Elizabeth Plummer
Elizabeth Plummer

Director of Operations (she/her)
eplummer@unitytemple.org ::  x100
Office Hours:
Mon-Fri, 9-5pm

Elizabeth Plummer is responsible for day-to-day operations of the congregation and its properties. As a part of the Executive Team, Elizabeth manages and oversees UTUUC’s finances, human resources, giving campaigns, marketing and communications, building management, organizational partnerships, public and private events, and volunteer initiatives.

For more than 25 years, Elizabeth has worked for a diverse cross-section of nonprofits throughout the Chicagoland area: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Chicago Foundation for Women, The American Veterinary Medical Foundation, The Institute of Food Technologists, and the Suburban Area Agency on Aging. Elizabeth received her B.A. degree from Northern Illinois University.

Tina Lewis
Tina Lewis

Director of Membership and Engagement (she/her)
tlewis@unitytemple.org ::  x102

Tina serves as the full-time Director of Membership & Engagement and has been in this position since 2010. She is honored to work with a congregation dedicated to welcoming all and caring for one another. In addition to serving on the Executive Team, she and her support teams develop clear pathways for both newcomers and long-term members and friends to deepen their connections and sense of belonging at UTUUC. Over the past 8 years, Tina has also served in various leadership roles within the Unitarian Universalist Association of Membership Professionals. She is available to meet with anyone who would like to get involved with our community, or who simply have questions.

Martha Swisher
Martha Swisher

Music Director (she/her)
mswisher@unitytemple.org :: x109

Conductor, voice teacher, and artistic instigator Marty Swisher believes music is a near miracle of communication between performers and audience and that nothing is quite so magical as the collective voice of a dedicated, unified chorus.

Serving as Music Director, Marty has developed a full program at Unity Temple which includes The Unity Temple Choir, a 50-voice mixed ensemble; The Unity Temple Singers, 12-voice a cappella ensemble; Women Inspired by Song Ensemble; Chalice Singers Children’s Choir; The Unity Temple Vocal Music Scholarship Competition; a biennial Unity Temple Schubert Festival; and the Unity Temple Bell Choir. She also provides support for the Spring Music Festival, The Unity Temple Players (house band) and hosts guest performances and in-house choir parties!

She previously served as principal conductor and music director of Chicago Children’s Choir, Jubilate Children’s Chorus, the DePaul University Community Chorus, the Northwestern University Women’s Chorus, and Les Petit Chanteurs in Leogane, Haiti. She has taught on the faculties of DePaul and Loyola Universities and the College of DuPage. She completed her Master of Conducting degree at Northwestern University, graduating in 2006.

Marty is a sought-after clinician who has led workshops in conducting, score preparation, choral warm-up, and interpretation for many choral groups in the Chicago area, as well as the American Choral Directors Association, National Association of Teachers of Singing, and Association of Unitarian Universalist Music ministries. She has conducted, prepared choirs, and/or performed in 23 productions of the Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company of Chicago.

Dedicated to the presence of Unity Temple’s musical contributions to the wider community, Marty performs and supports the annual Twelfth Night area congregation choir performances, the Community of Congregation’s Thanksgiving Interfaith Services, and is a member of the Oak Park Area Arts Alliance.

Colleen Vahey
Colleen Vahey

Faith in Action Coordinator (she/her)
cvahey@unitytemple.org
Office Hours:
Wednesdays, and by appointment

Rev. Colleen Vahey joined our core staff team in 2015. As our part-time Faith in Action Coordinator, she coordinates the work of our congregation’s eight Faith in Action teams and our Sunday collections program. Colleen has helped build and strengthen our Faith in Action Network with a clear vision to be spiritually grounded, deeply relational, and strategically effective. Her favorite part of this ministry is equipping people to act for justice and liberation. In addition to her work with our congregation, Colleen also serves as the Minister of Third Unitarian Church in Chicago’s Austin community. Colleen brings a wealth of experience having previously served as a hospital chaplain, religious educator, and college lecturer. Colleen enjoys time with her family, kayaking, and hiking.

Tracy Zurawski
Tracy Zurawski

Office & Finance Manager (she/her)
tzurawski@unitytemple.org ::  x104
Office Hours:
Mon-Thurs, 8:30-3pm

Tracy is responsible for accounting functions such as monthly financial statement preparation and semi-monthly payroll. Tracy has worked in the accounting field for 29 years. Prior to Unity Temple, she worked in accounting for other non-profit organizations such as the Adler Planetarium, Jane Addams Hull House, and Chicago Commons. She has a B.S. in accounting from Indiana University. Away from work, Tracy enjoys hanging out with friends and family, hiking, biking, traveling, and gardening.

Ron Elling
Ron Elling

Database and Finance Assistant (he/him)
relling@unitytemple.org :: x106
Office Hours: 
Mon-Fri, 8-noon

Ron has resided in Oak Park with his wife, Christine, since 1992. When not serving as our part-time Database and Finance Assistant, he volunteers with groups and organizations dedicated to curbing substance and alcohol abuse. He enjoys gardening, photography, managing Facebook groups, cooking, traveling and hiking with Christine, and reading non-fiction, particularly cosmology, physics, mathematics.

