Our Clergy and Staff
Rev. Schuyler Vogel
Rev. Schuyler Vogel serves as the Senior Minister of the Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York. He holds degrees in religion from Carleton College and Harvard Divinity School and has served as a pastor to congregations in Wisconsin and Illinois. Prior to becoming a minister, Rev. Schuyler led religious education programs in Ft. Lauderdale and Chicago with an emphasis on youth and young adult ministry.
In addition to his role at Fourth Universalist, Rev. Schuyler serves on the Core Team of Faith in New York, the Board of Trustees for the St. Lawrence Foundation for Theological Education, the Advisory Board of the Andrew Romay Center New Immigrant Center, and the Leadership Team of Sanctuary Neighborhoods. Since joining Fourth Universalist in 2016, the congregation’s ministry has been featured in the New York Times, The Nation, WNYC/NPR, and Democracy Now!.
Rev. Schuyler is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and lives with his wife, Kristen, and son, Rowan, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He is available by appointment and is best reached via email between Sunday and Thursday.
Rev. Dr. Leonisa Ardizzone
The Rev. Dr. Leonisa Ardizzone serves as an Affiliated Community Minister at Fourth Universalist. She holds degrees in biology (Ithaca College, BA), science education (Western Washington University, EdM), International Educational Development with a specialization in Peace Education (Columbia University, PhD), and inter-religious engagement (Union Theological Seminary, MDiv). Rev. Leonisa served the UU Congregation of the Catskills from 2019-2021. Drawn to youth and young adult ministry, she is a member of the faculty at Vassar College and founder and director of the Peace Education Center of the Hudson Valley (launched in fall 2021). Although Rev. Leonisa was ordained by Fourth Universalist in 2019, she became a member of the congregation back in 2011. At that time, she was volunteering in RE, curating the Jazz Vespers program, and leading a Buddhist-UU study group.
Prior to ministry, Rev. Leonisa taught in K-12 schools, ran a non-profit in NYC, owned her own business, and consulted with numerous organizations as a teacher educator and curriculum coach. She is also a writer and musician. Currently, she lives in Rosendale NY with her husband Michael and daughter Rafaella.
Rev. Jill Bowden
Rev. Jill Bowden serves as an Affiliated Community Minister at Fourth Universalist. She holds degrees from Mercy College (BS in psychology), Long Island University (Master of Public Administration in health care), and Union Theological Seminary (Master of Divinity). Rev. Jill retired from health care chaplaincy in the spring of 2021.
Rev. Jill is the former Director of Chaplaincy Services at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Before her position at Memorial Sloan, she was Director of Pastoral Care at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, NY. Previously a respiratory therapist and a health care administrator, Rev. Jill’s background provided significant experience in bedside care and health systems leadership, growth, and management.
Now relocated to southern California, Rev. Jill is available via telephone and Zoom for participation in virtual worship services, consultation, and pastoral care at the direction of the Senior Minister or in his absence.
Rev. Mark Cutolo
Rev. Beth Putnam
Rev. Elizabeth (Beth) Putnam serves as an Affiliated Community Minister at Fourth Universalist. She holds degrees in history from Wellesley College (BA) and the University of Texas at Austin (MA), as well as a degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York (MDiv). She serves as a Chaplain at VA New York Harbor Healthcare System (VA NYHHS), where she has served veterans for over a decade.
Before being ordained by Fourth Universalist in 2008, she joined as a member of the congregation in 2002. During that time she served as an active layperson, including as Board President. She and her husband Alex have made the Upper West Side their home for almost three decades.
Beth is available by appointment. She will generally respond to e-mail requests or voice messages on her home phone within one day.
Director of Religious Education
Ember Kelley joined Fourth Universalist as the Director of Religious Education in July 2020. She is a 2018 graduate of Chicago Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. Ember also holds a Masters and Bachelors in Theological Studies from Calvin Theological Seminary and Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Her life journey has taken her through Virginia, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Michigan, China, and Vietnam. These travels have fostered a desire for continuous learning, a better understanding of the world through a lens of faith, and the ability to communicate big ideas in relatable ways. She is accompanied on her journey by her wife and two sons. Some of her recent experiences include working as a Youth Director, Ministerial Intern, and English Teacher. Her passions include social justice, LGBTQ+ issues, LGBTQ+ religious inclusion, religious trauma recovery, mindfulness, developing self-understanding, and creating and growing community through education.
