Rev. Gretchen Haley

Senior Minister
gretchen@foothillsuu.org
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Rev. Sean Neil-Barron

Associate Minister
sean@foothillsuu.org
Pronouns: he/him/his

Rev. Elaine Aron-Tenbrink

Assistant Minister
elaine@foothillsuu.org
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Katie Watkins

Director of Finance & Operations
katie@foothillsuu.org
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Eleanor VanDeusen

Director of Family Ministry
eleanor@foothillsuu.org
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Benjamin Hanson

Director of Music
benjamin@foothillsuu.org
Pronouns: he/him/his

Lauren Farley

Engagement & Family Ministry Manager
lauren@foothillsuu.org
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Jenn Powell

Events & Operations Manager
jenn@foothillsuu.org
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Kelsey DiAstra

Creative & Communications Manager
kelsey@foothillsuu.org
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Jenna Keim

Administrative Coordinator
jenna@foothillsuu.org
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Vanessa Way

Bookkeeper
vanessa@foothillsuu.org
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Kara Shobe

Children’s Music Leader
kara@foothillsuu.org
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Holly Ayala

Facilities Coordinator
holly@foothillsuu.org
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Rev. Gretchen Haley

Senior Minister
gretchen@foothillsuu.org

Rev. Gretchen Haley has an audacious ambition for the liberal church, believing in its capacity to transform lives and our world by way of hyper-local relationships and partnerships that inspire the unleashing of courageous love. She oversees worship, community resourcing and outreach, and the intersectional work of our justice teams. She also serves as chief of staff, and ministry lead to the Board. In all of these, she is inspired by the commitment of the countless people who show up to do the sometimes-messy work of the church, and who are leading us to live into our mission for Northern Colorado as it is growing and changing. Her ministry is infused with her relentless curiosity about most things, especially the big stuff of theology, the beauty of creation, the magic of collaboration, and the joy of pop culture. She’s all in on adrienne maree brown’s emergent strategy, and finds solace in the trails in and around Fort Collins. She moved to Colorado from Washington state over 20 years ago for grad school in theatre, and knew immediately that she would never leave. She and her amazing partner, Carri, have 2 teenagers, Gracie and Josef, who both relish and resent being PKs, and who keep her grounded, frustrated, inspired, and humbled, everyday. She is basically obsessed with her two dogs, both large mutts, Charlie and Archer.
 
 
Responsible for: Worship, Community Resourcing and Outreach, Justice Ministries, and Congregational Leadership

Rev. Sean Neil-Barron

Associate Minister
sean@foothillsuu.org

Rev. Sean dreams of a time when progressive people of faith are as equipped to impact society as our conservative siblings. That together we can proclaim and live our core conviction: that all are worthy of love & belonging and that we are all in this together. Sean was born on Treaty 7 land in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and comes to Foothills after four years in New England where he completed seminary at Harvard Divinity School where he studied alongside future imams, rabbis, justice activists, and other Unitarian Universalists. Sean is a self-proclaimed nerd — particularly about history, current politics, science, and Star Wars. Outside of ministry you will find Sean hiking or cooking up a storm with his partner Charles, and their dog Dollie.

Responsible for: Spiritual Deepening, Small Groups, Digital Ministry

Rev. Elaine Aron-Tenbrink

Assistant Minister
elaine@foothillsuu.org

Elaine believes in the transformative power of deep listening. She is passionate about creating spaces that invite us to turn toward each other to cultivate compassion, offer care, and discern the movements of the spirit.

Elaine served as First Universalist Church of Minneapolis from 2013-2019 as Minister of Membership and Adult Ministries, focusing on spiritual deepening and radical hospitality. She has served as a hospice chaplain for Allina Health in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a hospital chaplain in Charleston, South Carolina. Prior to entering the ministry, she served in the Peace Corps in Cape Verde, West Africa, and led the social justice and legislative advocacy program of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. Elaine is a graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School and Grinnell College.

Elaine grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City in an interreligious household. Her mother was raised Methodist on a farm in Kansas. Her Jewish father was born in Israel and moved to the United States when he was thirteen. As a teenager, she discovered that the wide embrace of Unitarian Universalism was a natural fit.

Spending time with her husband, Jason, and their two children brings Elaine great joy. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, the magic of trying a new recipe, any excuse to dance, and the board game Settlers of Catan.

Responsible for: Pastoral Care

Katie Watkins

Director of Finance & Operations
katie@foothillsuu.org

Katie believes the best things in life are the result of collaboration and diverse perspectives coming together to produce something greater than any individual could. She is passionate about systems, efficiency and collaboration for better community outcomes. She loves dreaming up the big picture and drafting the roadmap to make it happen. She has a background in operations, fundraising, communications and program development, as well as over a decade of nonprofit management experience in Northern Colorado.

Her greatest joy in life comes from her family. Her husband, Steven, a principal at Wellington Middle School, and daughters Emmaline and Esmae are the lights of her life. Together they love mountains, music and all kinds of food. She is passionate about women supporting other women in all stages of life and especially through the critical moments that make or break us. She believes that one of the most important things in life is to be kind.

Being outdoors makes her soul come alive. It always roots her in gratitude and is one of the reasons she loves living in Fort Collins.

Eleanor VanDeusen

Director of Family Ministry
eleanor@foothillsuu.org

Eleanor is a Colorado native who grew up in a lay-led Unitarian Universalist congregation in western Colorado. Her Colorado childhood and her background in the performing arts have influenced her love of nature and the sacred human experience. She completed the Religious Education Credentialing Program of the UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association) in 2013 and is an active member of LREDA (The Liberal Religious Educators Association.)