Ron began his professional career with the Chicago Department on Aging and Disability in 1978. He became the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Chicago Coalition on Aging (which became the Illinois Alliance for Aging) in 1987. In 1995 he moved to the University of Chicago’s Social Science Research Computing center as Assistant Director and then moved to Triton College in 2000, eventually becoming their Director of Desktop Computing. His final full-time position was as Operations Manager for the Audio Arts and Acoustics Department at Columbia College Chicago which he occupied from 2008-2017. He has many years of experience with financial management, databases, mass communication and event planning functions.

Jeanne Calabrese
Jeanne Calabrese

Communications Coordinator (she/her)
jcalabrese@unitytemple.org :: x105
Office Hours:
Mon 10-1pm
Wed 9-1pm
Thurs 9-5pm
Fri 9-11am

eBeacon Deadline:
Wed at Noon

Jeanne has many years of experience working as a visual communicator within educational, scholarly, trade, and not-for-profit publishing markets. She has her own studio where she creates award-winning designs in a wide range of formats. Her most recent focus in addition to design has been in sustainable agriculture. She has been cultivating her knowledge of local food systems and growing practices to gain a better understanding of how to impact positive change within this system. She is an urban orchardist, avid gardener, and master food preservationist.

Peter Storms
Peter Engel Storms

Organist/Pianist (he/him)

Peter joined the Unity Temple family in September 2009. A multi-instrumentalist and singer, he began studying piano at the age of 5. Peter earned a BA in English and Anthropology from Illinois Wesleyan University, where he performed in various musical ensembles and accompanied many classes, lessons, and recitals. He relocated to Chicago after university and established himself as a music director and sound designer, working with many equity and non-equity Chicago theaters and earning a Joseph Jefferson Equity Citation for Outstanding Sound Design. He has also built a reputation as a detailed transcriptionist, a skilled orchestrator and arranger, and a sensitive accompanist and interpreter of many musical styles. He creates music for performing artists and ensembles across the country and has toured with Irish tenor Michael Londra and conducted the orchestra on Michael’s Emmy-nominated PBS special, Beyond Celtic. Outside of music, Peter works as a System Analyst for a non-profit nursing organization and advocates for justice alongside his wife Juliana, whom he met at Unity Temple.

Val Ridenour
Val Ridenour

Religious Education Assistant (she/her)
vridenour@unitytemple.org :: x115

Val provides administrative and hands-on support for all areas of lifespan religious education programming at Unity Temple. Val brings strong organizational skills gained through her experience in management, as well as in caring for children as a nanny and a volunteer. As a volunteer, Val teaches OWL and has been a member of the Religious Education Committee since 2017. Prior to joining the staff at Unity Temple, Val worked as a nanny for a number of families. Before that, Val was the Bakery Team Leader for Whole Foods Market, and Bakery Coordinator for Giant Eagle. Val and her husband Joshua have been members of Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2011. They live in Oak Park with their two children. Outside of work, Val enjoys baking and spending time with her family.

Justine Urbikas
Justine Urbikas

Youth Coordinator (she/her)
youth@unitytemple.org

Justine coordinates the Youth Group activities for Unity Temple’s 10th-12th graders. She served as a volunteer Youth Advisor from 2013-2019 before joining the staff in 2019. As a life-long Unitarian Universalist, she knows first-hand the impact that youth ministry can have on a young person’s formative years. Justine has served in various UU volunteer and staff positions including the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees (2007-2011) and as student services staff at Meadville Lombard Theological School (2009-2014). Justine is a Chicago native and has a B.A. from DePaul University. She has worked in non-profit management and currently works in the food industry. She lives in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago and enjoys cooking, healthy eating, and gardening.

Peter Storms
Jim Parks

Video Producer/Editor (he/him)

Jim has worked in broadcast and corporate television since 1984 and is gratified to bring his skills and years of experience to help nurture connection through our media ministry. He is responsible for the production and editing of our worship services and other congregational videos, as well as weekly podcasts of the sermons.

Jim and his wife Mary joined the congregation in 1989 and live in Elmhurst. Jim is an organizer of and performer in our annual Spring Music Festival, part of our house band The Unity Temple Players, manager of our Sound Team, audio-visual consultant and calligrapher of 4th grade Chalice Ceremony rocks, among other roles. He relishes photography, music, humor, the infinite wonder of nature and is curious about most everything.

Joan Cinquegrani
Joan Cinquegrani

Freelance Rental Manager (she/her)
rentals@unitytemple.org

Armed with the experience she gained working in non-profit events for several years, Joan Cinquegrani established Five Grain Events (which is derived from her married last name: in Italian, “cinque” means five and “grani” means grains) in early 2010. Since then, Joan has worked hard to build a reputation for Five Grain Events by successfully executing nearly 300 events. Five Grain Events clients have ranged from brides and grooms looking for help with their wedding days, to corporate conferences, street festivals, and contracted venue management relationships for well-respected venues in the Chicagoland area. The Five Grain mission is to support clients during the planning process by creating open lines of communication and providing a wealth of resources to ensure success. Though raised in Oak Park, Joan now lives in the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago with her husband and four children.