Meet Our Staff

PASTORAL STAFF

KATHI MCSHANE
Senior Pastor

KATHI MCSHANE
Senior Pastor
kathimcshane@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x113

It’s my privilege to be senior pastor at Los Altos UMC.

I haven’t always been a United Methodist, and I haven’t always been a pastor. I’ve taken a long and crooked path to both. I was born in Oakland, and I was raised in the Armenian Orthodox Church that had been home to my parents and my grandparents, who arrived in this country as immigrants early in the 20th century. The church of my childhood was ornate and ancient and deeply mysterious. Its services were conducted in a language I didn’t understand. But it was important—the center of my family’s religious, cultural, and social life.

Like many people, I let go of the church as a young adult. I went to law school and married and had a family. I worked on my career. My life felt busy and full … and not always as satisfying or purposeful as I wished. I tried church again—for my 5-year-old daughter, really—but what I found in The United Methodist Church that we wandered into was a place that invited me to think deeply about what I believe, what’s important, and how the stories of the Christian tradition could help me make sense of my own life.

After some significant changes in my personal life—my husband and law partner died suddenly, at a very young age—I left the practice of law and went to seminary, thinking I might enter a new career teaching ethics. Gradually, one step at a time, I moved toward ministry, which I see as taking the stories of an ancient and truth-full religious tradition and retelling them in a way that gives meaning to life in this place, at this time. No matter how imperfectly we (and the Church) do it, I believe that trying to walk in the footsteps of Jesus has the power to change people’s lives for good—just as it has changed mine.

Here are a few particulars about me:

I graduated from UC Davis with a B.A. in public service/political science. I attended law school at UC Berkeley (then called Boalt Hall). I practiced law in San Francisco, Oakland, and Walnut Creek for 15 years, specializing in business and real estate litigation.

My M.Div. degree is from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. I served as vice president at Pacific School of Religion for eight years. I have led United Methodist churches in Alamo (San Ramon Valley), Sacramento, and Campbell, before beginning this appointment at LAUMC in July 2017.

My current volunteer commitments include serving as chair of the Core Team of the California-Nevada Conference of The United Methodist Church, as a member of the Board of Regents for University of the Pacific, and as a member of the Community Benefits Advisory Council for El Camino Hospital.

My daughter, Stacey McShane, now lives and works in Los Angeles and will be married in May 2018.

SAM LEWIS
Associate Pastor

SAM LEWIS
Associate Pastor
samlewis@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x112

I feel incredibly fortunate to have been appointed to Los Altos United Methodist Church. I am the minister of young adults here, which means that I have the opportunity to work closely with our young adult group, OpenCircle, and to walk alongside this group as we explore and question and grow in God. I also work closely with the LAUMC small group ministry, GroupLife, as we strive to grow in our lives together.

I am a 2012 graduate of Candler School of Theology at Emory University and was ordained an elder in The United Methodist Church in 2015. At Candler I fell in love with the practice of worship—in the chaos of life we can sometimes get lost, but the weekly practice of communal worship gives us consistency, community, and centering in our daily walk. The church seasons (Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Time) don’t have meaning in and of themselves, but they do help us give meaning to our lives, and they help us to walk in the ups and downs of our life and our faith. My favorite liturgical season is probably Advent (a season of hope and expectation), but the other seasons are pretty spectacular as well.

I love San Francisco Giants baseball, roller derby, and the liturgical calendar.

DIRK DAMONTE
Minister of Music & Worship Arts

DIRK DAMONTE
Minister of Music & Worship Arts
dirkdamonte@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x115

As the Minister of Music and Worship Arts, I have the coolest job at the church! I get to dream about, vision for, plan, and implement worship at this amazing church. I get to work with an incredibly talented, dedicated, and artistically diverse staff and a wonderful group of committed, creative, and tireless volunteers.

I was a piano performance major at the University of Puget Sound, where I received a Bachelor of Music Degree. I received a Master of Arts in Worship and the Arts and a Master of Divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion. I am an ordained Deacon in Full Connection. If none of that matters much to you, that’s okay. The most important thing is that I love making music, being involved in worship, and being a part of the Los Altos United Methodist Church Community.

