Board Of Trustees



Larry Conrad  - Facilitator 

Jeanne Surber  - Treasurer 

Ruth Jackson - Secretary 

Ethel Landers - Trustee

Amamda Sherlock - Trustee

Don Aronson - Trustee

Art Westerfield - Alternate Trustee




Board Bio's


Larry Conrad, Facilitator

Larry Conrad was born and raised on a small family farm in the middle of Iowa.  He was the first in his family to go to college earning a Bachelors in Science (from Iowa State University) followed 20+ years later with a Masters in Engineering (from Arizona State University)--both degrees were in Computer Science.  He has been a bit of a "professional gypsy" in that he has lived in IA, IL, MN, AZ, FL, NC, and now CA...wherever the next job took him.  He recently retired from UC Berkeley where he served as the campus chief information officer, thus finishing out his 50 year career in information technology.

He met and married his fabulous wife, Rita, in 1988 in the Unity Church of Mesa, Arizona.  He has 2 older adult children from a first marriage along with 3 grandchildren.  Rita and he adopted their son, Alec, from Poland when he was 4. 

His spiritual journey began in a Methodist Church near the farm where he grew up.  He did not connect with that theology and by early adulthood, was an avowed atheist, deciding that the universe was a random experience.  However, over the course of the next several years, he began noticing that "things" had a way of playing out in ways better than he could think of or even imagine.  A level of synergy/serendipity that he could not square with a random universe.  When he met Rita, she introduced him to Unity and A Course in Miracles.  Both resonated and explained much.

The Conrad family moved to Nipomo in early 2020 from the Bay Area and discovered the wonderful Unity Five Cities family.  He is honored to serve on the Board and support this special community.


Jeanne Surber, Treasurer 

Jeanne grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and was a cradle Catholic.   She graduated from Creighton University with a degree in mathematics, and later obtained her Masters in Counseling and School Psychology from Cal State University Los Angeles.  She has been married to her high school sweetheart, Frank Surber,  since 1967.   Upon their marriage they left for California and have considered California their home ever since.  After moving every year while Frank was in the Air Force and having three children in three different states, they settled in Pasadena, California.  They lived there until 1986 when they moved to Santa Barbara.   Jeanne had worked as a high school math teacher, a school psychologist, and school administrator until retiring in 2007.

While in Santa Barbara, she was introduced by a friend to Unity Church.  She again felt like she had found her home.  She became a member in around 1992.   For a time she was a Youth of Unity teacher in Santa Barbara.  

In 2017, she and Frank moved to Arroyo Grande and found Unity Five cities.  She loves living here and enjoys her hobbies of fiber art, crocheting, and travel.  She feels honored to having been elected to the Board and looks forward to serving her church and her community.  

Ruth Jackson

Ruth Jackson, Secretary

Many years ago I was born in Washington, D.C. and moved multiple times before settling in Santa Maria.  I have remained in Santa Maria for 24 years. 

I have two wonderful daughters and four grandchildren.  My daughters are Jill Roberts, who you know because she attends here at Unity Five Cities, and Jody Balian who lives in Arizona.

Growing up no matter where I lived my family always found a Baptist or Methodist Church to attend.   I was introduced to Religious Science in El Monte, California around 1965.  I have attended several different Religious Science Churches.  With no Religious Science Church in Santa Maria I attended Unity Santa Maria around ten years ago.  Just before my husband passed away I saw an ad for Unity Five Cities and has been attending for the past four or five years.

In my working years I worked for several not-for-profit organizations and then I was a Rehabilitation Counselor for the State of California.  I served mostly adults who were Deaf or Hard of Hearing and students who had a disability who were transitioning out of High School into College or seeking employment.  I retired 02/20/2020…and adapted quickly to retirement!

I’ve had three…soon to be four…articles published by Dynamic Aging Magazine.  You can read them at



Ethel Landers

Ethel Landers, Trustee

Ethel “Tink” Landers was born in Terre Haute, Indiana and adopted three days later by Fanny and Pep – an amazing couple who had always been told they were too old and too poor to adopt a child. Fanny had also been diagnosed with a heart aneurism and given 6 months to live but Spirit had another plan. After Fanny experienced an ethereal after-death experience she was pronounced healed. The stars aligned. Working through Doctor James Hoover and his nephew, Ethel’s birth mother was hidden away and protected at Hoover’s Sanitorium - an African America Clinic - and three days later Ethel, whose nickname became Tink, headed home to a large white Indiana farmhouse where her parents were resident farm laborers.

