Who We Are

Our Staff Team

Rev. Dr. Jean Heriot

Co-Director & Co-Founder

Rev. Dr. Jean (she/her) is a UU community minister and member of Aiken UU Church. She served for 17 years as Director of Service Learning at Hastings College, NE and has extensive experience in advocacy and community social justice work. She also lead social justice classes/work in Guatemala, Mexico and the Caribbean. As a South Carolina native, Heriot has an intimate knowledge of the legacy of racism in SC and a theological commitment to the see-think-act model of transformative development.

REv. Dr. Pippin Whitaker

Co-Director & Co-Founder

Rev. Dr. Pippin (she/her) is the Affiliated Community Minister at the UU Congregation of Columbia and Co-Chair of the UUA Commission on Social Witness. She has extensive experience in community and organizational change to prevent violence and build anti-oppressive community. Her hope for SCUUJA is to empower UUs throughout SC to act for justice through meaningful and mutually liberating relationships.

Our Board

Sue Berkowitz

Board Member, SCUUJA & Executive Director, SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center

What is at the heart of your social justice passion?

My spiritual upbringing in the Jewish faith taught me that each day we should strive to make the world a better place for all peoples. I work to make the world more just and fair for everyone. When I was in law school, I knew I wanted to practice public interest law. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do so for nearly all my legal career. At SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center, we work to get laws and policies changed, and I am drawn to this systemic change endeavor.

What excites you about the new SC UU Justice Alliance?

There’s a great deal of overlap in how we approach issues of injustice. It’s imperative that we listen to and act from the voices of those most impacted by injustice. Our organization has often partnered with the UU Congregation of Columbia, and we are excited to be able to partner with UU’s across the state. There are so many issues to work on including fair housing, health care, reforming payday loans, immigration, and criminal justice reform. We are fighting for the equity and inclusion sorely missing in our state. See www.scjustice.org for ways to sign up and take action.

Since systemic change is often slow, when an opportunity arises to create change we need to seize it immediately. As SCUUJA grows, UU’s will be able to engage in rapid response when an issue arises in the state legislature or a policy proposal needs immediate input.

Rick Hahnenberg

Board Chair, SCUUJA & Member, UU Church of Spartanburg

How do you tell your UU story?

I joined my first UU congregation in Ohio in 1979, after the birth of my twins. When we moved to SC, we joined the Greenville UU Fellowship and later the Spartanburg UU Church as we moved again. Over the years, I have enjoyed serving in religious education, Sunday services, fundraising, finance, social justice, and three times as President of UUCS.

What is at the heart of your social justice passion?

Church-State Separation. I was founder and Chapter President for Americans United for Separation of Church and State Upstate SC Chapter for 13 of the 15 years that the Chapter was active. We closed our Upstate SC Chapter in February, 2021 due to structural changes in the national organization.

What excites you about the new SC UU Justice Alliance?

First, the leadership abilities of both Rev. Dr. Pippin Whitaker and Rev. Dr. Jean Heriot. I am also excited about the potential to unite UU social justice programs with our 10 Congregations in South Carolina!

Richard Hayes

Board Secretary, SCUUJA & Social Justice Chair, Unitarian Church in Charleston

How do you tell your UU story?

I believe I was born a Unitarian Universalist (UU), but like most of us it took 40 years for me to walk into a UU Church, and when I did, I knew immediately this was my spiritual home. That was in 1993 in Dayton, Ohio at the Miami Valley UU Fellowship. I immediately joined the “Social Concerns” committee. And when I moved to Charleston SC in 2001, along with 3 other church members we started the Social Justice Committee at the Unitarian Church in Charleston. For me our 8 principles say it all – not a creed, but how I want to live my life.

What is at the heart of your social justice passion?

My mother, father, and studying Jesus, Martin Luthor King, and Gandhi. My mother was always an anti-racist. When Bell Telephone integrated in Washington DC in 1958 my Dad was one of the only workers that would train the African Americans. And as Scoutmaster in Rockville, Md, he integrated Troop 448 in 1962! Now, it is critical to me that at our church social justice efforts are grounded in our congregationally-driven mission statements. UUs have a legacy of “deeds not creeds". My spiritual beliefs have always wedded social justice work to my theology; my spiritual beliefs demand that I participate in social justice work.

What excites you about the new SC UU Justice Alliance?

Our Church has been deep into Social Justice work for 20 years, and we know the limitations of working as a single Church on Social Justice issues. So many social justice issues embedded in systematic racism are state issues, and thus to eliminate these injustices we must work at the state level. I have waited for years to have a SC State UU Action Network. I am very excited at the prospects of all South Carolina UUs working together with our partners like SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center, the NAACP, League of Women Voters, and ACLU to tackle and solve these problems and injustices!

Connie Quirk

Board Member, SCUUJA & Social Action Co-Chair, UU Congregation of Columbia

How do you tell your UU story?

In 2001, about a year after becoming guardians of two nephews, my husband and I realized they needed a youth group to help extend their social horizons We discovered the UU Congregation of Gwinnett, GA and have been UUs ever since. My husband and I joined UUCC shortly after moving to Columbia in 2016. We now co-chair the Social Action Committee.

What is at the heart of your social justice passion?

As a child of a military family, I traveled the world, witnessing great discrepancies between those who have and those who have not. As a special education teacher, the children's realities made injustices obvious and real. One of my young students, a US citizen with a non-citizen father being held in detention, died of medical complications. Our system refused to allow the father to join his family to mourn, despite the fact that he had been accused of no crime other than being undocumented. It was a travesty. I have been working for change in our immigrations policies ever since.

What excites you about the new SC UU Justice Alliance?

Having been a member of two Social Justice committees and now co-chair of the UUCC SAC, I’ve seen us accomplish good works within our community. Working together as 10 UU congregations and many partners, we have the potential to speak louder on behalf of greater equity and justice.

Our Partners

The following organizations have made a formal commitment in support of the South Carolina UU Justice Alliance.

Aiken UU Church

Clayton Memorial UU Church

SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center

Unitarian Church in Charleston

UU Congregation of Columbia

UU Church of Spartanburg

Sample LOS for SCUUJA-Congregation

Example Congregational Message of Support

Sample nonprofit LOS for Statewide Action Network

Example Partner Org. Message of Support