Kelly B. Brill

Senior Minister

It has been my privilege and joy to serve this phenomenal congregation since January of 1995.  Before coming to Avon Lake, I was the Associate Minister at Lakewood Congregational Church (Lakewood, Ohio).  Previously I served churches in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Henry, Illinois and Waco, Texas.  I also worked one year at the Waco Rape Crisis Center.  I received my B.A. in Religion from Kalamazoo College in Michigan, my Master of Divinity with a concentration in Theology from Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee) and my Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from the Chicago Theological Seminary (through the Association of Chicago Theological Schools D.Min in Preaching program.)

My husband Doug and I have a blended family of five children.  Though our nest is empty, we are rarely in it – we love both traveling and exploring all that Cleveland and Northeast Ohio have to offer.  We are avid movie-goers, and we are huge fans of Cleveland’s dining and theater scenes.  Our tastes are eclectic – we enjoy Apollo’s Fire, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Lake Erie Islands in the summertime.  Together we have produced music and drama events for the church, have taught a class on marriage, and have led a marriage enrichment retreat.  In my free time, I also enjoy reading, exercise, and occasional free-lance writing.

Beau Dansizen

Minister for Children and Families

I joined Avon Lake United Church of Christ in May of 2017 as the Associate Minister, with a primary focus on children and families of the church. I have served both in the Presbyterian church (PC(USA)) and the United Church of Christ in various roles, including Director of Youth Ministries, Director of Christian Education, and Director of Contemporary Worship. Both denominations are very similar, and although most of my work has been in the PC(USA), I feel right at home here in the UCC.

I graduated from Avon Lake High School in 1995 and I did my undergraduate work at Kent State University, first in Musical Theater and then Computer Science. I felt the call to ordained ministry in 2011, and began attending the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in 2013. In May of 2017 I finished my Master of Divinity degree. My primary focus in ministry has been in the area of mission and missional churches, and I am excited to be part of a church that is so mission focused.

I have two children, Bowen and Parker, and I married my Avon Lake High School sweetheart, Amy, back in 2000. You will find me just as much at home working on my Harley as I am in front of my sewing and embroidery machine! We are a family of a million hobbies, always seeking new ways to have fun together.

I consider it such a blessing to be a part of such an amazing congregation doing wonderful things to show the love of Christ to the world.


Nate Taylor

Director of Youth Ministries

My name is Nate Taylor and I serve as the Director of Youth Ministries at Avon Lake UCC. I began my ministry here in April of 2007. My primary responsibilities include overseeing and developing our youth ministries programs for students in grades 6-12. That includes our JH Youth Group, our Confirmation program and our SH Youth Group. Along with all of this I am responsible for overseeing our Adult Volunteer Team, our SH Student Leadership Team, two summer mission trips, several fundraisers including our Annual Cabin Fever Cornhole Tournament and Dog Wash, countless games of ping-pong, the extremely rare overnighter and many high-level meetings at Las Cazuelas. I am very active in the Ohio Conference’s Outdoor Ministries programs. I have attended camp for the past 25+ years.
I am originally from Toledo, Ohio and first came to the greater Cleveland area in 1999 when I was a student at Baldwin-Wallace College. I graduated from B-W in 2003 with a degree in Sport Management and Business Administration. I live in Lakewood with my wife Lisa and our three children – Max, Nora & Brooke. I am a big fan of Cleveland – especially the Metroparks, Cavs, Indians, Browns, Lake Erie, Fatheads Smoked Chicken Wings, Las Cazuelas’ salsa & concerts at Blossom Music Center. I enjoy antiquing, hiking, golfing, camping, photography, canoeing, stargazing & smoking ribs, pig butts, briskets and atomic buffalo turds in my spare time. I am an avid Star Wars fan. I think recycling should be a law. I think sunroofs and the windows down is the only way to drive. I believe that love wins. I think that everyone is awesome. I think falling in love with yourself is the most important gift you could ever receive. I think we should play more and worry less. I have a hard time with bad drivers, clutter is my kryptonite. I do not believe you can put a price tag on having peace of mind. I look forward to meeting you!

