First Unitarian Women’s Alliance

Established in 1882, The Women’s Alliance is unique among the organizations of the First Unitarian Church of Providence in that it has been an autonomous society of dues-paying members and has its own endowment. Many of its members have played leading roles in education, suffrage, and social services.

In 2014, The Women’s Alliance became an affiliate of the church and the name was changed to The First Unitarian Women’s Alliance.
The mission is to:
• offer enrichment through timely and informative programs,
• nurture opportunities for friendship, inspiration, and support among the members, and
• contribute to community organizations benefitting women, children, and families through fundraising activities and service.

2022-23 Program booklet

Click here to view or download a copy of the latest Alliance brochure. You will find an overview of the Women’s Alliance at First Unitarian as well as a complete listing of this year’s monthly program topics and speakers.

2021-22 Programs

October 4, 2021

Addressing Issues of Women’s Incarceration

Speaker: Meghan Kallman

Click on the image below to start the video. 


As of January 2021, only around 80 women were incarcerated in the women’s prison in Rhode Island. Each incarceration costs approximately $120,000 annually, compared to about $60,000 for men. The vast majority of incarcerated women are struggling with addiction and the repeated incarcerations that result from it. By expanding diversion, parole, and reentry programming, Rhode Island could close its women’s prison and open secure, non-correctional residential facilities, creating a community-based network of halfway houses and transitional houses.

State Senator Meghan Kallman represents District 15 and is a sponsor of S245, which would study ways to reduce incarceration. She is a professor at the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at UMass Boston and taught at the ACI for six years.

November 1, 2021

Saltmarsh Sparrow: “Hope Is the Thing with Feathers”

Speaker: Deirdre Robinson

The Saltmarsh Sparrow has become symbolic of wildlife that is at risk of extinction from climate change. Researchers predict the Saltmarsh Sparrow (SALS) could become extinct as early as 2040, due to inundation of its tidal marsh habitat. The Saltmarsh Sparrow Research Initiative (SALSri), a five-year program based at Jacob’s Point Salt Marsh in Warren, RI, is designed to document aspects of Saltmarsh Sparrow breeding and post-breeding ecology to improve our understanding of the species prior to its extinction.

Deirdre Robinson is Co-Director of SALSri. She earned a master’s degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Rhode Island, specializing in Avian Ecology.

December 6, 2021

The Status of Policing in Providence

Speaker: Steven Paré


Recent events have resulted in greater scrutiny of policing across communities, accusations of systemic racism, and calls for police accountability. The Providence Commissioner of Public Safety is in a unique position to assess such issues in the capital city and will share his perspective on the status of policing.

For ten years, Steven Paré has served as the Commissioner of Public Safety for the City of Providence. Prior to assuming this role, Paré served with the RI State Police for 27 years, retiring as Superintendent. He holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Rhode Island and a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Bryant University.

January 3, 2022

Why Are Asians and Pacific Islanders Invisible in American Society?

Speaker: Robert G. Lee



Chinese and Filipinos had settled in North America before the Jamestown Colony was established. Today, more than 23 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) live in the United States, a number that will double by 2060. Still, most Americans know little about their history, diversity, and place in our racial hierarchy.

Professor Robert G. Lee taught Asian American Studies at Brown University for over 30 years. His book Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture is a prize-winning study of the stereotyping of Asians in American history. Vox recently listed it among its eight books to read to understand anti-Asian racism.

February 7, 2022

The Role of Doulas in Improving Pregnancy Experiences and Outcomes

Speaker: Felicia Love


Doulas are an increasingly popular option chosen by pregnant women to make childbirth a safe, healthy, and positive experience. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their White counterparts. Felicia will explain how doulas can help to reduce this disparity while also improving the pregnancy experience before, during, and after birth for all women by reducing the need for medical intervention.

Felicia Love is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Lactation Counselor. She is also a doula and is Co-President of Doulas of Rhode Island (DoRI).

March 7, 2022

Medicare For All: Truths, Lies, and Consequences

Speaker: Dr. James Cowan



Jim’s presentation will explore why a single-payer national health insurance program (Medicare For All) is the only viable long-term solution to problems of access to affordable health care in the United States.

James Cowan, M.D., M.P.H., FACP, is an internist and former Chief of Medicine at the St. Luke’s Health System in Pennsylvania and former National Medical Director at Aetna Health Insurance Company in the US and UK. He is Vice President of the Rhode Island chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program.

March 6, 2022

Joan Richards discusses her new book

Generations of Reason:
A Family Search for Meaning in Post Newtonian England.


Joan is a lifelong Unitarian who has been part of this church ever since she took a position in the Brown history department forty years ago. Her primary historical interest has always focused on the ways developments in science and mathematics have affected western understandings of themselves and their place in the world. This focus has also informed her understanding of our religion and the roles it plays in our lives.
Joan will explain how she happened to write her most recent book, Generations of Reason: A Family’s Search for Meaning in Post Newtonian England. From the dust jacket: “This book recounts the story of three Cambridge-educated Englishmen and the women with whom they chose to share their commitment to reason in all parts of their lives.” The emergence of Unitarianism as an alternative to the religious conformism of the  Anglican Church is part of the story of this family’s.history during the latter half of the 18th and the entire 19th century.

May 2, 2022

African American Heritage Education for All RI Students

Speaker: Anastasia Williams



In its 2021 session, the RI General Assembly passed legislation requiring the state’s public K-12 institutions to teach a comprehensive African American history and heritage curriculum, developed by Rhode Island historical and academic institutions. The goal is to ensure that Rhode Island students understand the role the state played in the slave trade, as well as other aspects of the nation’s African American heritage history. As the sponsor of the bill in the House, our speaker shared her hopes for the outcomes of this legislation.

Women’s Alliance 2021-22 Programs

Click below to view the June Alliance meeting with

a Virtual Tour of the State House with Lane Sparkman


Click below to view the April Alliance meeting with Katy Troyer



Click below to view the March 1st Alliance meeting with Debra Sharpe


Click below to view the February 1st Alliance meeting with Rev. Lester



Click below to view the January 4, 2021 Discussion:

January 4, 2021 The History and Future of the Immigration Crisis

Speaker: Rodrigo Pimentel



Click below to view the December 7th discussion:

The Well-being of Rhode Island’s Children: What the Data Say

Speaker: Stephanie Geller



To view a video recording of the November 2nd discussion
with Dr. Michael Fine, click here.