My wife, Carol, who is the Director of Youth Ministries and Youth Music, and I have been at LAUMC in some capacity for 30 years. Together we direct the Starfire Singers, our high school choir, and Lightshine, our middle school choir. We have two adult sons, Dustin, who lives in Seattle and will be going on to pursue graduate studies in opera, and Dylan, who lives here, plays drums in the Creekside Worship Band, and works in Media Ministries.

Worship is all about connection—our connection with God and with the community that gathers together to worship God. I pray that you find that connection here at LAUMC.

JOHN L. DODSON
Pastor Emeritus

JOHN L. DODSON
Pastor Emeritus
JLD65@aol.com

I was pastor of LAUMC from 1978 to 1999. My wife, Sue, and I moved in retirement to Mt Hermon, in the Santa Cruz Mountains, in 2001, and I have lived there ever since, with a one-year (2009 to 2010) interlude in Alaska. Sue died in 2005 in an auto accident and the sadness of that event was a long period of recovery for me. While in Alaska, as interim senior pastor at St John UMC, I met Vicky, my neighbor in Anchorage. My black and white life turned to technicolor, and we returned to the Santa Cruz Mountains together. It has been 15 years since I retired, and I have kept engaged with consulting, interim pastoring, and helping higher education institutions and churches to do feasibility studies and fund development. As of 2013 I have retired (again) from all such activities. So after 55 years of active ministry, Rev. Mark Bollwinkel and the Staff/Pastor Parish Committee of Los Altos United Methodist Church asked if I would become pastor emeritus at LAUMC, joining Reverend Wayne Williams in this honorary role. Vicky and I gladly accepted this new role in the church we love and admire.

JON VISITACION
Associate Pastor

JON VISITACION
Associate Pastor
jonvisitacion@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x114

Greetings! I was born and raised in Fresno and attended United Japanese Christian Church in Clovis. I received my computer engineering degree from Fresno State in 2006, and then heard my calling to ministry while trying to work toward my master’s degree at UCLA. After some discernment, I withdrew my enrollment at UCLA to attend Claremont School of Theology in 2008 and serve at Faith United Methodist Church in Torrance as a high-school youth coordinator, alongside ministries pertaining to summer youth camps, mission trips, and college-age ministries. In 2011, I served as a summer chaplain intern at Maryview Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, and found a passion in pastoral care ministries.

In 2013, I began serving Wesley United Methodist Church in the San Jose Japantown/downtown area. I led and participated in ministries related to young adults, technology, and congregational care. I participated in and led a number of ministries, including a multi-satellite college-age ministry group, a small-group based wellness ministry, and an iPad workshop for seniors.

My wife, Mika Yanai Visitacion, is a kindergarten teacher in the Campbell school district, and we are expecting our first child in September. We are grateful for the journey that God has led us on, and I am very excited to be a part of Los Altos UMC. I hope to serve the church as best as I can while continuing to grow in my faith with you all. Blessings to you all.

 

MINISTRY STAFF

CAROL DAMONTE
Director of Ministry & Music for Youth

CAROL DAMONTE
Director of Ministry & Music for Youth
caroldamonte@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x131

Youth n. The appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, characteristic of one who is young.

