Our Ministers and Staff
In January 2022, UUFD hired Revs. Gary Kowalski and Munro Sickafoose to serve as our Targeted Ministers after the retirement of Rev. Katie Kandarian-Morris. Read more about our ministerial transition here.
Rev. Munro Sickafoose
Munro received his M.Div. from Starr King School for the Ministry, and serves as a community minister with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Santa Fe. He co-ministers with the Rev. Gary Kowalski at the Unitarian Congregation of Taos and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango.
Munro is still an “Army brat”, having moved all over the United States and Europe while growing up. He attended high school in El Paso, Texas, and spent most of his adult life living in the Southwest – except for a few years on the West coast – before he and his wife Susanna moved to Santa Fe in 2012. They currently live in Chimayo, NM where they are learning how to steward a small piece of land during this era of climate change.
Rev. Gary Kowalski
A graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Divinity School, Reverend Gary Kowalski has served congregations from coast to coast in a career spanning forty years. He and Rev. Sickafoose are currently co-ministers in Taos, New Mexico in addition to serving the UU Fellowship of Durango.
He is the author of several books on spirituality, animals, science and history, including Goodbye Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost A Pet (New World Library 2012). A visual artist and tennis player, Gary has worked as a volunteer firefighter for the past seven years in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives with his wife attorney Dori Jones.
Rev. Leah Ongiri
Family Ministry & Faith Formation
Rev. Leah Ongiri is honored to serve as the half-time family ministry coordinator for the 2021-22 program year. She is a lifelong UU Jew who has been a child, member, lay leader, staff member, and/or minister at UU congregations in Oregon, Washington, California, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Florida.
She received her undergraduate degree in political economy from Evergreen State College in Washington State and her Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree from Starr King School for the Ministry, a UU graduate theological school in California. She co-edited the Skinner House book Jewish Voices in Unitarian Universalism and is a past president of UUs for Jewish Awareness. Leah and her spouse Amy have four children.
Leah is working remotely from her home in Portland, Oregon. Please be in touch if you’d like to connect with her!
Sunday Morning Learning Coordinator
Harrison Wendt serves as the Sunday Morning Learning Coordinator. He has a strong background in child care, social justice and advocacy work. Harrison has previously worked as a Kids’ Camp teacher at Durango 9-R for two years and served on the organizing team for the Southwest Movement for Black Lives. He is a returning student to Fort Lewis College and is studying Sociology and Music.
Harrison also has a deep connection with theater. He has been seen in a couple of musicals at Fort Lewis and co-founded a summer musical theater company “ART Co.” in 2019. He is excited to bring his passion for teaching and core beliefs of acceptance, love and justice to the UUFD community.
Jeanne joined UU Fellowship of Durango in June of 2017 and was looking forward to the opportunity to work with Rev. Katie. She brings a strong background in organization/planning, administrative support, and computer skills. Although not a Colorado native she found her way here from the White Mountains of New England and has enjoyed many years in this beautiful part of the county.
Shannon joined the staff at UUFD in September of 2018 as Connections Coordinator. She brings to this position several years of experience in a church setting and extensive work in the areas of membership, nurture and outreach. She relocated to Durango three years ago from East Tennessee and is very excited to develop relationships at UUFD.
Classical Pianist & Artistic Director, concert series
Marilyn Garst holds three degrees in music including a Ph.D. She spent most of her career teaching and performing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas and at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She is a classical pianist. Music has always served as Marilyn’s spiritual grounding, and she believes that music is an important part of a church’s ministry.
Music Coordinator/Choir Director
Elizabeth has been a community musician for many years, singing, playing flute, piccolo, guitar, mandolin/mandola, and directing church and community choirs. She performs with Durango Chamber Singers, Durango Choral Society, and Southwest Civic Winds. She is founder and executive director of the Durango Chamber Singers. Elizabeth holds a BA, MBA and CFA, and has completed studies in music theory, choral conducting, voice, and instrumental music.
Elizabeth welcomes singers of all ages and experience levels to join the Diversitones to experience the joy of singing and fellowship.
Lawrence believes that music is a bridge to all good things. He has been an active musician, performer and piano instructor in the Durango area since 1990. He has opened shows for jazz artists Mose Allison and Maynard Ferguson and performed duets with Native American flautist, R. Carlos Nakai. Also, he has performed with the San Juan Symphony Orchestra, Music in the Mountains Symphony Orchestra and teachers/musicians from Fort Lewis College. Performing a wide variety of musical styles, he has been singing/playing for the UU Fellowship of Durango since 2014 as our contemporary pianist.
Tricia has been a member of UUFD since 2003 and values its guiding principles. She served twice on the Board as secretary and member at large and has also been on the Sunday Service, Music, Caring, Frolic and Nominating Committees. She has enjoyed being a Worship Leader, the Greeter Chairperson and an RE teacher for middle/high school. Tricia is a retired secondary Speech, English and French teacher and currently works part time at the Durango Welcome Center and at the Fort Lewis College Community Concert Hall.
Caesar brings a palpable exuberance to the facilities and space of our Fellowship. You’ll see his smile during the week, or on Sundays during coffee hour.