes. After growing up in San Jose, she loves being in the woods, the local lakes and rivers, and enjoying the history and culture of the Sierra Foothills.

Carol is excited to work in a place, assisting socially aware people who share her goals of making our community and beyond a better place.

Mary works remotely, where she’s lived and worked the past 9 years, in Nashville, TN. She has years of experience in church and nonprofit management. Growing up in the Kansas City, MO, area, Mary attended and worked for Unity Churches. She held the position of Director of Children, Youth & Family Ministries in Kansas City and Houston before finding her way to Nashville, where she became the Operations and Administration Manager for the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville from 2015 to 2021. She started at UUCM in her current role in the summer of 2022.

In the nonprofit industry Mary has worked with various organizations serving children and youth. She has had great success in growing membership, structural organization, event and program planning, marketing and fundraising.  

Mary has 2 young adult children who also live in Nashville. In her free time, Mary loves to play games (Bunco or Canasta anyone?), drink coffee and eat chocolate (the milk kind!)

Toby Thomas-Rose is an engaging pianist with a passion for connecting to his audience both through music and education. He has performed in venues across North America and overseas, and recently received a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from California State University Northridge.

Toby began as the piano accompanist at UUCM for the Sunday services in the summer of 2022 and became the Music Director in December.


Our Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees is the governing body of this Community, consisting of seven members elected by UUCM’s members. Their mission is to provide the leadership to make the UUCM’s mission a reality for our religious community.

About the Board

The UUCM Board of Trustees is the governing body of this community. It governs primarily by discerning the Mission, planning for the future, and providing oversight of compliance with the Articles of Incorporation, UUCM bylaws, UUCM policies, and all legal requirements. The Board monitors and safeguards human and material resources of the Community and governs through written policies. The Board maintains final oversight of the operations of the church.

The Board oversees and creates committees to assist it in its work.

Wondering what individual Board members do? Read the Job Descriptions for President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Member At Large.

Board Meetings

The trustees meet monthly, on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 1:30 PM.

A meeting notice is listed in the weekly e-chalice prior to Board meetings. UUCM members are welcome to attend. Please contact the Board President for meeting details.

My husband, Gary, and I moved to Auburn from SoCal five years ago. We relocated to be close to our daughter’s family and have fallen in love with the beautiful Sierra Nevada area. We began attending UU this past fall and quickly decided it was the place for us. We are quite new members of UU, having just joined in February.

My career was in education, having served as the administrator of a large university child development and education program, and as a faculty member teaching courses in early childhood education and administrative leadership. I also served for several years on the executive boards of both state and national education organizations. And I am currently on the Finance Committee for Lake of the Pines, where we live. These experiences have given me an appreciation for the important role boards serve in organizations. However, this will be my first experience with a UU board, and I look forward to learning and growing in this new role.

I feel honored to have been asked to serve and hope that I prove to be a helpful member of this wonderful community.

What does Unitarian Universalism mean to you?

For me Unitarian Universalism provides an open, loving and welcoming place for people with shared values to explore spirituality and put into practice actions that improve our world.

Briefly describe your current role at UUCM.

As UUCM Board President I am responsible for guiding the board’s work in the best interest of our community. This includes listening to others, identifying priorities, making decisions, setting policies, hiring employees and establishing committees that help us manage the infrastructure of UUCM.

When did you begin your current role?

I began as Board Vice President in 2020 and became President in 2021

What do you love best about fulfilling your role?

I love the connections I have made with fellow board members and with members of the UUCM community. Connections that I might not have had to opportunity to form had I not been on the board.

What do you find most challenging about fulfilling your role?

The work itself! There seems to be more to do all of the time. I am sure that I am failing retirement on certain days that are filled with the work of the board.

Is there anything else you want people to know about your role?

Though I may at times grumble about the work, I do love being on the board. The work is challenging and good for my brain! I get to use the many skills that I developed throughout my work life. And the board members are fun, dedicated and loving people who I delight in knowing and working with.

Tell us about your family (pets, people, etc.)

I have been married to my husband, Gary, for 50 lovely years. We have 3 adult children, their 3 spouses, and 4 grandchildren. Our family is very close and we delight in each other’s company. We often all vacation together and seem to enjoy these gatherings more and more as time goes by. I feel blessed by my family and know that our joy in each other is a rare gift. One thing we do particularly well together is laugh. The other is argue politics!

If you could choose anyone as a mentor, who would you choose and why?

Rev. Kevin. (The why is obvious to anyone who knows him.)

What top three traits define you?

Honest, straight forward and a good sense of humor.

What is the one thing you cannot resist?

My son-in-law’s 300 foot water slide. He builds it every summer. It runs down a steep hillside and lands in a great muddy pool. I can’t wait to slide down, the faster the better. We use liquid soap on our backsides to get the fastest ride! My children all think it is a bad idea to let me go, but I don’t listen. 🙂

Where is your favorite place to be? (only non church answers allowed!!)

