Welcome to our newest First Unitarian members

Class of November 2023


Jim Sanford is a Connecticut Yankee who has lived in New England his whole life. He and his wife moved to Rhode Island from Massachusetts in 1978, both with teaching backgrounds and two children to raise. Giving entrepreneurship a try, he purchased the stock of a failing used bookstore in Providence and launched Metacomet Book Shop in 1980, attracting an eclectic clientele. Later, he consolidated the business, concentrating on book catalogues, online bookselling, book fairs, etc. until closing it around 2015.

First U is not new to Jim since his next-door neighbors introduced his wife and him to it years ago. Although he is generally secular, he has always respected undogmatic religious thinkers, most notably Emerson, Thoreau, and others in the Concord tradition. First U’s friendly inclusiveness and its commitment to truth and justice are major draws for him. He looks forward to getting to know it better.


Tanya and Colin Brodd relocated to East Providence in June from Arizona, where they had been members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix.

Tanya grew up one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and left as a young adult. She learned about the OWL program when her older sons were in 6th and 7th grade and she had to learn more. That led her to Unitarian Universalism and active involvement in social justice issues including immigration, gun control, foster care reform, and environmental justice.

Tanya is the Director of Special Education at an autism school in Providence. As an educator and parent of those who are neurodivergent, Tanya is passionate about inclusion and opportunities for self-direction for all individuals. Tanya enjoys baking, learning about history, reading, and tabletop fantasy board games and exploring New England with her family.  Colin and Tanya have four sons between the ages of 9-23.

Colin is from Rhode Island and a returning member of First Unitarian after an absence of about 12 years, and very happy to be home!

Colin is a third generation UU and has always been drawn to pagan and philosophical paths (Roman Reconstructionism and Stoicism).

Colin is currently a stay-at-home father and is homeschooling his two youngest sons (9 and 11). Colin has been a teacher of Latin and Classical Humanities (primarily focused on the Latin language), and an author of fantasy stories and novels. He is a voracious reader and writer as well as a passionate historian, linguist, and educator. Besides reading and spending time with family, his favorite hobbies are writing (both fiction and letters) and tabletop fantasy role-playing games.


George and Megan Stradtman originally hail from Pennsylvania and are delighted to now call Rhode Island home. They stay busy keeping up with their two young sons, three cats, and 24-year-old rescue Congo African Grey parrot. Both are passionate about science, good food, and nature.


Pauline Cooper grew up in Newport and is now a student at Brown University where she is studying biology, with a focus on organismal and conservation biology. She loves hiking, baking, and painting.



Mary Hodess has moved between RI and southeastern Ma repeatedly but has always considered herself a Rhode Islander. She currently lives in Cranston with her much-loved mini goldendoodle, Finn.

Mary was raised a Catholic but left the church at age 16.  After marrying her Jewish husband, Brian, 30 years ago, they chose to attend services and raise their daughters at First Unitarian. The family attended here from 1998-2008. Mary participated in chalice circles at that time. Now that she has moved closer again and because she yearns for connection and spiritual growth, Mary has decided to join First U. She just began participating in the Body/Mind/Spirit Soul Circle group to help reach those goals.

Mary has two grown daughters. She is thankful her oldest lives in Providence. She is also very excited for her youngest daughter who lives in Boulder, CO while she completes her graduate degree program. Mary is a long-ago retired special ed teacher. She has designed several houses and yards over the decades. And, worked as a Health Coach. Mary can be found volunteering at Zephyr Farm two days a week, cooking or reading. When she recovers from a car accident that she was in this year, she will also be back to hiking and bike riding. And, hopefully sailing.


Zachary King: I am so glad to be a member of the First Unitarian Church of Providence! I was raised Southern Baptist where I grew up in Central Florida until the age of twenty. I became a member of the United Methodist Church of Orlando when I was seventeen and fell out of the church. Since then, I have lived in Champaign IL, many cities in Washington state where I eventually got my undergraduate degree in Liberal Studies in Olympia, WA and where I first attended a UU service a few times. I moved to Binghamton, NY to pursue my masters in Sustainable Communities and it’s also where I joined the Episcopal Church.

