Our Minister and Staff
Rev. Brian Ferguson
Rev. Brian Ferguson is excited to be the newly called minister to Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Redwood City and began his ministry here in August 2020. He served as the five-year Developmental Minister at Wildflower Unitarian Universalist Church in Austin, Texas. He also served for five years as the called Minister at San Marcos Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Central Texas. Prior to serving at San Marcos, Brian undertook a year of chaplaincy training at Seton Family of Hospitals in Austin, Texas. He completed his ministerial internship at the Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church in Cedar Park, Texas, and the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin.
He graduated in May 2009 with a Masters of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry, the Unitarian Universalist seminary in Berkeley, California. His ministry is driven by the desire to explore and improve the human condition in an interdisciplinary and holistic way.
Brian is a native of Scotland but lived in California for 22 years prior to moving to Austin in August, 2008. In his previous life, before attending seminary, he earned an Applied Physics degree from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, and worked for 24 years as an Electronic Design engineer and project manager. He is joined on life’s journey by his partner of 23 years, Natalie Freeburg, and 17-year old daughter, Isla Ferguson.
Lillian Svec, Interim Director of Youth & Family Programming
Phone: (650) 592-2700
Lillian Svec comes to her role as Interim Director of Youth and Family Programming (DYAF) with ten years’ combined experience as a volunteer religious education (RE) teacher, youth advisor, and Youth and Family (YAF) Committee member at UUFRC. She is also the parent of a high schooler and a recent UC grad who have both benefited from their participation in the full cycle of UUFRC RE programs. She began as the Interim Director in October 2020.
The Interim DYAF’s role is to administer and guide religious education and other UU programs for children and youth. An interim director serves during a time of transition. UUFRC is in the midst of a dual transition: We are learning how to be an effective virtual community during the pandemic, and we are taking this opportunity to assess how to best serve our latest generation of families as we move forward.
Lillian approaches these challenges with a diverse background that includes education program management and course instruction at UC Santa Cruz Extension. She was responsible for re-envisioning her program’s curriculum to fit the needs of a wide variety of students in a dynamic industry. She has worked with high school students at Stanford’s Institute of Design and led training workshops at Foothill College. As an educator with an MFA in design, she believes UUFRC should look at this time as an opportunity for collaboration, experimentation, and innovation.
Lillian is originally from Iowa and has called the Peninsula home since 1992. Between these bookends, she lived in Kansas, San Diego, the Boston-Providence area, and Chicago.
Janet Johnson, Church Administrator
Phone: (650) 365-6913
Jan arrived to UUFRC in 2019. Originally from Maryland, she moved to California in 1993 finding her way in Silicon Valley. Working at Apple for 10 years, starting as an executive assistant and completing her graduate studies in Information Systems. She went on to lead and support projects at TiVo and Stanford Hospital before starting a family in 2009. Her next goal was to be a teacher, and while taking classes for a multiple subject teaching credential, and substitute teaching, she realized being a teacher would not be a good, long term fit. Her love of teaching and children are used tutoring, and of course parenting. Jan searched for a part-time job doing things that mattered while allowing time for her to be very active in her daughter’s life and found such opportunity at UUFRC. Their work supports the seven principles of UU, and Jan feels those are the underpinnings for any work worth doing. She enjoys supporting the congregants as all uphold these seven principles. She and her family love attending a yearly UU conference on Star Island in the Gulf of Maine. She enjoys surfing with her family, hiking with friends, cycling, and bringing friends together over tasty food. Most recently she has volunteered with Reclaim Our Vote encouraging everyone to use their voice and vote.
As Church Administrator, Jan finds joy in working on new projects helping make UUFRC the best it can be, creating efficiencies and training others on UUFRC systems and processes to support its community. UUFRC does wonderful things at both micro and macro levels and she is proud to be part of the team effort.
Crystal Valdez-Chandra, Associate Administrator
Phone: (650) 365-6913
Crystal became a member of UUFRC in March 2020 but was a visitor for a long time prior. She moved to Redwood City with her husband in 2015 and discovered UUFRC while taking her dogs for long walks in the neighborhood. Coming from a mixed background herself and marrying someone from a different culture, her spiritual journey has always been a diverse and multifaceted one. Her scientific curiosity as a scientist and entrepreneur have also given her a healthy amount of skepticism when it comes to joining religious organizations. However, the community at UUFRC felt like the nurturing and questioning one she was seeking.
As a new mom exploring her new identity as a parent and primary caretaker, Crystal sought out opportunities at UUFRC (The building also happens to be the home of her 2-year old daughter’s nursery school, Open Gate.) As associate administrator, Crystal truly enjoys the detail-orientated tasks, working with a wonderful and talented staff and supporting a community that truly embodies the seven principles of UU. Other things that fill her cup are dancing in a modern dance company, cooking, frolicking outdoors and being a very average seamstress.
Jennifer Gill, Connections Coordinator
Phone: (650) 274-2459
Jen Gill has never lived more than ten miles from Sequoia Hospital where she was born. She grew up in Woodside, and has lived in Redwood City for 42 years. She discovered UUFRC when she would take her daily walks around her neighborhood, and liked the signage out front. After years of not fitting in at traditional Christian churches, Jen came to a service on Memorial Day weekend at UUFRC in 2018, and announced to herself “I have found my tribe!”.
Jen has been coming to UUFRC ever since, and has rarely missed a service. Jen became a member on March 10, 2019, and had already joined the choir. When the position of Connections Coordinator came open, Jen jumped at the chance to fill the very big shoes of the woman who had held the position before her, for 17 years. Welcoming new people and being socially interactive just come naturally to Jen whose love of life and exuberance in her role make her a great fit for bringing people together at UUFRC.
Jen says, “The really cool thing about welcoming newcomers is that I am a newcomer too. I have a lot to learn about Unitarian Universalism and I have people coming in all the time who will learn with me”. Jen is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association Membership Professionals. (UUAMP)
When she is not busily connecting people, Jen is an Executive Assistant at SRI International in Menlo Park, a singer in a rock band, an avid crafter, and enthusiastic chocolate aficionado.
Dawn Reyen, Music Director
Phone: (650) 365-6913
Dawn Reyen received her BA in Music from the College of Notre Dame in Belmont and her masters degree in Choral Conducting from Loyola University in New Orleans. She has conducted children’s choirs and taught elementary music for many years, and currently teaches preschool through middle school music at St. Raymond, as well as “Music and Movement” classes for Ragazzi Boys Chorus. She is the founding conductor of Palo Alto-based Aurora Singers, assistant conductor and accompanist of the Schola Cantorum, and music director at UUFRC. Dawn has accompanied professionally since the age of 12, and enjoys working in many different musical styles and genres. Dawn also enjoys her freelance work as pianist and coach.
Cyndi Williamson, Bookkeeper
Cyndi has been a member of UUFRC since 1997. After years of experience in many different roles at UUFRC, she was happy to take on the bookkeeper role in 2020. She enjoys that she gets to work with numbers and to keep things organized as bookkeeper including pledges.
Larry Chinn, Email Larry
Dawn Reyen, Email Dawn