God n. Supreme Being, the creator and sustainer of the universe. Family n. A social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not. “Family” is also described as a community and a global village. Love n. A virtue representing human kindness and compassion. For over thirty years I have had the incredible joy of weaving these four words into the tapestry of LAUMC’s ministry. As Director of Ministries and Music for Youth, my life is filled with young people, powerful conversations around faith, journeys through scripture at youth fellowship, and rehearsals where we discover how words of profound meaning are linked to phrases of beautiful music. My ministry is filled with bursts of creativity as my husband, Dirk, and I write and produce musicals around challenging faith issues. The ministry also deals with the pain and hope that comes when we delve into issues of social justice. And, of course, there are the ah-hah moments where we “get” what it means to live out Christ’s call with head, heart and hands. Youth ministries at LAUMC offer young people the chance to understand what it means to “launch and find safe landing.” We celebrate bold dreams right alongside challenging realities, and always stand poised and ready to leap at any moment into God’s unlimited joy. As one who loves the word family, it is not surprising that you will often find me with a cup of coffee talking “ministry, music, and meaning” with my husband, Dirk, “life and mystery with our youngest son, Dylan, and “opera and all that brings joy” with our oldest son, Dustin. And together, the four of us can be seen redefining the word family as we open our arms to our church family, our community, and God’s world. We are all readers of books, care takers of the outcast and marginalized, travelers of the world, makers of music, believers in the human connection, and keepers of faith. In the end, it is the word love, that virtue of human kindness and compassion, the word that Jesus lived for and lived out, that finds me, holds me, knows me, drives me, and fuels my living each and every day. Welcome to my ministry. Graduate of the University of Puget Sound- BM in Piano Performance and Pedagogy Co-Founder of LAUMC’s Anti Human Trafficking Group

PATRICIA PARFETT
Director of Congregational Care

PATRICIA PARFETT
Director of Congregational Care
patriciaparfett@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x122

I share my spiritual gifts by connecting – connecting people with each other and with God – through small groups and classes. When I’m not working on the church campus, I can be found working in camping and retreat ministry for our annual conference (another great way to connect people with each other and with God!).

Spring and summer bring baseball. In addition to being a San Francisco Giants fan, I’m the College of San Mateo Bulldogs team statistician. Go Giants and Bulldogs!

MICHELLE CAUDLE
Director of Children’s Ministries

MICHELLE CAUDLE
Director of Children’s Ministries
michellecaudle@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x153

Hello! My name is Michelle Caudle, and I am so honored to be the new director of Children’s Ministries. Being called to serve God in this position is so exciting because I grew up attending Sunday school and many other programs at LAUMC. I hope to meet the needs of the children and families at Los Altos United Methodist Church by creating a safe, loving environment where every child knows that they are loved by God and their community, and that they can develop the spiritual skills necessary to face the complexities of life.

I taught middle school history for three years and before that attended the University of Redlands for undergrad and Santa Clara University for grad school, where I also received a teaching credential. Most of my free time is devoted to my puppy, Wilson, but I also enjoy reading, listening to podcasts, and spending time with my family.

HEIDI BLISS
Codirector of Children’s Center

HEIDI BLISS
Codirector of Children’s Center
heidibliss@laumc.org
650-941-5411 x141

I grew up on the West Coast and settled as a young adult in Mountain View. My husband and I raised our children in the area, and our grandchildren are our current joy.

I have had the honor of working with children for more than 20 years. Preschoolers keep you young and laughing. I could not imagine my life without the energy and honesty of children. I also worked for years as a volunteer with a local youth theatre organization. The theatre kids were older, and because of my two passions, I can say, “Teenagers and toddlers are some of my favorite people.”

I now have the privilege of sharing the codirector responsibilities of the Children’s Center with Dee Gray, along with a terrific administrative team and staff. With the support of LAUMC, we serve approximately 175 children and their families. The connection and reciprocity from all of these intertwined relationships give my life meaning and contentment.

CINDY GOLDEN
Director of Media Ministry & Youth Projects

CINDY GOLDEN
Director of Media Ministry & Youth Projects
cindygolden@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x123

I grew up here at LAUMC singing in the Sunshine Singers and later joined Starfire, touring all over the West Coast and even to Russia twice. It was here at LAUMC that my love of God began as I was surrounded by nurturing, loving arms. I studied religion and music until I decided it was time I better graduate and headed to Georgia to work with Habitat for Humanity. While there I fell in love with mission work and attended Sunday school with Jimmy Carter. I spent a few years in seminary until marriage and children became the priority and I ended up back here at LAUMC working in the youth ministry I love so much. A few years ago the opportunity to create a media ministry led me to expand my job title until I believe it is now the longest on the church staff!

Most days you will find me organizing the youth, filming the latest video, attending countless soccer games and percussion performances and just trying to make family time in a crazy, crazy world! God has loved and encouraged me through every path I’ve taken, and it is my lifelong goal to fulfill Micah 6:8, to seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. On the occasion I find a moment free, I like to curl up with a good book and a hot cup of earl grey or catch a quick dinner date with my husband.

