Our Ministers and Staff
Rev. Elizabeth Lerner Maclay, Senior Minister
Raised Unitarian Universalist in Newton MA. in a family with both Jewish and Catholic roots, Rev. Liz earned a Master of Divinity and an advanced Masters in Theology from Harvard Divinity School. Her academic interests are ancient Greek religion and culture, Hellenistic Judaism and early Christianity, as well as the history of women in western religion.
Parish ministry remains her passion and calling, especially because of the relationships, caring and miracles that come with congregational life. She is also committed to realizing the capacity congregations have for building multiracial, multicultural community – love and justice – within and beyond our church. In addition to helping First U thrive and grow, Rev. Liz also works to further our church’s reach beyond its campus, especially in the areas of antiracism and anti-oppression, COVID safety and public health – again with an anti-racist lens, and gun safety in our communities. Rev. Liz is the founder of the Guns to Plowshares Interfaith Clergy Group and serves on the Rhode Island State Council of Churches and on the Providence Police Citizens Advisory Task Force.
Liz lives in Lincoln with her husband Tim Maclay and two very friendly flat-coated retrievers, Blue and Rannoch. Liz and Tim have two adult children, Alex and Rachel, who both live in Pennsylvania.
Rev. Roger Peltier, Assistant Minister for Pastoral Care
Rev. Roger was ordained within the UUA and has over 20 years of parish ministry experience. Rev. Roger is always available for one-to-one pastoral care for all your life needs. He manages the First U Pastoral Care Network, including the Lay Ministry Team, Care Crew, Buddy Program and grief support. Additionally, he supervises the Small Group Ministry program including Chalice Circles, Soul Circles, and Mindful Grieving. Rev. Roger lives in Cranston with his husband, John Hickey and their yellow lab, Pete.
Mandy Neff, Interim Director of Religious Education
With 20 years’ experience as a religious educator, Mandy is the author of two youth curricula and recently finished her term as president of the New England chapter of LREDA. Her special interests include addressing climate justice, anti-racism, equipping youth with strong leadership skills, and using the arts as a pathway to spiritual growth. Mandy lives and hikes in Massachusetts with her husband Andy Gatchell. They have three young adult children, a cat, and a delightfully scruffy dog. Mandy began her work at First Unitarian in August, 2022.
Nancy Forsstrom, Director of Operations
Nancy joined our staff in 2018 and keeps track of the day-to-day life of the church, working closely with the minister, Prudential Committee, and staff team to keep things running smoothly. A Rhode Island native, Nancy recently moved back after 20+ years in Connecticut where she served as senior minister of two American Baptist churches. She has degrees in English, New Testament Studies, and Humanities. Nancy is also an experienced fundraiser and combines creativity with organizational skills.
Jennifer Nardone, Membership Coordinator
Jenn started attending First Unitarian in 2000, when her now-adult son was a year old. She has been involved in many different groups at the church before serving in her role as the Membership Coordinator. She has a love of art, especially textiles, and of hiking. She currently lives in Rhode Island with her husband Jon, her son Theo (a high school-aged human), and the most beloved member of her family Hazelnut (a middle aged canine), who you may see on occasion at the church.
Beth Armstrong, Interim Music Director
Beth joined First Unitarian and its choir in 2001. A choral director by profession, she has often helped out in the church music program when needed. Most recently, she served as sabbatical music director in the fall of 2019. Beth lives in Warren with her husband Stew. They enjoy golf in the summer, getaways to Savannah, Georgia, in the winter, and summer retreats on Star Island.
Walter O. Sotelo, Administrative Assistant
Walter came to First Unitarian in 1998. He oversees all financial aspects of the church, maintains the database, and provides technical office support. Originally from El Salvador, he has lived in Providence since he was 14. Wally has two daughters.
Jaime Durango, Building Manager
Jaime has been with First Unitarian since 2001. He is in charge of all maintenance of the Meeting House and the Parish House as well as daytime security Monday through Friday. Originally from Colombia, he lives in Pawtucket with his wife. They have two adult children.
Pedro Vasquez, Evening Security and Sunday Building Manager
Pedro has been with First Unitarian since 2009. He is married with two grown children and lives in Pawtucket.
Rev. Eugene Dyszlewski, Community Minister
Gene is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He is a religious leader and community activist who has served churches in Rhode Island and Delaware. He has served on the boards of numerous civil rights and human service organizations. Currently, Gene is the interim pastor at Lime Rock Baptist Church in Lincoln, RI.