Tink’s environment was filled with unconditional love, pigs, cows, cats, dogs, chickens, laughter, and Spirit. Fanny was a follower of Edgar Cayce and had an innate faith and inner knowing that there was more to God than what was taught at the little country Baptist Church.  Tink grew up under Fanny’s guidance with a knowing of Spirit’s amazing love, joy and peace plus an uncanny intuition.

While on her life journey Tink attended a variety of churches and spent ten weeks in Thailand studying art and Buddhism. In the 90s she served on the Board of Unity, San Luis Obispo. In 2019, after spending years questioning and searching for her truth, Tink discovered her birth father’s family and learned her paternal Grandmother was a well-known Spiritualist and psychic in the Midwest. Frances Boyer Johnson held gatherings in a Spiritualist church as well as in her home on N. 12th Street in Terre Haute.  In fact she is the one who orchestrated Tink’s placement with Fanny and Pep.

After a long career with Pacific Bell, Tink retired then studied at California Polytecnic State University, San Luis Obispo, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art and Design, Suma Cum Laude.  She is a Prayer Chaplain an her purpose is to be a “Conduit of Good.”


Amanda Sherlock, Trustee

Amanda was born in the Cotswolds, UK and was blessed to grow up in a healthy spiritual home.  Her mother was the primary organist and flower arranger at their Congregational Church for 70 years, so many of Amanda’s childhood Friday nights were spent sitting in the front pew watching the flower arranging and listening to the hymn practice.  She was fortunate to go to a Quaker (Society of Friends) boarding school which had a gentle but deep spiritual impact on her.

After moving to California in 1976, Amanda embraced other faith traditions including Judaism and Kriya Yoga (Paramahansa Yogananda).  During much of this time, she also attended Unity services in Santa Monica and later in Palo Alto.  She took Board and other volunteer positions while living in the Bay Area.

After relocating to the Central Coast in 2013, Amanda was called to attend Unity Five Cities and is delighted to be in her second year on the Board and to be an active member in the amazing, vital community.

Amanda’s current volunteer activities include regular participation in two programs at the California Men’s Colony - Freedom to Choose and Grief Recovery.   She also holds Grief Recovery programs in our local community.

Amanda has a Bachelor’s in Marketing from California State University, Northridge, and a Master’s in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica.



Don Aronson

Don Aronson, Trustee

I was raised in a small town in Minnesota in The Swedish Lutheran church. I was told constantly that I should become a minister and so it became my goal early on. I was a staunch fundamentalist. It took me 4 years of college and four years of seminary to free myself from this orientation. I did become a Lutheran minister and lasted four years until I could no longer accept the dogma  and be true to myself. I then found my true calling as a social worker in Protective Services for children and adoption for the county of Ventura  where I served for 20 years. I then moved to the Central Coast and became a drug and alcohol therapist for San Luis Obispo county for 17 years. It was here that I found Unity where I was accepted for all my changing beliefs. I had one son with my former marriage and gained 2 more when I married My beloved, Ann in 1968. I have served on various boards in both of my professions.  It is an honor to be a part of this board with such a great group supporting this dynamic congregation.


Art Westerfield, Alternate Trustee

What does the Board of Trustees do?

The Board of Trustees directs the business portion of our organization through the development of goals and policies that are in line with our Unity teachings and vision and mission statements.

The Board duties include:

- Visioning the future and implementing our vision and mission statements

- Receiving a wide range of input

- Providing leadership and allowing the staff to handle administrative detail

- Decision making by consensus

- Actively looking for and implementing new ideas and concepts

Regular Board meetings are at least one a month, more if needed. A notice of the time and place of each Board meeting appears in the Sunday bulletin and is normally the third Sunday of the month after the Sunday Celebration. All Board meetings are open to the congregation except during Executive Sessions, which are solely for discussion of confidential issues.

The Board of Trustees consists of five to seven members serving two-year terms and are elected by the Congregation.