Welcome to UUAA from our wonderful staff!

Please note that staff changes took place during the summer of 2021. Follow this link to see the Sept 2021 organization chart.

[staff photos by Mike Halerz]



ManishHS350Reverend Manish Mishra-Marzetti, Senior Minister
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In August of 2018, our congregation joyfully welcomed Reverend Manish Mishra-Marzetti as the thirteenth Senior Minister since our community's founding in 1865.

Reverend Manish is a lifelong learner, scholar, author and a UU leader committed to community involvement and outspoken public ministry. His recent books include Conversations with the Sacred: A Collection of Prayers (2020), co-edited with Jennifer Kelleher, and Justice on Earth: People of Faith Working at the Intersections of Race, Class, and the Environment (2018), co-edited with Jennifer Nordstrom.

His warm and engaging preaching style appeals to both heart and head. He is a deeply thoughtful person with a multi-cultural background, drawing inspiration from a diverse range of literary, ethical, and spiritual sources, including Unitarian Universalism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Humanism, Christianity and Lakota spirituality.

Reverend Manish has previously served as the Senior Minister of congregations in Florida, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. He has also served extensively in Unitarian Universalist national leadership, including as president of the Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM, our national UU people of color organization), and most recently as a trustee on the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Board of Trustees.

Prior to entering the ministry, Reverend Manish served as a U.S. diplomat during the Clinton administration.

You can follow this link to read more information about Rev. Manish Mishra-Marzetti


Cassandra Hartley square 300px for web

Reverend Cassandra Hartley, Executive Minister
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Reverend Cassandra Hartley graduated with her M.Div. from Detroit Ecumenical Theological Seminary and was ordained into Unitarian Universalist ministry by the Farmington UU Church. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications & Journalism from the University of Utah, and had a career working in development and public relations for non-profits before entering into the ministry. She is passionate about lifelong faith formation, administration, climate justice, parenting her three young children, and keeping up with her small farm full of animals. 

Reverend Cassi has been a member of UUAA since 2013 and previously served as the Assistant Minister for Spiritual Growth & Development. Now as Executive Minister, she is our Head of Operations and oversees the alignment of all of our programming with the congregation's Vision.

Ed Lynn

Ed Lynn, Interim Administrator
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A long time UUAA member, Ed Lynn currently serves as our Interim Administrator during our time of transition. He brings UUAA his seasoned business skills from his career at Ford Motor Company. Ed oversees our finances and building management.

Hannah350Hannah Hotchkiss, Coordinator of Welcome Ministries and Membership
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Hannah has a B.A. in German from the University of Connecticut, studied abroad for a number of years, and eventually received an M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) from Eastern Michigan University. She taught ESL to adults for over 10 years so she is no stranger to assisting people in adapting to new surroundings.

Hannah discovered her affinity for Unitarian Universalism when she was introduced to the UUAA in 2002. Five years later, she was thrilled to join the staff. Hannah's responsibilities include managing ushers and greeters, running new member orientations and classes, and membership outreach activities.



StellaAndersonStella Anderson, Acting Director of Spiritual Growth & Development
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After many years of volunteering in the Spiritual Growth & Development (SGD) program, as a committee member, Coming of Age mentor and teacher, Stella joined the UUAA staff as Acting Director of SGD in July, 2021. Her experience as an educator, theatre practitioner, and administrator serve her well in the position and she is honored to be a part of the UUAA team.

Stella earned a B.A. in history from the University of Michigan followed by a Master of Fine Arts in Dramaturgy from the Moscow Art Theatre School/the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard University. Following a marketing stint at a local theatre, Stella spent three years as an actor and coordinator of a touring educational theatre group at the University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching(CRLT), focusing on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. More recently, Stella earned a Master of Secondary Education from the University of Michigan. She spent three years teaching high school social studies and theatre arts before deciding to take time off to stay at home with her three children. Born and raised in Southeast Michigan, Stella was an active member of the Birmingham Unitarian Church as a youth and happily found her faith community at the UUAA in 2005. 

Don HackneyDon Hackney, Building and Grounds Manager
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Don comes to us from Zingerman’s, where he was Maintenance Manager at the Roadhouse for six years, and a baker for five years at the Bakehouse before that. Prior to Zingerman’s, he worked for many years in the dry walling business, carpet installation, and other trades. Don is also an avid fisherman.

Allison Halerz square 300px for webAllison Halerz, Pianist-In-Residence
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Allison Halerz is a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Music with a degree in Performing Arts Technology. As a previous member of the UMS Choral Union, she participated in the Grammy Award-winning recording of William Bolcom's Songs of Innocence and of Experience in April 2004 under the direction of Leonard Slatkin.

Allison has been attending UUAA since 2003 and became a member in 2007. She was drawn to the congregation partly because of its already excellent music program, and quickly became an active participant both as a member of the Chalice Singers and as a substitute pianist. She became the UUAA’s Pianist-in-Residence in 2007 and is excited to be a part of the continued musical experiences and growth of this congregation.





W. Carter Smith, Acting Director of Music Ministries
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Carter Smith is a conductor and performer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana who joined the UUAA community in August of 2021. In addition to his UUAA position, he is in the final stages of completing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Michigan State University.