DEE GRAY
Codirector of Children’s Center

DEE GRAY
Codirector of Children’s Center
deegray@laumc.org
650-941-5411 x141

I have enjoyed working as a teacher at the LAUMC Children’s Center for 15 years and subsequently delight in sharing the current directorship of the preschool with Heidi Bliss. We have the honor of supporting a tremendous staff, engaged parents, and wonderful children.

In the past, I worked in the corporate world in the UK, and after I moved to the States, I was part of a start-up with marketing responsibilities. I later chose to work with preschoolers when my youngest son attended the Children’s Center. I was recruited by the director at that time and have never regretted the decision to join the early childhood education realm. I adore working with preschoolers: they love unconditionally, and it is a joy to watch them grow.

I have two sons. My oldest works for Facebook and my youngest attends Cal Poly. They are both avid soccer players, and I have spent many treasured moments watching their games.

I love to run and to entertain, and I thoroughly enjoy going to Santa Cruz on my time off!

OFFICE STAFF

Operations:

Finance:

JAMES SIMMONS
Managing Director of Operations

JAMES SIMMONS
Managing Director of Operations
jamessimmons@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x118

Having joined the Staff here at LAUMC is truly a blessing! I have dedicated my entire adult career to the field of Human Services. I have finally found a position here at LAUMC that allows me to use my faith as openly as I do my skills in my everyday work. And for that I am extremely thankful and excited about all of the opportunities that lie ahead.

I will bring with me my experience from the non-profit sector as an HR manager, youth and adult residential program director with focus on mental health, drug and alcohol recovery, and homelessness prevention, a background in athletic coaching from middle school to the collegiate level, as well board of director responsibilities.

I am a New York native, but California has been my home for the past 17 years. California has been extremely good to me with its diversity, great weather, and endless opportunities. But more than that, being able to share with my wife, our two children and extended family from coast to coast and beyond the US all that California has to offer, makes it that much more special.

MARY JOYCE
Financial Controller

MARY JOYCE
Financial Controller
maryjoyce@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x127

 

Administration:

NIYATI PARIKH
Senior Accountant

NIYATI PARIKH
Senior Accountant
niyatiparikh@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x111

I grew up in India and moved to California in 2011 with my family. I have a degree in management studies from India. I worked for an IT company in Austin on various Bloomberg projects for two years, then I moved back to California. I worked for a start-up company for three years as an office manager/accountant. I am happy to be a part of LAUMC’s finance team and working with a wonderful staff.

I enjoy traveling and adventure activities. In my free time, I like to try new recipes, arts, and oh yes, I also love baking!

MEGAN CARROLL
Executive Assistant to Pastors

MEGAN CARROLL
Executive Assistant to Pastors
megancarroll@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x152

I grew up in San Jose, then went to college at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas. There, I received my credential and BS in Early Childhood Education. For the next 6 years, I taught in various locations and situations. 

After my credential expired, I began working at a visa & passport company in San Jose. I’m excited to be at LAUMC and have the opportunity to help Pastors Kathi, Dirk, Sam, and Jon!

 

MARICAR MCCONNELL
Accounting Assistant

MARICAR MCCONNELL
Accounting Assistant
maricarmcconnell@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x125

I started working at LAUMC in 2010. Working here has exposed me to a great group of people who have helped me advance my skill set as well as helped and supported my family. My husband and I were married at the church in 1996, and I have enjoyed attending since I became an official member. Prior to working at LAUMC, I was fortunate enough to be a stay-home mom for about 10 years. This enabled me to participate and volunteer with the kids at their school as well as other extracurricular activities. All three of my kids are very active and enjoy attending LAUMC Sunday school and participating in the other fun-filled youth activities.

Outside of work, I can be found cheering for my kids at soccer games or volunteering at their elementary school. I also enjoy teaching Sunday school here at the church, as I find it very rewarding to work with the kids and watch them grow up in the church community. The church has become my home away from home, and the staff is my second family. Hopefully you will stop by the church office and say “hello” so I can meet you and tell you about all the wonderful activities and opportunities that await you at the church.

