Board of Directors

Karen Kortsch, President, USA (term to 2024)

karen kortsch
Karen has been an IWC Board member since June 2018 and its president since June 2020. An active member of North Shore Unitarian Church in Deerfield, IL, Karen also volunteers for several other organizations working to advance gender equity, including the American Association of University Women, National Organization for Women, and National Nurses United.

A registered nurse, she worked with the mentally ill at Capt. James Lovell Federal Health Care Facility in Chicago, IL.

Beth O’Connell, Vice President, France/USA (term to 2025)

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Beth O’Connell is a journalist who has been living in Europe since 2002. Currently a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Paris (UUFP), she is a former vice-president and remains engaged in social action. Beth is also involved in the European Unitarian Universalists (EUU), serving as liaison with and obtaining support for IWC. She participated in IWC’s pilgrimage to Bolivia in 2015 and the Asilomar Convocation in 2017.

Geri Kennedy, Treasurer, USA (term to 2024)

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Geri has served on the IWC Board of Directors as its treasurer since June 2018. A UU for about 30 years, she is a member of the East Shore Unitarian Church in Bellevue, WA. Before her retirement, Geri spent 25 years managing homeowners’ associations, partly in a company of her own. In the early ‘90s, she got involved with the Pacific Central District’s Women & Religion Task Force, serving as its co-convener and then its treasurer. Geri was the UU Fellowship of Redwood City’s bookkeeper for about 15 years and is a former board member of UUPCC and UU Women & Religion.

Renee Hills, Australia, Secretary (term to 2023)

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Renee Hills has been a member of the Brisbane UU Fellowship in Australia for 16 years. She was president of their management committee, led many of their services, and organized retreats. Renee joined the IWC gathering in Bolivia in 2015 and facilitated a group at the Asilomar Convocation in 2017. Since the pandemic, Renee and her husband James have supported the initiative by Rev. Tet Gallardo from the Philippines to connect UUs regularly on Zoom gatherings across the Asia-Pacific region (India, Singapore, Japan, Australia, Philippines, and the U.S.) A former teacher, journalist, and student counselor, Renee is involved with the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change. She is also the author of a children’s picture book and is working on a memoir.

Noel Lutomia, Kenya, Director (term to 2023)

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Noel Lutomia is the Project Coordinator of Acacia In Kenya, where she transforms the outcomes of rural girls and women through access to education, training on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Menstrual Hygiene Management, and life skills. She is a project management professional with over ten years experience in gender and women's issues, organization management, and community development. She previously worked as a project manager for a management consultancy firm; this experience exposed her to the challenges faced by women and girls in rural areas. She holds a Master of Arts in Project Planning and Management from the University of Nairobi. She is a Community Solutions Fellow (2017) as well as an African Change Maker Cohort 2 Fellow; both fellowships allowed her to hone leadership skills and engage in change making. When she is not working, Noel loves to read, listen to music, and visit new places.


Gizella Nagy, Romania, Director (term to 2023)

Gizi Nagy
Gizella Nagy is vice president of UNOSZ, the National Association of Unitarian Women of Romania. Gizella was the President of the Second International Convocation of U*U Women and People of Liberal Faiths held in Transylvania in 2012. Since then, she has been instrumental in engaging young and middle-aged women in congregational life and designing programs for her local women’s association. Gizella also coordinates a joint IWC-UNOSZ leadership program for women in Transylvania, and is currently engaged in the publication of the leadership school materials in Hungarian and English. She has a master’s degree in Mental Health from Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj/Kolozsvár, Romania. Previously she served on the IWC board as secretary.

Baladiangti Nongbri, India, Director (term to 2024)

Bala Nongbri
Dr. Baladiangti Nongbri is the Assistant Secretary of Seng Kynthei, the Women’s Wing of the Unitarian Union of North East India (UUNEI) and the Assistant Secretary of the Education Committee of the UUNEI. Baladiangti is from Shillong, Meghalaya, India, where she holds the position of Selection Grade Lecturer in the Department of Education at the State Level under the Directorate of Educational Research and Training (DERT), and is involved in research, training, and publication and dissemination of educational materials. In 2015-16, she participated in the six-module Leadership School organized by Seng Kynthei with the support of IWC through a UU Funding Program grant. Following this training, she was selected as a member of the State Resource Group (SRG) of the Government of Meghalaya, initiated by the Government of India to train and build the capacities of school leaders. Baladiangti has published numerous research papers and belongs to several professional organizations.

