Rev. Dr. Omega Burckhardt’s ministry is informed and nurtured by deep spirituality found in social justice, covenantal collaborative practice, and community-building. Her ministry has centered on prison and immigration reform, food scarcity, and climate initiatives, and belief in the collective power of intentional gathering and mutual support infuses her vocational directives.
Before coming to Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church in Pasadena, Rev. Omega served at First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Diego at both Hillcrest and Chula Vista campuses. Rev. Omega was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but lived for periods of her youth in southern Mexico. She later lived in Chile, Spain, and Brazil for a short stint. She holds an M.A. and Phd in Latin American Literature with a focus on the poetry written in exile during the dictatorships of the 1970s and 1980s. She taught Spanish and Hispanic Literature and Culture at Marquette University for 10 years, where she also directed an international program for language and culture acquisition through videoconferencing. As a bilingual minister, Rev. Omega weaves Spanish and poetry into her worship services. An avowed Religious Naturalist, Rev. Omega received her Masters of Divinity from Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, Illinois.
Rev. Omega believes that a sense of wonder and joy in faith formation are necessary, even while recognizing the complexities of an increasingly complicated world. She fosters a space where each individual–from the youngest to those most gifted with years–can find community, connection, and a place to engage their minds, bodies, and spirits.
Rev. Omega can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (626) 449-3470 ext. 416
Zanaida is an award-winning Black American female composer, vocalist, and conductor. She is a fierce advocate for diversity and inclusion in music education and performance. Authentic interpersonal connection and relationship-building are core principles of her teaching and performance methods. Born, raised, and educated in Southern California on the occupied lands of the Gabrielino-Tongva people, she is in demand as a composer, vocalist, clinician, and adjudicator for competitions, festivals, and conferences related to choral and solo vocal music. In addition to her work at Neighborhood Church, Zanaida is the choral director at Harvard-Westlake Upper School.
At Neighborhood, Zanaida leads the chorus and the congregation in hymns each week. “I love working at Neighborhood church because I work with the best church staff on the planet,” Zanaida says. “And I get to play handbells.”
When Zanaida isn’t playing handbells or directing the choir at Neighborhood, you can find her bouncing on her mini trampoline, playing video games, or enjoying a chilled glass of Riesling.
You can reach Zanaida by email or using extension 414.
Elizabeth has extensive nonprofit management experience including nearly 15 years with The Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA where she was Senior Vice President. Most recently, she was the Director of Operations for The Gabriella Foundation. She brings a proven track record of success in business management, fiscal oversight, fundraising, and operational planning, in addition to her BA in Religious Studies from CSUN.
You can reach Elizabeth by email or by calling 626-449-3470 ext. 411.
Matt Vasko is a longtime Unitarian Universalist with experience in curriculum design and implementation, teaching children and adults, volunteer coordination, and managing large staff teams. He has worked as a performer, writer, director, teacher, sales and customer service manager, and nonprofit executive. Matt is a certified 7th through 12th Grade Our Whole Lives (OWL) Facilitator and is working to attain Credentialed Religious Educator status with the Liberal Religious Educator’s Association (LREDA). In his free time, Matt enjoys hiking, writing children’s books, and spending time with his family.
You can reach Matt by email or by using extension 419.
Ginger Furey is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist. Having grown up in Connecticut and lived in Massachusetts, she enjoys the beautiful California sunshine! She is a graduate from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies. Her professional experiences include work in the nonprofit sector as a Family Advocate, Community Educator, and Teacher Assistant. She has worked to support child abuse victims, survivors of sexual violence, and students with disabilities.
If you are new to Neighborhood Church, exploring Unitarian Universalism, or want to be more involved in our community, Ginger is your person! In addition to member engagement, she is also the face behind our social media accounts and weekly newsletter communications.
When she is not working Ginger can be found volunteering at animal rescue organizations, singing musical theater, and drinking iced coffee at a local cafe. She loves getting to know our members and friends, and welcomes a phone call or email anytime!
You can reach Ginger by email or extension 421.
If something’s happening on our busy church campus…you can bet Anna’s involved! She juggles weddings, memorials, classes, parties, workshops, meetings, facility related concerns, manages the custodial staff and handles unusual situations such as rescuing raccoons from the church dumpster or helping brides write new vows because they left the original copy at home. As you can imagine, Anna’s degree in Psychology is in daily use. She’s been on staff since 2007 and has worked in event planning for more than 20 years. When not at work, Anna enjoys spending time with her daughters Liv (12) and Makena (6), being crafty, ax-throwing, fostering kittens, traveling and coaching volleyball.
You can reach Anna by email or at extension 413.
