Norman Fouhy, Business Administrator
Since 1989, Norman has collaborated with a cast of thousands in an often changing but always dynamic mix, including ministers, Boards, church personnel, committees and members, rental clients, vendors, licensing agencies and the general public. He has helped bring us into the 21st century and achieve balanced budgets with progressive improvements in business administration, fiscal procedures and property management. The church’s visibility as a truly vibrant cultural and community center has grown locally and nationally thanks in large part to his work. He is the lead contact for church rentals and finances. He has served as Acting Executive Director since the fall of 2012. Norman received his BA in Philosophy from Temple University. Email Norman, or call him at 215-563-3980 extension 300.
Shantala Thompson, Director of Religious Education
Shantala is excited to join the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia as the Director of Religious Education. As a queer black feminist, who is dedicated to social justice, intersectionality, and inclusion, she was drawn to the church’s mission of social responsibility, and its dedication to LGBTQ and other marginalized communities.
Shantala has over eleven years of experience working in Positive Youth Development and education. She has taught, developed, and implemented literacy, and social action curricula for students in elementary through high school. In addition, she supervised Out of School Time Site Coordinators, in eight after school and summer programs throughout Philadelphia. Shantala holds Master of Arts degrees in Africana Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
In her spare time, she loves to read, cook pescatarian and vegetarian meals and write short stories.
Matt Miceli, Building Superintendent
Matt Miceli joined the team in July 2011 and brings expertise in both facilities maintenance and event management. He is a certified Journeyman Electrician with over eight years of experience with Master Electrician Kevin Loftus. He previously served as the head electrical facilities operator at Merion Mercy Convent and most recently as Ground/Facilities Manager at Pickett Properties, where he was responsible for the inspection and maintenance of all major facilities. This included installation and maintenance of electrical systems and controls, overseeing the operations of all boilers/heating systems, a bi-monthly inspection of fire code, and ensuring the overall safety and satisfaction of all tenants. Matt’s experience and skills in facility repairs and property renovation are excellent , including his electrical work with the historic chapel at Merion Mercy Convent. In his spare time, Matt is a founding member of the West Philadelphia rock band, HighKick. This experience has aided his ability to quickly turn over events, to please a crowd, and to collaborate with a diverse group of people. Email Matt or call (215) 563-3980 x 304.
John B Hedges, Music Director
Born in Delaware in 1974, composer and conductor John B Hedges spent his youth with rock and r&b music, performing musical theater and playing baseball. The son of a rock musician and an educator, John B began studying classical music in earnest at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving his B.A. in Music in 1994 and his M.M. from Westminster Choir College in 1997. He then completed post-graduate studies at the Curtis Institute of Music. He spent several summers at the Aspen Music Festival studying with John Harbison and George Tsontakis and at the Britten-Pears School with Oliver Knussen and Magnus Lindberg. From 2001-2004, John B apprenticed with composer/conductor Oliver Knussen, working with the Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Cleveland Orchestras, the London Sinfonietta and Amsterdam’s Schoenberg and Asko Ensembles. He also served as assistant to composer Tan Dun on the Metropolitan Opera premiere of The First Emperor. During this time John B traveled to China and Japan, preparing performances, participating in workshops and orchestrating on the Feng Xiaogang film, The Banquet. John B has conducted concerts at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Academie Musicale de Villecroze and the Aldeburgh Festival and his compositions have been performed throughout North America and Europe. His most recent compositions show a remarkable range: ‘Snikt, bub!’, a portrait of Marvel Comics’ Wolverine for piano quartet; A Shipwreck Opera in One Act in collaboration with fiction writer Aimee Bender; Exeter Riddles, a set of Anglo-Saxon choral works; On the Good Foot, a tribute to the late James Brown for large chamber ensemble; and Fantasía sobre Yma Sumac, a concerto for clarinet & orchestra inspired by the eclectic music of Peruvian songstress Yma Sumac. The latter was premiered by clarinetist Victoria Luperi and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra where John B served as composer-in-residence for the 2011-2012 season. John B also received a 2013 residency with the Richmond Symphony funded by New Music USA for performances of Prayers of Rain and Wind, a concerto written for and performed by Philly Orchestra Assistant Principal Bassist, Joseph Conyers. In addition, John B has produced orchestral arrangements for the Minnesota Orchestra as well as the eclectic string trio Time for Three. Recipient of a Theodore Presser Career Grant and Independence Foundation Fellowship, John B has also been awarded grants and fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and Meet the Composer, and multiple residencies at the artists’ community Yaddo. He currently lives in Havertown, PA with his wife, visual artist Lynn Palewicz, and their son. John B can be reached via email or at (215) 563-3980 x 315.
Jonathan Blount, Sexton
Jonathan was born in Philadelphia, PA in March 1970. He began to pursue his artistic inclinations during high school. At first he sought to develop his creativity by becoming a pastry chef, but soon realized that he needed to change from cake to canvas. Jonathan's early oils were expressions of his inner voice, translating what he was feeling and hearing internally into paint. As he matured, he realized that he loved painting and drawing the male form. In approaching the artistic rendering of the male form, he starts with shadow and works into the light. Jonathan's works have found their way into several private collections of friends and associates. He has become noted via exposure in the world wide web. In 2006 his works were featured at a Philadelphia LGT/Pan exhibit at the Aphrodite Gallery in Queen Village, Philadelphia, and at the Liberty Bears' LGBT art exhibition. When not painting, you may find him baking cakes - a whole art unto itself, and a big part of Jonathan's family through his mom and grand mom. He has been working with the church for ten years. Orville (Lee) Gumm recommended Jonathan for the position . Lee was the head sexton at the time, and also his partner. Jonathan now lives with his current partner, Braheem.
Benjamin Kuss, Communications and Membership Director
Benjamin Kuss is an actor, educator and organizer, and has been involved in social justice movements since being a teenager. He moved to Philadelphia after many years of organizing work in the Boston area, and has pursued stage acting in Philadelphia. He is very excited to be at the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, and is looking forward to learning all that he can from the membership, and sharing his skills and knowledge as well.