Interviews with Outgoing Co-Chairs Betsy Tomic and Susanna Wu-Pong Calvert

As we continue to welcome Reverend Anastassia Zinke as our new chair, I requested our outgoing interim co-chairs Betsy and Susanna reflect on their time in their board leadership positions, although they are both still members! For ease of communication, they were asked to answer as many or as little of my questions as they liked; Dr. Susanna Wu-Pong Calvert chose to record her answers in video format while Betsy Tomic submitted her written answers for you all to read below. I thank them both for their participation and I hope for anyone interested to have the pleasure of interacting with them in the future!


Q: How would you describe the work that UUMFE is doing, and can you reflect on your personal involvement?

My personal goal as a board member is for every UU Congregation to step up their faith-based passion for climate justice. So I work, almost every day, to get UUMFE to be an organization that can influence Congregations and the UUA to study, learn, pray, discuss, and act on the impending environmental and climate crises.

Q: What made you decide to join the board in the first place?

It was destiny, karma, or something similar that put me and the board together! Like most reading this blog post, I believe that environmental and climate justice are the biggest challenges facing mankind. In the next century, will mankind continue to coexist here on Earth, or will we descend into a species fighting for the few resources left?  I believe faith has much to do with acknowledging and answering that question.  And I believe that Unitarian Universalism is the religion best poised to support us all as we ponder and then act. 

Q: What are some challenges UUMFE has run into during your time serving on the board?

We must see our work not as challenges, but as opportunities. There are so many opportunities to encourage UU’s everywhere to rise to understand environmental and climate justice, to recognize it as a spiritual moment. Yes, look at our beautiful Earth that we want to preserve, but also look at each other! Look at the Bengalis who have lost their homes and livelihoods due to floods; look at Californians who have lost their homes in fires. Our faith must flood us with the fervor to care, to speak out, to vote.

Q:Are there any specific moments/incidents/accomplishments from your time serving as Interim Chair that stood out to you?

We are a small but mighty organization, trying to influence a large national religious base. Our staff is working on that challenge every day and going overboard in their efforts and in their passion (and their hours). Kudos to Daniel Lawlor, Sabrina Louise, Aly Tharp (who has moved on to Greenfaith) and Leonisa Ardizzone! Hope all of you reading this can meet them at one of our workshops or services.


Click here for the interview.

Vandana Menser
Vandana Menser
Vandana Menser is currently a junior studying Marine Vertebrate Biology in the Honors College at Stony Brook University. She is interested in connecting environmental policy and scientific research to the general public by empowering and educating youth to improve communications and involvement in government.