2019 Trustee Nominees

NATHALIE BIGORD                        

Nominee for the Board of Trustees

Elected to the Board of Trustees at The Mountain in 2016, I was recently chosen by my peers to serve the Chair of our Board in 2018-2019.  I’m seeking re-election to continue helping The Mountain thrive and to be an exemplary retreat and learning center.  I enjoy leading our Board using the consensus method and reaching common goals aligned with The Mountain’s Mission, Vision, and Strategic Plan.

Living in Snellville, GA, I am a very active UU.  In my local congregation, UUC-Gwinnett, I serve as Member-at-Large on the Board of Trustees and have previously been Board Secretary and Vice-President.  I have chaired several committees on the congregational level.

For the UUA regionally, I was a member of the Mid-South District Board and Small Group Facilitator at SUULE (Southern UU Leadership Experience) for the Southern Region.  I currently contribute as a member of the Region’s Elders Development Team.

Professionally, I am the Senior Leader and new owner of an in-home personal care provider in Atlanta.  Besides holding a B.A in Political Science/International Relations from City University of New York, I’m working towards a B.S. Nursing to be completed soon.

Consider me a dedicated UU bringing leadership and empathy together to reach our potential during this Celebration Year of The Mountain’s 40th Birthday.


MEGAN ECKERT                         

Nominee for the Board of Trustees

I live in Atlanta, GA, and have been a camper parent for the past 7-8 years each summer. I have worked as a volunteer and/or staff member at Mountain Camp.  It is and has always been the highlight of my year!

I love The Mountain! My desire is to see The Mountain continue to grow and thrive.

I like working with people, especially people at The Mountain, and have strong desire to continue to strengthen and maintain my relationship to this wonderful organization.  The Mountain has offered me the opportunity to develop deep personal connections with a variety of staff members, volunteers, visitors, parents, campers, and Mountain members.  Through my experience there, I have been drawn to the Unitarian Universalist perspective and am in classes to become an official member at the new UU church in south Atlanta.

Having worked in education most of my life as a Special Education teacher as well as being the Ascender leader at Mountain Camp in 2017, I have assisted with LREDA (Liberal Religious Educators Association) events and a variety of other Mountain camp positions for several summers.   I hope to assist with other programs at The Mountain. Whatever assigned, it is my desire to do what is necessary to keep The Mountain thriving!

As for many of you, The Mountain has a special place in my heart.  Over my years of visiting and volunteering in almost every capacity, I have witnessed the hard times and sacrifices made to keep it alive.  I want nothing more than to see the current positive trajectory continue and grow.  It has provided my son and me with a wealth of experiences that assisted our personal growth and learning that could not have happened in any other community or setting.  My son is getting older, so camp is no longer the center of our summers, and this provides me the freedom which enables me to participate more frequently, and to continue to serve the Mountain in additional manners.


REV. DAVID H. MESSNER                             

Nominee for the Board of Trustees

I live in Savannah, GA, and am serving my 7th year as the settled minister in UU church there.

I have been part of many Mountain programs, RE Week, Family Camp, and Ministerial Retreats. I am currently the VP of the Southeast UU Ministers Association and responsible for programming our semiannual retreats at The Mountain. My son has enjoyed Mountain Camp.

Because these Mountain experiences have been so important to me in personal, family and professional ways, I would like to invest myself in the institution and help it continue far into the future!

I bring unique life skills and personal gifts for the work of the Board. My first career, after earning my MBA, was in business strategy and partnership development in the private sector. In that work, I collaborated with leadership teams about smart long-term growth and actively formed the relationships to make it happen. In my current career, I am a UU minister in Final Fellowship and have strengths in forming, inspiring and coaching teams toward common goals. My current scholarly work is around new visions for inclusive ethics in organizations.

I feel really moved by the specialness of the Mountain. My sense is the Mountain could grow substantially in ways that would both preserve its character and bring in new people to the Mountain and to a more communitarian, spiritual, and ecologically-enriched Unitarian Universalism.



Nominee for the Board of Trustees

You may have met me at The Mountain during the past 40 years, as I’ve been a Charter Life Member and active volunteer in SUUFI and other programs. I am a consistent and strong donor, helping underwrite several recent infrastructure upgrades.

I live in Atlanta, GA, and have been a member at UU Congregation of Atlanta where I learned about The Mountain and fell in love with it as it was being founded. It enables my favorite hobby of hiking—actually, many would call them “all-day, high-speed treks” because of the pace we keep, safely.  I love to “trek” with Larry, my partner, and use The Mountain as “base camp”.

I have been on boards of many non-profits, but primarily environmental/political ones, including League of Women Voters of Georgia, League of Women Voters of Atlanta-Fulton; Sierra Club (Atlanta, and Georgia), etc.

I’ve served as President of Department of Labor Union Local and been a member of the National Bargaining Council. I love going to school and have earned a BS in Chemical Engineering from Purdue and a Law Degree from Georgia State. My professional career was primarily as a Safety Engineer.

You can count on me to have a logical mind, to ask questions about what I don’t understand, and to assure we have policies and practices that enable The Mountain’s continued sustainability and thriving.  I welcome the opportunity to work with other Board Members at The Mountain to promote accomplishments aligned with the Strategic Plan of The Mountain.



