Rev. Charline Manuel, a Unity minister for nearly 30 years, was elevated to chair of the Unity World Headquarters (UWH) Board of Directors in 2022. She is the first African American to lead the board.
Charline has been the single most influential catalyst for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives implemented at Unity headquarters since 2017. She led several strategic committees during her seven years of board service prior to this appointment.
“It is my honor to serve on the UWH Board of Directors,” Charline said. “Having a seat at the table, a voice in discussions, and a vote on decisions has demonstrated the importance of the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative that has caused a shift in consciousness at Unity. The changes can be seen in the publications, the kinds of events and retreats taking place at Unity, the hiring practices, and the growing number of faces that were long too absent. When I walk the campus at Unity Village, I am proud of who we are and proud to say I belong.”
Jim Blake, Unity CEO since 2016, said, “Rev. Charline’s appointment is of great and historic significance for Unity World Headquarters. She began advocating for the importance of DEI in my first interview before I was even selected to serve in the role of CEO. It has been her vision, passion, and guidance that led to our deep organizational commitment to the diversity work we are doing today. All of our progress and success in the area of equality can be traced back to Rev. Charline’s vision and leadership.”
After the Unity spiritual movement was founded in 1889, Unity remained a family-run business led by founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore and their descendants for more than a century. In 2000, governance was converted to a nonprofit with a CEO and board oversight. Chairs are elected by the 11 board members.
Professionally, Charline is an inspirational keynote speaker, presenter, workshop facilitator, and board leadership consultant. She leads seminars, retreats, and workshops to educate and train boards on topics of inclusive leadership, building board capacity, effective governance, and compassionate leadership.
As founder and CEO of One Accord Strategies, Inc., she leads board trainings for faith-based organizations. She believes boards that develop high-functioning relationships are better positioned to live their mission, vision, and organizational values. The result is a more inclusive community and a greater impact in the lives of those they serve.
When I walk the campus at Unity Village, I am proud of who we are and proud to say I belong.
Charline has been active in the Parliament of the World’s Religions since 2004 and presented a workshop at the 2018 Parliament in Toronto, Canada, titled Inclusive Leadership for Religious and Spiritual Leaders. She serves on the Parliament’s board of trustees as secretary and chairs the Global Ethic Committee. Charline has also led initiatives for clean water in Africa, partnered to build a school in Haiti, and received peace training in Costa Rica.
Unity Ministers Making History
Charline holds bachelor of arts degrees in sociology and urban studies and a master of arts degree in human resources development. In addition, she is a graduate of Unity School of Religious Studies and was ordained as a Unity minister in 1995. She served as the senior minister in a thriving ministry in Florida for 22 years. Since 2012, Charline has been on the faculty of the Unity Urban Ministerial School, teaching courses in homiletics, ministerial ethics, and how ministers can work effectively with their boards of trustees.
The seventh of eight children, Charline learned early that to get a word in, she had to put it in writing. Starting with notes to her siblings, she went on to write eight books including The Power of One Accord: 7 Spiritual Keys to Harness Synergy in the Boardroom and Boardroom Culture Shock: 7 Strategies to Amplify the Competence and Capacity of Board Culture, helping boards adapt and be flexible in changing times.
She has also written spiritual books including Pray Up Your Life with a companion workbook; a book of short stories titled The Metaphysics of Shoes: 12 Extraordinary Steps to Empower Your Sole’s Journey; and her personal favorite, a children’s book titled Do Puppies Pray?
Charline currently makes her home just outside of Orlando, Florida. She is the proud mother of two adult children and two grandchildren. Visit charlinemanuel.com.