Our Minister and Staff
Rev. Ellen Quaadgras
Rev. Ellen is preacher, pastor, music lover and champion of inclusion. Raised all over the world, she’s straddled widely different ways of understanding life, and does not shy away from apparently irreconcilable viewpoints. Instead, Rev. Ellen strives to honor life’s complexity, bringing compassion for the human condition and gentle humor to our inevitable foibles.
In worship, she invites us to go deep and go wide, sometimes offering what you might call “Spiritual Yoga” (a good stretch), others times creating a feeling of sanctuary for when life just feels too hard. Either way, she brings humility, preaching from a place of being on the path together, with all the struggles this entails.
Rev. Ellen graduated with honors from Andover Newton Theological School in 2012, winning the Gabriel Fackre Award for Excellence in Constructive Theology, the James Luther Adams Award for Excellence in the Study of Liberal Theology, and inducted into the Jonathon Edwards honor society in 2011. She earned an undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University and spent the 20 years leading up to ministry working in technology and healthcare.
Today, Rev. Ellen lives in North Kingstown, happy to be near the water and the beauty of Rhode Island’s natural treasures. She plays guitar and drums and will sometimes bring these to worship. She loves to sail and has recently learned how to right a capsized boat, a handy skill for someone who loves to be on the water, not in it. And she has recently learned to garden, finding great joy (and excellent tomatoes) are possible with just a few small seeds and lots of water, care and patience.
If you’d like to reach Rev. Ellen, you can contact her by email at email@example.com or by calling 401-884-5933.
Marisa Albini – Office Administrator
Marisa joined Westminster as the Office Administrator in November 2019. She is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a Master of Arts in Adult Education. Marisa has worked in the Institutional Advancement area of higher education as a Director of Alumni Affairs and as an Annual Fund Major Gift Officer. She has extensive experience in events, fundraising, and working with non-profit boards. To contact Marisa Albini, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessica Hess – Director of Religious Education
Jessica M. Hess joined Westminster in 2021 as the remote Director of Religious Education. She grew up in a small town in PA and loved walking out her backdoor to the church next door for Sunday School and Wednesday night choir. Jessica has three grown children and it was for them she sought a welcoming faith community. A friend suggested Unitarian Universalism in 2003.
The call to the ministry of religious education came when a beloved friend and fellow UU passed away. She took this as a sign to do what spoke to her heart. Jess enrolled in a UUA course that spring and so began the journey. Since that first 15 hour course she has gone on to complete over 200 hours of training as a professional religious educator. 2021-2022 begins her seventh year in the work. She lives in a small town in Pennsylvania with her husband and large houseplant collection. You can reach Jessica at email@example.com.
Beth Gibson – Assistant Director of Religious Education
Beth Gibson joined Westminster as the Religious Education Coordinator in May 2018. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Art History from Providence College and a Master’s degree in Education/Museum Studies from Tufts University. She brings creativity, a sense of fun and many years of experience in informal educational programming to her position at Westminster.
Beth and her family live in East Greenwich and when she’s not transporting her two children to every activity under the sun, she enjoys running, gardening and dragging her family to museums and historic sites in every city they visit. To contact Beth, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Nonetta Shatakhtsian – Music Director
Nonetta has been at Westminster since 2005. An exceptional pianist, she plays at all our services, as well as providing direction to our adult choir. In addition, Nonetta is on the faculties of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra Music School, the Our Lady of Mercy School in East Greenwich, RI, and the St. Peter School in Warwick, RI. Her credentials include a B.A. in Music from Romanos Melikyan College of Music, an M.A. from Armenian State Conservatory (where she became a Professor of Piano Performance). She is a member of the Rhode Island Music Educators Association and MENC, The National Association for Music Education.