Our people

Our People

Over the years our cohort has built solidarity among communities across racial, religious, generational, and socioeconomic lines. The diversity of the Solidarity Cohort members and their affiliated faith communities increases our collective power to advocate for justice and equity.

Cohort participants represent over twenty different faith communities in San Mateo County, including faith communities where members are primarily White, Black, Latinx, affluent, low-income, and LGBTQ. Our cohort has included leaders from Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist, and Unitarian Universalist religious communities, as well as eight different Protestant denominations.

Twenty-three cohort members posing for a group photo
Cohort members at our February 2023 meeting.

Cohort Planning Team

Our current planning team: Marlyn Bussey, Tovis Page, and Penny Nixon

Previous planning team members include Rev. Thomas Fisher, Rev. Amie Giordano, Rabbi Marv Goodman, Rabbi Corey Hefland, Nyla Ibrahim, Jennifer Martinez, and Rev. Ben Meyers.

Rev. Dr. Penny Nixon, Co-director

Penny Nixon served as the Senior Minister of the Congregational Church of San Mateo (CCSM) from 2007–2022 and was honored with the title of Minister Emerita upon her retirement from pastoral ministry. She was the first woman to hold that position and with her leadership CCSM thrived as a vibrant, progressive spiritual community; became known for its work in social justice; received the MLK award from the county of San Mateo; and became a sanctuary church. She also served as the pastor of an LGBTQ church in San Francisco for 12 years.

A community leader and political activist, she has received numerous awards and recognitions for her work in both San Francisco and San Mateo, the most recent being named 2019 Woman of the Year for Assembly District 22. Currently, Penny works as the Faith Director with Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo and the Faith Communities Housing Liaison for the County of San Mateo. She is the founder and co-director of the Peninsula Solidarity Cohort.

Rev. Dr. Marlyn Bussey, Co-director

Rev. Dr. Marlyn Bussey has been the Pastor of St. James AME Zion Church since January 2009. She is the first female appointed to St. James since the church was erected in 1927, and previously served as the associate minister at First A.M.E. Zion Church in San Francisco. During her tenure, St. James has become known as not only a church in the community but a church of the community, meeting the needs of the North Central community, the city of San Mateo and San Mateo County with health education and services, voter education and registration, census education and registration and educational services for the children of the neighborhood.

Pastor Bussey stands proudly on the front lines of social justice as a community leader and social activist. She is the recipient of numerous awards: Heroes for Health, 2013; Everyday Heroes, 2014; The Jefferson Award in 2016 for Outstanding Public Service; and the NAACP Award for Outstanding Community Service in 2018, to name a few.

Dr. Bussey serves as the Co-Director of the Peninsula Solidarity Cohort.

Rev. Dr. Tovis Page, Program Coordinator

Tovis Page will be ordained into the Unitarian Universalist ministry in May 2023. She earned a Master’s of Arts in Social Change from Starr King School for the Ministry in 2022 and completed her Clinical Pastoral Education that same year at Stanford Hospital. She has served the Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo as both a contract Worship Minister (2023) and a ministerial intern (2018-19). While an intern, she also served the Unitarian Universalist Coastside Community in Half Moon Bay, and is a longtime member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Redwood City. Tovis has been active in interfaith circles on the Peninsula for nearly a decade. She joined the Peninsula Solidarity Cohort in 2018 and was hired in the role of Program Coordinator the following year. She is an integral member of the Planning Team.

Prior to receiving her call to Unitarian Universalist ministry, Tovis earned a Master’s of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a PhD in Religion, Gender and Culture from Harvard University. During her time at Harvard, Tovis taught graduate and undergraduate students in the fields of theology, religion, feminist studies and environmental studies. She has a background in Vipassana meditation practice and completed a yearlong course in Buddhist chaplaincy before starting her UU training.