Director of Membership and Hospitality
Soyal feels joyous and fortunate to serve Fourth Universalist as its Director of Membership and Hospitality. She was raised within the Unitarian Universalist faith from the age of 3 years old and couldn’t imagine a better opportunity to welcome folks into the tradition. She loves to engage with newcomers at Fourth Universalist and share with them what it’s like to be a part of this amazing community.
Soyal has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Performance Arts from SUNY New Paltz. With this background, she performs as a puppeteer for an ecologically centered non-profit theater company. She also has her Master’s in Public Administration (Public Management) from Marist College.
Soyal lives in Poughkeepsie, NY with her husband, daughter, and son. When she is not engaged with the Fourth Universalist community, Soyal spends her time coordinating activities for her home UU congregation, puppeteering, and relaxing with her family.
Sheila joined Fourth Universalist in November 2012. In her role as Executive Director she is responsible for Finances, Building and Human Resources, among a wide variety of tasks.
Sheila values the opportunity to serve the congregation in building community and social justice work.
Director of Administration
Melanie started attending Fourth Universalist in 2016 and joined as a member in 2017. After spending 13 years working in marketing, she was excited to transition to a role serving the community she loves as an administrator. Melanie’s previous experience and learning includes two years as a development professional for an arts nonprofit, an undergraduate degree in music, and a graduate degree in social work.
Melanie is active in social justice work both in the congregation and in the wider community. She feels fortunate to be able to support the mission of the congregation through her position on the staff as well as in volunteer positions.
Melanie enjoys road trips, playing guitar, and singing. She currently lives in Brooklyn with her daughter.
Director of Music
Robert T. Buonaspina is delighted to be joining the team as Director of Music at Fourth Universalist. Robert is a New-York-City-based composer, arranger, producer/music director, conductor/bandleader, multi-instrumentalist (pianist, violist, organist, vocalist), and educator. In 2020, Robert received his Master’s degree in Jazz Composition from Manhattan School of Music, where he was a student of Jim McNeely and Phil Markowitz.
As a composer and arranger, Robert has had the honor of having his work performed around the world: with ensembles recently ranging from the WDR Big Band in Cologne, Germany, all the way to prestigious institutions such as the Cathedral of St. John the Divine or even the Empire State Building for New York Fashion Week. In any and all deviations of his work as a composer/arranger and multi-instrumentalist, Robert has been fortunate to achieve collaborations or share the stage with many heavy hitters across the scene: including Grammy-winning producer Larry Klein, Chico Pinheiro, Lalah Hathaway, Vince Mendoza, Joel Ross, Veronica Swift, Steven Feifke, and many others.
Currently, Robert serves as Adjunct Lecturer of Music (Jazz & Commercial Arranging/Composition) at Hofstra University. Prior to his engagement at Fourth Universalist, Robert worked as Director of Music/organist for multiple years at many different houses of worship, mostly recently at St. Pancras Roman Catholic Church (Glendale, Queens).
Associate Director of Music
Cynthia is a New York based music director and pianist. She is a member of the music team for the the Tony- and Grammy-winning production of Anaïs Mitchell’s HADESTOWN, currently playing at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York City. In addition, she has played keyboard for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and currently plays keyboard in the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s COMPANY (starring Katrina Lenk and Patti LuPone), fresh off a successful run on the West End. This past summer she worked as the Associate Vocal Supervisor for an Apple TV+ movie, SPIRITED.
As an orchestra member, she has played with Lea Michele, Jason Robert Brown, Laurence O’Keefe, David Byrne, Kirstin Maldonado, and twelve-time Grammy-nominated artist Ledisi, among many others. Other select favorites from the theater realm include the FROZEN 1st National Tour, MEAN GIRLS, MOULIN ROUGE! at the Emerson Colonial Theatre, IN THE GREEN at Lincoln Center Theatre, and the Broadway-bound musical LEMPICKA (dir. Rachel Chavkin).
Religious Education Assistant
Deborah is a native Detroiter who has been in the New York City area since the fall of 2005 serving in the education field. Deborah has taught math, English Language Arts, and social justice to students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade. Deborah has also served as the Director of Operations for charter elementary schools during her career. Deborah graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Deborah also earned a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Baruch College.
Deborah is very dedicated to her family. She enjoys being a mama to her two sons and enjoys parenting and sharing the blessings of family life with her wife Sarah. Her passions include social justice, LGBTQ+ issues, interfaith dialogue, learning more about neurodiversity, and playing sports.
