The Board of Trustees consists of members of the Fellowship who have been selected to hold the authority of the Fellowship.


Dennis Shaw President

Dennis Shaw is the current President of the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Charlotte County, a member of the Worship Committee and has spent many hours on the grounds crew.  He grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania.  He earned a BA Degree from Warren Wilson College.  Additionally, while attending the University of North Carolina – Greensboro, he earned a M.Ed. Degree in Child Development and an Ed.D. Degree in Special Education Curricula Development.

His 32-year career included serving children with special needs across the age spectrum and teaching at Greensboro College and North Carolina’s A&T State University.

Since his retirement in 2006, Dennis has focused on creating art, gardening, and UUFCC.

Photo of Laura Liermann
Laura Liermann, Vice President

Laura Liermann, Vice President. My husband and I visited many churches in Port Charlotte and were pleased with most of them, bt didn’t find the right fit. Too many were proud of their exclusivity. “We” are saved, “They” are not. Truthfully, we had not considered Unitarian Universalism because we were unfamiliar with its philosophy. Eventually, we walked in through the UUFCC doors and found that inclusion was the goal. That all humanity was to be respected and that spiritual growth involved deep questions and constant fine-tuning of the answers.

I was raised in a household that involved my mother, a liberal Catholic, and my father, an agnostic; both of whom had integrity and strong morals. As an army family, we traveled to many places and witnessed many spiritualities and their valuable place in people’s lives. As a teacher, working around children and their families, I have enjoyed a huge variety of people and appreciate how needs differ.

My goal for being on the Board of Trustees is to be a part of the continual goal of tolerance for all, even those who do not share our particular philosophy.

Richard Schwarz, Treasurer
Richard Schwarz, Treasurer

Richard Schwarz, Treasurer I am a graduate of Northwestern University and a CPA. I retired from Dun and Bradstreet as senior Vice-President after 25 years, serving in various positions in finance and management. After retirement, I moved and served as President of our Property Owner Association in Carolina Trace, North Carolina. I was also Treasurer of our 36-hole golf club at Trace for 3 years. Moving to Florida, I served as Treasurer of our Property Owner Association within Burnt Store Marina. Joanne and I feel we have a very special community here at UUFCC and I wish to give something back by serving as Treasurer.

Laura Anderson, Secretary

Laura Anderson, Secretary – My motivation for joining the Unitarian Universalist world was to find a place to feel like I belonged in a world of judgment filled with illogical and inflexible ideas about religion. That was in the 1990s. I’ve never turned back. I was born in Michigan and moved to Arizona to go to college. The less rigid social expectations of the West suit me and the beauty of nature and access to public land keep me rooted in the West. After working in Utah for 30 years, my husband, Cliff, and I now split our time between the mountains of Idaho and the west coast of Florida.

Betty C Barriga, Trustee – I started attending UU Sunday services at the beginning of 2017.  I started as a friend and then I became a UUFCC member. I have been the Chair of the Immigration Justice Committee since its inception in 2017.

Betty Bariga
Betty Barriga, Trustee

I graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social work in 1981. I worked for about a year as a caseworker in a small community agency, Respond, Inc. in New Haven, Connecticut. I then went to work with a freight company called Air Express International. The company was acquired by DHL and I spent the last 20 years of employment at JFK Airport in New York as Hazardous Material Specialist in global logistics.  In 2009, I took an early retirement package.

In August 2016, my mother and I moved here to Port Charlotte.

Immigration Justice Committee has sponsored and co-sponsored various events in the community: immigration forum, immigration debate, immigration film series, training program for US Citizenship application,  Literacy Program for Adults, postcards, and letter-writing campaigns. We have raised awareness and funding for organizations such as  the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Planned Parenthood, Legal Aid Society,  Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, and Congregational Accompaniment Project for Asylum Seekers.

John Lee, Trustee

John Lee, Trustee   I am a native Floridian, born in Opa Locka, a Miami suburb, and maybe the only member of the Fellowship that can claim this.  I grew up in various spots in the Miami area until, at 15, we moved to Roanoke, Virginia, where I saw snow for the first time and lived for three years. Shortly after moving back to Florida, I joined the U.S. Army to avoid being drafted.  I served a year in Vietnam, after which I married and raised a family in South Florida. Being raised in the Pentecostal Holiness faith until an adult, we drifted from one Christian denomination to another including Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, and Charismatic. After 43 years of marriage, two children, and six grandchildren, I came out as a member of the LBGT community at 66 years of age. Being taught that homosexuality is a sin, and I was going to hell kept the real me hidden all that time. It’s been an interesting seven years since then. My family has been very supportive, including my now ex-wife.

That same year I attended UUFCC for the first time and knew from that first visit I had found my spiritual community. As far as why I decided to serve on the board, THAT is a very good question. I had been asked every year since joining in 2016 so it was just time to step up. I’ve learned that it is not important which deity we believe in but what we do during our lives to make life better for everyone that really counts.

Robert Moran
Robert Moran, Trustee

Robert Moran, Trustee  My twin brother Ronald and I were born in Shinnston W. Va. in 1941. My father owned a print shop and I had a dream childhood until I was 14 years old. My father died and we lost everything. My mother found a teaching job in Ohio and the family moved to Elyria. I stayed in Shinnston and worked in a funeral home for my Junior year of high school. After graduating I then joined the Army for two years in Germany.

After the Army, I bounced around with many different jobs. Finally got a job as a Boilermaker. It was hot dirty and dangerous, I loved it. I retired after 32 years and a serious injury to my left leg. I bought a sailboat and moved to Punta Gorda with my new wife, Peggydawn. We sailed for 20 years around Florida and the Bahamas. After years of recovery from Alcoholism, I found UUFCC. It is a very nice fit for my beliefs.

Sharon Whitehill
Sharon Whitehill – Trustee

Sharon Whitehill, Trustee

Growing up in Milwaukee with an atheist mother and a (non-practicing) Christian Scientist father, I once had a near-panic attack  from being inside of a church when I was attending a wedding. Much later, I revised and rebuilt my concept of what “being religious” meant at a liberal, non-denominational oasis in a desert of religious fundamentalism at a place called Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with a fiery, outspoken minister named Duncan Littlefair–who, I eventually learned, was himself a UU. 

Thus, I felt quite at home at UUFCC when I first attended as a guest of friends in the 1990s. I soon became a snowbird, joined this Fellowship, and, when I retired as a professor of English literature at Grand Valley State University, moved to Port Charlotte. I have attended UUFCC nearly every Sunday since then. Early on I became involved with an education program we called Elderwise, teaching various academic and pop culture classes and later chairing the organization. Rev. Sara Zimmerman was serving us at that time, and  I’ve not only had the privilege of working with every minister since, I’ve also seen how resourceful we are during periods of being lay-led. 

I have long participated as a Worship Associate, sung in the choir, and been a member of the Social Justice Committee. I have spoken at least twice a year from the pulpit. With my husband Jim Meloy, I co-facilitated self-improvement classes called “Happiness is an Inside Job” for many years, until Jim’s death in 2021. Most recently I have deepened my involvement with this Fellowship by becoming a member of the Board–a role which, more than any other to date, has offered me an overall perspective on how we function, who we are, and what we want to be.

 At UUFCC, once such a new place to me, I’ve found ways to continue sharing my passion for the rich world of literary wisdom and art. I’ve reinforced my political, social, and moral true north. And I’ve made–I continue to make–my  most cherished connections and dearest friends.