The Leadership Development Committee (LDC) is pleased to announce nominees for three positions on the OUUC Board and three positions on the LDC that will be filled by the Congregation at its annual meeting on Friday, April 28. Over the last six months, LDC members have sought input from members of the Congregation through the Wednesday newsletter, met with Board members and other church leaders, and talked with dozens of potential nominees. We offer the names below as a culmination of that process.

The nominees for three-year terms on the Board are: Don Melnick, John Tafejian, and Fritz Wrede.

If elected by the Congregation, they would succeed Alice Curtis, Lorrie Eaton, and Mary Anne Trause, who will be leaving the Board, and would join carry-over Board members James Anest, Michele Hendrickson, Helen Henry, Martha Nicoloff, Linda Selsor, and Wendy Tanner.

The nominees for two-year terms on the LDC are: Des McGahern, Melanie Ransom, and Connie Ruhl.

If elected they would succeed departing members Jeff Goltz, Karmel Shields, and Wil Wrede, and would join carry-over LDC members Tom Best and Samantha Ritchie.

The LDC would like to thank the many members of the Congregation who provided input on what we should be looking for in Board and LDC members and who provided an excellent list of names of people who may be interested.

Pursuant to OUUC bylaws, these names will be placed in nomination at the Congregational meeting on April 28.




Don Melnick

Don practiced as a civil engineer for over 30 years including roles as a manager and business owner. During this period he also studied management including business law, organizational behavior, and human resources and trained as a meeting facilitator.

Since retiring in 1996 he has served in a number of volunteer roles in the community including chairing a homeowners association on Hartstine Island, chairing the Mason County Economic Development Council, serving on the Lacey Planning Commission, and, most recently, serving as a citizen member of the Intercity Transit Authority Board. At Panorama, where he and Rosalie have lived for 11 years, he chaired the Auditorium Advisory Committee and for a time Panorama Television where he still volunteers.

Since joining OUUC in 2010 Don has served as the chair of the Building and Grounds Committee and served on the Space Committee and, more recently, the Finance Committee. Prior to the recent transition to policy governance, he was elected Chair of the Program Council and served as an Executive Team member.

Joining OUUC has been the first truly formal religious experience in Don’s life, and he has quickly come to value the broad diversity of congregational viewpoints and to respect member’s great passion to live them.


John Tafejian

John first got involved with OUUC when his youngest son started going to the youth group because a friend of his was going. He helped out with the youth group for a couple of years and then proceeded to expand his involvement — helping out on grounds projects, working with the book sale, and serving as an usher once per month. He also did a This I Believe sermon several years ago. With his retirement, John has more time to serve the OUUC community that he loves and gives him and his family comfort.

Married since 1983, to Cheryl, John has three grown kids, one in college, one in the Peace Corps, and one teaching school in New York City. He has lived in Olympia since 1986 and joined OUUC around 2005, after being a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church of Olympia. John retired from his State of Washington job in September 2016.

For fun John rows on the water with Olympia Area Rowing. He also participates in triathlons with a friend.


Fritz Wrede

Fritz spent his early childhood years in Fairbanks, Alaska, in a family that he describes as not very “churchy”. He and his brother were raised as Methodist and spent much of their time out in the bush on a gold mining claim run by his father and uncles. When he was 13 his family moved to north Seattle. Fritz attended the University of Washington and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology in 1971; in 1977 he received a Masters degree in Educational Psychology.

In the early part of his professional life, Fritz worked as a drug treatment counselor and mental health therapist. In 1982 he was hired by the King County Public Health Department in the Drug Abuse Prevention Office and in 1986 he was put in charge of computers for the King County Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse. In 1992 he took a job with the Washington State Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, managing computer systems, eventually being responsible for both mental health and chemical dependency data systems for the state until he retired in October 2014.

He and Gail moved to Olympia in December of 1992 and soon joined OUUC. Fritz has been active in a number of program areas in the church including children’s and adult RE, building and grounds, and the technology team. In his spare time, Fritz enjoys hiking, kayaking, gardening, reading, and, more recently, traveling.



Connie Ruhl

Connie is a long time member, starting with the Olympia UU Fellowship in 1978 where she “instantly felt” that she had found her “spiritual and religious home.”  She signed the membership book in 1982.

Her activities with the church in the early years included teaching religious education and supporting many of the projects required to sustain a small, yet growing congregation. Her close association and participation in various roles and responsibilities continued as the church grew and worked toward the construction and move to our present facility.

Her involvement has included membership in and then co-chairing the Membership Committee, serving on the Ministerial Search Team leading to the call in 2001 of the Rev. Arthur Vaeni; singing in the choir for eight years including its pilgrimage to Romania and Hungary in 2004; serving on and then co-chairing the Memorial Service Committee, and, more recently working toward the completion of the Memorial Garden and Columbarium addition to our property and program.

Connie states that she would be honored to be confirmed to serve OUUC in the work of the Leadership Development Committee.


Des McGahern

Des has been a member of OUUC since 1999, serving on the personnel committee, the worship arts committee, and the board of trustees where he helped establish our ministerial search committee in 2015. Des has participated in numerous fundraising activities at the church including New Years Eve parties (DJ), Yule plays (fire builder and set guy), the annual auctions (emcee) and the Thrift Store Challenge (emcee and fashion icon). He has volunteered with our homeless shelter overnights as well as with our middle school religious education group where he chaperoned numerous middle school trips.


Melanie Ransom

Melanie and her husband, Tim, joined OUUC in 1998. Over the last many years, Melanie has been involved with the Stewardship Drive (which used to be called the Canvass), Middle school RE, the DRE Search Committee that found Sara, the Ministerial Search Committee that found Thomas, the Memorial Garden Committee that installed the Columbarium, the Endowment Committee, Ushers and Greeters, the Memorial Services Reception Committee, the Sewing Ministry, the Capital Campaign Committee, and the Board of Trustees. Melanie was the Board Chair when we expanded the Commons and the RE Wing.

Melanie was supposed to be on the Leadership Development Committee previously but had to drop out when she was called to be on the Ministerial Search Committee, so she is pleased to be nominated again for this important assignment.

Melanie recently retired from O Bee Credit Union where she served as the Human Resources Director. She recently started a sewing and alterations business because sewing has been a passion for her since age eight. When she isn’t sewing or volunteering at church, she and Tim are getting on airplanes and seeing the world.