Director of Religious Exploration for Children and Youth
Betsy Lowry, Ed.D.
Betsy joined WSUU as the Director of Religious Exploration in January 2013, having recently moved from the Washington DC area. She is passionately committed to working with children, youth and adults, and she brings a depth of experience from a variety of educational contexts. She started her career working with children with disabilities in camp settings; as a music director; and as a special education teacher in public schools. As a facilitator for the school reform program “Success for All,” Betsy provided leadership consultation and professional development to challenged schools in urban and rural settings across the country in the early 1990’s. After another public school experience teaching eighth grade English, Betsy joined the Center for Technology in Education at Johns Hopkins University, where she remained for fourteen years, becoming the Associate Director and earning a doctoral degree in education. There she built and collaborated with strong and dedicated teams of educators and researchers to develop, evaluate and disseminate programs incorporating assistive, instructional and leadership technologies. From this experience she also brings a skill set in nonprofit organizational management, grant writing, and moving products from inception to the marketplace. While at Hopkins, Betsy served the School of Education as an Assistant Professor, Director of Online Learning and Distance Education, and Assistant Dean.
In Alexandria, Virginia, Betsy was actively involved in the Religious Education program at her UU church, as a teacher, consultant, musician and chair of the Religious Education Council. Most recently here at Westside, before being appointed RE Director, she was co-chair of our Children/Youth Religious Exploration Council, and she enjoys contributing to the rich, multigenerational music program.
Bertram comes to us with an extensive background in choral conducting and voice coaching. Bert earned a Bachelor of Music from Pacific Lutheran University and a Master of Music from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has been a private studio voice instructor since 1984 and is a self-described “voice geek.” He formed Seattle Glee Clubs, a non-profit choral and musical theater organization for amateurs in 1993 and served as choral conductor for the Seattle Women’s Glee Club, the West Seattle Glee Club, The Olio Players theatrical troupe and the Offbeat Vocal Jazz Ensemble.
As Westside’s Music Director/Choral Conductor, Bert leads the WSUU rhythm section and conducts The Chorale, The Chalice Singers, the Celebration Singers and the Summer Choir. He has also been the Conductor/Artistic Director for Westside UU’s resident ensemble, Earthrise Chamber Choir, since the fall of 2011.
An experienced performer, Bert has an extensive choral and jazz ensemble background, and has presented numerous recitals of art song, standards, and show tunes. He enjoys a broad range of experience with music genres: classical, opera, jazz, sacred, blues, pop, musical theater, rock, gospel, rhythm and blues, and folk music. He held the position of bass section leader for the Seattle Jewish Chorale from 2010 – 2013.
Kevin is our Intern Minister for the Church year August 2014 – June 2015. He recently completed his seminary training, receiving a Masters of Divinity from Marylhurst University, Lake Oswego, Oregon. He is a long time member of First Unitarian Church, Portland, Oregon, where he has previously served on the Board of Trustees, many leadership positions, and participation with Choir and Handbells.
Theologically, Kevin continues on a journey of spiritual discovery, with early years of teaching and training from a Southern and American Baptist perspective. He was baptized at age 8, First Baptist Church, Phoenix, Arizona. His junior high and high school years saw active participation with the First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Phoenix. He found Unitarian Universalism in the mid 1980’s while attending Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. The discovery of UUism afforded a significant new pathway in his journey - A religious tradition that welcomed the whole person, and did not expect he, nor any individual to hide nor hold themselves in a closet of shame and sadness.
Kevin expects to develop his sermons from a foundation of the above journey, and his love of all the world’s religions and spiritual connections with our natural world. He holds a personal relationship with and appreciation for Jesus, as a rabbi and teacher, not however a deity. He additionally draws from his recent seminary classes, Unitarian Universalist forbearers, and many contemporary poets, authors, songwriters, and occasionally reaches into the pantheon of Saints. He has a long standing affinity for St. Francis and his deep understanding of our interconnection to nature and our relationship with all living plants and animals on this our Big Blue Marble – Earth. Kevin adopted the expression Namaste, several years ago as personal mantra – “The light in me honors, accepts and sees the light in you.” This he holds as hope for peace and justice in the world we are all creating together.
Kevin brings a professional background of service, from Retail Management, Real Estate and Property Management, along with Restaurant and Catering Work. He enjoys being with others in community and is looking forward to learning and growing from engagement and interaction with the active and vibrant community here at Westside.
Kevin married his long-time life partner Gary in June, once marriage equality was made available in Oregon. He and Gary have been together since 1991. A love affair that began from a fateful personal voice ad placed in Portland, which Gary answered long distance from Pendleton. Together they enjoy time at the beach, travel to Phoenix and Tennessee where Kevin’s family members live, in addition to keeping up with Gary’s family and their friends in Pendleton, and Yes, annual pilgrimage to the “Round Up” as often as schedules permit.
Kevin is excited to join the community of Westside UU Congregation for the coming year. Meeting and hearing the life journeys of the individuals who make up the congregation, learning what it is about Westside that makes the community so active, vibrant and growing. Kevin is grateful and appreciative for the congregations call to be their first full time intern, and feels blessed to call West Seattle home for the coming year. He looks forward to exploring the neighborhoods, parks, beaches, ferries, islands and restaurants. A year filed with excitement, learning and opportunities to grow into UU Ministry.
Shannon began this position in fall 2013. Previously she served as our Associate Director of Religious Exploration for Children and Youth. As our Administrator, she does many tasks, including producing our orders of service, brochures, and eNews; she managing the messages coming into our office, keeping the congregational/building calendar, and updating our membership database and directories.
Renee joined the Westside Staff in October of 2014. She lives in the Seattle area with her children.
Nursery Care Teacher
Julie Vance is our Infant/Toddler Teacher. She has been working with Westside Congregation since 2005. Julie has a beautiful gift for connecting with our youngest ones; helping them feel safe and cared for so their parents can attend the service. She has a partner, Michael and a son, Dexter. Julie worked at Community School of West Seattle for five years. Julie sees working with children is such a gift—always renewing and inspiring her.