Pacific Western Region staff are part of the UUA's Congregational Life Staff.
Every congregation in the Pacific Western Region has a primary contact, which can be found on the Primary Contacts for PWR Congregations index.
Rev. Carlton Elliott Smith
Rev. Carlton E. Smith is the Regional Lead for the Pacific Western Region. From 2013 to 2020, he was a member of the UUA Congregational Life Staff Group serving in the Southern Region. Before that, he was a parish minister serving UU congregations in Metro New York, Greater Boston, Northern Virginia and Oakland, California. Rev. Smith graduated from both Howard University's School of Business and its School of Divinity (summa cum laude). He's been a candidate for US Congress and for State Senate, both in his home state of Mississippi. Rev. Smith was a founding member of the Organizing Collective for Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism. He currently serves as a Board Member for the Living Legacy Project and is a member of the Campaign Board for the LGBTQ Victory Fund.
Rev. Summer Albayati
Rev. Summer Albayati, whose last name is pronounced el-bay-EH-tee, is a UU Muslim of Iraqi descent who brings extensive experience in leadership development, strategic planning, multiculturalism, curriculum development/programming, outreach, organizational development, grant writing, interfaith dialogue, conflict resolution and mediation. She has worked within indigenous communities and communities of color, advocating for equity in education, and increasing numbers of students of color who enter into universities. In serving congregations, Rev. Summer’s focus was on transformation by emphasizing that a mission-focused congregation increases vitality, membership, commitment to justice and love. Rev. Summer has been playing the Arabic drum, professionally, since the age of 12, and has shared this Islamic aesthetic in worship and concerts most of her life. She loves spending time with family and friends, eating great food, dancing, singing, creating beautiful music, and traveling the world.
Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh
Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh joined the Pacific Western Region's Congregational Life staff in July 2016. She serves as the primary contact for congregations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Southern Nevada, and New Mexico. Sarah works with all PWR congregations as a specialist in conflict transformation, professional boundaries and misconduct, and COVID-19 response. Additionally she serves on a national team that is creating and curating resources for anti-racist/anti-oppressive/multicultural transformation in our congregations. Sarah lives and works in San Diego, CA.
Dr. Melissa James
Dr. Melissa James joined the PWR staff in 2020. She earned her Masters of Arts from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago (LSTC) with a focus was on faith and justice. Melissa holds a Ph.D. in Ethics and Social Theory from the Graduate theological Union in Berkeley, CA. In addition to serving in congregational religious education and family ministry, she was named as a 2016 Fahs Fellow through the Fahs Collaborative at Meadville Lombard Seminary focusing on helping congregations support trans and non-binary children, youth, and their families. Melissa is the PWR specialist for stewardship, LGTBQIA+ inclusion and gender justice, and non-congregational covenanting communities. She brings nearly 20 years of experience in leadership development, fundraising and grant writing, campus ministry, religious education and family ministry, and teaching.
Rev. Sarah Schurr
The Rev. Sarah Movius Schurr joined the PWR team in 2016. She serves as primary contact for all congregations in the states of Washington, Montana, and Wyoming. In addition to her primary contact work, Sarah is the PWR specialist for small congregation concerns and networks with other small congregation specialists throughout the UUA to provide targeted training and resources. She works with the UUA Disaster Relief Fund and is the UUA staff liaison to EqUUal Access. She keeps her home office in Portland, Oregon.
Annie Scott, Credentialed Religious Educator, feels honored and excited to begin serving congregations as the newest member of the Pacific Western Region Congregational Life field staff. She has most recently served as Director of Religious Educator for Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, CO and as President of the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA). She has learned much from the congregations and religious professionals she has served with in Oregon City, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Golden over her twenty-seven years as a religious educator. She and her husband, Mick, raised their children in Unitarian Universalist congregations and are moving back to Oregon from Colorado to live near their three daughters, extended family and two-year old granddaughter, Emerson.
A lifelong Unitarian Universalist, Eric Bliss is the region’s Youth Ministry and Emerging Adult (18-24 years) specialist, partnering with congregations and larger district and regional structures to execute safe, covenantal, and spiritually rich youth and emerging adult programs and offerings. His portfolio integrates leadership development, faith formation, and justice work into our movement’s ministries. Prior to this calling, Eric taught science and coached soccer in secondary level classrooms, served as a youth advisor, then DRE, chaplain, and camp director in the Mountain Desert District. He works out of his home office in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Youth Programming Staff
Under the direction of Youth and Emerging Adult Ministry Specialist Eric Bliss, PWR Youth Programming is also supported by:
- Jessica Laikeman, Director of Camping Ministries and MDD Chaplain to Youth, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Amber Alexander, Youth Ministry Consultant, PNWD and PSWD Youth Conferences Coordinator, email@example.com.
- Lena McCain, MDD Youth Conferences Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Marena McGregor, PCD Youth Retreat Coordinator, email@example.com.
- Rachel Nannini, PCD Coming of Age Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rhiannon Smith serves as Regional Administrator for the Pacific Western Region. She lives and works in San Diego but is a New Englander at heart, originally hailing from Rhode Island and Boston. She is an active member of First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego. Rhiannon enjoys travel, (watching) sports, animals of all kinds, and musical theater.
Amanda Radak is the Events Coordinator and Regional Registrar. She works from her home outside of Seattle.
Melanie Buck is the PWR Bookkeeper. She manages the books for all four districts as well as the region. She works full time out of her home office in Brighton, Colorado.
Diane Lavinder is the part-time Assistant Bookkeeper. She shares bookkeeping responsibilities with the regional bookkeeper, working out of the bookkeeper’s office in Brighton, Colorado, one day a week, and out of her home office in Aurora, Colorado the rest of the week.
Contact Diane at email@example.com.
Address & Email
Pacific Western Region
P.O. Box 567
Brighton, CO 80601