Ministry is her second career, after 20 years in social work and many years of political activism.
In the early 1990s, she spent a year as the national spokeswoman for the Green Party. She ran for city council in Ann Arbor, Mich., once. (She didn't win.) She's even made a few bucks as a pool shark: Her paternal grandfather, who ran a pool hall and speak-easy during Prohibition, continued his love of pool later in life and bought a pool table for her five brothers to learn to play. She learned, also, and won tournaments in college.
But with a Pennsylvania Dutch grandfather from Lancaster County, she doesn't find Lancaster County ways to be totally foreign.
She served a small church in Illinois and a church of about 1,200 in Oklahoma before becoming the new minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lancaster in August.
Family: Married to Bill Ackerman, a mechanical engineer; daughter Heather, 28; son Nate, 19, both full-time college students; granddaughter Keegan, 6.
Education: A bachelor's in psychology and business from the University of Pittsburgh, Greensburg; a master's in social work from the University of Michigan; a Master of Divinity from Meadville Lombard Theological School, Chicago.
My parents always told me: When you point a finger at someone, notice that three fingers are pointing right back at you and one is pointing at God.
Someone who has influenced my life: The late Dr. Guy Rossetti, my adviser at Pitt, was a great mentor and supporter when I was a young adult. Currently, the teachings of the 14th Dalai Lama and Jesus guide me.
The best thing about my job: The work of ministry that I find most rewarding is caring for people as they die and supporting their survivors with a loving and celebratory memorial for the deceased.
The toughest part of my job: Church politics.
A person I admire: Margaret Fuller, 1810-1850, a Unitarian laywoman who wrote feminist texts, edited a liberal religious magazine, worked as a foreign war correspondent and heavily influenced the thinking of Ralph Waldo Emerson and the other transcendentalists of the 19th century.
My unfulfilled ambition: I am torn between wanting to learn to weave and wanting to be the first liberal televangelist.
One thing I've learned is: To give up idealism is to give up one's soul.
If I could change one thing: I would imbue all humanity with more compassion and less avarice.
There ought to be a law against: Poverty. We can create a system of laws that will make poverty virtually impossible.
One cause I support wholeheartedly: The anti-war movement. War is simply not compatible with right living and religious faith.
What I'd like to get around to doing one of these days: I want to learn to speak Spanish. I often listen to WLCH Radio Centro, 91.3, the Hispanic radio station, to try to learn.
The music I like best: Nearly everything. I once shocked a music store employee by buying compact discs of Tibetan chant, Rage Against the Machine, Loreena McKennitt and Patsy Cline on the same trip.
The best movies I've seen recently: I thought "The Station Agent'' was absolutely perfect filmmaking; I loved "Bend It Like Beckham''; I try to see every film in which Patricia Clarkson or Frances McDormand appears.
Books I highly recommend: Anything by the Dalai Lama, George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), Alice Walker, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mary Oliver, Michael Moore or Barbara Kingsolver.
My favorite entertainer: My husband, who taught me to have a sense of humor.
My favorite television programs: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer,'' "This Old House'' and "While You Were Out.''
My hobbies include: Reading, watching movies, browsing for bargain antiques.
My pets include: A 10-year-old cockatiel named Sprite (named for the mythical creature, not the soft drink), who thinks she is human.
My favorite foods: Dr Pepper, dark chocolate, goat cheese, ice cream, not necessarily in that order.
Things that can always be found in my refrigerator: All of the above, plus Paul Newman's Balsamic Vinaigrette, yogurt, organic soy milk and lots of take-out containers if my husband is out of town since he's the family cook.
What makes me laugh: Puns get me every time.
My idea of exercise: Necessary, but best done if dancing and meditating at the same time.
My favorite quote: "Well-behaved women rarely make history'' historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.
When I really want to relax, I: Do counted cross-stitch or iron clothes.
My greatest accomplishment: Sustaining a good, long marriage and earning the respect of my children.
My greatest disappointment: War and poverty still exist.
My favorite extravagance: Buying organic foods instead of the cheapest foods.
My secret vice: Eating a pint of Chunky Monkey ice cream for dinner.
The car I drive: A 1998 chili pepper red Jeep Cherokee.
The car I would like to drive: I am torn between a hybrid gas/electric car or a 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.
Words that describe me: Direct, catalytic, forgiving.
If I could have dinner with anyone in the world, living or dead, it would be: The Prophetic Sisterhood, female Unitarian and Universalist ministers of the 19th-century frontier states of Michigan, Iowa and Illinois.