Our Staff

Our staff members work both remotely and in the Maine Conference Office. Have a question? We have someone who can support you! Read about each staff member to connect with the person who is best suited to help you. Not sure who to contact? Reach out to the Maine Conference Office and we will connect you with the appropriate person.

We look forward to connecting with you!

Maine Conference Office

337 State Street, Suite 3
Augusta, ME 04330

Email Us!

Office: 1.207.622.3100
Fax: 1.207.622.3102

Monday – Friday: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola, Ph.D.

Conference Minister

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Email: mlaviola@maineucc.org
Cell Phone: 1.207.616.6704

More About Marisa

The Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola was called as our Conference Minister on August 6th, 2022 and began her ministry on October 26th. She comes to us via Penn Central, where she served as Associate Conference Minister, and from Vermont and Massachusetts where she served as a local church pastor. As ACM in Penn Central, Marisa helped many small churches to realize their God-given mission to be vital beacons to their greater community. Marisa has a passion for helping small churches discover and celebrate their vital role in God’s 21st century. During her time in Vermont, she helped two congregations come together as one – a United Methodist congregation and a United Church of Christ congregation. She enabled them to discover their shared ministry of mission to their community and eventually join together as one congregation, where they have become a focal point of mission to their community. Also in Vermont, she served at the conference level as chair of the Conference-wide Committee on Ministry, as a speaker for church vitality, and as a vitality coach for churches who wish to grow their ministry.

Marisa holds Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Piano Performance and Music History from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kentucky, and a Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology. She taught music at Asbury College in the 1980’s before transitioning to a career in clinical psychology. Prior to her ordination to ministry in 2009, she was a licensed psychologist in clinical practice for over 20 years. She is published in the areas of recovery from the sequelae of childhood abuse and neglect, and also on the topic of small church vitality.

Marisa is thrilled to partner with clergy and lay folk in our conference, as we discern as faith partners, the vision and mission of our ministry into the 21st century. She brings a wealth of experience and love for the United Church of Christ. She and her spouse Carol live in Augusta. They have two grown children, Kristyn and Kathryn.

Rev. Samantha Houser

Associate Conference Minister

Pronouns: she/they

Email: shouser@maineucc.org
Phone: 1.402.350.1714

More About Samantha

Rev. Houser joined our staff this past September as temporary part time ACM for search and call to fill the needs of pastors and churches until a new Full time ACM is hired, hopefully by the end of March 2024. Rev. Houser has served as ACM in the Tri-Conference (Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota) of the United Church of Christ, and because of family and personal reasons is now working remotely as a bridge ACM for the Maine Conference. She has extensive experience with search of call with churches of all sizes, particularly smaller churches in the rural areas of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. She also has experience working as a remote bridge ACM. 

May we join our hearts and prayers as we together venture onto this road of our journey. Please pray especially for our churches and our pastors in search, and for Rev. Houser.

Rev. Dr. Malcolm Himschoot

Acting Dean – Maine School of Ministry (MESOM)

Pronouns: he, him, his

Email: mhimschoot@maineucc.org
Cell Phone: 1.207.458.7836
Work Phone: 1.207.530.9594
MESOM Webpage: www.maineucc.org/mesom

More About Malcolm

Rev. Dr. Malcolm Himschoot, Acting Dean, worked for seven years with the UCC’s Ministerial Excellence, Support, and Authorization Team when the Manual on Ministry and Ministerial Profile were updated in a nationwide conversation about a theology of ministry for the 21st century. During that time he earned a DMin in Transformational Leadership from the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, and participated in consortium gatherings among regional theological education programs across the life of the church. His commitments reflect the diversity, equity, and inclusion at the heart of Christ’s gospel.

Malcolm lives in Orono where he co-pastors the ecumenically-minded Church of Universal Fellowship. He is known as an out trans man, an activist and transgender educator, a sometimes-professor at the University of Maine, and a dad of twins. He also has an MDiv from the Iliff School of Theology, and a B.A. from Amherst College.

Elizabeth (Liz) Charles McGough

Director – Pilgrim Lodge (PL)
& Youth Ministries Coordinator

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Email: echarles@pilgrimlodge.org
Cell Phone: 1.207.458.8219
Pilgrim Lodge Office: 1.207.724.3200
Pilgrim Lodge Fax: 1.207.724.3732
Pilgrim Lodge Website: www.pilgrimlodge.org

More About Liz

Liz joined the Maine Conference staff in 2022 as the Director of Pilgrim Lodge, the Outdoor Ministries Program of the Maine Conference UCC. Having grown up in the Maine Conference as a pastor’s kid, Liz has deeply enjoyed the gift of spending time at Pilgrim Lodge as a camper, counselor, staff member, and volunteer dean for the greater part of her life. Her experiences at Pilgrim Lodge have reinforced her belief in the transformational power of exploring faith in nature and in community with others.

