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Arlene Hobson values PNC staff’s teamwork

In her 20 years with the PNC office, Arlene Hobson has adapted to changes.

Given that change is a constant in the PNC life, Arlene Hobson has seen much and been flexible with it in her 20 years working at the PNC office in Seattle.

Conference Minister Mike Denton introduced the staff team at Annual Meeting 2016—Courtney Stange-Tregear, minister of church vitality; Wade Zick, managing director of Pilgrim Firs; Michelle Doherty, bookkeeper; Mark Boyd, managing director of N-Sid-Sen, and Arlene Hobson, executive administrator.

Her role has evolved from office manager to executive administrator.

She has worked with nine conference ministers, countless moderators and committee members, helped move the office three times and seen the PNC office shift from paper to online communication.

Communication is a primary task as she coordinates the work of staff and committees, connecting 79 churches.

Arlene is the go-to person who knows people and the resource person with access to information to help staff, committees and congregations function.

Arlene earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1981 at the University of Akron. 

When she first came to Seattle, she did prepress work six years with a printer, and had various jobs before answering a newspaper ad and being hired when Lynne Fitch was conference minister and Char Burch was interim after David Brown had retired.

The other conference ministers she has worked with include Randy Hyvonen in Spokane, Christine Boardman (interim 2000-2002), Stephanie Haines (2002), Gail Crouch (acting Aug. 2004 to March 2005), Mark Miller (transitional interim 2005 to 2007), Hollis Bredeweg (acting June 2007 to Jan 2008) and Mike Denton since January 2008.

Richard Cook was managing director at Pilgrim Firs, followed by Deeg Nelson and now Wade Zick.  Randy Crowe was managing director at N-Sid-Sen, with Mark Boyd now in that role.

Arlene Hobson

As a resource person, Arlene, who attends Keystone UCC where her son Elliot is music director, handles the nuts and bolts of conference background work.

“I started as office manager before we had the internet we know today.  Information was primarily sent by mail for committee announcements and other communications,” she said.

“Now we have shifted from paper to online, communication is more immediate,” said Arlene. 
By 2007, the Monthly Packets shifted to mostly electronic delivery with a handful of hard copies continuing to be mailed each month.

Arlene remembers starting on a computer with Ecunet and green letters on the screen, learning on the job.  She has used three different programs to build the PNC website.

When she first came, there was also a receptionist, a planned giving coordinator and a bookkeeper.

The office was housed in a 6,000-square-foot mansion on Capitol Hill in Seattle, where the conference hosted many of the committee and board meetings, including overnight stays and meals.

By 2000, the PNC moved first to the parsonage of the Beacon Ave. UCC, then soon after into an accessible modular unit on that property and is now in a 1,000-square-foot office in Broadview Community UCC.

Sharing the office with her now are Michelle Doherty, accounting manager, along with Mike Denton, conference minister, and Courtney Stange-Tregear, minister for church vitality.

“When I began, each staff person was designated as support staff for each committee,” Arlene said. 

“Now committees are more committee-led than previously.  Each person has their own way of doing things.  We find that out and let them lead,” she said.

Arlene and other staff work with committee chairs as needed.  Much of her committee work is with the Church and Ministry Committee.

With many different volunteers providing leadership in the conference board and committees, Arlene said her role is “fluid,” working closer with some committees and the board moderator doing varying amounts of the work.

“I enjoy working with the variety of people involved in the conference,” she said, expressing appreciation for the people she works with.  “I learn something from everyone.

“My work continues to evolve.  I feel we are in a great place now, working as a team supporting each other in the work of the conference,” she said.  “We are willing to be ourselves and respect each other’s contributions.

She regularly contacts the committee chairs to find out what they need to include in the monthly packet, published online.

“Staff work cooperatively as a team, supporting and helping each other,” she said.

Two years ago, she took a week to work with Mark at N-Sid-Sen, a time that included reviewing the conference and N-Sid-Sen websites and discussing how to improve them.

Previously, staff had clearly defined roles and worked independently doing their own job description.

“We talk with each other more, especially now with Annual Meeting hosted at the camps this year,” she said.

In her early years, part of her role was to arrange hotels and travel for the conference ministers.  She does not do that now.

Working with the Annual Meeting Planning Committee and coordinating details for Annual Meetings are a central role.

This year will be the biggest change in the Annual Meeting with a shift to two one-day events, one April 29 for business at Pilgrim Firs, and one Sept. 30 at N-Sid-Sen for workshops, speakers and education.

“We are going out on a limb this year to allow more conference members to experience each camp for themselves,” said Arlene.

This is a model that has been suggested several times, and changes with the 2017 venue let to trying it this year.  Next year the Annual Meeting is booked at the Yakima Convention Center.

In 2010, Arlene took a sabbatical in which she visited the national UCC office in Cleveland and drove to visit 30 churches to learn more about the churches, pastors and staff, and seeing the landscape—which then included the post-wildfire landscape—of the conference. This year she is planning another sabbatical.

For information, call 206-725-8383, email or visit


Pacific Northwest Conference United Church of Christ News © April 2017


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