LINDA NORDMANN
Administrative Assistant, Children’s Ministries

LINDA NORDMANN
Administrative Assistant, Children’s Ministries
lindanordmann@laumc.org
650-948-1083

 

CLEO KIROS
Accounting Associate

CLEO KIROS
Accounting Associate
cleokiros@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x129

I was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I came to the U.S. for my last year of high school and have been here ever since. I graduated from San Francisco State University in Accounting. After staying home to raise my two boys for some time, I joined LAUMC in January 2014. One thing that stands out for me at LAUMC is the sense of community. Everyone is caring and dedicated to the church, the community and the world. I could not have picked any better place to start my career over.

ERIN GRADY
Administrative Assistant, Operations/Youth Ministries

ERIN GRADY
Administrative Assistant, Operations/Youth Ministries
welcomedesk@laumc.org
650-948-1083

 

Facilities:

KYLE AIKEN-FORDERER
Membership Services Administrative Assistant

KYLE AIKEN-FORDERER
Membership Services Administrative Assistant
kyleaikenforderer@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x121

 

HAROLD CAUDLE
Director of Facilities

HAROLD CAUDLE
Director of Facilities
haroldcaudle@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x129

 

DIXITA GANDHI
Data Coordinator, Operations

DIXITA GANDHI
Data Coordinator, Operations
dixitagandhi@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x154

I received my bachelor’s degree in computer science from India and started working as a software engineer. After my marriage I moved to the United States in 2009. I worked at a start-up followed by Apple, where I worked on different database systems and reporting tools.

Prior to working to LAUMC, I was a stay-home mom for about two years. My interest in database systems and reporting attracted me to this opportunity to help the church achieve its mission.

In my free time, I can be found playing with my toddler or trying out new dinner recipes from the Internet. I also enjoy traveling.

FELIPE GARCIA
Day Custodian

FELIPE GARCIA
Day Custodian
felipegarcia@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x129

I was born in Mexico and raised in Los Angeles and San Jose. I attended San Jose State University for construction estimating and blueprint reading. I’ve been married for 35 years to my wife Maria Carmen and we have three daughters, two sons, and five grandchildren. I worked in the general construction field for almost 40 years. After all these years, I was searching for a place to work. It’s a blessing to be working at LAUMC. Every day I come to work excited about what will happen today, and I look forward to doing my work, going home at the end of the day, and enjoying time with my family. I enjoy reading, walking, cooking, and watching my grandchildren’s soccer and baseball games.

Communications:

PEDRO RUIZ
Night Custodian

PEDRO RUIZ
Night Custodian
pedroruiz@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x141

 

EMILY ALLEN
Director of Communications

EMILY ALLEN
Director of Communications
emilyallen@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x120

I grew up in the next town over, Palo Alto, and attended First United Methodist Church. After receiving my bachelor’s degree in communication from UC – San Diego, I worked for nearly eight years in a public relations agency in San Francisco. Joining the LAUMC staff marks my return to the Peninsula and an opportunity to put my professional communications experience to work for the church I love.

My wider church commitments include acting as the agenda chair for the California-Nevada Annual Conference Session each June, serving on the conference and jurisdictional committees on episcopacy, and serving on the board of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women. I was a delegate to General Conference in 2012 and 2016.

In my free time, I am an avid reader, amateur bird watcher, and active traveler.

Food Service:

BARBARA RICHMOND
Communications Coordinator

BARBARA RICHMOND
Communications Coordinator
barbararichmond@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x165

I assist the Director of Communications by helping to generate, edit, and distribute LAUMC’s many communication channels. I am happy to keep you informed about all of the exciting events in this wonderfully active community. I am excited to be back into the work force after taking time off from my finance career at PriceWaterhouse to stay home with my children. During my “time off,” I served as Development and Communications Chair for Queen of Apostles school and church for more than eight years.

