LREDA Endowment Donor Profiles

Jennifer Halperin, Interim Lifespan Faith Development Director at the UU Church of the North Hills in Pittsburgh, PA has been a leader the local LREDA chapter as well the national LREDA organization. She has served as chapter president, LREDA Board treasurer, and on the LREDA Endowment Committee, among many other positions. “LREDA means professionalism of the work of religious educators. It means setting benchmarks and guidelines for congregations and colleagues to establish fair employment practices, professional conduct and continuing education. It has been at the forefront of bringing UU values to the work of religious educators, especially in establishing AR/AO/MC frameworks and lenses through which we lead congregational programs (and the organization),” Jennifer explains. 

She believes in the important work of Religious Educators and the need to support it. “We are much more than a ‘union for Religious Educators,” Jennifer said about the LREDA endowment Campaign, “While we focus on professional concerns, we pay equal attention to nurturing and nourishing – replenishing the hearts and souls of our colleagues. This is often isolating, exhausting and depleting work, and it is in those times that we gather together- in worship, small and large group gatherings, chapter meetings and retreats, that give many of us what we need to continue on with our ministries.

Jennifer recalls a distinct moment of clarity and synchronicity while serving LREDA. “I was standing at the LREDA booth at General Assembly one day and a man approaches, and says he is there on behalf of a client’s estate and he has a check to deliver to LREDA. I said, ‘perfect timing, I am the LREDA treasurer.’ He was an attorney with a law firm that was handling the estate of Norma Veridan, ancestral LREDA leader. He then handed me a check for $40,000! I was stunned at the gift designated for the LREDA Endowment, and thought to myself, wow, I am so pleased and proud to accept this generous gift! And what promise LREDA held for the future for Norma Veridan that she included us in her will!” 

This moment certainly had a powerful impact on Jennifer and no doubt influenced her decision to make such a generous gift to the Endowment Campaign. Jennifer explains, “I believe in the transformative power of UU religious education, and I believe that happens with well supported leaders held to the highest standards. I believe that we will be able to accomplish more with more resources – and I trust in LREDA leadership, now and in the future.”

Thank you, Jennifer!


 

When asked why she made a generous gift to the LREDA Endowment Campaign, Gaia Brown,
replied, “I wouldn’t be the professional religious educator I am without LREDA. It has been a
transformative experience to be involved with LREDA, whose promotion of professional
standards led directly to the UUA’s credentialing of religious educators. This organization has
done so much for me, I wanted to give back. It was a clear choice to make my gift to the
endowment.”

Gaia has been a religious educator since 1975, serving congregations in New Jersey and Illinois.
It was not until she retired from congregational service that the credentialing program was
launched, and Gaia, almost 30 years into her career, was the first person to meet with the RECC.
She also used her retirement time to author the Super Heroes duo and co-author Treasure
Hunting—Take Two and Compass Points.

A formative experience for Gaia was when she attended her first LREDA Fall Conference in
Madison, Wisconsin in 1994. The presenter, Helen Bishop, deeply inspired Gaia with her “Power
and Praxis” presentation. Gaia, in turn, has served as a mentor and source of inspiration for many
religious educators herself. She is thrilled to see so many younger religious educators choosing
this as a career path and is grateful that, because of LREDA, it is, indeed, a career path.

Thank You, Gaia!