Welcome to our newest First Unitarian members

Class of May 2024


Kaitlin and Meag Charme. Kaitlin is a Kindergarten teacher and Meag is a Senior Designer for a creative agency in Providence. We enjoy biking, exploring museums and vintage shops, and being on our little boat. We live in Barrington with our three children and two dachshunds. We are thrilled to be part of the wonderful community of First U!




Nick Dunn grew up in Arlington MA, I studied psychology for a time, working in addiction treatment with youth from 16-25 with substance abuse issues, before switching careers into being a general contractor. Currently, I reside in New Bedford, MA where I work for the City as a carpenter and am currently licensed and insured with my own contracting business. I found First U and the Unitarian community through my wife and have found that it allows me to find my own sense of spirituality and growth, with finding out who I really am and what I believe in. I also have found that it is an extremely welcoming community and one that is perfect in bringing up and surrounding my 2 year old son with.


Alicia (pronounced Ah-LEE-see-yah) Genisca grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. After bouncing around the East Coast, Texas and living abroad, she moved back to New England 6 years ago. She is a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Hasbro Children’s Hospital and a researcher at Brown’s medical school focused on improving pediatric emergency care in low-resourced settings abroad including in Latin America, Asia and Africa. She is married to the inquisitive scientist, Leonardo and is mother to the very sprightly Émile Aurelio. She enjoys dancing, cooking, and is a Star Trek fan (from TNG onwards). Due to her erratic work schedule, she may not often be seen in the pews on Sundays but is really looking forward to building community and having a spiritual home for herself and her family.



Monica and Steven Herwald moved to Cranston from Massachusetts in November 2023, and are enjoying exploring all there is to do in the area.
Monica works part time as a social worker, and in her time off enjoys walking and gardening. Steven is retired from Veterans Affairs where he was a computer programmer, and now volunteers at a local hospice. Originally from Pittsburgh, Steven is a lifelong fan of Pittsburgh sports teams, and you’ll often see him in his Steelers gear.
After spending her early years attending a Catholic Church, Monica happily found Unitarian Universalism as an adult, and was a long time member of the UU Church in Framingham, MA. Steven grew up in the reform Jewish tradition, and has come to find the welcoming philosophy of the UU faith to be a good fit. Both Steven and Monica have appreciated getting to know other church members through involvement in groups and activities, and look forward to building a sense of community at First U.


John Hickey grew up in Ireland and was raised Catholic until moving to the United States in 1995. He began attending Arlington St Church in Boston in 1998 after being introduced to Unitarian Universalism by his now husband Roger in 1998. When Roger entered seminary and started his ministry calling in 2005 they moved between congregations in Massachusetts and Florida until 2019 when they came to First Unitarian when Rev. Roger was hired as the Assistant Minister for Pastoral Care. John works as a Senior Training Manager for a RI based company called IGT (previously known as GTECH for long time Rhode Islanders) and is frequently found singing with the choir and volunteering in numerous capacities around First U. He can also be found in the parks and green spaces in Cranston where he is frequently on the end of a leash with his 90 lb lab named Pete.


Becca Howe and Evie Pless. Becca and Evie recently moved to Providence from Sacramento, CA with their son, Cameron (10 months) and tuxedo cat, Gabriel. Becca grew up in MA, attending UU churches in Lexington and North Andover, and is excited to be closer to family again and to reconnect with a UU community. Evie is a Californian who also has family ties in the Boston area. She is a data scientist for a biotech company that is developing a blood test to screen for lung cancer. Becca is a dementia researcher and conducts home visits as a family physician with the VA. They both enjoy exploring new restaurants and cafes, biking around Providence, and discovering playgrounds with swings for Cam.


Brent and Nicole Lineberry are RI born and raised, and currently reside in Warwick with their daughter Avery. Brent is a marketing analytics director and Nicole is an environmental scientist. In their free time they love traveling and spending time at the beach or on the water. They were raised Catholic but left at a young age as the church did not align with their beliefs. After using the UU Providence Meeting House for their wedding ceremony, they discovered First U and felt drawn to the community and teachings. They are looking forward to meeting other members, growing spiritually, and raising their daughter in the caring and welcoming community that UU provides.


