Scott Stewart, YMWLS Co-Dean
Scott serves as the Director of Religious Education and Youth Group Leader at Eliot Unitarian Chapel in Kirkwood, MO and has served on the YMWLS staff since 2014. He’s an enthusiastic supporter of UU youth and eagerly attends and supports as many UU youth events and leadership opportunities as possible. Scott and his wife Jennifer have been married for 16 years. He enjoys reading, traveling throughout the country, playing games with family and friends, hiking, viewing wildlife, and bird watching. Scott is also an avid supporter of the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Blues.
Nancy has been immersed in Unitarian Universalist faith development for the last 17 years, including 6 years as a Director of Religious Education, and 11 years on UUA district and regional staff, as the Faith Development Director in Heartland District, and the MidAmerica Coordinator for Emerging Models in Youth and Young Adult Ministries. Throughout this progression she has remained passionate about the transformative impact of our faith for children, youth, and young adults. She has worked closely as a regional liaison with our national Youth and Young Adult staff. Outside of the realm of faith development, she radiates a love of music and movement. One particular joy is DJing for multigenerational events as NC<* (NCLight), and spending time with family and friends in her hometown of Lexington, KY.
Heather Godbout is the youth coordinator at Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Oak Park, IL. She has been active in youth ministry as a volunteer advisor and/or youth ministry staff since 1996. Heather also serves as a youth conference consultant for the MidAmerica region's Northern Area. In her work-a-day life, Heather is the literacy coach at Crete-Monee High School in Crete, IL. She loves books, drawing, her garden, and all things nerdy.
Will Cannon is a sixteen-year-old homeschooler from Indianapolis, IN. He has been UU all his life and attends All Souls Unitarian Church of Indianapolis. He is involved in planning events for the youth group at his church and is a trained youth chaplain. Will is very excited to be returning to leadership school as Lead Youth Staff this summer after attending in 2017 as staff and 2016 as a student. As a student, Will loved leadership school and believes it was a very unique and life-altering experience for him. Will is most excited to meet all the amazing youth that will be attending.
Sarah is excited to return to YMWLS! Sarah is an adult advisor to the Heartland Area Youth Council. She has been a UU for more than twenty years, and much of her involvement with UU churches centers around RE and youth programs. She is currently a member of All Souls Unitarian Church in Indianapolis, IN. Sarah is the author of Oddity, a middle grade novel published by Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan. Her next novel will be out in Fall 2019. She's also a homeschooling mom and ESL teacher. In her spare time, she likes to garden, knit, and read..
Rev. Leslie Mills
Leslie Mills is the minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Elgin, Illinois. As a third-generation UU, she has a passion for empowering teen voices and leadership, giving them the support and resources they need in order to become powerhouses of our liberal faith. Leslie has worked with youth for over a decade, from running a youth volunteer program to leading youth pilgrimages. She has served our denomination as the youth director of Camp StarTrail, the minister-in-residence at Summer Seminary for youth contemplating becoming religious professionals, and most recently as a youth chaplain at YMWLS. She’s thrilled to be back this year, and can’t wait to meet you!
Tim Murphy is a youth advisor at the UU Church of Indianapolis and served on the staff of YMWLS from 2010-2015 and 2017! He loves to work with youth and promotes youth empowerment every chance he gets. He's been to tons of cons and trainings as both staff and attendee. He works as a cataloger at a public library, serves as the merchandise coordinator for Naptown Roller Derby and in his spare time watches lots of movies and rides as many roller coasters as he can find!
Tessa Hall is a Senior at Washburn Rural High School in Topeka, Kansas. She has grown up in the UU family and attends Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka. She is involved in Girl Scouts as well as staying plenty active in her UU community. Tessa is excited to return as a staff member, as she knows this will help deepen her faith as well as further her leadership abilities.
Evan is a slightly (extremely) ridiculous fourteen-year-old homeschooler from Indianapolis, IN. He is a Unitarian Universalist and an Eclectic Witch and attends All Souls Unitarian Church of Indianapolis. He attended YMWLS in 2017 and he’s ecstatic about returning as staff. When he isn’t drawing, writing or enjoying many fandom-related things, he volunteers as an At-Large on the Heartland Area Youth Council. He has been a member of the council for the past two years (and hopefully many more to come) which has allowed him to plan and run youth CONs, as well as events at his church. Evan is a trained youth chaplain. He is always happy to talk about anything on your mind.
Colleen Lee, Young Adult Spiritual Director
Colleen Lee is a college student at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she studies social work. Colleen is a life long UU, who is a YMWLS alumni, chaplain trained individual, former General Assembly Youth Caucus Worship coordinator, as well as a Summer Seminary alumni. She will be serving as YMWLS’s Young Adult Spiritual Director. Colleen enjoys art journaling, is an avid tea drinker, and an active advocate for reproductive justice. She can’t wait to be back in the YMWLS community for the third time.
Gene McCracken is a volunteer youth advisor at First Unitarian in Des Moines Iowa. He's been a church member for about 12 years and has worked with youth programming for about 10 years, including Coming of Age and high school youth group. He spent 30 years working in healthcare and taught at risk High School the last 12 years of his working career. His first leadership development experiences were in 4H as a teenager. Over his work life, he has had leadership development responsibilities in a variety of settings. Teaching at risk kids frequently involved creating a nurturing and growful environment; a setting where their personal leadership emerges. For the last couple years he has taught a leadership class for AARP. He attended Midwest Leadership School for adults in Beloit in 2015. Youth from Des Moines attended the youth school and always returned "pumped." Being an Iowan and loving both Decorah and MWLS, he wanted to help the first year in the new setting. He volunteered, was accepted and found it rewarding. So he's coming back! Gene gardens, cooks, watches grandkids play soccer and enjoys being out in nature.
Chris Twombly is an active UU member from Eliot Unitarian Chapel, located in Kirkwood, Missouri. He is involved in his local UU community as the current leader of SAYC (Southern Area Youth Council) and in the national UU community as a current participating Luminary Leader. Outside of the UU world, Christopher is an avid drummer, a self-proclaimed poet, and a shameless lover of the physical sciences. He is delighted to have an opportunity to help make YMWLS an amazing and meaningful experience for this year's attending members, much as it was a moving experience for him as an YMWLS attendee in 2015.
Many thanks to past YMWLS staff for 2017:
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