Tim Schulz, bio picTim Schulz

Director of Membership and Media

I joined the ALUCC staff in April 2011 as Membership Coordinator. One year later, my title was expanded to include my work with media and technology.  We have added many multi-media aspects to our worship and communication in the past few years, specifically in the 11:00 AM Worship and at The Buoy youth center.  Our unfortunate pandemic has expanded and necessitated live streaming and recordings.  I am recording, editing, and uploading almost daily.  On the membership side, I oversee classes and communications with prospective and new church members.  I work closely with the Membership Team and other staff members to not only develop programming, but to also keep the ALUCC family informed of events and happenings.

Church has always been a strong part my life, in education, volunteering and employment.  I grew up in Cleveland and attended St. Ignatius HS and the University of Dayton.  Katie and I have two boys, Alexander and Nicholas.  We joined ALUCC in 2005.  I am also actively involved with our Youth Ministries through Sr. High Mission Trips, Confirmation, and our annual Cabin Fever Cornhole Tournament.  In my time away from church, I enjoy fishing, traveling, photography and playing or watching sports with my family.

Lynn Miller

Office Manager

I’m very grateful for the chance to serve the church as Office Manager, and I joined the staff in June 2018.  My family and I have been members at ALUCC since July 1999, and I have served on many boards, teams, and in other volunteer capacities.   I am currently a Stephen Minister and am a member of the Handbell Choir.  I came to the Office Manager position having worked over the years as a law librarian, a cataloger at public libraries, and volunteered for many years at Avon Lake School PTAs and for other non-profit groups.
We have two grown children – both of whom found the youth program at the church to be life-changing – and my husband, Bob, served as church moderator 2017-19.  We are all grateful for the opportunities to worship here, to serve local and international missions, and to grow our faith.  Bob and I are die-hard Cleveland fans – sports, culture, and food.  I am also interested in local history, and serve on the boards of Heritage Avon Lake and the Lorain County Historical Society.  

Jill Eston

Business Manager

I became a member of the Avon Lake United Church of Christ in February of 2012 and have volunteered with the Junior and Senior High youth ministries, joined the Anchored in Faith worship band, and have served on many of the Senior High Mission Trips as a member of the Food Crew.  In July of 2015, I joined the church staff as the Business Manager.  I have various duties that include tracking pledges and contributions and assisting wherever needed to help the operation of the church run smoothly.

I attended high school in Westlake where I met my husband Tom. We have two children, Julie and Tommy, and we currently live in Avon Lake.  We love animals and currently have four cats, two parakeets, a fish and three axolotls. Our family enjoys riding bikes, swimming, watching movies, playing board games, traveling, fostering kittens with Friendship APL, going to music concerts, and spending time with our family and friends

Cheryl Updegraff, bio picCheryl Updegraff, RN, B.S.

Parish Nurse

I began serving as the Parish Nurse for our church family in January 2004.  The goal of our Parish Nurse Program is to meet the emotional, spiritual, and physical needs of the individual by utilizing the resources of our church family (Doorstep Dinners/ Heavenly Helpers), the health care system, and the community.  I spend most of my time responding to the needs of our church members by visiting hospitalized members, nursing home and home visits, availability on Sunday mornings, Wednesday afternoons and evening by appointment; and providing support and education of availability of services, programs, and health screenings.  I remain involved in the mission outreach and caring ministry programs.  Our Parish Nurse staff position is a part time position (10 hours per week).

During the remainder of the week I am the practice manager for The E.N.T. Group of Cleveland, an otolaryngology practice; prior to that I was a pediatric nurse.  I am a Stephen Minister Leader and member of our Mission Board – I love being a part of the caring ministry of our church!  My husband and I have been members of our church since 1971; we have three children who were baptized, confirmed and married in our church and seven grandchildren.

Eileen Zakel

Christian Education Coordinator

I am excited to serve the children of ALUCC! I have been a member of ALUCC since 2007 and have served as a Sunday School teacher, Nursery volunteer, VBS volunteer, and served 3 years on the Faith Formation Team before becoming Christian Education Coordinator.

I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and Education of the Handicapped from the University of Dayton and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Bowling Green University. I am currently an Intervention Specialist in North Ridgeville City School District. I have three children who keep me very busy. In my spare time I enjoy reading, playing games, watching Netflix, and being outdoors when the weather is nice.

Kim Rose

Outreach and Connections Coordinator

I begin my work as the Outreach and Connections Coordinator at ALUCC in April 2016.  Our family joined the church in February 2015.  I am primarily responsible for finding where our members are best connected with each other by ways of small groups and our various ministries.  I have also been active in our Mom’s Small Group and our annual Day of Service project.  I feel that people value the sense of being a part of something and I want to help make those connections here at ALUCC.  Our Outreach and Connections Coordinator position is a part-time position (10 hours per week).

