Our Leader and Staff
Amanda Poppei, Senior Leader
WES appointed Amanda Poppei as our fourth Senior Leader in August 2008 after an extensive nationwide search. Amanda brings a passion for social justice and a commitment to building a multigenerational community to her work at WES. She was drawn especially to WES’ sense of warmth and caring, and to the Ethical Culture emphasis on living and acting with integrity. Amanda sees a religious community as a place where we travel through life together, helping each other to be the people we wish to be.
Amanda has a Masters of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC and a BA in Religious Studies from Yale University. She was the ministerial intern at River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Bethesda, MD, and served as a chaplain at the Washington Hospital Center, where she completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education. Amanda is a Unitarian Universalist minister as well as a certified Ethical Culture Leader, and has a strong background in interfaith work. She has served on the City-Wide Strategy Team of the Washington Interfaith Network and now is part of Faith Strategies, a DC-based clergy collective focused on shared action. Amanda also serves as Vice-President of the Unitarian Universalist Humanist Association, and is a co-founder of the Humanist Clergy Collaboratory.
Since she was a young teenager, Amanda has imagined a life in religious leadership; she finds great joy in the work of building connections, seeking justice, and transforming lives. Amanda enjoys all the moments of a community’s life together (even committee meetings!), but thinks that Sunday morning is the most important time of the week. She notes that there are few places in our society where we join with people of all ages and life experiences to share an hour together. For Amanda, Sunday mornings offer an opportunity to reflect, to connect with others, and to reach our hearts–and our arms–a little wider.
Amanda lives in Silver Spring with her husband, Peter Verchinski, and their daughters, Marcella and Joanna. Peter is an attorney at the Government Accountability Office and a very proud father.
To hear Platforms given by Amanda, we invite you to listen to the following playlist:
Melissa Sinclair, Director of Lifelong Learning
Melissa Sinclair joined the staff in August 2014. She coordinates the Sunday School and is responsible for our religious education program, from nursery through teens, as well as our adult education programs. She also participates in commuity-wide festivals and supports our vision of a multigenerational congregation.
Before coming to WES, Melissa served as Director of Ethical Education at the Northern Virginia Ethical Society. She has a Masters’ degree in Education Administration, and has worked in the university administration field. For the last decade, Melissa has spent much of her time parenting her two sons, Adrian and Henry. Melissa, her husband Sven, and her son Henry live in Columbia, MD. (Adrian is now off at college!)
Mike Kravitz, Teen Group Coordinator
Mike is originally from Nashville, Tennessee. He has lived in the greater Washington D.C. area since 2015. After volunteering with the WES Teen Group through the 2015-2016 school year, he decided that the WES teens are totally awesome and he wanted to work with them as the coordinator for the group. He currently helps the teens coordinate their events, like the monthly waffle bars and social outings.
Bailey Whiteman, Music Director
Administration & Operations
Tom Hutton, Congregational Administrator
Tom started working at WES in May 2015. Among other things, he manages WES’s finances and oversees its operational needs..
Prior to WES, Tom served as Deputy Executive Director of 40Plus of Greater Washington, a non-profit where he led several initiatives to help the unemployed find work. He also served as Director and Chief Information Officer at the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, a national securities regulator. Tom earned a Bachelor of Liberal Arts from American University in Washington, DC.
Robyn Kravitz, Communications & Administrative Coordinator
Robyn Kravitz serves as the Communications & Administrative Coordinator at the Washington Ethical Society. She is a recent transplant to the DC area from North Dakota via the Air Force through her husband’s work as a munitions maintainer. She has a bachelor’s degree in Business Finance from the University of Colorado, and also has lived in Colorado, Mississippi and is originally from Nashville, Tennessee! She’s passionate about hockey, secular homeschooling, and bringing new members in the Ethical Culture fold. She and her husband Mike, are delighted to be raising their two children, Ellie and Josh, as part of a humanist community.
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