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Building Community for Justice.

Illinois UUs working for meaningful social change toward justice, beloved community, and a healthy planet.


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2018 Campaigns


We are poised to join these campaigns for 2018:

  • Fair Tax Illinois

The Illinois Fair Tax is a proposed amendment to the Illinois state constitution that would change the state income tax system from a flat tax to a graduated income tax.  This campaign began in 2012 -- though defeated each election year, it has gained strength and we believe it will pass this year.  We join the Responsible Budget Coalition of Illinois.  Rally in Springfield February 14, before Governor Rauner's  budget address, then add your energy, voice and witness March 15 to May 10 when legislators will be  lining up in support of the working classes of Illinois -- or not.

  • The Love Resists Campaign of the UUA

The Love Resists campaign gathers the energy of Unitarian Universalists to support the efforts of marginalized people to raise power for equality:  Dreamers, people of color caught in the criminal justice web, people facing discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, people facing religious discrimination.  

  • Environmental Justice campaign of the Illinois Climate Table

We join forces with the Illinois Climate Table to monitor the implementation of the Future Energy Jobs Act of Illinois, passed at the end of 2016.  We will support legislation designed to enact recommendations of the FEJA.

  • The Poor People's Campaign

Challenging a cultural dynamic that supports systemic racism, poverty, and environmental injustice, working for better jobs, better homes, better education, a better day for people disenfranchised by our American world of today.   PPC has identified these targets for action this spring:

= Voter Suppression, especially as we conduct all-important mid-term elections this year, includes banning requirement of difficult-to-acquire IDs, the disenfranchisement of people with records

= Ecological Destruction, leading to water contamination, toxic neighborhoods near landfill, lead poisoning and asthma in poor communities

= Economic practices that undergird poverty, including poor wages, mass incarceration which disenfranchises a population, and inequality of taxation -- PPC will continue the Fight for 15 Movement for fair wages and the Fair Tax Campaign

=Militarism, especially the militarism of police actions and the proliferation of poorly-regulated gun ownership.

Annual Report 2018


2018 UUANI Board of Directors

Ellyn Ahmer, Unitarian Universalist Church Rockford
Dale Griffin, Unitarian Church of Evanston
Ann Hahn-Baiyor, DuPage UU Church - Naperville (Vice President)
Maryanne O'Dowd, Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist - Palatine
Tracey Olson, Unitarian Church of Hinsdale (President)
Rich Pokorny, Unity Temple UU Congregation - Oak Park
Rev. William Sasso, Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship (Treasurer)
Margaret Shaklee, Unitarian Church of Evanston (Secretary)

Rev. Scott Aaseng, Executive Director of UUANI.

Telling the UUANI story connects UUs as they build community and develop leaders.

Our current moment demands strategic and concerted efforts beyond the strength or resources of any single congregation to have the greatest impact on driving policy and electoral change consistent with our faith-based values.

We’ve worked to connect congregations together, helping them to build relationships among each other and to develop a community of leaders. UUANI organized three UU justice gatherings in Northern, Central and Southern Illinois this year, two were together with YaYA Justice and the UU Prison Ministry of Illinois. More than 150 UUs from 20 congregations gathered for spiritual reflection and shared learning around transformative justice, economic justice, environmental justice, immigration justice, and what we are doing in our congregations. This year was the first time we held gatherings in all regions of the state, and that we collaborated with partners to do so.

We’ve also worked to strengthen congregations’ individual capacities. Rev. Scott Aaseng, Executive Director, held two workshops in Rockford and three in Springfield while also preaching and/or holding forums in 13 congregations.

Once again, Rev. Aaseng organized Beloved Conversations for 2018, connecting congregations in the work of understanding racial injustice. The facilitators for the Beloved Conversations program have continued to meet to discuss race and ethnicity. In addition, we formed a network of UU Green team leaders from around the state.

In 2018, more than 600 Illinois UUs acted on our UU Values with UUANI – and won key legislative victories.

UUANI helped UUs in Illinois put their values of justice, compassion and equity into concrete action – helping us to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Doing so brings spirituality into our justice work- social justice work sustains us personally and helps us live our UU principles.

As in 2017, we made getting involved accessible and manageable through the UUANI Action of the Week. Through these 2018 online Actions of the Week, 600 UUs from 29 UU congregations sent more than 4,000 documented messages reflecting our UU values directly to their elected officials.