Liz first joined the Pilgrim Lodge summer staff while attending college at the University of New Hampshire. Liz then spent a year working in Honduras for the Maine Conference UCC, coordinating groups traveling to the country with the Maine-Honduras Partnership, and supporting a rural health clinic. Upon returning to Maine, Liz used the Spanish that she learned to join the Maine Mobile Health Program where she spent over a decade leading a team of passionate individuals providing mobile health services to migrant farmworkers across the state of Maine. Liz is excited to be back on the staff of the Maine Conference UCC, bringing with her all that she has learned in her journey.

Liz lives in Gardiner (and at camp!) with her husband, Cullen, and two children, Benjamin and Nathaniel.

Karen Steelhammer

Office Administrator & Registrar

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Email: ksteelhammer@pilgrimlodge.org
Cell Phone: 1.207.446.8303
Pilgrim Lodge Office: 1.207.724.3200
Pilgrim Lodge Fax: 1.207.724.3732
Pilgrim Lodge Website: www.pilgrimlodge.org

More About Karen

Karen is the friendly voice you often hear when you call the Pilgrim Lodge office. Having been with Pilgrim Lodge for seventeen years, Karen is well-informed with the workings of Pilgrim Lodge. In her role, Karen handles a wide variety of tasks to support the operations of Pilgrim Lodge from processing financials and supporting campers with registrations to maintaining camp licensure and accreditation standards are met. She can always be relied upon to lend a helping hand.

Karen was born and raised in the Katahdin region and now lives in Winthrop, Maine with her husband and granddaughter.

Anne Hodgman

Executive Assistant & Accounting Assistant

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Email: ahodgman@maineucc.org
Work Phone: 1.207.530.9590

More About Anne

Anne Hodgman joined the Maine Conference Staff in the Fall of 2001 as a Resource Center Assistant. In the Fall of 2008, Anne became the Director of the Resource Center. After the conference office moved to Augusta in May of 2013, Anne took on the duties of Accounting Assistant which entails processing all of the Conference and Pilgrim Lodge bills, running the bi-weekly payrolls for both, submitting quarterly and annual reports to the State and Federal Governments on behalf of the Conference and Pilgrim Lodge.

In January of 2017, she added Executive Assistant to her duties as the transition away from the Resource Center began. Responsibilities include answering the phones, providing administrative support as needed, coordinates registration for events and the distribution of data, works on annual reporting to the Data Hub/yearbook, provides hospitality, coordinates the arrangements for General Synod delegates, oversees office machine maintenance, office supplies, maintains the Conference calendar, opens and distributes mail, custodial and other duties as assigned.

Anne is a mom to three adult sons, grandmother, to four grandchildren and lives with her husband of 44 years in Fayette, Maine. She is also a member of High Street Congregational UCC in Auburn where she has served on the Board of Christian Education, Board of Deacons, provided childcare in the nursery, the superintendent of Church School and as the Director of Christian Education for almost twelve years.

Renita Dehais

Treasury Assistant

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Email: rdehais@maineucc.org
Work Phone: 1.207.530.9593

More About Renita

Renita L. Dehais has been the Treasury Assistant for the Maine Conference since December of 2014. Her responsibilities include: Accounts Receivable, all operations for maintaining the Consolidated Trust of the Maine Conference, some targeted financial reporting for specific projects and groups within the Conference, among other duties as assigned.

Renita’s involvement with the Conference prior to this position was as the Cumberland Association representative to the Coordinating Council (a predecessor of the current Board of Directors) from 2008 to August 2013 when she was hired to work on the Pilgrim Lodge Capital Campaign as the Donor Relations Coordinator. She was also a member of the Pilgrim Lodge Advisory Team from its inception in 2009 to its end in 2018.

Renita had worked in banking for 16 years prior to being a stay-at-home mom raising two wonderful children. During this time, she held various part-time jobs from picking apples at a local orchard to being an aide in a pre-school, to directing the children’s choir at church, all of which allowed her to work during school hours and to be home when her children got home from school. She finds skills learned from all of these to be helpful in her job at the Conference.

Renita has lived in Cumberland with her husband Bill since 1992, and is a member of the Congregational Church in Cumberland where she enjoys singing in the choir and playing handbells in the bell choir.