Our Minister and Staff
To contact the minister, go to Pastoral Care.
Len De Roche
Len De Roche was the Interim Senior Minister First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa until the end of July and then moved to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Somerset Hills, Somerville, NJ. He was settled minister (probably an oxymoron) in the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley, Bethlehem, PA. He served churches in West Hartford, CT, Norwell, MA, Amherst, NY, Charleston, WV and at Kingston, MA. He trained as a pastoral counselor at Kanawha Pastoral Counseling, Charleston, WV and as a Pastoral Counselor/psychotherapist and Chaplain at the University of Chicago and its Hospital. For four years, he was enrolled in the Analyst Training course at CG Jung Institute-Boston. Len also had a brief career as a financial advisor and stock broker.
He is a second career minister whose first career was as a USAF officer. He started his Air Force career flying F-111’s but after breaking too many, he was sent to maintenance to fix them. He ended his service closing bases in England and Germany after the Berlin Wall fell. Len lived 15 years in England and attended two British Unitarian congregations and was involved with the British and Foreign Unitarian Association. Upon retirement, he went back to graduate school and entered seminary and has served the UU Ministry since 1997. Len has specialized in serving congregations that had troubled ministerial endings, needed some organizational restructuring or a change of culture.
He is the father of two daughters. One daughter is a special education teaching consultant in Bucks County, PA and the other is a LEED Architect in Cambridge, MA who designs and builds life style structures like condos and dorms. Len partners in ministry with a large black Labrador.
This vibrant team of professionals helps the congregation to deepen their spiritual connections and put their faith into action.
Sarah Ahrens, Director of Religious Exploration
Sarah Ahrens — who is currently on medical leave — always found faith and spirituality central to her life in many ways, but it wasn’t until she discovered Unitarian Universalism as an adult that she really felt like she had found the best expression for her values and beliefs. She began her journey as a UU at the First Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hunterdon County, where she now serves as their part-time Director of Religious Exploration. Upon taking that role in 2013, she realized that the position was not just a job, but a true calling.
In joining the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills in 2017, Sarah fulfilled her dream of working fully in the field of religious education. She strives to bring a strong Unitarian Universalist identity and pride to its children and youth, and to help them find empowerment and agency in the world through active social justice. She is inspired by her involvement with the Liberal Religious Educators Association to bring cutting edge programs to her work in religious education. She has served on the Metro NY LREDA Board for several years as its treasurer, and is also the MNY LREDA district administrator.
Prior to becoming a religious professional, Sarah had diverse career in both business and education. She began working in health care and non-profit administration, but found a deeper passion in both public and private education. She has taught English, history, theater and journalism in several New Jersey high schools, and holds a Master’s of Arts in Education. She was an administrator of several private learning centers and a corporate trainer for a national supplemental education firm. She also owned a franchise business which provided technology enrichment classes to young children. She holds a B.A from Loyola University (Maryland) in Writing, Philosophy, and Psychology.
Avianca Bouchedid, Office Administrator
Avianca was born in Germany, raised in Brooklyn, and came of age in Manhattan. She now lives in northern NJ with her two daughters: the eldest speaks while the (not so) little one barks.
Prior to UUCSH, Avianca was the Vice President at COLOTRAQ, a global telecommunications firm, where she handled commissions management and vendor relations. Before that, she was a Vice President at the American Cancer Society – Eastern Division. There, she was accountable for a P&L of $3.2mm and supervised a staff of 15.
Avianca holds an MA in clinical psychology from Columbia University and graduated cum laude from St. John’s University with a BA in literature. She also completed the Innovating for Sustainability certificate program at Harvard Business School in 2013.
William Magalio, Music Director/Accompanist
Will has been working for UUCSH for over 13 years. He has played piano for 36 years, but has also studied violin, tuba and voice. During the week, Will serves as the Marching Band Director and Director of Orchestras at Hunterdon Central Regional High School. His bands and orchestras consistently earn superior ratings and high scores in competitions and festivals throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Will received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey) and his Masters in Music Technology from the University of Newcastle, Australia.
Will is also very active in local community theater. He serves on the Board of the Readington Community Theatre where he and his wife, Cindy, have participated in the cast and have served as music director and choreographer for many musicals over the past decade.
Susan Schneider, Choir Director/Music Director
Soprano Susan Schneider has sung twentieth and twenty-first century music, as well as standard repertoire in the US and Europe with companies including Pauline Oliveros’ Deep Listening Institute, American Chamber Opera, Composers Concordance, Downtown Opera, Die Zeltmusik Festival (Germany) and the Vesprem Chamber Orchestra (Hungary). Several composers, including Eric Ewazen, Charles Kuskin and John David Earnest have written roles and song repertoire for her. Her recording of Akanthos by Iannis Xenakis on Mode CD’s was praised by the New York Times as “superb.”
Susan studied conducting at the Eastman School of Music, where she got her degree in voice and opera, and has conducted children’s choirs and high school choirs. She teaches voice privately and owns a small virtual assistant business in her home in Chatham, where she lives with her husband, and has two sons.
Susan has been serving as the UUCSH Choir Director since 2012, and enjoys being able to enrich the music program at UUCSH.