Allyn Phelps moved to Fox Point in Providence with his spouse Valeria in December 2023 after living most of his life in central Massachusetts. He taught elementary music, chorus, and theatre for 13 years and, since 2021, has been an assistant teaching professor in music education at UMass Dartmouth. Allyn recently graduated with his Doctor of Musical Arts and studied self-directed education and deconstructing Whiteness in music education. He grew up in a congregational church and spent many years as a church music director, organist, and pianist. Allyn is excited to explore his spirituality more deeply and fully involve himself in his new church community, especially with the anti-racism efforts and small group discussions. In his free time, Allyn likes to read, doodle, play his guitar, explore his new city via bus and Spin scooter, and walk down Sheldon Street looking for the resident neighborhood cat, Smokey.


Denise Plaskon grew up in Ohio where she and her late husband David were married in a UU Church. They then moved to Amherst, MA to continue their educations. Denise worked as a restaurant manager for many years then retrained and became a librarian. She raised her two daughters in the UU church and has been involved in the church for most of her life. Denise is currently a librarian in New Bedford, MA.



Jorge Rivera. I’m originally from San Juan, PR. My Cuban parents relocated to PR in 1961. I was born and raised a Catholic. I moved to New England in 1998 to continue my medical training. “Home is where all your attempts to escape cease”, so I consider RI my home.
I have a busy Ophthalmology Practice in East Providence. I love what I do (most days). I am the father of three beautiful people. I live in Warren. I follow a healthy lifestyle, with some exceptions, like red wine and a lot of chocolate. I enjoy exercising, bicycle rides, poetry bites, and philosophy quotes. I feel the happiest when I let love find its way through me.
I appreciate being part of a congregation that is guided by strong principles, but that does not impose a dogma or a creed as a condition for membership.



Class of April 2024


Geo and Angela McCann have been attending UU churches around the country since they met in 2006. Both raised Catholic, they found their way to the UU “Jingle Bells” church in Savannah, GA, where they found their first church home that really matched their curiosity for the responsible search for truth and meaning. They are both excited to join First U to continue this search, find community and share it with their kids.

Geo comes from Georgia where he attended the University of Georgia and earned a BS in both Psychology and Biology. Angela, a native Rhode Islander, attended the University of Rhode Island, receiving a BS in Biological Science and later attended the University of Bridgeport receiving a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and Masters in Acupuncture.

They met in Georgia at the Jekyll Island 4H Center, where they both taught environmental education. They have both since moved on from those fun years of living and working around the country teaching kids about the environment. They are the proud parents of Lorelei and Finn, who love the RE program here at First U. Geo now works at Bristol County Savings Bank in Digital Marketing, and Angela practices in West Greenwich at Opus Total Health providing acupuncture and Functional Medicine services.


Shannon McCarthy is from Taunton, MA and lives in Attleboro now with her husband Brendan and daughters Tessa and Teagan. She studied sociology and dance at Providence College before earning her master’s degree in higher education administration from Boston University. She has worked in college admissions and student services for the past decade, though she is currently home with her daughters. Shannon enjoys dancing, singing, hiking, reading, and her newest hobby of gardening. She and her family are happy to have found a church community at First Unitarian!


Jessica McCauley (she/her) currently lives in Fall River with her husband and daughters Kora (8) & Willa (5). She is a licensed mental health clinician currently working at a community health center and transitioning into private practice. Jessica is also trained as a medical anthropologist and teaches as an adjunct professor at Salve Regina University.
She is originally from Chicago and was Roman Catholic for the first half of her life. She has attended UU churches in various places she has lived including San Diego, Baltimore, Newport, New Bedford and Fall River. Jessica enjoys yoga, hiking, the ocean, traveling, reading & writing. She chose to join First U due to the strong children’s program and looks forward to raising her children in the UU faith. Jess also hopes to broaden & deepen her community.


My name is Jacob Persico. I do tech support and web design. Some activities I enjoy are reading, writing, using and learning about computers, video games and swimming. My mom got introduced to a Pentecostal Christian church from a friend and I went there with them. They stopped going but I continued. I really enjoyed going there. I enjoyed listening to the band play and the sermons. However, some of that church’s beliefs I did not agree with, especially the believe that some people suffer eternity in hell after they die. They even believe you will suffer this faith just for not believing. I find that an evil belief. I don’t see that as something a just God would allow. So, I switched to First U a few months ago and I am very happy here. This church’s beliefs align very well with my own.


Class of February 2024

Ari Albanese grew up in Massachusetts. She is trained as a clinical psychologist and currently works in a research-focused position at Brown. Her research and clinical work has focused on perinatal mental health, an area she is passionate about improving. She has found First U to be an incredibly warm and welcoming place and is looking forward to becoming more involved with the community.



