Ministers & Staff
The ministers and staff of Emerson Unitarian Universalist Chapel provide the spiritual leadership and organizational framework crucial to the Emerson Chapel community's well-being.
Reverend Dawn Fortune, Interim Minister
Dawn Fortune is Emerson Chapel’s Interim Minister, spiritual leader, and chief of staff. Dawn earned a Master of Divinity degree and a Certificate in Spiritual and Pastoral Care from Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, Mass. Dawn is a gifted storyteller and preacher, working to connect the lofty principles of Unitarian Universalism with practical, accessible application in our daily lives. Dawn is passionate about justice work and transformational spirituality.
As an Interim Minister, Dawn plans to be with Emerson UU Chapel for two years (2015-2017), serving as spiritual companion as the congregation grieves the departure of their former minister, Rev. Krista Taves, and as guide through the necessary self-evaluation and growth work to prepare to call their next settled minister.
Reverend Julie Taylor, Affiliate Minister
Rev. Taylor, a community minister affiliated with Emerson Chapel, provides services beyond the walls of our congregation. Julie's ministry has focused on disaster- and crisis-response nationwide. Julie serves as chaplain for the New York Air National Guard, 109th Airlift Wing. Home base is in St. Louis, where Julie directs the Unitarian Universalist House of Studies at Eden Theological Seminary.
Dawn French-Bell, Director of Religious Education
Dawn French-Bell joined the Emerson staff on July 22, 2015 as our new Director of Religious Education (DRE) for Children and Youth.
Dawn earned a Master of Arts degree in Education from Antioch University, a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of South Dakota, and is an award-winning teacher. In 2005, Missouri certified her to teach Early childhood and Elementary Education, and, most recently, she taught in the Clayton School District and at the Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School.
Dawn has experience in designing and implementing multi-age curricula and student-centered projects that encourage choice, initiative, and critical thinking. She has trained and coordinated classroom volunteers and has planned and conducted community-service learning events. She also has extensive experience in planning, organizing, and overseeing programs in collaboration with teachers and parents.
Sandy Otto, Office Administrator
Sandy became our Office Administrator in late April 2015 and brings a wealth of experience to her role, having worked as an office manager for more than 25 years. She lives in Wildwood with her husband, Ron, and has four grown children. Her favorite activities revolve around her large extended family. She is an active volunteer at United Cerebral Palsy Heartland, loves to cook, and to travel anywhere there's a beach.
Todd Painter, Pianist
Using his diverse musical talents, Todd has brought music to life at Emerson Chapel since 2010. Whether accompanying hymns, jamming with the Worship Band, or playing his own musical interludes, he draws from eclectic sources. He plays jazz, classical, rock, reggae, and rhythm and blues with equal ease, using skills honed while touring for seven years in the United States and Europe with a St. Louis-based band.
Barbara Persch, Nursery Care Worker
Barbara was born in Germany and lived most of her life there. She has worked as an occupational therapist in pediatrics with children ages 1.5 years old to 15 years old. She moved to the U.S. in 2009 and to St. Louis in November of 2014. She loves working with children and believes that they are most precious and should be treated that way. Her main focus nowadays is her art and creativity. She tries to bring the joy and beauty of it into every aspect of her life.