In the summer of this year, I started attending the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Binghamton and was close to becoming a member, but I was offered and accept a job in Providence which is why I am here and am so very glad to be a part of this faith community.

I enjoy science fiction (both film and literature), walking around and soaking in nature and urban sites, going to the movies, discussing religion and philosophy, listening to flowing rivers, and sipping on coffee at different coffee shops. I hope to soon find a fulfilling hobby.

Professionally I am a sterile processing technician at Rhode Island Hospital. I love my job and truly can’t think of anything I would rather be doing.


Peg Boyle: Originally from the south Jersey shore Peg has lived in Rhode Island for over 35 years. She has been a social worker for over 40 years and now has a psychotherapy practice in Warren, RI.

Peg has been involved in Unitarian congregations for many years and is thrilled to now call First Unitarian her spiritual home. Most Sundays Peg can be found sitting in the back on the left-hand side of the Meeting House with her husband, Chris Campanile.

Peg enjoys reading, listening to live music, and Texas Two Steppin’. She dreams of returning to Scotland.

The best thing that ever happened to Peg is being Mom to her adult children- Lily and Aaron.


Terry Rumas:  Originally from NJ, Terry and her family attended the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield, the oldest Unitarian church in NJ, since she was 5 years old. Terry moved to Boston to attend college and grad school. She practiced as a general dentist in Milford, MA for 31 years and recently retired in 2019. She has twin sons aged 24.

After many years of not attending church, Terry found First U through a member friend and has been attending services sporadically for the past year and felt the church was a good fit for her. She is looking forward to making new friends and connections with like-minded people.


Pam and Rick Pond: recently moved to Rhode Island from Newbury Park, California located in sunny Southern California to be closer to their sons Robert (Brooklyn) and Daniel (Providence).

Both are recently retired Pam as a Teacher and Rick as a Property Master/Set Dresser for the film industry.

Pam and Rick are both excited about the new adventures ahead and are settling into a new life in Rhode Island and the East Coast.

Both Pam and Rick are excited to join in the spiritual and social community that First U offers.


Hayley Bourgault: Unitarian Universalism has been a calling for me over the years. I like the steadfastness of the political action taken on progressive legislature, the respect to spiritual health provided each Sunday, and the soul circles that help actualize interdependency. I am focused on figuring out what environmental/health vocation is best suited for myself. While I head back to college to figure that out, I work at a market and enjoy my job as a cashier. When not working or in college I like to cook, eat, dine out, watch movies and walking/site seeing with my cat along with journaling. I like living the simple life while also embracing the subtle complexities it offers. I also like having deep conversations as much as I enjoy small talk.


Sharon Marie Silva:  Sharon was born and raised in Seekonk, MA. She attended Rhode Island College as an undergrad, and later Salem State for a Masters in Education. Sharon currently resides in Riverside and has been working as a biology teacher in Attleboro for 23 years .She has also been a pool player for 20 years.

Sharon was raised a Catholic but never felt a connection to her church. After the passing of her father at a young age, she questioned her religion and lost her spirit. Over the summer, she discovered First U and immediately felt at home. She is excited to meet new people and reawaken the spirit within her.

In her spare time, she likes gardening, nature walks with her two pups, listening to relaxation music and attending concerts. She plays pool competitively. Recently, she is learning how to forage and preserve food. She welcomes any recipes and advice.


Ross Beatty, sometimes known as Rusty, worked for many years as an English teacher in community colleges around Washington, DC, as well as in Nepal.  He also wrote free-lance articles, mostly about jazz, trained as an actor, and acted in small theatres there.  After 2000 he worked for 15 years with a small  mining operation (not gold, not underground, not with chemicals) in South Dakota;

the main mineral mined was tantalite, used inter alia in cell phones and space rockets.  For the last twenty years he as been building his skills as a singer.  Besides attending jazz camps, he works on tunes with two pianists, performs when possible, records, and sings with choruses.


Kathy Giardino: I am a retired registered nurse, a mother of three and grandmother of two amazing granddaughters.

My life has been filled with many challenges which have shaped me into the woman I have become. I have longed to be part of a community of like minded, accepting, kind, welcoming people. The First Unitarian Church is exactly what I have been looking for. I feel like I have come home.


