HR Team Called Together to Help with New Conference Policies

HR Team Called Together to Help with New Conference Policies

Bringing together three organizations that together have a combined 600-year history is no easy feat.

One of the many challenges for the new Southern New England Conference is developing a new set of personnel policies. For that, the Conference Board of Directors hired a consultant and appointed a Human Resources Team. That team has been working on policies - such as for paid time off and severance - and has been bringing them to the full Board for approval.

"The process includes reviewing the policies of the historic conferences, and also bringing in new ideas and approaches," said Executive Associate Conference Minister Charlie Kuchenbrod.  "The process also include compliance review, because we are now subject to three different sets of state laws. A major objective is the completion of a new employee handbook with the new policies."

The Bridge Conference Ministers are regularly meeting with the team, which is also working with Kuchenbrod and Associate Conference Minister Dawn Hammond. The team members are:


Kathleen McCarthy, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, is the Director of Human Resources for Whittlesey, a CPA, accounting, technology, and advisory firm with offices in Hartford, CT, Hamden, CT, and Holyoke, MA.  Kathleen has been with Whittlesey since 2006, and has more than 30 years of experience in human resources management. Her concentration is in the areas of compensation and benefits, employee relations, mergers & acquisitions, performance management, employee engagement, talent management, leadership development, and learning and development.

Team members:

Chair Tracy Baran is currently General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer of Ocean State Job Lot, a regional retailer, where she focuses on advising the company on legal risk, including labor and employment.  Tracy served on the board of the historic Rhode Island Conference from 2017-2019  and 2012-2014. She is a member of Central Congregational Church in Providence, RI, where she currently is on the Board of Deacons. Tracy has volunteered with Amos House and St. Mary’s Home for Children since 2000, both located in Providence. She has also served as President of The Junior League of Rhode Island, Inc. 

Rev. Peter Johnston is the Pastor and Teacher of First Church of Monson, Congregational, UCC, in Monson, MA Johnston has spent most of his professional career serving UCC churches in Massachusetts and Minnesota. Before he was ordained, he held positions in churches in the areas of Christian Education, Youth Ministry, Church Administration and Music Ministry. He served as the program manager for Pilgrim Point, an outdoor ministry site of the Minnesota Conference and worked as a clinical manager at Gould Farm, a psychiatric facility in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.  Additionally, he served as Youth Leadership Development Coordinator for the historic Massachusetts Conference, UCC.

Rev. Lauren Lorincz is a United Church of Christ minister who has been serving as the Pastor of Colchester Federated Church in Colchester, CT, since 2017. Originally from Wadsworth, Ohio, Lauren grew up in the UCC and she’s passionate about preaching, teaching, and serving others.  She previously served as the Pastor of a UCC congregation in Massachusetts for 6 years. Lauren is part of the UCC’s Next Generation Leadership Initiative (NGLI), is an Andover Newton Fellow, part of the historic Connecticut Conference Korean Partnership, and serves on the historic Connecticut Conference Board and the SNEUCC Board of Directors.

Deb Schroeder is a member of West Parish Church of Andover MA, currently serving as Vice Chair of the Governing Board. She is a former member of the historic Massachusetts Conference Executive Board and Finance Committee. She retired from IBM, where her last position was Operations Manager for the CIO Sales and Marketing Systems organization. She currently serves as COO of SoloSegment, a young tech startup.

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