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Board and Nominating Committee Nominees

By Jo Ann Bishop, Nominating Committee Chair

The candidates below will stand for election at the Annual Congregational Meeting on June 4. Nominees to serve three-year terms on the Board of Trustees:

Mark Bishop has been a member of First Church since 2008 and has served on the Finance Committee and as Assistant Treasurer since 2010. He joyfully served as a member of the 175th Anniversary Lead Gifts team. Hosting many Feast for Funds and Stewardship events has been a gratifying way of contributing to the community. Mark is married to Jo Ann and has two adult daughters, Lianna and Natalie. He is a CPA and a Certified Financial Planner and works for Northwestern Mutual in their Home Office. Mark has been active in the Milwaukee arts community having served on the Milwaukee Art Museum Friends of Art Board for several years as well as serving as Finance Director and Corporate Development Director for the Lakefront Festival of Art. He volunteers for the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and the Marcus Center for the Arts and is a fervent Milwaukee Film Festival goer. Mark is grateful to have found a welcoming community that nurtures personal and spiritual growth.

Jeremy Koenen has been a member of First Church since 2009, when he fell in love with the institution and its support for both personal and communal growth. Through the church, he met his wife Stacy, and was married at the church in 2012. Their son Riley has been a regular face in the nursery and early childhood room since he arrived in 2013. Jeremy has been involved in numerous committees, including Marketing, Stewardship, as well as chairing YANKS and Dena’s Committee on Ministry. He has also been an active participant in chalice circles, circle suppers, and teaching RE as well as Our Whole Lives (OWL). Outside of church, Jeremy leads a team of application developers as a technical lead. He is excited to help keep the church thriving for future generations.

Omega Burckhardt Omega Burckhardt and her husband, Eric Heilig, became members of First Church in 2009. Omega has participated in Chalice Circles and served on the Chalice Circle Steering Committee. She and her husband enjoyed meeting other congregation members in circle suppers, and have hosted multiple events for the Feast for Funds. Omega participated with the Immigration Issues Action Group, and later served as Chair of the Social Justice Council. In 2015, Omega attended the Midwest Leadership School of the UUA, and is currently fulfilling a three-year commitment as staff at MWLS. Omega previously worked at Marquette University as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish and Latin American Cultures after earning her PhD in 2009. Having changed careers, she now owns her own business with another First Church member. She also leads technical brewery tours and beer education classes at one of Milwaukee’s largest craft breweries. Omega and Eric share their home with their two children, two dogs, one cat, and a frog.

Nominees to serve three-year terms on the Nominating Committee:

Beth Bender joined First Church in 2011 along with her husband Mark and sons Matthew and James. Since that time, she has been active in the RE program both as a teacher and a classroom assistant for several different age groups and has been a co-chair for the First Church Spiritual Retreat since 2013. A professional cellist, she has worked in Southeastern Wisconsin since 2001, performing with several local orchestras and small groups, teaching students from the greater Milwaukee area and working with the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. Currently she is the Interim Executive Director of the Racine Symphony. She is looking forward to getting to know the First Church Community through her new role with the Nominating Committee.

Kathy Porter joined First Church with her husband, Bob, in 1995. Their children Ryan and Lindsey participated in the Children’s Religious Education program during their school years. Kathy taught in the Children’s RE program for many years. In leadership roles here, she chaired the Children’s RE Committee, RE Council, Interim Director of RE Search Committee, and DRE Search Committee, and served on the Board of Trustees. Kathy was the congregation’s president when she was hired as our full-time Director of Membership and Development in December 2004. She served as the DMD until August 2015. Kathy now enjoys singing in the Chancel Choir and looks forward to reengaging as a First Church volunteer.


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