More activism by the numbers:

  • ●  19 congregations mobilized for in-person meetings with their state legislators

  • ●  10 congregations engaged in local town halls and candidate forums

  • ●  11 ministers participated in actions in support of immigrants and the Poor People’s Campaign

  • ●  200 UUs in Springfield and in Chicago mobilized for the Poor People’s Campaign and were key players in “street theater” events

  • ●  75 UUs participated in Advocacy Days in Springfield led by 3 partner organizations, Community Renewal Society, Responsible Budget Coalition, and Faith in Place.

See our Springfield Scorecard below for legislative results in 2018.

Amid these wins, not all the bills we advocated for passed; Governor Rauner vetoed five bills and ten others were stalled in the legislature. Recognizing we needed a leadership who aligned with our values, we focused on voter engagement in the fall through the Voting our Values campaign. Members of 23 UU congregations took the Voting Our Values pledge, committing to both voting and encouraging others in our communities to register and vote. More intensive Voting Our Values campaigns took place in seven congregations.

In order to be effective, UUANI forms alliances with like-minded organizations to collaborate and be in solidarity. This gives UUs and our partners a larger, more powerful platform. We continue to connect UU congregations with initiatives of the UU Prison Ministry of Illinois, the UUA, UUSC, and the College of Social Justice, as well with campaigns of the Illinois Climate Table, the Responsible Budget Coalition, the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois, the Protected by Faith immigration coalition, and the Illinois Poor People’s Campaign.

We choose the issues based on conversations with congregational leaders around the state and in partnership with organizations representing those most impacted. UUANI currently focuses particularly on issues of economic, environmental, racial, and immigrant justice.

UUANI continues to build capacity to sustain this work.

In 2018, we focused on strategic planning, leadership development and fundraising.

These were our main goals: goals:
Goal 1: Tell UUANI’s story to connect UUs and build community around the state.
Goal 2: Increase fundraising by $7400 (from $27,000 to $34,000) in 2018
Goal 3: Work to develop leadership teams Central/Southern, and Chicago/Northern Illinois.
Goal 4: Engage UUs in action around our UU Values.

This year Rev. Aaseng planned a program to launch in 2019 called UUANI Social Justice Leadership Corps. These leaders will be trained to engage the broader membership of our congregations in social justice ministry and develop our capacity for collective action.

YaYA Justice, UUANI’s youth and young adult network, is another way to develop leadership. They meet weekly to connect and reflect on social justice concerns. The JUUICE IDEA (Joining UUs In Communication Exchanging Intergenerational Dialogue Encouraging Action) initiative partners youth and young adults with older adults for intergenerational relationship-building around social justice. This was started early in the year by ministerial intern Mandie McGlynn.

In addition to UUANI Executive Director, we now have additional staff which includes part-time coordinator Elise Miedlar for YaYA Justice and part-time ministerial intern Christe Lunsford in Rockford.

Rev. Aaseng was successful in applying for and receiving five grants totaling $30,052 dollars, 13 percent greater than the grant funding we received in the previous year. These grants are from the UU Funding Program, the UU Service Committee (UUSC), the Chicago Area UU Council, the Illinois Climate Table, and the UUA Youth and Young Adult Ministries Office.

We are steadily becoming less dependent on grant support, with more than two thirds of our expenses last year covered by donations from 16 congregations and more than 100 households. Contributions received from individual donors increased from $15,504 in 2017 to $16,065 (2018 YTD). During the same period, support from congregations has decreased slightly from $13,832 to $12,965.

UUANI funds on hand have increased from $34,390 (as of 12/31/17) to $38,791 (as of 11/30/2018). This was the year we passed a policy creating an Operating Reserve Fund. Our current Operating Reserve Fund balance is $20,643. Our Youth and Young Adult Fund balance is $910, and the remaining $17,239 are unrestricted funds used to support ongoing programs.

We are grateful for each of these forms of support!

The leadership of UUANI.

The success of UUANI is directly due to the dedication and tenacity of UUANI Executive Director, Rev. Scott Aaseng. It has been such a pleasure for the entire board to work with and support Scott in UUANI efforts because he is so effective and well-received. He truly lives his values.

Margaret Shaklee served as secretary once again turning out minutes in record time. She organized the Central Illinois gathering in Springfield. Working in collaboration with Scott and allied organizations, Margaret writes the timely Actions of the Week which keep Illinois UUs informed and engaged.

Rev. Bill Sasso served as treasurer and kept the organization healthy financially. He also serves as our informal parliamentarian, taking a role to keep us within the boundaries of our bylaws, Robert’s Rules and Illinois non-profit guidelines. All this, along with his ministerial background is quite a special gift.

Rich Pokorny continued to serve as chair of our fundraising effort with Dale Griffin and has done a fabulous job getting new Ambassadors and keeping UUANI funded. He does so with such a positive attitude, it almost makes one think fundraising is fun.