Originally from Florida, I have called California my home since the age of 5. The Bay Area in particular has been home for the past 22 years. I attended UCLA, where I graduated with a degree in English and a psychology minor. My husband of 21 years and I have two freshmen children, a son (Grayson) in college and a daughter (Aria) in high school. Although I spent more than 20 years in finance, my current favorite past-times include tutoring in language arts and Spanish, assisting friends with event planning, participating in two book clubs, and spending time outdoors. Last but not least, I am a recovering compulsive volunteer!

I am happy to be working with the warm and welcoming staff at LAUMC!

FRED MAYO
Director of Food Services

FRED MAYO
Director of Food Services
fredmayo@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x117

I came to know about LAUMC from a friend who regularly attends services. I got involved as a volunteer at Hope’s corner and witnessing first-hand the dedication and compassion for those less fortunate. Everyone from LAUMC staff to long-time members of the church have welcomed me with open arms and made me feel at home. I knew in my heart the Lord had guided me to my church home.

As Food Services Director, I am grateful to be in a position to serve the members of this church and community. The love I feel at LAUMC has greatly impacted my life and that of my family and can only be described as a true blessing.

With 30 years of corporate operations experience, I hope to apply these skills in my job as well my lifetime passion of cooking for others. I have been professionally trained in the culinary arts and have traveled to more than 40 countries worldwide which have helped me develop a wide range of ethnic cooking.

I currently reside in Sunnyvale with my wife and two children. In my spare time I like reading publications on advancements in astrophysics and engineering technologies, playing online video games and of course whipping up new culinary delights in the kitchen.

Weddings:

 

ERIN KNIGHT
Wedding Coordinator

Erin Knight

ERIN KNIGHT
Wedding Coordinator
weddings@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x116

It has taken many years for me to evolve into a wedding coordinator. I first started working in the wedding industry years ago in Houston as a florist assistant. Eventually I was designing floral arrangements for weddings on my own. Over the years I have assisted bridal couples in Texas, Arkansas, England, and now California. Every aspect, from guiding couples through their plans, to directing the rehearsal in the church, to the reception, to the final send-off of the couple, are all wonderful parts of the job I enjoy.

I joined LAUMC in 2009 with my husband and our two children. In my free time I enjoy being active in modern dance, spending time with my family, and enjoying the wonderful outdoors of California.

Congratulations, and I look forward to talking with you about your upcoming wedding.

 

MUSIC STAFF

BILL GOLDEN
Director of Morning Glory

BILL GOLDEN
Director of Morning Glory
billgolden@laumc.org
650-948-1083

I have been a middle school, high school and elementary school music teacher for the past 23+ years. I love to enjoy life with my wife, Cindy, and our two sons – hiking, biking and, in general, being outdoors, no matter what the weather. But mostly I just love to make music and have fun through making the music. I’ve been the director of the Morning Glory adult choir since 2001 and was a tenor in the choir myself, off and on, back to 1986! Whether it’s leading “MoGlo” to a very moving or exciting musical moment, soloing on the sax, thrashing away on a drum set, or doing interpretive dance to Peter and the Wolf with a bunch of kindergartners, it’s all special and wonderful. Music has opened up so much in my life, and I live to pass it on to others.

CASIE WALKER
Director of Creekside Kids Choir

CASIE WALKER
Director of Creekside Kids Choir
sunshinesingers@laumc.org
650-948-1083

 

SHULAMIT HOFFMANN
Director of Chancel Choir

SHULAMIT HOFFMANN
Director of Chancel Choir
chancelchoir@laumc.org
650-948-1083

I am delighted to be back at LAUMC for my second tenure as Chancel Choir director. I previously held the position 2002–2009. I earned my doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University, where my research focused on choral performance and adult learning. I hold master’s degrees in choral conducting and in piano performance, and my bachelor’s degree is in general music and English literature. I am a licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music, London, and of the University of South Africa (my native country), from which institutions I hold music-teaching diplomas. Previously, I was a recording artist for the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

I founded Viva la Musica, a performing arts nonprofit, in 2001, and have since served as the artistic and executive director. I have taught at the College of San Mateo since 2002, and previously at Idaho State University, Brigham Young University Extension, University of Cape Town, and the University of Witwatersrand. I have served as program chair and as president for local chapters of the National Federation of Music Clubs and the California Music Teachers’ Association.

