Women’s Leadership Alliance

Our Organization

The Women’s Leadership Alliance (WLA) began as the Female Samaritan Society in 1838 to assist the First Unitarian congregation and the community. Women were not allowed to attend annual meetings of the congregation until 1848.  Since that time the WLA has continued as an independent organization within First U. emphasizing the importance of women’s issues and voices, supporting local and national groups who advocate for women’s rights, providing educational and mentoring activities, and supporting women as ministers.

Statement of Purpose

1. Fostering and encouraging the expression of women’s interests,

2. Developing women and girls to be leaders,

3. Assisting women in their growth toward self-realization,

4. Promoting the sisterhood of women,

5. Supporting the mission of the congregation and the UUWA.

Board Officers

President                  Julie Elting              

Vice President         Nancy Witherell     

Treasurer                 Lisa Pacenza           

Secretary                  Victoria Antonini   

Member @ Large     Janna Mamelkin  

Member @ Large    Judy Dederick     

Member @ Large    Maggie Norris      

Board officers are elected each year. We have up to three Members at Large, so if you are a current member interested in Board involvement, please email anyone on the Board.    


Membership in the Women’s Leadership Alliance of the First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn shall be open to any person of any gender identification over the age of fourteen. Dues contribute to our advocacy and programmatic efforts for the year 2023-2024. Should you wish to contribute, you may do so here.


Biannual Meeting

Once a year we hold a meeting of all our members to address business issues, vote on our Board, and enjoy fellowship together at a luncheon which is usually served in the Frances White Room of First U.

First Unitarian Book Group 2020

Our book club meets via Zoom on the second Monday of the month, 7:00 pm. Dates and locations are subject to change; please watch the First U’s weekly e-announcements for more information.

Miriam Campobasso Fund

The Miriam Campobasso Fund provides financial assistance to the members of the WLA and Congregational women with medical related issue

Advocacy Work

We regularly support organizations that align with our statement of purpose. These include First U’s Minister’s Discretionary Fund and its Immigrant Solidarity TeamPlanned Parenthood, Brigid Alliance, the New York Abortion Access FundTroop 6000 for Girl Scouts in the New York Shelter System, to name just a few. 

We are also involved in the selection of First U’s Share the Plate organizations each program year.


The Women’s Leadership Alliance is committed to supporting our members and congregation in leadership efforts.

For example, we regularly support First U’s Religious Education seminarians and congregational delegates to register for the annual UUA General Assembly. We are currently seeking First U. members who wish to apply to attend the UUA General Assembly in 2024 and would love to hear from you.

We also offer leadership grants to help fund members’ research, a special class or conference attendance, and activities that promote the rights and wellbeing of female identifying people.  

For information about any of these program contact info@firstubrooklyn.org