LREDA Board of Trustees

The mission of the LREDA Board of Trustees is to serve our membership. A fully volunteer board, we:

SUPPORT the professional development of our membership;

ADVOCATE for professional religious educators in congregations and in alliance with our professional colleagues and the UUA; and

SUSTAIN our organization through responsible fiscal stewardship, and creative, visionary leadership.

Contact us at

President: Mx Katharine Childs

Term: July 2023-26

Katharine uses they / them pronouns

Katharine is a UU Religious Educator, storyteller, and curriculum writer. They serve Unitarian Universalism on the traditional territory of the Kanien’keha:ka people as the Director of Religious Explorations at the Unitarian Church of Montreal in Montreal, QC. They are a former chair of CUURE (Canadian UU Religious Educators), and the former continental conference planning chair for LREDA. A graduate of Montreal’s Concordia University Theatre program, Katharine is an accomplished storyteller and writer of social justice fairy tales. Their stories have been shared and told in over a dozen UU congregations internationally.

An enthusiastic cyclist, amateur singer, and all-around lovable weirdo, Katharine annually churns out a half dozen pairs of hand knit socks in meetings and conferences, a tally that has only increased since all their work went online.

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Vice President: Jamaine Cripe

Email Jamaine


Term: July 2023-June 2024

Jamaine uses she / her pronouns

Jamaine is a member of the Lifespan Ministry Team at Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit, NJ. She’s been active in vocal performance and religious education since she was a teenager, a UU since 2007, and is a UUA Religious Educator -- Advanced Level. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Film Production from the University of Central Florida (GO KNIGHTS!) and a MBA in Media Management from the Metropolitan College of New York (unfortunately, they don’t have a football team). Jamaine is a former assistant director for film and television. She was raised as a military brat “from everywhere & nowhere" but considers herself a Southerner by birth. She lives in Maplewood, NJ with her husband, Rick, and their horribly spoiled “fur babies” Fiona (cat), Shivers (dog), and Peanut, Axle & Bolt (fancy rats). Her daughter, Alice, just began college out of state so she's feeling a little tender as a newly-empty nester.
Besides her work in religious education, Jamaine is an elected member of Maplewood's Township Committee, the 5-person governing body of her community. She's a baker, a swimmer, an enthusiastic but ungifted gardener, and a glutton of sci-fi and fantasy books and movies. Jamaine encourages the sharing of bad jokes (the cornier the wordplay, the better) and board game nights. Jamaine believes in the beauty of community, gallons of grace for mistakes made, and holds out hope that humanity can get comfortable with being uncomfortable in making long-overdue changes within ourselves and our institutions that will create equitable places and policies for all.

Treasurer: Mary Kroener-Ekstrand, PhD

Term: July 2023-26

Mary uses she / her pronouns

Mary Kroener-Ekstrand, PhD has been a UU religious educator since 2009. She currently serves as Director of Religious Education at the UU Congregation at Willamette Falls in Oregon City, OR. Her work history also includes stints as a middle school Social Studies and English teacher, a service learning coordinator, a university teacher educator, and a museum educator. Mary has pursued a variety of professional development opportunities in the field of religious education including coursework at Starr King School for the Ministry, district and regional trainings, and Renaissance Modules. She is passionate about UU faith development and feels called to the work of helping people of all ages to understand, articulate, and act on their beliefs in order to transform lives and communities.

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Secretary: Tim Atkins, CRE

Term: July 2022-25

Tim uses he / him pronouns

Tim serves as the Director of Lifespan Religious Exploration for the First Unitarian Church in Oklahoma City. He has previously served as the Director of Lifespan Religious Education at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, MD and the Morristown (NJ) Unitarian Fellowship. He currently serves on the UUA Nominating Committee and has previously served as a UUA Trustee, the Church of the Larger Fellowship as their Director of Social Media, and as a youth advisor and Religious Education teacher at his former home congregation in Atlanta. 

He spends his spare time writing, playing board games, trying to change the world, and attempting to reason with his cats Teddy and Dorothea.

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At Large, Continental Events: Courtney McKenny

Term: July 2022-25

Courtney uses she / her pronouns

Courtney  is a lifelong UU, who grew up attending the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Springfield, MO. She graduated from Truman State University with a Bachelors of Art in History. Courtney has previously served for over 10 years as the Director of Religious Education at the UU Fellowship of Montgomery. Currently she is the Director of Lifespan Faith Development for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham. Previously, she has served on the UUA Appointments Committee, the Mid South District Religious Education Committee, as well as the Southeast Chapter of the Liberal Religious Educators Association as vice president and then president. She is also an Our Whole Lives Facilitator - Junior and Senior High.

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At Large, Leadership Development: Kirsten Hunter, CRE

Kirsten is a divorced mom, lives in Portsmouth, NH with her teenage son, and welcomes frequent visits from her adult son who is in school in New York City. She needs to have her hands in the dirt as often as possible and enjoys walks, especially those she can share with her sweetheart, Eric, and her dog Holly.

Term: July 2021-24

Kirsten uses she / her pronouns

Kirsten Hunter grew up in Setauket, NY on a historic farm, and is a lifelong UU who was very active in YRUU youth community as a teen and young adult. She spent the first ten years of her adulthood in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she earned a BA in linguistics and signed language interpreting, and a master’s degree in special education from The University of New Mexico. She worked as an educator in the Albuquerque public school system for several years before moving back east to manage her family’s educational farm. Her work on the farm deepened Kirsten’s appreciation for experiential education and the importance of long term relationships in teaching and learning.

After moving away from the farm in 2010, she sought to recreate the community she left by returning to a UU congregation where, with great delight, she fell into the position of DRE. Kirsten earned credentialed status in 2018 and is deeply committed to our Unitarian Universalist principles as a path toward collective liberation.  

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At Large, Professional Support: Lauren Strauss, CRE

Term: July 2022-23

Lauren uses she / her pronouns

Lauren  has served as a religious educator at the First Parish of Watertown for 11 years. She first discovered her love of UU Religious Education as a youth advisor, RE teacher, and children’s choir director at the First Parish in Framingham, where she volunteered for many years before answering the call to serve the UU faith as a DRE.

Lauren’s previous job experience was in education. She taught in high schools for the Deaf, in residential treatment programs, and at a Reggio Emilio-inspired preschool. For most of her time in education she was a sex ed and English teacher. She is fluent in American Sign Language, is a creator and crafter, and brings all her prior experience to her Religious Education work. From handcrafted Spirit Play boxes containing needle-felted and knitted creatures to original stories and creative lesson plans, Lauren finds a lot of joy in weaving all her skills into one calling.

Lauren believes that the Unitarian Universalist faith is what the world needs. The loving, expansive theology of Unitarian Universalism beckons us all to sit at the table and learn deeply from one another, and Lauren is a little humbled by being a small part of the system that allows it to get to the people who need it.



 She is committed with all her heart to ensuring that Unitarian Universalism lives up to its theology in welcoming ALL people, and pushing UUs forward in the path of admitting our shortcomings in welcoming and serving BIPOC, Trans, Nonbinary, and Queer folk, people with disabilities, and others holding oppressed minority identities. Her work begins first and foremost right in her own heart and soul.