Emily Richards, Director of Congregational Life and Religious Explorationdre@uuithaca.org

Emily Richards has served as the Director of Religious Exploration since 2020 and, along with her family, is a proud member of the FUSIT Community. With a background in music education and many years of administrative experience she feels fortunate to be able to use her talents and expertise to help create community and connection for children, families, and members of all ages. Emily is also a homeschooling mom to two girls, a choral conductor and singer, and a lover of cooking, nature, and all things geeky.

Michelle Waffner, Congregational Administrator

607-273-7521, office@uuithaca.org

Michelle Waffner is the Congregational Administrator and has worked with FUSIT since May 2021. Michelle handles all the general office items, updates the website, creates the Weekly Announce email, handles all HR functions, maintains the database and building rentals. In her free time, Michelle is working on a Masters in Consciousness Studies and is in her third year of the Hidden Treasure program at Light on the Hill in Van Etten.


Stephanie Ortolano, Music Director, music@uuithaca.org

Stephanie Ortolano has been employed at First Unitarian since 2012. Originally hired for 3 months after the unexpected departure of her predecessor, she hasn’t left yet! Stephanie started playing piano at the age of 6 and organ at 12. Her first church job was at age 13 and she has played for a variety of denominations ever since. She is currently in the 2nd year of a 3 year Music Leadership Certification Program through the UUA. One of her favorite things is to collaborate with other musicians as an accompanist.

Loretta Heimbuch, Administrative Assistant, adminasst@uuithaca.org

A member of FUSIT since 1982, Loretta has been editing, producing and mailing the monthly FUSIT newsletter, UU Connections for 14 years. She produces the Annual Report, Service Auction and Recycle Sale promotional materials, and other publications, brochures and posters in addition to helping the Congregational Administrator as needed. She enjoys hiking, gardening, pottery, watercolor painting and cooking. With her four year old grandson and six month old granddaughter living with their parents in California, and her daughter in Colorado, she is frequently airborne,
flying across the country to see them.

Lauren Ponzoni, Bookkeeper, office@uuithaca.org

Rachel Seymour, Sexton, sexton@uuithaca.org

Rachel started as the church the Sexton in December 2021. Rachel handles general building care including keeping the sidewalks clean and safe, deep cleaning the many rooms at FUSIT, making sure the building is ready for rentals and Sunday services, and day to day cleaning and building inspections. She likes to swim and bicycle, and enjoys painting “find me” rocks to leave on trails and gift people with. Rachel also cleans monuments at various cemeteries and likes photographing nature scenes.