I grew up on Long Island, New York in a multi-generational household with my grandparents, mother, father and older sister. Many of my memories are of afternoons in the garden planting vegetables with my grandfather and watching birds with my grandmother. We came together most Sundays over a big Italian meal with our extended family sharing stories and laughter. As an adult, I still love gardening, storytelling, time in community, and cooking!
I was the first in my family to go to college. While at Sarah Lawrence I studied labor history, social movements, writing and visual arts, and grew into a social justice leader. I co-founded and co-chaired Student Organizers for Social Justice, a student organizing collective that advocated for economic and racial justice on campus and in the community. I also interned with NY Jobs with Justice, a coalition of labor, community, religious and student organizations.
My first job out of college was as the Program Coordinator of the Union Semester Program at the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Labor Studies, part of the City University of New York. I coordinated an academic internship program that trained students in social justice organizing through labor union internships and a labor studies curriculum. Through this work I learned that I love mentoring emerging leaders. In the spring of 2006, I followed my passion for justice to become a Researcher and Campaigner with the Justice for Janitors Campaign in San Diego and Orange County where I organized for a living wage, health insurance, immigration reform, and rights in the work place alongside workers.
A few years after finding social justice as my passion, I began to feel a pull towards deepening my spiritual life. I was raised Catholic as a child, but did not feel connected to that tradition in my teenage years. My spiritual seeking led me to Zen Buddhism and committing to the practice of meditation. On my first three day silent meditation retreat I found spaciousness, a sense of community, reverence and awe in nature, and the wisdom of a spiritual teacher.
While living and practicing at the Sweetwater Zen Center in San Diego, I met my husband Joshua. Joshua is a Zen Buddhist practitioner, and was serving as a photojournalist in the Navy when we met. Josh is now a massage therapist, artist, and dad. We have been partnered for fifteen years, and married for ten. In July 2018, we welcomed our son Lucas into our family. We also share our lives with our beloved cat Joon. Our relationship has been an important source of teaching in my life, and our shared commitment to spiritual practice is the foundation of our partnership.
After several years of practicing meditation, I yearned for integration between my spiritual life and my vocation as a social justice organizer. In 2008 I went into the Master of Arts in Peace and Justice Studies Program at the University of San Diego. I engaged in field work in Colombia and the Mission District of San Francisco, and wrote about youth who were promoting non-violence and social justice through art. I came out of that period of study inspired to continue working for justice, with new skills and insights about building effective social justice movements, and a deeper passion for working at the intersection of spirituality, social justice and art.
I was blessed with the opportunity to fulfill my calling at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego. I was hired as the congregation’s first Social Justice Ministry Team Coordinator. In this role, I had the opportunity to put into practice a vision of social justice grounded in faith and a commitment to challenge systemic oppression. After serving on staff for a year and a half, I was asked to also serve as the staff leader of the South Bay Campus, a bi-lingual and multicultural campus of First UU on the US-Mexico border. At First UU San Diego I fell in love with Unitarian Universalism and ministry. After participating in a discernment program in 2012, I decided to answer the call to ministry!
In January 2014 I entered the Master of Divinity Program at Starr King School for the Ministry. I attended seminary as a low-residency student, continuing my work at the First UU Church of San Diego while expanding my skills and knowledge in pastoral care, preaching, liturgy, sacred texts, entrepreneurial ministry, and faith formation across the lifespan. At Starr King, I also had the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of UU history, theology, and polity. I spent the last year in formation as a Chaplain Resident at Sharp Memorial Hospital, which served as my ministerial internship. I provided spiritual care for patients in a medical hospital, mental health hospital, hospital for women and newborns, and home health. In January of 2018 I had the amazing privilege of being Ordained by my home congregation, the First UU Church of San Diego.
In May of 2018 I was called as the settled Minister of Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Church in Des Moines, WA. In the past four years we have discerned and adopted a new mission that guides our work as a congregation, developed a new covenant, and committed to the work of racial justice and dismantling oppression as an institution. We navigated the pandemic by focusing on staying connected, being flexible and creative, and offering deep care to one another.
Some of the highlights of this ministry include crafting transformative worship services, collaborating with lay leaders on earth-based ritual, and forging meaningful relationships with the members of the congregation through small groups, pastoral care, and shared ministry. I also love deepening our partnerships with the communities that share our church campus and the work with our local Industrial Areas Foundation affiliate, Sound Alliance
A thread that runs through all of my life experiences has led me to answering the call to ministry. My childhood opened me to the need for justice, and my journey as an organizer and spiritual practitioner brought me to the faith tradition of Unitarian Universalism. My ministry is about offering my skills in service to our faith: my passion for justice, storytelling, and art; my commitment to spiritual practice, creating the beloved community, pastoral care, and developing leaders; and a mind and heart that cares about spiritual growth, healthy organizations, and living into our mission.
In my free time I love to go on nature adventures with Josh an Lucas, read novels, and spend time with friends over tea. I am nourished by gardening, engaging in my meditation or yoga practice, writing poetry, and making art, including collaging, coloring, beading and knitting. One of my favorite activities is whale watching. Joshua and I also enjoy camping, going to art museums, and spending time playing and exploring with Lucas!
Tending my garden
Justice for Janitors Action with the
Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice
Josh working on his art
Graduating from Starr King
School for the Ministry
Our family at my Installation as the Minister
of Saltwater UU Church