Current cohort members

Rev. Dr. Jorge AbdalaIgreja Presbiteriana Brasileira de San Mateo and Latinos Unidos en CristoSan Mateo
Rev. Jorge BautistaCongregational Church of San MateoSan Mateo
Rev. Dr. Marlyn BusseySt. James AME Zion ChurchSan Mateo
Rev. Michael CroninIsland United Community ChurchFoster CIty
Rabbi Lisa DelsonPeninsula Temple SholomBurlingame
Rev. Kristi DenhamRetired UCC MinisterMarin
Rev. Ann DuncanBurlingame UMCBurlingame
Rev. Terri EchelbargerMany Journeys Metropolitan Community ChurchSan Mateo & Pacifica
Rev. Stefanie Etzbach-DaleUU San MateoSan Mateo & Redwood City
Rabbi Nat EzrayCongregation Beth JacobRedwood City
Diane FahrnerPMC Co-Pres; Asso with Sisters of MercyBurlingame
Rev. Brian FergusonUU Fellowship of Redwood CityRedwood City
Nani FriedmanFaith in Action Bay AreaSan Mateo County
Rev. Courtney GeibertMessiah LutheranRedwood City
Rev. Katie GoetzWoodside United Methodist ChurchRedwood City
Rabbi Marv GoodmanRetired RabbiFoster City
Rabbi Ilana Goldhaber-GordonCongrgeation Beth JacobRedwood City
Rev. Mary GravesTrinity Presbyterian ChurchSan Carlos
Adriana GuzmanFaith in Action Bay AreaSan Mateo County
Rabbi Laurie Hanh-TapperStanford University, ChaplainPalo Alto
Krista HansonMember of CCSMSan Mateo
Rabbi Rebecca HechtPeninsula Temple Beth ElSan Mateo
Rebecca HeteyResearch Scientist on Policing & Implicit BiasStanford
Rabbi Moshe Tom HeynCoastside Jewish CommunityHalf Moon Bay
Pastor Sue HollandCoastside Lutheran ChurchHalf Moon Bay
Rev. Andrea Howard-WashingtonTrinity Baptist Church of San MateoSan Mateo
Dr. Sharon JacobsUMC and UCCMarin
Jerry McBrideSan Mateo Quaker Worship GroupSan Mateo
Deacon Lauren McCombsEpiscopal Church of St. MatthewSan Mateo
Rev. Ben MeyersHospice ChaplainOakland
Rev. Jim MitulskiCongregational Church of BelmontBelmont
Rev. Carole MooreTrinity Baptist Church of San MateoSan Mateo
Rev. Dawn NealBuddhist teacher and interfaith chaplainRedwood City
Rev. Dr. Penny NixonPSC Co-directorSan Mateo
Sister Joan Marie O’DonnellSisters of Mercy, Mercy CenterBurlingame
Dr. Tovis PagePeninsula Solidarity Cohort / UUFRCRedwood City
Rev. Jen PlantenbergCommunity Baptist ChurchSan Mateo
Rev. Joshua SerranoHoly Trinity LutheranSan Carlos
Rev. Iain StanfordSt. Peter’s EpiscopalRedwood City
Rev. David UsherRetired UUA minister; SURJSan Mateo
Deacon Sina VunaMinister of Community Engagement, Bay District Peninsula, United Methodist ChurchSan Mateo

Former Cohort Members

Rev. Henry Toryo Adams, Rev. Valerie Duecker, Rabbi Amy Eilberg, Rev. Dr. Thomas Fisher, Rev. Amie Giordano, Rev. Rolf Hansen, Rev. Kurt Heineman, Rabbi Corey Helfand, Rev. Holly Hillman, Nyla Ibrahim, Rev. Anna Lange-Soto, Lorena Melgarejo, Rev. Ted Pecot, Sonja Pilman, Rev. Tuhina Rasche, Rabbi Laura Rumpf, Rev. Dr. Kibbie Ruth, Rev. Thomas Skillings, Rev. Dr. Don Smith, Rev. Kaloma Smith, Samina Sundas, Msgr. John Talesfore, Rev. Connie Winter-Eulberg


Rev. Dr. Penny Nixon, PSC Co-Director: revgpn@gmail.com
Rev. Dr. Marlyn Bussey, PSC Co-Director: marlynbussey@gmail.com
Rev. Dr. Tovis Page, PSC Program Coordinator: peninsulasolidaritycohort@gmail.com