Jaleen Grove: With a three-decade background in art, writing, and art history, Jaleen moved to Providence to teach, make art, and perform research at Rhode Island School of Design. Prior to coming here, she attended UUs in St Louis, Sarasota, Montreal, and Hamilton. Besides art, she also has interests in organic gardening, antiquarian books, environment, social equity, and old houses. Academic life doesn’t leave much room for leisure, but when it does she enjoys hikes, Scrabble, quiet restaurants, flea markets, thrift stores, and museums.


Class of May 2023


James Austin.  James is a native Rhode Islander, having grown up in Barrington. He attended Rhode Island College as an undergrad, and later the University of Rhode Island for a Masters in Library Science. James currently works as the Access Services Librarian at the Community College of Rhode Island Lincoln campus where he has the pleasure of helping other Rhode Islanders achieve their educational goals and improve their lives. He is also a practicing artist/craftsman, making a wide variety of functional items for everyday living, in particular carved wooden tableware, and handwoven baskets.

James began attending First U with his wife Suzanne shortly before the birth of their first daughter Zoe, and has attended irregularly since then. They have now been joined by a second daughter Abbie and First U has become an increasingly important part of their lives. The care and compassion found in this community have created a new home which he is so happy to have found, and the commitment and push for social justice drives him to be a better person in the world.


Theresa Campbell.  Theresa is originally from Massachusetts and moved to Providence just as the pandemic was settling in for a long stay. She has three grown children who mean the world to her and who are moving on with their own lives. Theresa is looking to create a community for herself here in Providence.

Born and raised a Catholic but finding that did not fit her lifestyle for a multitude of reasons, Theresa became a very active member of an Episcopal Church in Holliston, Massachusetts where she raised her family. Since she arrived in Providence, Theresa has been church “shopping” but has not found the right fit. The moment she walked into First U she knew she had found her home! She is very much looking forward to meeting new people and sharing her time and talents with the UU community…and beyond!

Theresa works in the senior living industry as a sales director and loves her job helping people through a difficult transition. In her spare time, she likes gardening, gluten free baking, refinishing old furniture and making macrame plant hangers…if anyone wants/needs one please let her know…there are only so many plants you can hang in one house!


Andrew Cappelli.  Andrew Cappelli has been attending First U for as long as they can remember. As they near the end of the Spiritual Pathways education and bridge into the main congregation, they are filled with hope and joy for the future. Not only has First U been an educational and spiritual place of worship for Andrew, it has served as a place of friendship and kindness where he can get ready for the week ahead no matter the problems they face ahead.



Sally Cassells.  Sally moved from Lexington MA, to Bristol last September. Though she was born in England, her parents immigrated to Canada when she was very young, and she lived in Nova Scotia and Ontario and studied Math at McGill University in Montreal before moving to Boston after graduation. She and her husband Andy lived in Lexington, where they raised their 2 sons, for 36 years. After being a member at Follen Church in Lexington for more than 20 years, she is looking forward to continuing her UU journey at First Unitarian.

Sally retired after a long career in software development. She specialized in clinical trials data management and drug safety signal detection systems working in program development and data architecture. In retirement she is an AI hobbyist.

Sally is a masters’ swimmer and loves outdoor activities including hiking, cycling and open water swimming. She also likes to cook and read. Her sons live in Denver, Colorado and San Diego, California but visit Bristol as often as possible.


Liza Davis and Chris Nootenboom.  Originally from Minnesota (Liza) and Oregon (Chris), Liza and Chris moved to the Providence area in the fall of 2019 when Liza began graduate studies in archaeology at Brown. Liza grew up Catholic, but increasingly desired a spiritual home that reflected her values. They started attending First U in January and immediately felt at home. Chris and Liza both love rock climbing, video games, making music, travelling, and exploring the natural beauty of New England. They live in Warwick with their two rambunctious felines!


Angela Early.  Angela lives in Providence with her husband and two children, Celeste (4) and Elliott (1 1/2). She is a biologist who studies malaria. Outside of work, she primarily plays tickle monster and attempts cooking meals everyone in the family will eat, but one day she may return to playing violin and reading books. She looks forward to participating in and watching her children grow within First U’s welcoming community.