Prior to moving to Ann Arbor, Carter enjoyed a variety of professional opportunities including as a Graduate Assistant at Michigan State, Choir Director at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in East Lansing, Director of Choral Activities for the Episcopal School of Baton Rouge, Chorus Master for Opéra Louisiane, and Director of Music for University United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge.

Carter holds a Bachelor of Music (Vocal Performance) from Louisiana State University, where he studied with Dr. Lori Bade and Prof. Dennis Jesse and a Master of Music (Conducting) from LSU, where he studied with Dr. Kenneth Fulton and Maestro Carlos Riazuelo. Outside of music, Carter is an avid college football and baseball fan. He and his fiancée love cooking, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.


BaileyWhiteman300Bailey Whiteman, Interim Music Consultant
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Bailey joined UUAA in September, 2021, for the 2021 - 2022 congregational year as our interim music consultant.Previously, she was the director of music at the Washington Ethical Society (DC), a dually affiliated, UU-adjacent Ethical Culture society. She holds a BMus (Vocal Performance, Boston University) and an MMus (Vocal Performance, New England Conservatory), as well as UUA Music Leader certification. Bailey is a member of the Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries (AUUMM), where she serves on the nominating committee, and is also a supporting member of the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA). Other professional development includes three UUA Renaissance Modules, the Transforming Hearts Collective’s Trans Inclusion in Congregations training, Beloved Conversations, Jubilee II and III, and Wellspring™.

Bailey and her family (husband Doug and two children, Jonathan Peter and Mila) have been active Unitarian Universalists since 2002, starting at All Souls Church Unitarian (DC), and now at River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation (Bethesda, MD). A certified OWL (Our Whole Lives) sexuality education facilitator for grades K - 1, 4 - 6, 7 - 9, and 10 - 12, Bailey loves helping children and youth integrate their understanding of human sexuality and relationships with what it means to be faithful Unitarian Universalists. Beyond her calling to serve Unitarian Universalism, Bailey enjoys homeschooling with her younger child, dancing, and reading middle grades fiction.

Rev. Amber BelandReverend Amber Beland, Organizational Consultant
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Reverend Amber Beland is a doctoral student at William James College, in the field of leadership psychology. She served UUAA as an intern-practitioner during the 2020-2021 congregational  year and in 2021-2022 will serve as an Organizational Consultant Intern working with the Board of Trustees. 

She is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist and an ordained minister in our tradition, having served our congregations in Annapolis, MD and the Church of the Larger Fellowship.  

She has a passion for research and history.  With a background in both ministry and anthropology, Reverend Amber enjoys learning about people and what makes them who they are.  Over the course of her year-long field placement with us, she will be meeting with select congregational groups and individuals to learn more about UUAA, as a congregational ‘system’ and community.   Reverend Amber lives in New Hampshire with her husband, three stepsons, and many, many pets.


Erin DixonErin Dixon, Lead Preschool Teacher
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Erin has has been with the UUAA youth programs since 2006. She focuses on providing a safe, secure, nurturing and welcoming environment for children and families of preschoolers ages 3-4.  She has worked with children and families for over 25 years and has an Advanced Child Development Associate Degree (ACDA), and an associates degree in Early Childhood Education from Washtenaw Community College. Her certifications include: Music Together and HighScope. She also serves on a therapy dog and handler team with Therapaws. Erin is married to Ken Dixon and has two grown children, Jill who lives in Delaware and Kenny who lives in Tulsa, OK.


Hanh Bui, Childcare Coordinator
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Rev. Ken PhiferReverend Kenneth W. Phifer, Minister Emeritus

Reverend Doctor Kenneth W. Phifer was the senior minister of our congregation from 1980 - 2005. His thought-provoking sermons, caring leadership, vibrant sense of humor, and dedicated community involvement provided our congregation with much inspiration for 25 years. Reverend Ken continues to teach classes and preach in area churches. He is a founder of the Interfaith Roundtable, and has worked on issues relating to peace, aid in dying, and LGBTQ concerns. A graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago Divinity School, he is the author of two books: Hold On: Getting Through Tough Times and Becoming at Home in the World.


Rev. Gail GeisenhainerReverend Gail R. Geisenhainer, Minister Emerita

Rev. Gail served from August, 2008 to August, 2016 as UUAA's 12th called senior minister and first female to fill that position. Rev. Gail was a huge advocate of social justice, bringing the Black Lives Matter movement to our congregation and offering inspiring sermons on a wide range of social justice topics. In March, 2014, before the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the right to gay marriage, there was a brief window of time when gay marriage was legal in Michigan. Rev. Gail went to City Hall and performed 10 joyful marriage ceremonies in one day. Under her leadership, our congregation became the first UUA congregation to be certified under the Equal Access- Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry (AIM) program. In 2016 when she announced her retirement, the congregation created the Geisenhainer Music Fund in her honor and also dedicated a new concert level Steinway grand piano as an ongoing legacy of her devotion to music programming.

She is known among UUs nationally for her rousing 2006 UUA General Assembly Sunday Sermon and is a contributor to the 5th edition of the The Unitarian Universalist Pocket Guide (Skinner House Books, 2012). After retiring from UUAA, Gail and her partner Celeste retired to their home state of Maine