Sue has been a member of Neighborhood Church since 2000 and has been involved in Pastoral Care since 2002. She is an artist who has worked as a fashion illustrator, art director, and graphic designer. Recently, she fell in love with photography and has since created non-representational art using Photoshop and her own photographs. Sue’s religious education and interest in liberal religion began in her small Upstate New York hometown, where her mother played the church organ while Sue and a group of friends sang in the choir.
Sue has a lifelong love of and connection to animals (her own cat is a rescue.) She loves the outdoors, hiking in nearby parks, gardening and pet sitting. The Brandy Lovely Meditation Garden and other campus gardens have been an ongoing project for her at Neighborhood along with several other members. All are welcome to join them!
You can reach Sue by email.
Diedra was born and raised in South Los Angeles. She worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for nearly 20 years and in 2016 took advantage of early retirement; in 2018 Diedra founded the Center for Humanity, Acceptance, Nonviolence, and Generational Equity (CHANGE); and in 2023 she earned her doctorate degree in Education in Educational Psychology and Technology.
Through the CHANGE organization, Diedra partners and collaborates with Fortune 500 corporations to help them deepen their understanding of American racism from the perspective of non-white people.
Diedra has been the Social Justice Coordinator at Neighborhood since November, 2022. In this role, she supports church members in identifying social justice priorities, goals, projects, programs, and activities. She collaborates with the Social Justice Coordinating Team to develop appropriate strategies to thoughtfully and appropriately connect with faith-based and community organizations.
Diedra enjoys traveling, learning more about artificial intelligence (AI) technology, designing augmented reality (AR) games, attending art exhibits, watching basketball, golf, baseball, figure skating, and tennis, and creating multimedia projects.
You can reach Diedra by email or using extension 418.
Stanley Brooks was born in San Diego. He has several siblings that he has yet to meet. He enjoyed his childhood and spent his time in school as a teacher’s aide. He graduated high school with honors and decided to continue his lifelong education in a variety of trades. He values integrity and positivity over wealth and he is happy to work in a place where those qualities are prioritized.
Adrian Bañuelos has been the Bass Section Leader at Neighborhood Church since September 2018 and has enjoyed every minute of it. He is a first-generation Angelino who simply loves to create and perform. He studied both music and animation in college and obtained a Bachelor of Music degree from Cal State Northridge in 2016. Since then he has worked with the nonprofit organization, EduCare, offering after school music and animation classes at Walnut Park Middle School. He is currently in the process of transferring to Locke High School where he will aid the music staff in building a choir and tutoring music students. His end goal is to make a career out of creating and telling compelling stories through music and art.
Michael is an accomplished tenor whose career in music has led him into the realm of recitals, concerts, and other musical events. Operatic highlights include Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus and Frederick in Pirates of Penzance. Accomplished in sacred works, he has been a featured tenor soloist in numerous masterworks including Bach’s Magnificat, Honegger’s King David, and Pachelbel’s Christ Lag In Todesbanden. Michael earned his Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from CSU Fullerton and his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of La Verne. He co-founded Project Clara Musica, a chamber music group that offers free concerts in the San Gabriel Valley area. Michael is also an avid YouTuber and enjoys collaboration as a composer and performer of multiple genres.
Wells Leng is a performer, improviser, and composer whose primary instruments are piano, taiko, and cello. They graduated from USC with a BM in Composition and a BA in Piano Performance – MFA in CalArts’ Performer-Composer program, their principle instructors being Donald Crockett, Nick Deyoe, Antoinette Perry, Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick, and Vicki Ray.
When they’re not performing on Sundays at Neighborhood, Wells performs with LA-based duo stickytack, House on Fire Trio, Quartet Friends. They are also an active member of the LA Japanese music community, having worked with such prominent artists as Isaku Kageyama, Shoji Kameda, Kozue Matsumoto and Rachel Rudich. Wells’s musical interests span a wide range, including free improvisation, early music, fluxus, Pythagorean tuning, sampling, and 20th century modernism.
F. Thomas Simpson is an award-winning teacher and composer, having appeared as a handbell expert on such programs as “Anderson Cooper,” “Martha Stewart,” and NBC’s “Today.” He has served in various churches and schools across the country, working with all ages as a handbell choir director and a general music specialist. Thomas is the executive director of the Pasadena Arts Foundation, a nonprofit music organization dedicated to providing support for Youth Bands of Los Angeles and the Crown City Ringers. His compositions are published by Hope Publishing Company, Shawnee Press, The American Baptist Sunday School Board, and the Trilson Music Publishing Company. Thomas earned a Bachelor of Music Degree in voice with a minor in piano and organ studies from Westminster Choir College.