Rev. Alex Holt
Rev. Alex Holt has been interim minister of Westside UU Congregation since August of 2016. He was interim minister at Westside UU Church in Ft. Worth, TX between August 2014 and this year. He is originally from Maine and has been a Unitarian Universalist minister since 1993. He has served interim, consulting and settled positions in places like Oregon, Washington, Illinois, South Carolina and now Texas. He is now a fully Accredited Interim Minister and is on the steering committee of the UUA Interim Ministers Guild. His life partner Debra lives in Eugene, Oregon and is a Buddhist chaplain at the main hospital there.
He is also a long-time Buddhist student in the Zen tradition as well as working with Buddhist teachers in the Vipassana insight meditation tradition. He is a recovering alcoholic of 13+ years and was one of the founders of the UUA Addictions Ministry. He speaks on addiction and recovery several times a year. He is ecstatic to be back home in the Pacific Northwest for a year and lives in West Seattle with his two cats.
Director of Religious Exploration for Children and Youth
Cynthia Westby comes to us with a rich and diverse background that includes curriculum development, program administration, mindfulness coaching, and teaching children and adults in a variety of settings. Cynthia is an active member of the Seattle Storyteller's Guild has been involved with Shoreline UU where she shared her storytelling gifts with the congregation. She also has studied and taught animal tracking and wildlife stewardship and she has a Master's degree in Theology and the Arts.
She brings a focus on healthy communication and the importance of listening to people of all ages, as well as strong administrative and program management skills. But we are most struck by Cynthia's passion for sparking inquiry and awareness in children: in the interview process she shared that igniting children's passion for religious exploration and awakening their curiosity for what is meaningful for them would be deeply rewarding and in service to her calling.
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.
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.