Ann Hahn-Baiyor served as Vice President this year. She planned and implemented the Board Retreat, which was a spectacular start to our year. She focused on the strategic plan as we left it partly undone, and she finalized it so we can use it as a guide in the future. Ann also led the Communications Team.

Ellyn Ahmer served her first year on the board and offered such positive feedback about our work and the board meetings. She helped with organizing the Social Justice Workshop in Palatine, and has been focusing on connecting with congregations in the Northern part of Illinois in preparation for a cluster gathering early next year. Ellyn has also been serving as UUANI's representative on Christe Lunsford ministerial internship committee.

Maryanne O’Dowd was also new to the board. She organized the successful Social Justice Workshop in the beginning of the year, the first workshop where we collaborated with other organizations. She easily navigated the coordination. As a member of the communications team, she took the lead and developed a Key Messaging Map for UUANI which will be used by the organization for many years to come. She is also working with the designer on the UUANI brochure, and has taken on organizing the 2019 retreat.

Dale Griffin has completed his term as board member and is stepping off the board. He has served on the board since the organization began, and served as UUANI’s first president for two years. He, too, is excited about fundraising. His leadership has made a profound impact on UUANI in these first five years, and has set a solid foundation for the organization to be around for many years to come. Dale will continue to serve on our Advisory Panel, for UUANI board alums among others.

Tracey Olson completes her term as board president and also steps down from the board to join the newly formed Advisory Panel. Tracey has paid unstinting attention the progress of UUANI, both as board member and as board president for two years. Her enthusiasm for UUANI is infectious, and she has almost single-handedly brought the Hinsdale congregation to their feet in action for advocacy.

CALENDAR for upcoming events     

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Stay tuned for the new year!


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UUANI 2018 Springfield Scorecard

Our UUANI campaigns of 2018 yielded some sweet victories and some disappointment.

We joined our efforts with UU Prison Ministry of Illinois and Community Renewal Society of Chicago to support legislation that promoted restorative justice.   Two bills passed both houses and were signed into law by Governor Rauner:
    •    SB3388 Adult Redeploy Act expands the availability to probation-eligible people of support services such as counseling, life coaching, problem-solving courts, and other restorative justice processes. 
    •    HB5341  "Fair Access to Employment (F.A.T.E.)" provides that outstanding fees, fines, and court costs cannot stand in the way of determining whether someone can have their criminal record sealed. 

And one bill was passed by both houses, but vetoed (amendatory) by Governor Rauner:
    •    HB4469  "Know your rights" affirms access to voting rights for pre-trial and post-incarceration people.   The Governor objected to being the first state to install voting booths in jails. 


We joined our efforts with  the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights to support legislation promoting the safety and welfare of undocumented people. 
We won:
•    SB3488  Anti-registry Act -- Provides that agencies may not create registry lists based on discriminatory characteristics such as national origin, religion, disability, race, color, gender identity, immigration status. 
•  SB3109 Professional licensing may be awarded regardless of immigrant or citizenship status
  SB34 Voices Act -- Requires law enforcement to provide visas to qualifying individuals who are survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking or other criminal activity without requiring them to jeopardize their safety as undocumented people.   Governor Rauner vetoed this and the Assembly overrode the veto!
 We lost:
    •    SB35:  Immigration Safe Zones -- Provides that public buildings and agencies funded by state taxes be declared areas safe for all people regardless of immigration status.  
    •    SB3103 Immigrant tenant protection. Tenants rights for undocumented people.
In these bills, Governor Rauner felt that the legislation violated federal law by attempting to supersede it. 

Two victories!!
    •    HB2354 "Red flag" Firearms Restraining Order -- Allows a citizen to register a lethal restraining order mandating that a citizen demonstrating real and present danger to a community be denied purchase or ownership of firearms. 
 •    SB337 Gun Dealer Licensing, now Combating Illegal Gun Trafficking, Passed both houses, but was held away from the governor’s desk until incoming Governor JB Pritzker signed it into law January 17, 2019!

We got no traction for environment protection bills, but the chances may change with the results of the November elections.


HR1025 Fair Tax Resolution, a non-binding resolution for a progressive income tax for Illinois, set the stage for a Fair Tax campaign in 2020.

Well Done!









UUANI is supported by contributions from Unitarian Universalist individuals and congregations in Illinois, and by grants from the Fund for Unitarian Universalist Social Responsibility, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, the Chicago Area Unitarian Universalist Council, and the Illinois Environmental Council.

We are grateful for each of these forms of support!