First Parish in Needham Logo

23 Dedham Avenue
Needham, MA 02492

Minister & Staff


Reverend Catie Scudera


The Reverend Catie Scudera began her ministry at First Parish in August 2014.

Previously, Rev. Catie served as the intern minister of Arlington Street Church in downtown Boston, as the student and summer minister of the Winchester Unitarian Society in Winchester, Massachusetts, and as a student chaplain at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington.

Rev. Catie’s personal theology is guided by historic Universalism and Unitarianism, as well as progressive Christianity and engaged Buddhism.

Darrah Bryans

Intern Minister & Assistant to Director of Religious Education

Raised as an Episcopalian, Darrah came to Unitarian Universalism when her children were young. After volunteering for several committees in her home congregation, UU Area Church at First Parish in Sherborn, she was hired as the Membership Development and Communications Coordinator for the church. Called to parish ministry by her many years as the Membership Coordinator for her home congregation, Darrah Bryans is in her third and final year of seminary at Boston University’s School of Theology.

Darrah has a BA and an MA in International Policy Studies from the Monterey Institute for International Studies. She also holds her Papers as a Brewmaster and Maltmaster from the Bayrische Handwerkskammer, as well as a degree in Production Management from Doemens Fachakademie, the oldest private brewing school in Germany. While none of these degrees help with her ministry, they provide her with a deep well of little known facts.

When not studying or working as an intern, Darrah loves to spend time with her two nearly grown children, her husband, and the family dog. She is an avid baker, passionate gardener, voracious reader, and a big fan of walking and hiking.


Sara Elizabeth Dyer-Santa Cruz

Interim Director of Lifespan Religious Education

I am coming into this position with professional experience in the field of children’s mental health as well as 7 years of coordinating the high school age youth program at the Unitarian Universalist church in nearby Milton, MA.

Though I did not grow up UU, I have a deep passion for our faith and am currently finishing my second year of seminary at Starr King School for the Ministry in California as a distance learning student.


Laura Nevitt

Music Director

I have grown up and served in many churches, but this will be my first time in a UU Congregation. I am so excited for this, because my beliefs much more align with your principles. I am a member of the Queer community, and am passionate about social justice.

I grew up in South Carolina, where I studied composition, voice, guitar, and music education. I taught 6th grade chorus in a public school and a music intern and Director of the Children’s Music Program.

I love all kinds of music – especially folk music. I am so looking forward to enjoying the many ways we will celebrate diversity together, both musically and in many other ways. I also have a dog named Jim and a cat named Owen who keep me on my toes!

Chris Lockman

Chris Lockman

Assistant Music Director/Pianist

North Carolina native, Chris Lockman, is thrilled to join the team!

Growing up as a member of the Queer community in the south (and in the LDS faith), Chris Lockman found an outlet through music. In NC, Chris worked with choirs, schools, churches, theatre organizations, and community colleges. Through his experience, he grew passionate for creating safe spaces for all to discover the joy of music, and that’s just what he hopes to do at First Parish!

Chris has a Bachelor of Science in Audio Production from Full Sail University and has played piano for 24 years. He currently serves as a collaborative pianist for Colleges of the Fenway choir and orchestra, New England Conservatory’s Preparatory program, and VOICES Boston.


Susanna Whitman

Parish Administrator

Susanna is a life-long Unitarian Universalist, now an active member of First Parish in Lexington.

Susanna’s past church roles include vice-president, co-chair of membership, and working on RE and other committees. She comes to us with impressive list of professional credentials including ten years in the Congregational Life group at the UUA. Prior to that she served as DRE at Melrose UU Church and worked for five years in London for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Most recently she has served as a Project Management Consultant assisting clients with program and curriculum development as well as project management.

Susanna lives in Lexington with her husband Jonathan Kinghorn and their three children. Susanna is currently studying acting in her spare time.




Tom Pugh

Worship Stream Producer

Tom was brought up in Needham and his parents were members of First Parish.

After 35 years as an engineer at WGBH TV, following his retirement, Tom found himself working at First Parish. With the start of the pandemic in March 2020, he and his volunteer counterpart crafted the tech that kept us worshiping and meeting online during the darkest days of the pandemic.

Tom is also a performer and musician and co-founder of the Plugged In Band program in Needham.


Freddy Soto


Freddy Soto has his own cleaning business and also works as our cleaner.

Freddy was born, raised and had a career as a lawyer in Guatemala. He has lived in Germany, France and Italy before settling in the United States. He has a wife and two children.

Billy Umland

Billy Umland


Billy Umland is the sexton at First Parish, in addition to running Billy’s Beasts Dog Walking and working behind the scenes for Charles River Ballet Academy.

Billy grew up near Milwaukee, Wisconsin and then danced professionally with Milwaukee Ballet, California Ballet, and Nevada Ballet Theatre before moving to Massachusetts. He lives in Natick with his wife, Emily, their two daughters and their dog.


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