Head of Nursery Ministry
Indra Payne emigrated to the US from South America in 1991. Ever since then, she has worked as a child caregiver, allowing her to build many deep and long-term relationships with families in New York City. She has been taking care of children at Fourth Universalist since 1995 and has two daughters who have also served the congregation’s families. Indra earned her GED after arriving in the U.S. and is now entering her 23rd year with our congregation.
Rehime Crane serves as the Sexton for Fourth Universalist. He graduated from Park West High School, where he especially enjoyed classes in the culinary arts. Rehime also studied Communications at New Rochelle College and would like to continue his studies to become a counselor.
Rehime serves his community by volunteering at West Harlem Pantry and enjoys spending his time going to the library, reading books, and spending time with his children.
Lead A/V Technician
Ilan Natter is thrilled to serve Fourth Universalist as the A/V Technician. As an audio engineer, Ilan is always looking for new opportunities to work with talented musicians. As a native New Yorker, Ilan is looking forward to helping bring the Upper West Side community together through sound and music.
Jose Rivera Hernandez
Evening Groups Coordinator
Jose grew up in Manhattan and has spent 14 years working as a steward of various buildings in the city. He has a passion for buildings, mechanics, and making environments more functional and pleasant for all inhabitants and visitors. Jose has a keen interest in nature, including hiking, camping, and natural medicine. Additionally, over the past 10 years, he has deepened his relationship with his indigenous roots in Puerto Rico, including teaching dancing, learning indigenous history, and volunteering after Hurricane Maria. Jose lives in upper Manhattan with his two huskies.
Ben Heaney is a third-year Masters of Divinity Student at Union Theological Seminary, concentrating in Interreligious Engagement. This year, he will be supporting Sunday morning services and working with our clergy and staff around worship planning, hospitality, and religious education. Originally from Evanston, Illinois, he holds a Bachelors’ degree in Philosophy and Comparative Religious Studies from Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Prior to divinity school, Ben worked with children as a camp counselor, and with adults as an associate English as a Second Language school. At Union Theological seminary, he is an editor of The Heretic, the student publication, and is a member of the Eco-Justice Caucus.
Field Education Intern
Gillian is a third-year Master of Divinity candidate at Union Theological Seminary and is a born-and-raised native of New York City. Prior to attending Union Theological Seminary, she taught English Language Arts (ELA) to New York City public high school students as a New York City Teaching Fellow. She studied Secondary Education, Teaching English, at Brooklyn College and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from SUNY New Paltz in 2002. Gillian grew up in the Presbyterian church and has served as a member and elder at Broadway Presbyterian Church.
Gillian is passionate about a great deal of issues including gender equality, womanism, feminism, LGBTQ+ issues, food justice, racial justice, eco justice, and interreligious engagement. Gillian is a writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and is a spirited visual artist. She lives in Morningside Heights with her mother, Marie, and her two feline familiars, Sasha and Nicodemus, “Nico”.
Lily Olas Carayannis
Lily is a graduate of the Union Theological Seminary (MDiv) and is the Deputy Chief of Special Operations with the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, the City agency tasked with investigating police misconduct. She grew up in the mountains of Colorado and moved to New York City in 2010 to obtain a master’s degree in philosophy. Lily’s spiritual development has been informed by the ecology of the American wilderness and a career spent in service to vulnerable populations. She is currently an aspirant to UU Ministry. Lily focuses her ministry on ecology, animal liberation, trans rights, and police reform.
Erol King Delos Santos
Erol is a first year seminarian at Union Theological Seminary and also works as a communications coordinator at The Community Church of New York UU. His family immigrated from the Philippines to New Jersey in 1992. He studied at Rutgers University, where he received an undergraduate degree in healthcare informatics and a masters of science degree in clinical trials sciences. Erol has attended Fourth Universalist since 2018 and officially joined the congregation as a member in April 2020. Currently, he lives in Harlem, NY.
James Underberg is a graduate student at Meadville Lombard Theological School. Born and raised on the Upper West Side, James is starting on the path to ministry after a prior career working to advance clean energy policy in New York State. James’ spiritual background has been primarily in contemplative traditions, including time in Buddhist and Quaker communities. He has also trained as a meditation teacher and an Internal Family Systems psychotherapy practitioner. James’ interests include supporting the congregation in individual spiritual development and discernment as a foundation for collective social justice action.