The Fahs Fellows
Meet the 2015 Fahs Fellows
The Fahs Collaborative is proud to announce the 2015-16 cohort of Research Fellows in Faith Formation. Selected out of an impressive group of religious professionals, this cohort of Fellows begins a year-long journey into sticky-problems in faith formation that tend to befuddle liberal religious professionals. Join us in welcoming (L-R) Roberta Altamari, Interim Director of Religious Education in Framingham, Massachusetts; Erica Shadowsong, Director of Religious Education at our Arlington, Virginia congregation, and Kevin Lowry, the UU Campus Coordinator at the College of Wooster, in Wooster, Ohio. The fellows have begun the “silent phase” of their projects and expect to invite public participation as their projects unfold during Fall 2015.
Erica Shadowsong has been fascinated by human ritual and intersections with the sacred all her life. An English and music major, student of folklore studies, and storytelling enthusiast, Erica cultivated a career in education and working with a Friends school before she encountered "liberal religious education" in an ad for a Unitarian Universalist church. Out of pure nagging curiosity, she interviewed, and the rest is history. Erica has felt that religious education work is a special calling that acknowledges the deep spiritual well all human beings innately have, through relationship with the divine or the known universe, each other, art, service, and justice. She responds to that calling by bringing her passion for storytelling, the arts, and ritual to her work. Erica has participated in training as a religious education professional through the Renaissance program of the UUA, as well as additional training in interim work, Spirit Play, and Our Whole Lives. She currently serves the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Arlington, VA as lifespan Director of Religious Education.
Kevin J. Lowry, originally from Redlands, CA, now calls Wooster, OH home with his wife, Alex and his 4 year old Estella. Kevin and Alex have been a members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Wayne County (UUFWC) since 2007. Kevin serves as the Youth Community Coordinator at the UUFWC. He also serves as the UU Campus Community Mentor at The College of Wooster, working with the Wooster Unitarian Universalists (WUU) a student lead UU campus community. Kevin is active as a member of the Interfaith Ministry Advisory Board, Worthy Question Mentor, and the Safe Zone Ally Training Team at The College. Kevin is a Commissioned Lay Leader Candidate in the Ohio-Meadville District with a focus on chaplaincy geared towards Youth and Emerging Adults and is pursuing his Masters of Divinity at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTOS) in Delaware, OH with a Youth and Young Adult Specialty. Kevin is a member National Association of Campus Ministry (the premier professional organization for campus ministry in the United States) and serves on the Coordinating Committee for the organization. Kevin enjoys camping, outdoor activities and gatherings with friends and family.
Kevin has a deep passion to support, engage, and empower youth and emerging adults as they discover and form their identities of who they are, what they believe, and their connectedness to the world around them. He is committed to building inclusive, equitable, and sustainable communities that foster growth and discovery within the whole community and the personal development of the individual.
Roberta Altamari has been working in religious education and youth ministry for twelve years (at First Parish of Watertown, First Parish of Sudbury, and First Parish in Framingham in Massachusetts) and began interim work this year. She has also been on the volunteer staff for ten years for Different Drummers, a camp for middle-schoolers at Ferry Beach. In addition, she has enjoyed creating preschool curricula (Friendship Finders and Rainbor Seekers), doing consulting work for small congregations, teaching Our Whole Lives, being a youth advisor during the RE weeks at both Star Island and Ferry Beach, volunteering at Camp Erin (a bereavement camp for kids who have lost a family member), and being on the leadership team of the Interfaith Service Training.
Her bio includes earning a Bachelor’s degree majoring in developmental psychology from Suffolk University in 1991. She has more than a decade of work supporting adults with disabilities and a wide variety of fun jobs like leading music and movement programs for young children. She is a homeschooling mom of two daughters, Dominique and Skylar Rose. When she’s not busy working or parenting, she loves singing and playing her guitar, reading good books, trying a new art project, laughing with friends, or walking on a beach.
The Fahs Fellows 2013 Presentations
The Fahs Fellows are global thinkers and curriculum innovators in faith development with an important message to share. Fellows are intentionally selected with an eye toward insight and innovation, serving both as “public intellectuals” who speak on issues that are pressing within the profession of religious education, yet also offering pedagogical strategies that have potential to breathe fresh air into how we teach, learn, and grow.
The inaugural cohort of Fellows focused on three areas of great need within the world of faith formation: technology, multi-generational faith formation, and spiritual practices that voice cultural and theological diversity. The 2013 Fellows first presented their work at the Liberal Religious Educators Association Fall Conference, later recording their "Fahs Talks" at Meadville Lombard Theological School. We are delighted to share their innovations with you!Karen Bellavance-Grace, Fellow for Innovation in Multigenerational Faith Formation
Karen's Full Week Faith Website contains many resources discussed in her presentation.
Kat Liu, Fellow for Innovation in Spiritual Practices
Kat's liturgical calendar, story library, and other resources can be found at WizdUUm.net
Phil Lund, Fellow for Innovation in Technology
Meet The 2014 Fahs Fellows!
Congratulations and Welcome: Jamil, Matthew, and Taryn!
Jamil Scott is incoming Director of Lifespan Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, California after having served Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Lafayette, CO as an RE Assistant. He is attending seminary at Naropa University, a Buddhist inspired contemplative University in Boulder, Colorado. He brings 17 years of meditation experience in the Zen, Vajrayana, and Dzogchen traditions. Jamil also leads contemplative practice and meditation workshops, including a Dharma Camp for young people. Jamil is a candidate for ordination with the International Order of Buddhist Ministers and is in the LREDA Professional Religious Educator credentialing program.
Actor, director and choreographer Matthew Davis received his Bachelor’s degree in Theater Performance from Minnesota State University. He has served as the Associate Artistic Director of the Playhouse Merced in California and head of acting and dance for the Children's Conservatory Playhouse. Matthew currently is Artistic Director with Theatre-Hikes Colorado, a company with the mission of combining theater and enjoyment and preservation of the environment, for the past four years. He is well known throughout Denver for his work directing and choreographing children's theaters in the region.
He is a religious educator at First Unitarian Society of Denver creating aesthetic workshops and learning experiences to support the formal activities of the RE program. Matthew is a paraprofessional educator at a public elementary school providing math and reading help to struggling students and is an activity leader for the after school program there. He also plans activities and curriculum for the 60-student after school program that integrates current and historical events, holidays, classical and modern art, theater and dance into students’ lives.
A lifelong Unitarian Universalist, Taryn Strauss is a seminary student at Union Theogical Seminary in New York City, with a focus on Psychology and Religion. She concurrently serves as Director of Religious Education at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church of NYC. She holds a B.A. in English composition and literature and a B.A. in Secondary Education from Guilford College, where she also minored in Theatre Arts. Prior to moving to New York, Taryn served as the Director of Lifespan Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville, where the program grew under her leadership from a children’s program to a multi-staff Lifespan faith formation experience.
Taryn has a strong vision of a radically diverse and artistic community, and possibilities of embodied art, improvisation, and empathic relationships to expand minds, hearts, and spirits. She has trained at the Brecht Forum under Augusto and Julian Boal in Theatre of the Oppressed methodologies and believes in the power of theater to heal and transform oppressive power dynamics.
While living in Asheville, Taryn co-founded and served as co-artistic director of Scapegoat Theatre Collective, designed to reach new audiences and galvanize the community around issues of anti-racism, prison reform, and LGBTQ equality. Taryn served on the Board of OUR VOICE, Asheville’s rape crisis center, and prior to her work as a religious educator, served as the Education Director at the Western North Carolina AIDS Project where she established grassroots community education campaigns for sexual health empowerment and transformative education.