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Like the members of the  Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica, ours is a caring, open-eyed staff that comes from many religions, identities, and social positions.

Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae

Rev. Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae (he/she/they - gender queer / non-binary) is Unitarian Universalist Minister, community leader, teacher, ritual artist, spiritual writer, and intersectional activist. At the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Santa Monica, he is responsible for worship, spiritual leadership, pastoral care, congregational programs, social justice activism, and guiding the community through a transformative period of developmental ministry.

Rev. Jeremiah serves in the larger Los Angeles Community as a Vice President of the Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council and as a member of a hospital’s ethics committee.

He served congregations in the San Francisco Bay Area as a parish and community minister before moving to Los Angeles. He also served on the adjunct faculty of Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California, where he taught courses on transreligious thea/ology and philosophy and anti-racist and counter oppressive social change.

Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is their Muslim given name. He is a dervish in the Chishtī lineage of Islamic Sufism, having received bayat (lineage transmission) by his Pir and late heart-friend Dr. Ibrahim Abdulrahman Farajajé. She has also received diksha (initiation) into the Hindu Shakta Dharma and was confirmed in the progressive Unitarian Universalist Christian tradition. Their multireligious belongings and experiences of making community with Jewish, Humanist, Buddhist, Jain, and Earth-based friends informs their broad and inclusive approach to religious life.

Rev. Jeremiah holds of Master of Divinity degree in theology, philosophy, and ministry from Starr King School for the Ministry at the Graduate Theological Union, a Master of Science in Social Administration (Social Work; Mandel Scholar ‘04) degree with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from Case Western Reserve University, and a Bachelor of Science degree (magna cum laude), from Baldwin-Wallace University.

The Reverend Jeremiah Lal Shahbaz Kalendae and UUSM Member Jacinda

He completed an advanced Clinical Residency in Spiritual Care at the Cleveland Clinic, a Parish Internship at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, and a Killam Fellowship at the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland.

In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, power yoga and spin class, swimming and meditation, learning to snowboard, traveling, and eco-halal vegan and vegetarian cooking.

Rev. Dr. Kikanza Nuri-Robins, Consulting Minister

The Rev. Dr. Kikanza Nuri-Robins (she/her/hers) helps people close the gap between what they say they are and what they do.

Kikanza Nuri-Robins, MDiv, EdD, is an organization development consultant. Her clients include schools, nonprofits, government, and faith-based organizations. She has been an advocate for justice, equity, and inclusion for over 40 years, serving mission-driven organizations across the country.

Her focus is on sustaining healthy organization cultures by improving communication, developing effective leaders, and aligning values with daily practice. She started her career thinking she would change the world. Now she knows that she is most effective making a difference, wherever in the world she finds herself, one conversation at a time.

Rev. Kikanza is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association and a minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA). She preaches, assists congregations in transition, and consults with clergy of many faith traditions.

She is the author of many articles and six books, including: Cultural Proficiency and Fish Out of Water. She lives in Los Angeles where she serves on the Bio-Ethics Committee of the UCLA Medical Center and the boards of several social-service organizations. She spends her discretionary time in her studio playing with color and textiles.

UU Santa Monica Music Director Saunder Choi

Saunder Choi

Music Director

About Saunder

Saunder has composed and conducted a variety of instrumental, vocal, and choral works to jazz charts and popular music arrangements. His compositions have been performed in a wide variety of concert halls  including Lincoln Center, the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, and the world-famous Teatro Colon Opera House in Buenos Aires. He currently serves as a teaching artist for the Los Angeles Master Chorale Voices Within and the Oratorio Project and the Pacific Chorale Academy.

UUSM Staff Nurit

Nurit Gordon

Church Administrator

About Nurit

Nurit has years of experience in non-profit institutions. She manages the administrative and daily life of the church, including the facility, finances, personnel matters, and anything else that arise and need care and solutions while supervising the Facility staff and the Admin assistant and working with volunteers.

Thomas Ahern

Tom Ahern

Sunday & Rental Sexton

About Tom

As the Sunday and Rental Sexton, Tom keeps the church building and grounds clean and orderly for the Sunday services and assists the minister with all of Sunday's worship supplies and items needed for the pulpit and recording the sermon for the website.

UUSM Staff Esther

Esther Chase

Office Coordinator

About Esther

Esther is a marketing professional, entrepreneur, and water activist. Contact her at (310) 829-5436, ext. 100, for matters relating to the order of service, weekly e-mail announcements, rentals, events, and pledges.

UUSM Staff Jyvonne Haskin

Jyvonne Haskin

Alto Section Leader

About Jyvonne

Jyvonne Haskin stays busy! She’s Co-Executive Director for Selah Gospel Choir, a Founding Partner of GreyLoc Entertainment and sings broadly within LA’s choir community. As a session singer and live performer, Jyvonne has sang with Lady Gaga, Janelle Monáe, U2, Michael Bolton, Arcade Fire, and Roger Daltrey.

UUSM Staff Kion Heidari

Kion Heidari

Tenor Section Leader

About Kion

Kion Heidari is a singer, composer, folk instrumentalist, and voice actor from San Diego, CA. A graduate of California Institute of the Arts with a BFA in composition, Kion has created music for independent films, the stage, video games, and concerts. Kion has performed in new productions such as The Conference of the Birds and with ensembles like Tonality and C3LA.

Ryan Humphrey

Ryan Humphrey


About Ryan

Ryan started playing piano for UU services at a young age. In grad school, he helped found the women’s choir at the UU Congregation of Columbia. Prior to joining UUSM’s staff, he served for five years at First Unitarian Church of LA, first as accompanist and later as Director of Music.

UUSM Staff David Erik Peterson

David Erik Peterson

Bass Section Leader

About David

David Erik Peterson is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association and American Guild of Musical Artists. He holds music degrees from SFSU and WVU. He moved back to LA after a decade in the SF Bay Area where he sang bass with the SF Symphony Chorus and Cappella SF, played percussion with Gamelan X, and was the Music Director for Piccola Carolers.

Chloé Vaught

Chloe Vaught

Soprano Section Leader

About Chloe

Native Angeleno, Chloe received her BA in Vocal Performance from UCLA. She frequently records for independent films, background vocals sessions, and enjoys contributing to others’ passion projects. As a soloist, she possesses versatility and loves to sing early music, contemporary classical, jazz, and more.

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