My husband, Stanley, and I are owned by Toby, a miniature Schnauzer, who loves music.

CAROL DAMONTE
Director of Music & Ministry for Youth

CAROL DAMONTE
Director of Lightshine & Starfire
caroldamonte@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x131

Youth n. The appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, characteristic of one who is young.

God n. Supreme Being, the creator and sustainer of the universe. Family n. A social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not. “Family” is also described as a community and a global village. Love n. A virtue representing human kindness and compassion. For over thirty years I have had the incredible joy of weaving these four words into the tapestry of LAUMC’s ministry. As Director of Ministries and Music for Youth, my life is filled with young people, powerful conversations around faith, journeys through scripture at youth fellowship, and rehearsals where we discover how words of profound meaning are linked to phrases of beautiful music. My ministry is filled with bursts of creativity as my husband, Dirk, and I write and produce musicals around challenging faith issues. The ministry also deals with the pain and hope that comes when we delve into issues of social justice. And, of course, there are the ah-hah moments where we “get” what it means to live out Christ’s call with head, heart and hands. Youth ministries at LAUMC offer young people the chance to understand what it means to “launch and find safe landing.” We celebrate bold dreams right alongside challenging realities, and always stand poised and ready to leap at any moment into God’s unlimited joy. As one who loves the word family, it is not surprising that you will often find me with a cup of coffee talking “ministry, music, and meaning” with my husband, Dirk, “life and mystery with our youngest son, Dylan, and “opera and all that brings joy” with our oldest son, Dustin. And together, the four of us can be seen redefining the word family as we open our arms to our church family, our community, and God’s world. We are all readers of books, care takers of the outcast and marginalized, travelers of the world, makers of music, believers in the human connection, and keepers of faith. In the end, it is the word love, that virtue of human kindness and compassion, the word that Jesus lived for and lived out, that finds me, holds me, knows me, drives me, and fuels my living each and every day. Welcome to my ministry.   Graduate of the University of Puget Sound- BM in Piano Performance and Pedagogy Co-Founder of LAUMC’s Anti Human Trafficking Group

DIRK DAMONTE
Minister of Music & Worship Arts

DIRK DAMONTE
Director of Lightshine & Starfire
dirkdamonte@laumc.org
650-948-1083 x115

As the minister of music and worship arts, I have the coolest job at the church! I get to dream about, vision for, plan, and implement worship at this amazing church. I get to work with an incredibly talented, dedicated, and artistically diverse staff and a wonderful group of committed, creative, and tireless volunteers.

I was a piano performance major at the University of Puget Sound, where I received a Bachelor of Music Degree. I received a Master of Arts in Worship and the Arts and a Master of Divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion. I am an ordained Deacon in Full Connection. If none of that matters much to you, that’s okay. The most important thing is that I love making music, being involved in worship, and being a part of the Los Altos United Methodist Church Community.

My wife, Carol, who is the director of youth ministries and youth music, and I have been at LAUMC in some capacity for 30 years. Together we direct the Starfire Singers, our high school choir, and Lightshine, our middle school choir. We have two adult sons, Dustin, who lives in Seattle and will be going on to pursue graduate studies in opera, and Dylan, who lives here, plays drums in the Creekside Worship Band, and works in media ministries.

Worship is all about connection—our connection with God and with the community that gathers together to worship God. I pray that you find that connection here at LAUMC.

 

CHILDREN’S CENTER STAFF

HEIDI BLISS
Codirector

HEIDI BLISS
Codirector
heidibliss@laumc.org
650-941-5411 x141

I grew up on the West Coast and settled as a young adult in Mountain View. My husband and I raised our children in the area, and our grandchildren are our current joy.

I have had the honor of working with children for more than 20 years. Preschoolers keep you young and laughing. I could not imagine my life without the energy and honesty of children. I also worked for years as a volunteer with a local youth theatre organization. The theatre kids were older, and because of my two passions, I can say, “Teenagers and toddlers are some of my favorite people.”

