Executive Committee Members
Steven Hirsch, President
I have held positions as a product development leader within the financial services industry for more than four decades. I currently work for Charles Schwab and manage a team developing technology-based solutions for our institutional clients and the front-line professionals serving them. I joined MDUUC in 2010 – along with my wife Marianna Laurence – and have chaired the church Stewardship Committee, served as Youth Advisor in the Coming of Age and YRUU programs and sing in the choir. I have a BA from Oberlin College and enjoy literature, the performing arts, solving puzzles and working out.
Linda Russell, Vice President
When I arrived in 2008, I was attracted to many things at MDUUC – fed by the message in the pulpit, reading the UU principles, the presence of people of color, including the minister, and those from different faiths, in one place, forming community. I have witnessed courage at the border and in the streets, conviction, celebrations of life and respect for the many ways we love ourselves and others. On my UU spiritual journey, serving this community, this whole community, has been very important to me: Worship Associate and Chair, summer sermons, Winter Nights, Beloved Conversations Retreat Leader and MDUUC facilitator, Chair of the Beloved Commitments Task Force, Restorative Practices -Conversations on Death, and semi-annual co-host to a Halloween fundraiser (!) As a member of your Board, my commitment continues – to highlight the multiple perspectives that make us UUs.
Chris Carter, Treasurer
My husband Peter and I have been UUs since joining a Sacramento congregation in 1991. We joined MDUUC in 2015 after moving back to the Bay Area. I most value the strong community at MDUUC, which helps me to grow, allows me to recover from my mistakes, and generally guides me to being my best self. I recently retired from a deeply satisfying career with the University of California, where I last directed the systemwide financial aid program. Retirement has brought many opportunities, including dedicating more time to MDUUC, our two-year-old grandson, and being outdoors hiking and camping.
Ron Ahnen, Secretary
I have been a member of MDUUC since 2006. I taught for eight years in the religious education program from tiny tots through eighth grade. I have also served on the racial justice committee. During the day I teach in the Politics and Global Studies Programs at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga where I offer courses on international relations, politics of other countries, just war theory, and politics of incarceration. My life partner, Angela Canestraro, and I have three children with whom we enjoy traveling and outdoor activities.
In October 2013 I happily joined MDUUC. I have served on the membership committee, the Coffee Committee, Co-chaired the Kitchen Committee and helped organize the Fellowship Dinner. I directed early childhood programs for thirty years, serving on the Board of Directors for two non-profit preschools in the East Bay. My husband Pete and I live in Lafayette with two grey cats. Our son Paul and his family live in Fremont. Our granddaughters light up our life.
MDUUC has been part of my life for nearly ten years. I’ve actively participated in the Membership Committee and coordinated Winter Nights breakfasts. Our services rejuvenate me. I am committed to our Make It So 2020 goals and am encouraged by the possibilities of Beloved Commitments. I live nearby with my wife and teenage daughter who is an enthusiastic member of YRUU. I work as a Business Systems Analyst and like to play with yarn and thread, hike, watch birds, garden, read, and recently I’ve taken up tennis.
I am a Northern California native and MDUUC member since 2007. It’s the fellowship of our open and welcoming community that draws me to MDUUC. Services are great; I like focusing on the betterment of life today. I’ve developed many friendships in various community circles and volunteered with ushering, coffee service, greeting, fund-raising events. A graduate of Cal Poly SLO (Business/ Computer MIS), I started my career as a computer developer and analyst, and over the years, found myself in IT leadership positions. Currently retired, my hobbies include old cars, home projects, camping and traveling.
Michelle Paquette has worked in fields from nuclear power plant operations to software engineering, as an engineer and trainer. She is currently engaged in teaching and public speaking on both technical topics and social issues, particularly on topics related to gender and rights as a Voices for Trans Equality network speaker and a GLAAD Media Institute Alumnus. Michelle was drawn to the Unitarian Universalist faith by its non-credal and love-centered nature. She has been active with Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church as a friend and member for four years, working on several committees, most recently as a Worship Associate. Besides serving on the Board at MDUUC, Michelle also serves on the Rainbow Community Center board.
Davina Smith joined MDUUC in 2018 and is active in the young adults group and the RE program. She has lived in the Bay Area since 1997 and has a degree in Chemical Engineering from UC Berkeley.
I grew up in the Bay Area and became a member of MDUUC in 2018. I am an active member of the Young Adult Group and have sung with the House Band. On workdays, I am a Montessori teacher for grades 1-3 at the school I attended as a child. I enjoy reading books, singing songs in my car, and snuggling my beloved cat, Sheba.