I was born and raised in South Jersey, midway between Philadelphia and the Pine Barrens. Although my siblings and I were raised without religion, we were raised with a surplus of wonder and awe. In our household, no interest was considered unusual or a waste of time. To be interested, to be fascinated, to want to learn more about the world, was the best way to be alive.
As an adult, I attended Rutgers-Camden for undergrad, and later for my first graduate degree, where I studied English and linguistics. In between, I spent several months in Azerbaijan studying at the Azerbaijan University of Languages on a Critical Language Scholarship from the US State Department. The experience had a profound effect on my reverence for the unique unknowability of every human experience, and my respect for the preciousness of human lives everywhere.
Though encouraged to apply for a job in the foreign service or intelligence upon my return, I instead returned to bartending, a career that I held for over ten years. I alternated between tending bar and working in editing and publishing into my 30s, while living in Philadelphia, not far from where I grew up. Although I was not involved in religion at the time, I believe my ministry truly began at the bar, as I spent a decade listening to people tell me their darkest secrets and most joyous news.
In 2011, I was volunteering for an independent poll observer organization, when I walked into a small neighborhood church that also served as a polling place. I felt an actual chill, and was overcome with a feeling that this was where I needed to be. The experience led to my joining the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration, a diverse and historically Universalist church in Philadelphia.
There, I served as a worship associate for three years before answering the call to ministry. In 2015, I was working toward a PhD in linguistics when I began to reconsider my call to academia. On a break from school, I spent a month and a half hiking and camping in forests all along the East Coast, building campfires in the rain and thinking. I realized that neither the bar nor academia were where I was meant to spend the rest of my one wild and precious life.
I applied to seminary and MFA programs at the same time, thinking the decision would be made for me. Instead, I was accepted to both, which is how I wound up moving to Oregon in 2016 for my MFA, while simultaneously enrolling in the low-residency MDiv program at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. In 2018, I graduated from the Univerity of Oregon with an MFA in poetry. In 2019, I took part in the Kenyon Review Writer’s Workshop’s first Spiritual Writing session. And in 2020 I earned my MDiv.
As part of my formation, I was required to take one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), a 400-hour internship as a hospital chaplain. I immediately loved the work, and wound up going back for two extra units. I felt so fulfilled by pastoral care – in the Emergency Department in particular – that I strongly considered become exclusively a chaplain, hoping to focus on trauma.
However, my time at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Eugene convinced me that my work is in the parish, forming longer-term relationships and shepherding an entire faith community through the seasons of their lives. After my two-year internship, I was blessed to be hired back as the Coordinator of Outreach and Engagement. In 2020, I was called to be the settled minister at Wildflower Church in Austin, Texas.
In addition, my religious values draw me toward liberation. I believe that I have a sacred obligation to work for the liberation and full inclusion of the marginalized and oppressed, both within our faith communities and in human society as a whole.
Outside of ministry, I enjoy hiking, gardening, writing, quilting, long-distance train travel, and excellent food and cocktails.