Please pick 2 from slate of 4 nominees for the Nominating Committee


KAREN LAUER                                     

Nominee for Nominating Committee

I been a long-time member of The Mountain, currently living in Shalimar, FL.  As an active leader in local and regional UU circles, I’ve served as President of our local UU fellowship in Valparaiso, FL, for 5 times and served for many years as a Mid-South District Board member. For 5 years, I served on the Board of SUUSI.

My connections and personal Board experience will enable me to identify and attract UU and non-UU leaders to serve The Mountain as Board Members, as part of the nominating process. My long-time leadership of our local Lifelong Learning Center may be valuable to our process too.

Recent contributions to The Mountain include being a Workshop Leader at SUUFI (Southern UU Fall Institute) events over the past 4 years as well as annual financial support. I’ve attended Leadership School at The Mountain and been active in setting up and upgrading scholarship management at SUUSI, the Summer Institute.

For fun, I travel extensively with my husband Denny and our family. You’ll find me at SUUFImart and SUUSI Store selling handmade jewelry which I love to make as a creative outlet.

You can count on me to know many people, listen for the unspoken, offer creative proposals, and contribute fully to timely actions.


CHARLES LEE                                           

Nominee for Nominating Committee

Many of you know me as being from Charlotte, where wife Lois and I were active members of UUC Charlotte, and I held leadership positions including Board of Trustees member and Chair of that Board.  I was also an original volunteer forming the Charlotte Community Health Clinic serving uninsured working people, where I held 2 terms as President.  I’ve been President of a Charlotte Rotary Club and a HOA Board Member in 2 neighborhoods.

Recent work at The Mountain includes 5 years as a member of its Board of Trustees (2009-2013) and again in 2018-19 with a focus on Institutional Advancement. The Mountain has been an important and fulfilling part of our family life for many decades. I love supporting it with time, treasures, and talent.

After a degree in political science and master’s degree in public health administration from UNC Chapel Hill, my career started with NC Regional Medical Program in the Renal Division.  I managed federal grants on kidney research, transplantation coordination and public education for kidney donation. Later I was selected as the first Executive Director for the newly organized National Kidney Foundation (NKF) of NC.  After a promotion to SE Regional Director for NKF, I finished my career as National Affiliate Development Director serving 52 NKF affiliates in 50 states. While with NKF, I was also President of the Professional Staff Association.

Sarasota, FL, is now home for us, where Lois and I are members of the UU Church of Sarasota.  I’ve led the Stewardship Committee and been Chair of the Board of Trustees. We have 2 children and 2 granddaughters, all living in North Carolina.

We have many connections throughout the Southeast which I’d love to tap as potential for elected positions at The Mountain and contribute to the nominating process.



Nominee for Nominating Committee

I live in Atlanta and am a Member of The Mountain.  I have always enjoyed my trips there and am the parent of a child who’s attended 4 years of MountainCamp, 1 YouthCon, 1 year as an Ascender, and is applying to be a Counselor-In-Training (CIT) this summer.

As a member of The Mountain community, I would like to give back and serve The Mountain.  The Mountain has been such an important part of my family’s life and shares our values.  I would like to contribute and ensure this wonderful organization continues.

I was born and spent my elementary years in MI, moving with family to south FL for my middle and high school years. At the University of Florida, I made contributions to biomedical knowledge researching diabetes and graduated with a PhD.  At the Emory Vaccine Center, I researched HIV treatments.  After giving birth to a beautiful girl, I taught at Georgia Perimeter College and now work at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and help laboratories contain poliovirus and protect the eradication of this disease.

I served as chairperson of my neighborhood organization’s education committee at 2 critical times: 1) initiating a community-wide effort to strengthen the local elementary school, and 2) organizing community meetings and communicating with the school board during a district-wide rezoning.  I wrote grants and secured $43,000 towards a new playground installed in a neighborhood park and currently serve on the Parent Council at my daughter’s high school.

Other interests include bicycling to work, gardening and spending time in nature, reading print books borrowed from one the most important government services (the public library), and spending time with family and friends.  I am highly motivated to be more active in my community and in supporting organizations promoting acceptance and inclusivity, especially in the current political environment.


RUSS TADDEO                                         

Nominee for Nominating Committee

I currently hail from Grayson, GA, and am the spouse of the UU minister at UUF Gwinnet. We live UUism. I’ve been active at the UU Summer Institute (SUUSI) for decades, involved as part of its music and Nightlife Program staff and connecting with thousands of UUs and like-minded folks annually.

My career focused on technical customer service in the audio/visual industry, supporting organizations and events with installation, operation, and breakdown. I’m now retired and selectively volunteer at the Gwinnett congregation and Atlanta area organizations. I’ve been active in Music Week at The Mountain and volunteered to assist it, as well as during professional workshops created by my spouse in many locations.

I am still a member of my prior congregation, UUC Fairfax, I served on various committees, the Board of Directors, set up concerts, participated in services, etc. In UUC Gwinnett, I run sound for services, host concerts, sing in the choir, perform occasionally during services, perform maintenance on electronics, grounds, and plumbing.

I’ve been to most of the last 10 UUA General Assemblies and attended SUUSI for ~ 24 years. Count on me to bring an authentic and calm UU spirit, to push through troubles and obstacles, and get results in a timely, friendly fashion. I want to serve on the Nominating Committee for the Mountain to not only give back to this organization (and its people) doing good work but also to bring unique connections with sizeable network of UUs who can bring their leadership skills and expertise to The Mountain.