Parisa Parsa is Executive Director of Essential Partners, advancing the work of Public Conversations Project.
Essential Partners’ mission is to offer concrete skills and facilitation to communities in divisive conflict over issues of belief, identity or world view, and works nationally and internationally to train facilitators and equip communities for constructive conversations and more effective collaboration across difference.
Before joining Essential Partners, Parisa served in many roles within Unitarian Universalism. As an ordained minister, she served in community based ministry with the UU Urban Ministry in Boston, the Faithful Fools Street Ministry in San Francisco, and as the coordinator for a group of urban social justice ministries known as the Urban Disciples. In parish ministry, she served as consulting minister to the UU Fellowship of Los Gatos, CA, and for 10 years was the senior minister of First Parish in Milton, MA. She briefly served on the staff of the New England Region of the UUA, focusing on ministerial transition in congregations, and has worked as an independent consultant with congregations, staff teams, seminarians and clergy on intercultural communication and conflict skills.
Parisa has taught courses at Andover Newton Theological School and Harvard Divinity School (UU Polity and Practices) and was a denominational counselor to UU students at HDS from 2012-2014. She has been a teaching pastor in parish ministry with students from Starr King School for the Ministry, Harvard Divinity School, and Andover Newton Theological School, and has mentored 7 colleagues through preliminary fellowship with the UUA. She has served in many volunteer roles in UU organizations and institutions, including service on the UU Funding Program panel for the Fund for a Just Society, the UUMA Board (with the portfolio for Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression and Multiculturalism), and has had essays published in The Seven Principles in Word and Worship and Turning Point from Skinner House Books.
Parisa is originally from Iran, and was raised at the intersection of Islam and Christianity, Persian culture and American norms. She enjoys mixes of people, ideas and arts that bring about both friction and harmony, and learning from the ways we can engage our differences in service of creative, life-giving solutions to the world’s problems. She lives in Arlington, MA, with her husband Enrique Silva and their two sons. Together they enjoy soccer, music and movies. When she can, Parisa loves getting out to the theatre or into the woods.