The Reverend Janet C. Bush began her ministry with USNF in August of 2009.
Janet feels blessed to have found her way to UU ministry and to have been called to our congregation. She came to ministry after a varied career in business and educational settings, where she held leadership positions in many different organizations, always with an interest in facilitating interpersonal and organizational relationships. She served as a CFO in several biotech companies in the Boston area, and also worked in a job-training program for disadvantaged adults, most of them welfare recipients, teaching office and communication skills and guiding them in the job search process.
She was active in her local UU church on boards and committees, as an RE parent volunteer, and in the choir. She also served as a Board member and Treasurer of Discover Roxbury, a Boston non-profit whose mission is to build community pride and create bridges of understanding by increasing knowledge of Roxbury's historic and cultural contributions and fostering economic empowerment.
In our community Janet served a six-year term on the Board of Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity, where she continues as a member of the Finance Committee. She was also a member of the Steering Committee for Welcome Home: the Northampton Refugee Resettlement Effort, a group which advised Catholic Charities of Greater Springfield's Northampton program from July 2016 through September 2017.
Janet holds a Master of Divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School, a Master's in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a Master's in Management from the Yale School of Management, and a Bachelor's degree in French from Yale College.
She served as a hospice chaplain in training with VNA Care Network of Needham, MA, and spent two years as ministerial intern at First Parish Church (UU) in Dorchester, MA. Her husband, Booker Bush, is a primary care physician practicing in Springfield. They have two adult sons, and three grandchildren.
Manager of Congregational Operations
Michael has experience in managing community-based agencies, both large and small. His commitment to economic and social justice took hold years ago as he volunteered in a Catholic Workers soup kitchen, leading him to obtain a master’s in Community Economic Development
He has worked to provide affordable housing for a wide range of people, including seniors, families, people with disabilities, and low-income community members. Michael also served for several years as the Treasurer for Hartford’s Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). He relocated to Florence in 2017 to be with his wife, Val Nelson Taylor, a long time Northampton resident. They are active in their Rocky Hill Co-housing community.
Director of Faith Development and Community Engagement
Jessica Harwood, M. Ed.
Jessica's position covers lifespan faith development, crawling babies through adults. In terms of Community Engagement, she works with committees and teams that are directly involved in social justice and other aspects of congregational life, and works to strengthen connections both within and beyond the USNF community. Jessica (she/her) loves the myriad opportunities to connect people in our community, build relationships, learn together, and have fun. In any given day, she might get to play on the floor with a 3 year old, observe a group building game with middle schoolers, facilitate a racial justice planning meeting, and discuss sexuality with parents.
Jessica has worked in education for more than 20 years, as an environmental educator and administrator, a counselor for youth with mental illness, and a classroom teacher. Community service, leadership development, and hands-on experiences are vital to her teaching. Learn more about our education programming.
Jessica also serves as the treasurer for the New England Liberal Religious Educator Association Chapter. Jessica lives in Easthampton with her wife and baby.
Ellen Cogen is a Professor of Music at Holyoke Community College, where she directs the choral and musical theater ensembles and teaches jazz voice. She has years of experience as a church musician, singer, teacher, singing coach, accompanist, cellist, and choral director.
Ellen is proficient as an organist and pianist in a wide variety of genres, and has a special love of jazz. She served as Music Director at the Easthampton Congregational Church for over twenty years, and she has wonderful memories of serving as our pianist when we had a 4pm Sunday worship service—this was during the 1990s when we were a much larger congregation. Ellen holds a Master’s degree in Voice Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music.
Eden also goes by Autumn, and does not have a preference for either name. She is a life-long UU who is also Jewish. She has a passion for youth social justice organizing, disability justice, and trans liberation. She came to the river valley as an undergraduate at UMass Amherst and has lived here for six years now. Currently, she attends Salem State University in their Master's of Social Work program. Her goal is to become a mental health practitioner who specializes in working with trans youth and young adults. Some of her hobbies include: video games, reading, knitting, cooking, and hiking the many beautiful trails here.
Dara is excited to join USNF as the early childhood teacher on Sunday where she will provide children with a safe and rich learning environment where they can begin their spiritual journey and make connections with each other. Dara has experience in Northampton Public Schools as a paraprofessional for children with autism, and brings over 20 years of experience as a youth worker with children of all ages and as a trauma-informed homeschool parent of three amazing young people. She is passionate about kids learning from play, having a voice, and finding their own path in the world.
She moved with her family to Leeds three years ago from Louisiana, and loves to be outdoors. They miss the rich culture (food!) and diversity in southern Louisiana, but have found a wonderful new community in Western Massachusetts.
Frank Taillon has been helping us keep our building clean and well-maintained since 2015. He is a resident of Easthampton.