I am originally from Springfield, Ohio and moved to the Avon Lake area in October 2011.  I have been married to Kyle for almost 10 years and we have two children, Lincoln and Ella.  We absolutely love Northeast Ohio and have really grown deep, strong roots here.  I have been a proud stay-at-home mom and have enjoyed this precious time with our children.  I am also a registered nurse with a background of nursing in critical care and computer programming and teaching.  I earned my diploma of nursing from The Community Hospital School of Nursing in Springfield, Ohio and then also my bachelor’s degree, BSN, from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.  Our family lives a pretty active lifestyle, and we enjoy exploring new places together, traveling, cooking and just spending time with the people we love. 


Scott Ewing (begins September 13)

Director of Music Ministries

Jim Kotora, bio picJim Kotora

Staff Soloist

Hi! I’m Jim Kotora and I serve the ALUCC as Music Worship Leader for the 11:00 AM worship service. My duties involve directing the Anchored in Faith Worship Band as well as coordinating and leading music for worship. I earned my bachelors and masters degrees in vocal music education and choral conducting from Bowling Green State University and my doctorate in music education from Case Western Reserve University.

Currently, I also work as an elementary music specialist for the Bay Village Schools.  I am also a proud husband and father. My wife Cynthia and daughters Katherine and Elizabeth are also members of the church and we reside in Bay Village. The ALUCC has become such a blessing in our lives and I hope it will be the same for you!

Sharon Dixon, bio picSharon Dixon

Director of Bell Choir – “Celebration Ringers”

I’ve been involved with church work most of my life – both paid and volunteer.  I worked as a choir/bell director for children/youth at Westlake United Methodist Church. I also worked as the youth director for Jr & Sr High. I am a retired Administrative Assistant from Westlake United Methodist Church.

My husband, Al, & I have 3 married children and 6 grandchildren. I play horn with the Bay Village Community Band, Patriots Symphonic Band, and the North Wind Brass Quintet. I also play in the Monday Morning Handbell group at WUMC. Over the years I played competitive tennis and coached the Westlake High School Girls Tennis Team.  I’ve given up my tennis racquet for quilting and knitting.

Dinah Hunt

Special Projects Coordinator

I have been a member of Avon Lake UCC since 2011. I first served on the Worship Team as a Deacon assisting with the coordination of worship services and the operation of our church coffee hours enjoyed by members as an opportunity to connect on a personal level to others in this community over a hot beverage or two. These two ministries were and still are an integral part of my worship experience. In 2013, I became part of our Audio Visual Team responsible for creating the visuals that enhance the Horizons Worship service. It was a perfect outlet for my talents, education and technology skills.

In 2019, I was blessed with two wonderful opportunities. First, I joined the ALUCC staff as an Assistant Manager of the Good Neighbor Thrift Shop. Second, I became the Special Projects Coordinator at church. In addition to assisting wherever there is a need, my primary focus and privilege is creating visuals for both services that reinforce the weekly message for our congregation. My background that allows me to successfully assist in these church efforts includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education; teaching Kindergarten for several years; and serving as a Media Specialist for more than 19 years supporting teacher education students with their technology needs that they use in their classrooms.

My husband (who loves being a choir/band member) and I just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. We have three amazing children, (the youngest being my coffee hour buddy) and one outgoing granddaughter, who live nearby and bring true joy to our lives.

Dave Witzigreuter

Physical Plant Supervisor

I have over 60 years of experience in the building trades and am happy now to use my skills and experience to manage all of the church property.  I began serving as consultant and supervisor in August of 2018.  I oversee all of the property issues (inside and out), supervise the custodial staff, and serve as liaison to the Trustees.  I have been a member of the church since 2000 and have been active as a Stephen Minister, member of the Personnel Committee and the Trustees, and was General Contractor when the new sanctuary was built.  My late wife Jan and I helped with the construction of the Buoy Youth Center.  I am the father of three, the grandfather of eight, and the great grandfather of two.

My passion is to help educate and train youth in the building trades.  The highlight of my year is going on the Senior High Mission Trip where I help youth learn building skills.

Diane Velez