Donnamarie Kavanah.  Donnamarie and her daughter Kate moved from Massachusetts to Cranston last summer. She is the proud mom of 2 and Nana of 4, and being with family is Donnamarie’s greatest joy in life. A Registered Nurse, Donnamarie works as a clinical auditor for BCBSMA. Her real passion and life purpose involve using sound and energy modalities to help folks find their healing place.

A practicing Catholic for many years, Donnamarie felt led to the UU Church while living in Plymouth, MA.- followed later by UU Church membership in Quincy, MA. Having been a Hospice volunteer in Plymouth, Donnamarie looks forward to contributing to First Unitarian groups, starting with the Caring Crew and Women’s Alliance.  “Feeling welcomed already, First U feels like coming home.” Loving Nature and the great outdoors, Donnamarie looks forward to discovering all the Ocean State has to offer.


Emma Kraner and Jake Ducharme.  Emma and Jake live in Pawtucket with their two cats Lola and Sonny, and dog Jack. Emma is a high school English teacher in Woonsocket. Jake is an engineering consultant for city and town drinking water systems throughout New England.

Both hail from Connecticut but love Rhode Island. Being a part of a spiritual community has been a goal as they build their lives together. If you’d like to get to know them better, ask Jake about canoeing the Wood River, his new gravel bike, and all the tricks their dog can do. Ask Emma about editing poetry, baking bread, and the five different knitting projects she has going on.


Tess Rondeau.  Tess grew up in the UCC Church that her grandparents went to in Norwich, CT. It was very much a family church, with many biological cousins, aunts and uncles, as well as great family friends who she still thinks of as aunts and uncles.

After living on the East and West coasts in her 20s and early 30s, Tess settled in RI in 2004 to be closer to family. Through the years, she has always worked with children or in nature, through teaching water science classes in WA state, teaching and training volunteers at a Natural History Museum in PA, helping backpackers in of Olympic National Park, or helping raise Rhode Island’s next generation, as a nanny.

Tess began to search for a church community in RI, but found it difficult. She then tried finding a community through volunteerism and social justice activities. However, having always maintained a belief that people need some kind of faith and moral direction in life with a community, she continued to visit churches, but none had seemed to fit at the time. Right before the lockdown, she found First U! Due to an autoimmune disease, and some flares, she came back in person only recently. She is looking forward to getting to know others and cementing my place in the UU family here in Providence and beyond.


Erica and Nick Truesdale-Greil.  Erica and Nick moved to Rhode Island from south central Pennsylvania, where they were members of the Unitarian Universalists of Gettysburg. They are excited to join the spiritual and social community at First U.

Erica is a certified nurse-midwife, and she is passionate about providing care in a community-hospital setting. She enjoys learning about the history of the Shakers through trips to historical sites and museums, as well as her copious book collection. The Ocean State has allowed Erica to get back into rowing, which she first took up in high school.

Nick is an administrator at an arbitration and mediation provider organization. Outside of work, Nick enjoys reading anything he can get his hands on: philosophy, novels, history, travelogs, indie magazines, and journals. Nick is always on the lookout for tennis and cycling partners, and he is taking advantage of access to the bay to learn to sail.


Sue Wood.  Sue grew up outside Cleveland, Ohio. She lived in Boston for 30 years, and was active in First Parish UU in Concord, MA. She has been a Coming of Age mentor and enjoys the annual Ferry Beach church retreat. She recently moved to Providence and enjoys discovering new places to go and things to do in Rhode Island.

Sue spent several decades in school administration (finance), and currently works as a planning specialist in an Ameriprise office in Winchester, MA. She works remotely from Providence most days and likes to go into the office one or two days a week.

Sue has two grown children: a daughter in Calgary (with partner and one year old son); a son in DC (getting married this fall). Sue appreciates having the flexibility to spend time with her family. She enjoys walks and hiking, biking, reading, and board games. She leads a tai chi practice group in Concord. She often takes up a new hobby (most recently, Improv). She looks forward to connecting with other members, and getting more involved in First U activities.