Trent Batson taught in higher education, discovered a method for teaching and learning using computers in 1985, and, therefore being an “early adopter,” became a national and Intenational leader for using technology in education.  He worked at 8 universities, ending up at MIT before starting a global non-profit focused on education.  His Ph.D. is in American religious history, his dissertation focusing on the move away from Calvinism in New England toward Unitarianism.  He now works on behalf of the environment.


Ellen and Charlie Cormier, both born and raised in Massachusetts, lived worlds apart. Their immigrant families continued traditions such as Charlie’s Catholic parochial school education, and Ellen steeped in Jewish tradition at home and at temple. Charlie’s education led him into the world of high tech. Ellen graduated Elmira College and became a life long educator with two masters degrees. She was also honored as an Emerita, having served two UU churches as their Director of Religious Eduction. Both have served on boards and other committees, and Ellen was a small group ministry leader. Their recent move to Rhode Island was after a ten year stint in Palm Beach County, Florida where they had hoped to retire. The pall of unreasonable political ambitions and lack of respect for individual human dignity instigated their “great escape.” Their individual journeys led to Unitarian Universalism. Charlie had stated many times that he was not interested in any church, considering himself a “recovering Catholic” .Ellen’s father, off the boat at age four, taught her that the inherent worth and dignity of each individual was key, and he insisted that there was no such word as “hate” .A weekend at Rowe Camp and Conference center over forty years ago led Ellen to First Parish in Framingham. and a few years later Charlie was introduced to the church that does not “check your brain at the door.


Matthew Goldman grew up in a suburb of Boston, MA. In 2018 He moved to Phoenix, Arizona and worked as a software developer for about 5 years before switching gears to start managing PHB International, a (very) small family business started by his grandfather. He came to First U after moving to Providence in 2023 and feels it is the perfect place to expand and deepen his sense of spirituality in the company of an openminded and welcoming congregation.


Lisa and Jeff Kerr met teaching together at a summer arts camp 29 years ago, and have been married for the past 27 years. At the time of their wedding, Lisa was connected to First U through her work and they had their rehearsal in the Meeting House and Tom Ahlburn conducted their ceremony! They moved around New England for a time, working in the arts and education fields, and raising their family.  Their son Caellum is now 26 and their daughter Emma is 22, and they are both excellent humans.  Lisa and Jeff took some empty-nest leaps a few years ago, going back to school to pursue post-graduate degrees – Jeff’s in Educational Leadership and Lisa’s in Community Engagement.  Jeff is now the Director of Fine Arts for the Norwood, MA school district and Lisa is the Family and Parent Program Coordinator for The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, CT.  A few years ago Jeff picked up the bagpipes and now plays with the Old Colony Highlanders, and Lisa has spent many years volunteering for the Manton Ave Project, a youth playwriting organization here in Providence.  They have a cat and a dog, and love to entertain, cook, travel, spend time on and in the water, and are so happy to be in community with fellow members at First U.


Albin Moser is a native of the East Side of Providence. His parents Albin and Eileen Moser live locally. On Sundays he went to Saint Joseph Catholic Church on Hope Street. During the week he went to Henry Barnard School, Classical High School University of Rhode Island, also studied writing in New York City at Eugene Lang College. After college he went to Boston University School of Law. He works in Providence as a practicing lawyer. He lives in the Wayland Square area. He is a fan of our fair city, likes Wayland Square, Benefit Street, Wickenden Street, Al Forno, The Hot Club, the Athenaeum, RISD Museum, Avon Cinema. He misses The Cable Car, Chez Pascal, Bagels East, L’Elizabeth, Ruby’s Diner. He likes to run on Blackstone Boulevard, the East Bay Bike Path, Roger Williams Park and Lincoln Woods.


Alex Pearson (center) they/them is a preschool teacher for Head Start East Providence, and also a volunteer firefighter in Scituate. Alex lived in Los Angeles for ten years, and is happy to be back home in RI.


George Schuessler and wife Deborah relocated from Nyack, New York in 2019 when George retired from a 43 year career as a faculty member at Columbia University beginning in the Medical School and Engineering School and later at Teachers College directing Academic Technology.  In New York, George pursued his passion for environmental issues cofounding the Lower Hudson Group of the Sierra Club and serving in various offices for that group and the Atlantic Chapter of the Club.  He served on the board of Inspire Nyack to develop STEAM programs in the Nyack public schools.  George was confirmed in a Congregational church in Scarsdale, NY but has been interested in exploring Tibetan Buddhism in recent years.  George and Deborah adopted a girl from China who is now a practicing environmental engineer living in North Providence.


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.