I now have the privilege of sharing the codirector responsibilities of the Children’s Center with Dee Gray, along with a terrific administrative team and staff. With the support of LAUMC, we serve approximately 175 children and their families. The connection and reciprocity from all of these intertwined relationships give my life meaning and contentment.

SABINE MULLER-ROTH
Administrative Assistant

SABINE MULLER-ROTH
Administrative Assistant
childrenscenter@laumc.org
650-941-5411

I have had the pleasure of being on the staff of LAUMC Children’s Center since 1999. You will find me mostly in the front office, taking care of administrative tasks regarding our students, parents, and staff. In addition, I do have the privilege of taking prospective parents on tours of the preschool. I enthusiastically show them our beautiful school, introduce our wonderful teachers, and most of all present our happy children in the classrooms.

I also teach the enrichment class “First French” to our little ones in the afternoon. This teaching experience is both fun and gratifying. I love being surrounded by children—they are always curious, laughing, and ready to learn new things!

As far as my life before Children’s Center, I grew up in a small town in the Black Forest region of Germany. After studying hotel business administration in Switzerland, I moved to Paris where I lived and worked for eight years. I met my husband Gary in Europe while he was training to be a chef. We got married in New York City in 1990 and soon after moved to California. We are the happy and proud parents to two grown children, Julien pursuing his Ph.D. at Stanford University and Margaux attending CSU Chico.

I am tri-lingual in German, English, and French. In the past I have traveled the world, and to this day I still love to discover new places during my summer vacations. My hobbies are yoga, Pilates, and most importantly meeting friends for coffee!

DEE GRAY
Codirector

DEE GRAY
Codirector
deegray@laumc.org
650-941-5411 x141

I have enjoyed working as a teacher at the LAUMC Children’s Center for 15 years and subsequently delight in sharing the current directorship of the preschool with Heidi Bliss. We have the honor of supporting a tremendous staff, engaged parents, and wonderful children.

In the past, I worked in the corporate world in the UK, and after I moved to the States, I was part of a start-up with marketing responsibilities. I later chose to work with preschoolers when my youngest son attended the Children’s Center. I was recruited by the director at that time and have never regretted the decision to join the early childhood education realm. I adore working with preschoolers: they love unconditionally, and it is a joy to watch them grow.

I have two sons. My oldest works for Facebook and my youngest attends Cal Poly. They are both avid soccer players, and I have spent many treasured moments watching their games.

I love to run and to entertain, and I thoroughly enjoy going to Santa Cruz on my time off!

BRYN STUEBNER
Family Resource Center Coordinator

BRYN STUEBNER
Family Resource Center Coordinator
brynstuebner@laumc.org
650-941-5411 x119

I recently joined the LAUMC family as an employee after years of being a church member and volunteer. Responsibilities that I tackle in my job include planning and organizing educational parenting speakers, maintaining a parent resource library, and organizing family fun entertainment activities for the church and Children’s Center families. I received my undergraduate degree in American studies and a master’s degree in sociology, both from Stanford University. I worked at Hewlett-Packard for 10 years, holding various human resources positions. After my second baby was born, I established my own HR consulting practice, which allowed me to work part-time on projects of interest.

On the family side, I have been married for the past 22 years to Jim Stuebner, my Stanford sweetheart, and we live just down the road from the church in Los Altos. Jim and I have three children: Cailey, a sophomore at Pepperdine University, Jake, an 11th grader at Mountain View High, and Bridget, my 8 year old. (Who keeps me on my toes and has the entire family wrapped around her little finger.)

When not caring for the children or working, I keep busy volunteering and am active in the PTA for my children’s schools and volunteering for each of my Stanford reunions. My hobbies include exercising, walking my puppy, being a Brownie leader, cheering on my kids’ sports activities, reading, and watching movies.

I am thrilled to be a part-time employee at the church and appreciate the flexibility it affords to continue with my passions of volunteering and caring for my family. Please come and visit me in my office at the Children’s Center – I welcome all to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities and resources available at the LAUMC Family Resource Center!

CAROLI JOHNSON
Executive Assistant

CAROLI JOHNSON
Executive Assistant
childrenscenter@laumc.org
650-941-5411