Debra Pritchard, USA, Director (term to 2025)

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Deb Pritchard has been active in Unitarian social justice since she joined UU fellowships in Northern California with her young family 25 years ago. Following her service in the Peace Corps in the Philippines, she decided to remain, dedicating her energy to organizational development and management training for NGOs and private businesses on the island of Palawan. During her stay, she helped establish Special Olympics and worked with Chambers of Commerce and Rotary Clubs in community organizing. Deb has had a variety of careers: corporate marketing director, Special Education teacher, and management consultant. Since her return to California’s central coast in 2019, she has focused on intergenerational work addressing climate change and women’s empowerment. She is in the process of publishing a memoir of her decade in the Philippines.

Peg Swain, USA, Director (term to 2025)

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Peg Swain was Co-Director of Religious Education at Jefferson UU Church in Golden, Colorado (1980s) before moving with her family to Davis, California, where she is an active member of the UU Church of Davis and its partner church outreach. A feminist anthropologist by trade, Peg taught at UC Davis, where she co-directed the Women’s Resources and Research Center and Gender and Global Issues, a program begun in the 1990s with Ford Foundation support for international women activists from environmental, reproductive, and social justice movements to participate in an annual seminar. Her anthropological research focused on indigenous women involved in tourism development in Panama and Southwest China and gender inequalities in tourism. Now retired, Peg continues mentoring, traveling, researching, and writing, and is happy to connect with IWC and U*U global sisters. She was actively involved with the 2017 Asilomar Convocation, serving as Health and Reproductive Stream Chair.

Zsófia Sztranyiczki, Romania/USA, Executive Director

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Zsófia Sztranyiczki, a Unitarian from Transylvania now living half the year in Houston, TX, holds a PhD in Linguistics and has taught ESL at Rice University. She and her American husband operate a tour company specializing in music and art, which offers ample opportunity for travel. In the early 2000s, Zsófi became involved in the partner church movement and served on the Partner Church Committee of First Church Kolozsvár/Cluj;  subsequently, she was the lead facilitator of community capacity building workshops conducted by the UU Partner Church Council in small Transylvanian communities. Zsófi was involved in the planning and execution of the 2009 Houston Convocation, and served on the 2012 Transylvania Convocation organizing committee. She has been the part-time executive director of IWC since 2013.  In addition to Hungarian, Romanian, and English, she speaks French, Italian, and Spanish. She believes that empowering women to participate in economy, leadership, political decision-making, and education is the key to the long-term growth, security, and peace of the world.

Barbara Kres Beach, Founding President, USA

barbara kres beach
Barbara Kres Beach is an educator, artist, dancer, business executive, writer, and non-profit leader, passionate for women’s empowerment worldwide. As founding president of IWC, Barbara helped design and develop projects in Romania, India, the Philippines, Bolivia, and Uganda.  For her efforts to revive UU international partnerships as a founding member and board member of the UU Partner Church Council (UUPCC), the UUPCC gave her the Louis B. Cornish “Living the Mission” award in 2012. Barbara and her husband Kim were Creative Sageing Award recipients in 2018, an award given by the UU Retired Ministers and Partners Association in recognition of outstanding service and creativity in pursuing new ventures after retirement and building on one’s experience in creative ways. She currently serves on many nonprofit boards including the U.S. Chapter of the International Association of Religious Freedom and Virginians for the Arts, and is president and CEO of the Madison County Education Foundation.

Laura Nagel, Founding Executive Director, USA

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Laura Nagel was the administrator of the 2009 Houston Convocation. She is a past president of Southwest UU Women and past co-convener of UU Women and Religion. Laura has served as president of the First Jefferson UU Church in Fort Worth, TX, and as fundraising consultant for the UUA. She is presently on the board of directors of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Monterey Peninsula. In 2004, she began doing international work through the UU Partner Church Council and was instrumental in conducting the first community capacity building program in Árkos/Arcuș, Transylvania. Laura is committed to the Global Sisters Process, a grassroots democratic planning process that has been a foundational element of IWC gatherings and convocations and for setting organizational priorities. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs and Policy Analysis from the New School for Social Research.