Say hello to our new Director of Finance and Administration

By Tom Stites

Kristen FehlhaberThe path that brought Kristen Fehlhaber to FRS as our new Director of Finance and Administration has a few bends, but it nonetheless leads straight to her new office in the Lower Meetinghouse.

When you enter her office – and she’d like it if you did, because she’s eager to meet people – you’ll still see the assortment of steeple components that Bill Heenehan collected during his tenure there, but easily the most visible thing is Kristen’s radiant smile. She’s very much at ease meeting new FRS people, and is learning fast.

The path to her new office starts in the San Francisco suburb where she grew up, leads to a geology degree from Stanford, leaps across the continent to a job for the U.S. Geological Survey in Woods Hole, Mass., and aims for an advanced degree in geology – but then introspection intrudes. Did she really have that much passion for geology?

So the path bends – “I wanted something more to do with people,” Kristen told a couple of interviewers who dropped in on her one recent morning. So she put her tech skills to work to help raise money for the AIDS Action Committee in Boston during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. “It was a life-changing place to be,” she said, and it led her to study non-profit management at Radcliffe Seminars.

Then the path bent again, this time for love. Kristen and Sophie Godley met at work, became partners and moved to Seattle for Sophie to attend graduate school at the University of Washington, and to be near Kristen’s grandmother. Kristen went to work doing market research for the Boeing Employees Credit Union. “I love credit unions,” Kristen said.

The path led back to Massachusetts, where Kristen put her nonprofit skills to work as office administrator of the UU Church of Marblehead and, after having a baby and taking a few years off as a mom, worked as the business manager of the Waldorf School in Beverly, which her son attended.

Kristen and Sophie have been married for 19 years now, and their son, Leo James Godley, is 14. Sophie is a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, and the family lives in Georgetown.

The final turn in Kristen’s path to date was bent partly by Sabrina Babcock, the wife of FRS’s minister emeritus and a colleague of Kristen’s at the Waldorf School. Sabrina was a strong reference, and now Kristen is settling in at FRS.

Kristen brings us a scientific mind, technical ability, accounting and other administrative skills she studied in the Radcliffe program, and her tailor-made experience.

“I didn’t know that my UU Marblehead job would be a career path, but it feels really good to be back at it,” Kristen said. “The FRS is much bigger than the Marblehead church – they are about 125. FRS has a smaller budget than the Waldorf School, and more families.”

She works 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 9 to 3 most days, which is 80 percent of full-time, with a few extra hours from home or for evening meetings. Still, the job will require all of those hours.

Kristen says her door will always be open.

“I really want to get to know people,” she said. “They should stop by and say hello.

“I got the steeple tour and the Ben Franklin clock story,” she continued. “So if you can do meaningful work in a beautiful place with great progressive people, what more could you want?”

You can reach Kristen at kristen.fehlhaber@frsuu.org or 978-465-0602 X404.

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