As Director of Family Ministry, Eleanor is passionate about helping families connect at Foothills to experience mystery and awe, find community and purpose and manifest courageous love in their lives and in the world. 

Responsible for: Family Ministry which includes children, youth, parents and families as well as our Comprehensive Sexuality Education programs.

Benjamin Hanson

Music Director
benjamin@foothillsuu.org

Benjamin is a conductor and baritone with a background in church music leadership and vocal pedagogy. He holds a master’s degree in Choral Music from the University of Illinois, where he conducted many of the University’s choral ensembles and studied conducting, music history, and voice science. During his studies he also directed the choirs at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign. Before moving to Illinois, Benjamin served for several years as the Music Director at All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara, CA.

In addition to his experience leading school, community, and church choirs, Benjamin performs regularly as a solo singer. He earned an undergraduate degree in Vocal Performance from the Conservatory of Music at Lawrence University, where he studied voice and vocal pedagogy. He has recently performed as a soloist in J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and in the North American premiere of Johann Hummel’s Exodus oratorio, Der Durchzug durchs Rote Meer. He has a particular love for leading congregational singing through hymnody, song, and chant.

Benjamin has a passion for using choral singing to build community and inspire action, and he looks forward to making meaningful music with the community at Foothills beginning this fall. He lives in Fort Collins with his partner Lauren and their two cats.

Lauren Farley

Engagement & Family Ministry Manager
lauren@foothillsuu.org

Lauren grew up in Maryland, DC, and Virginia, and moved to Colorado in 2014 with her husband Chris and their two children, Sylvia and Jack. She has worked as a consultant and educator in leadership and organizational development, communication, and diversity and inclusion. She loves bringing those skills together with her experience as a parent and partner to serve Unitarian Universalism and all the youth and families at Foothills. She believes in the power of our church to cast a wide circle of loving support around us as we navigate the tangled gorgeous chaos of our lives. Lauren likes to talk a lot, play word games, and dig in to great novels. She loves the Muppets. She is an ardent friend and focused parent; a gardener, yogurt maker, nature explorer, and dog lover; as passionately devoted to nurturing all those lives around her as she is to sometimes being blessedly alone. Lauren found her true home in Colorado but still feels the pull of the Atlantic Ocean, the Potomac River, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Jenn Powell

Events & Operations Manager
jenn@foothillsuu.org

Coming Soon!

Kelsey DiAstra

Creative & Communications Manager
kelsey@foothillsuu.org

Kelsey is passionate about strengthening communities through intentional communication. Kelsey holds a B.A. in Psychology from Bucknell University and completed a Semester in Journalism program at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. Before joining the team at Foothills Unitarian, Kelsey consulted on marketing and communications for local businesses and worked in wellness, social services, journalism, and research.

In addition to her role as a staff member, Kelsey serves as an Our Whole Lives facilitator for 8th and 9th graders.

Kelsey enjoys yoga, creative writing, snowboarding, paddle boarding, roller skating and camping. She lives in Fort Collins with her husband, Alec, and two beloved dogs, Emma and Winifred.

 

Jenna Keim

Administrative Coordinator
jenna@foothillsuu.org

Jenna joined Foothills in July of 2022 as a part-time administrative coordinator providing support to her fellow staff members. She is passionate about forming and maintaining relationships within the community based upon trust, support, and encouragement. She believes that kindness and compassion for others is of utmost importance and strives to provide that to all who she meets. 
 
She has a degree in interpersonal communication from Ball State University. She has a background working in private medical offices coordinating care and facilitating support for patients. 
 
She is very active with 3 Hopeful Hearts, an organization very close to her heart that provides grief support to families who have been impacted by the loss of a baby or child in Northern Colorado. 
 
Spending time outdoors (preferably surrounded by trees) with her husband and their 2 dogs is what she looks forward to most in her free time. 

Vanessa Way

Bookkeeper
vanessa@foothillsuu.org

Vanessa joined Foothills in late May 2018, she works part-time as the bookkeeper.  She lives in Loveland with her husband, three children, three dogs, and two guinea pigs. She likes to be active in the disability community and advocate for people with disabilities, like her son. She also enjoys time with her family as well as date night with her husband. She loves concerts, makeup and coffee. Vanessa enjoys working at Foothills because she appreciates how much the church gives back to the community. The connection with other non-profits and social services in the area are important to her and make me feel proud to be a part of the work done by Foothills.

Responsible for: Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Human Resources and Payroll.

Kara Shobe

Children’s Music Leader
kara@foothillsuu.org

Kara moved to Colorado in 2006 to study at Northern Colorado and Colorado State earning her Masters in Music Therapy. She works as a music therapist and music educator in the Fort Collins area. She joined Foothills in the Fall of 2017. While still new to Unitarian Universalism, the message of spreading courageous love is what resonated most with her. She enjoys furthering that message with families at Foothills through moving, playing instruments and singing. When not making music, she tries to spend time hiking, skiing, running or reading as many books as she can.

Holly Ayala

Facilities Coordinator
holly@foothillsuu.org

Holly joined Foothills Unitarian Church in July 2022 as a facilities/IT coordinator. She has always had a passion for helping others. Holly has lived in Fort Collins for over 20 years, but grew up in Kansas. She worked in the corporate world and needed a change of pace and balance in her life.

She enjoys camping, gardening, canning, reading and playing computer games. She has a wife, son, 2 dogs, cat, hedgehog and fish to keep her occupied.
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