A Reflective Time

Time expands and contracts in ways we don’t always comprehend. These past two years in particular, time’s rhythm has altered for many of us. Yet, certain milestones invite us to pause and reflect on where we have been and the progress we’ve made. Most of all, it offers a chance to stand still, be present and express our gratitude for the important people and organizations in our lives.

This month marks my five-year anniversary as president and CEO of UMA. I am profoundly grateful to the UMA board, staff, members and sponsors who make up our UMA family. Without hesitation, I can say that you – the UMA members – and your dedicated commitment to your organizations continue to inspire me. You are truly servant leaders who strive to grow and learn, to do more, to do better, to serve more and to do so in fresh and innovative ways.

I firmly believe that an association’s strength is in the commitment and engagement of its members. Since I stepped into my role in the fall of 2016, we have united around powerful themes to inspire us: Connecting Community, Pathways to Excellence, Empowered by Joy, Resilience 365and now Growing in Partnership. Together, at our annual and peer network meetings, we have collaborated, invited tough conversations and reached out to one another for support. Quality and compassion have guided those conversations. Hope and faith have strengthened our resolve to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.

It has certainly not been easy.

This month, we not only reflected as a nation on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, but amidst that backdrop, our UMA members and EAGLE organizations continue today to confront devastating natural disasters and a relentless pandemic.

This past week, we lost one of our own. Dr. Tyler Plaxico, CEO of Wesley Glen Ministries, died on September 9th at just 42-years-old. My heart aches for his community, residents and family. I regret that, despite him serving in his role since 2019, I never had the privilege of meeting him in person.

It has truly been a challenging time. Has it really been more than two years since our UMA family has gathered? As we look to the future, let us continue to draw strength from our faith and shared vision for a better life for those we serve and take time to celebrate our successes and trust that we will be together again in Savannah next April.

We have much to celebrate.

Since 2016, we have welcomed more than 20 new member ministries and UM Annual Conferences. We’ve ushered in fresh EAGLE organizations, who successfully achieved accreditation amidst it all. A total of 34 organizations have achieved accreditation or become reaccredited in this five-year span.

We’ve stayed more engaged than ever. With each passing year, the roots of the association grow deeper. This year, UMA members participated in more than 40 education, EAGLE and peer networking events. Let’s not forget the Unidine chocolate tasting!

UMA is fiscally stronger. We are fortunate that we have loyal annual sponsors who have supported us consistently for the past five years and beyond including top level sponsor HJ Sims. Sponsors included Expense Consulting, iN2L, Lockton, Wespath, and Ziegler who have continued their support as Truth sponsors. And finally, LeaderStat, RLPS, RKL and Unidine committed to the Aldersgate level throughout my tenure. Our 2021 Annual Sponsors and business members stayed with us through this tough stretch. We are so grateful.

We are also grateful for Asbury Communities which has graciously provided a UMA headquarters at the Asbury Corporate offices in Frederick, Md., and generously shared expertise to support UMA’s operations. Thank you, Doug Leidig and your entire Asbury team.

I express my heartfelt gratitude to the UMA chairs who have worked alongside me and the UMA team to guide the UMA transformation including Kim Williams, Greg Peters, Debbie Reed and Steve Fetyko. UMA has been blessed with dedicated board members who have served with passion, dedication and good stewardship.

The EAGLE Accreditation Program has gone through significant positive changes in recent years, including national recognition as an approved accrediting body for Qualified Residential Treatment Programs. EAGLE’s upward trajectory would not be possible without the leadership of EAGLE Accreditation Commission Chair Marlin Livingston and past chair Carol McKinley and the entire EAGLE Accreditation Commission.

And finally, our dedicated UMA Team which has steadfastly grown in expertise and share a commitment to our UMA mission. Emily, Kristen, Sara and Susan have certainly shown their agility, resilience and dedication to UMA and EAGLE.

While time refuses to stand still, I remain grounded in our mission to promote, inspire, recognize and empower excellence in human service ministries.

Like many of you, on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11, I reflected on the people we lost and reached out to my family members to let them know that I love them and am grateful to have them in my life. On my five-year anniversary with UMA, I reflect on our recent loss, and express to you that I love the UMA family and remain incredibly grateful for each and every one of you. I look forward to continuing to serve you.

Peace and Blessings.

Mary Kemper
Mary Kemper
President and CEO