My back yard on a sunny (but not too hot) day, watching the many birds and animals that enjoy our lake. Maybe reading a good book at the same time. Always a novel – pure escapism – nothing that is designed to make me a “better person”!

What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know?

I became a potter in my retirement years. I have a studio with a potter’s wheel, kiln and glazes. I love the chemistry and the making of useful and artistic items. I also love that I don’t have to communicate verbally or supervise anyone while I am making pots!

rene wiley

Five years ago, Steve and I made a decision to raise our family belonging to this community as a way to support our individual journeys of faith and focus on meaning and joy. I’ve found the community at UUCM to be a vital resource of friendship, inspiration, and faith in humanity and it’s in the resilient human spirit.

My spiritual growth at UUCM began when I joined some of the efforts and the projects that serve the congregation. I believe that one of the best things one can do is to join a Saturday work party with Building and Grounds! I was also glad to be recruited to help create a successful process to renew the UUCM Mission Statement a few years ago. Since then, watching the church grow and serve the larger Nevada County community with exciting Religious Education programs, including Our Whole Lives, and the many social justice causes has brought me both joy and fulfillment. I am proud to align myself with the Unitarian Universalism Association’s goal to put anti-oppression and anti-racism at the center of the UU tradition. I will continue to hold the vision of bringing Unitarian Universalism into the future with more love and more equity.

Just finishing serving as Secretary of the Board of Trustees, I cheerfully serve as the new Vice President. I promise to work with grace and humility to help achieve the Board’s goals and serve our UUCM Mission.

janet dunstan

My husband, George, and I moved to Nevada County in 2000. Our five acres, two cats, excursions in our camper, and dedication to UUCM keep us busy.

I have been a member of UUCM since 2011 and have served on the Board of Trustees as President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Trustee-at-Large. My previous experience includes various positions on other boards and ministerial search committees for Christian congregations. My career experience includes call center management, computer programming, bookkeeping, and office management. While taking a few years off from Board responsibilities, I worked with the Governance Task Force to explore changes we might make to support our mission and growing congregation. I joined the Board again in 2019 as Trustee-at-Large to assist in the transition to our new governing structure.

During the last nine years, it has been my pleasure to work side by side with some very dedicated UU people. I have learned a great deal from them and learned a great deal about myself in the process. I look forward to spending time this next year getting to know the new members on our Board and serving UUCM.

I was first introduced to the Unitarian Church in Ann Arbor Michigan in 1960, by my soon-to-be husband, Robert, and have attended UU churches ever since. Attendance was fairly casual during my years working as a corporate lawyer, but once I approached retirement, I became more involved. We attended churches in Canoga Park, California; in Bethesda, Maryland; Oakton, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; Oakland, California; and now Grass Valley. In Charleston, I was President of the Vestry, as the governing board was known, and lead the church into a capital campaign to preserve our 227-year-old building. We promptly moved to Berkeley, California, where I became Treasurer of the Unitarian Church of Oakland, and Treasurer of the Board, Chair of the Building Committee, and Treasurer of the campaign that allowed us to do a major earthquake retrofit of our building.

Robert and I along with our son, Brian, and son-in-law, Jack, bought a house in Cascade Shores in 2009, as our family’s second home. I love swimming in Scotts Flat Lake, and summer in Berkeley was just too cold. During those years, we attended UUCM occasionally. We all moved up here in 2018, permanently. I live in a house at Eskaton. I started attending UUCM weekly in November 2019 and became a member in February 2020, just in time to participate in a few events and get involved with the Finance and Governance Committees before everything shut down.

I’m looking forward to deepening my involvement through working on your Board, and lending my time and talents as I am able.

I was invited into the board a few months ago and am pleased to be joining at a time when Growth through Service (GTS) is rising as a focus on the horizon. I love serving our community at Restore and Interfaith and have enjoyed working with the Caring team, Buildings and Grounds, the Worship team and Bending the Arc.

Being a member at large on the board helps me to get to know my fellow board members and UUCM inner workings better. I am sure I will get to know others within UUCM even better as well and can bring what I learn from them back to our decision-making table. Everyone is invited to explore what they can do to grow UUCM and our beautiful community!

I became a UU in 1995, joining UUSS in Sacramento.  The fact that I did so with no change of heart or philosophy suggests that I’d been one for many years.  We joined UUCM in 2012 after moving to Nevada City.

My wife and I raised five children in the UU faith.  All college graduates, they are thoughtful, progressive-minded human beings, and our greatest source of pride.  

I practiced law for over thirty years, most recently with the Department of Justice, as a Special Assistant to Attorney General Bill Lockyer, then as a Deputy Attorney General in the Opinion Unit, retiring in 2013.  

I am past President of the UUCM Board of Trustees and currently a Trustee at Large.

I am the current Chair of the Board of Directors of Connecting Point, the Nevada-Sierra Regional In-Home Supportive Services Joint Powers of Authority.

I have been a musician for over 50 years, currently performing with the Banner Mountain Boys bluegrass band, and with my wife Kathryn Young.

This remaining Board position is currently open. If interested, please contact the Nominating Committee.