Welcome to our newest First Unitarian members
Class of December 2022
Evan Smith and Margaret Rizzuto. Evan and Margaret rediscovered Providence 2 years ago. They had lived in Tiverton but since then have lived mostly in NY (Margaret is a native New Yorker). Evan was raised outside Pittsburgh and loves the convenience of city living. They’ve been introduced to UU communities in Philadelphia, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and New York, and the time seems right to become members at First U. They are each looking forward to engaging in groups and becoming more involved with the welcoming community they’ve been introduced to so far.
Evan is a management consultant, coaching leaders and facilitating growth/change in organizations. Margaret is a certified Mindset Coach and Portrait Photographer with a passion for supporting midlife women. When not working they enjoy gardening, exploring the area, biking, hiking and all things culinary. They also love spending time with their grown sons – one in Philadelphia and the other in Brooklyn, including their ‘growing too fast’ grandson.
Laura Spear. Laura and her husband, Chris, moved to Providence this past year from central Massachusetts where she was a long-time member of the First Parish Church of Stow and Acton. They have two grown children, one in Massachusetts and the other in Santa Barbara. Laura’s career has primarily been in Marketing for tech companies, and she currently works from home for a Fortune 1000 tech company based in the Silicon Valley.
Outside of work, Laura is involved in Rotary International – with a passion for community service – and looks forward to extending that passion with participation in First U’s social justice programs. Her past life included leadership roles in town government and non-profits. In addition to volunteering, she is interested in cooking, traveling, entertaining, reading, gardening, visiting museums, seeing and collecting art.
Mercedes Pacheco. Originally from south Florida, Mercedes currently lives in Barrington with her husband, her stepson (when he’s home from college), their 7-year-old daughter, and assorted pets. After working as a primary care physician for eight years, Mercedes specialized in hospice and palliative medicine, and has been working in this field exclusively since 2013. Some of her pleasures include hiking, cooking, and reading. Mercedes is happy to commit to First U more formally after intermittently attending services for the past several years and valuing her daughter’s participation in the Spiritual Pathways program.
The past two years of intense work during the pandemic, and the loss of both parents in 2020, has led her to a place of wanting more space and openness in life to see what may arise. Mercedes looks forward to discovering what being part of this faith community may bring.
Chris Campanile. Chris is ‘finally signing the book,’ having first attended First U in the late ‘90s looking for spiritual guidance for his then-7-year-old daughter Lily, and for himself. Chris grew up in the Midwest in a traditional, religious Italian Catholic family.
Chris retired as a family practice doctor at the end of 2021 having served a very diverse population in Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Providence. A significant part of his retirement plan has been to become more involved in First U. So far, he traveled the Westland Highland Way walk in Scotland in May, resumed participation in the Men’s Group, and helps out with the food pantry. He plays the piano, golfs, goes to the Y, goes on long walks while listening to books on tape, and has started volunteering at Clinica Esperanza. Chris shares life with his wife, Peg Boyle. Lily is a PA in his former practice in Pawtucket and his son, Aaron, lives in D.C.
Theo Henson. Theo grew up in First U; a senior in high school, he is currently going through his last year in the Spiritual Pathways youth group. Theo’s interests include music, computers, writing, and hiking. He feels that the First U congregation has truly influenced his life and provided him with a community for which he is thankful. Theo has given back by volunteering for the food pantry and performing music in services.
Courtney and Kevin Cohen. The Cohens live in Barrington with son, Parker, doodle dog, Sophie, and two cats, Finnley and Mowgli. They met at UMass Dartmouth during their junior year and have been together since. Courtney is from Southern Massachusetts, grew up attending Catholic church and participated in the youth choir. Kevin is from Long Island, New York, and has a mixed religious background with one parent Catholic and the other Jewish, although, growing up, Kevin attended a UU church.
Due to a conflict with the Catholic church, while trying to baptize their son, they decided to seek a more welcoming church community. They found First U over the summer and haven’t looked back. Kevin works as an engineer, and Courtney works as a professional wedding and lifestyle photographer. They can’t wait to get to know everyone and form their “village”.
Kai Roberts-Speaker. Kai is grateful to say that he was born into the phenomenal religion called Unitarian Universalism, right here at First U. His grandparents, Mona and Bob Speaker, started attending First U around 1960, making him a third-generation UU and a third-generation churchgoer in this congregation! He is a truly obsessed fermenter, forager, fisherman, cook, and a novice musician who will often miss a Sunday at church to be high up on a mountain ridge, which he would say is just as spiritual an experience. Kai is always up for a good chat, an espresso, or whatever the world throws at him. In membership, he hopes to contribute more to a congregation that has been such a foundation for him to build upon, and to deepen community that has been so imperative in his formation.
Jane Knight and Stephen Bourassa. Jane grew up in a liberal Protestant tradition. She liked church, but loved summer camp! She is a proud mom to two young adults, a teacher and a naturalist, and she currently teaches grades 6-12 at Bradley Hospital. Growing up in Colorado gave her the thrill of seeing the night sky at 13,000 feet above sea level. At that height, the starlight itself cast shadows in the absence of the moon, which touched her so profoundly that she has glow-in-the-dark stars above her bed to feel that peace and wonder.
Having fallen in love with the ocean of RI, shells and rocks occupy many surfaces and nooks in their home. Jane’s favorite place is in the recliner, cat on lap, tea in hand, watching the woods as they dance and change throughout the year.
Stephen hails from Colchester, Connecticut. He has worked as a chef in food service including at The American School for the Deaf and Bryant University. Most recently, he has decided to go back to his professional roots as a land surveyor. Stephen has been a band member and music enthusiast, playing the mandolin, guitar, and bass. His love of the outdoors is enriched by bird watching and keeping a bird list (birders will know what that means!). He too loves a cat in his lap, but prefers ginger beer over tea.