Our Ministry Team
Rev. Dr. Amy Aitken, Pastor
Pastor Amy Aitken was appointed as the Pastor of Riviera United Methodist Church in 2016. A native of Southern California, Pastor Amy attended high school and college in California before moving to Atlanta to attend seminary at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. She was ordained in 1997 and has served United Methodist Churches in Ventura, Granada Hills, Long Beach and Costa Mesa. Pastor Amy is passionate about connecting our Christian faith to our everyday lives in ways that are practical, spiritually-grounded, compassionate and just. When not at church, Pastor Amy enjoys being outdoors, hiking, camping, playing tennis, working out ("enjoy" might be an overstatement on this one), days at the beach, traveling (32 countries and a whole bunch of states so far!) and hanging out with her husband, young adult daughter and three rambunctious dogs.
Dena Abramson Babb, Director of Family and Children's Ministries
Dena Abramson Babb has served as Director of Children's & Family ministries at Riviera UMC since January 2012. In her previous life (before kids!), she worked in the nonprofit sector for a variety of organizations with a focus on volunteer program management. Dena is passionate about creating ministry and fellowship opportunities to meet the needs and interests of the ever changing congregation and community. VBS week is her favorite week of the year, but exhausts her so much that a week of vacation "off the grid" always comes next! In addition to her work at RUMC, Dena is also a blogger sharing her family's journey through life with the added obstacles of childhood mental illness and autism spectrum disorder. In her spare time, she is an active volunteer in her children's schools, lover of music that has a good story to tell, avid reader and fan of binge watching great television.
Dawn Brooks, Director of Music
Dawn Brooks has been serving as the Director of Music Ministries at Riviera UMC since 2006. She enjoys conducting the Chancel Choir and Chancel Bells and has produced the yearly concert series since 2007. She is passionate about planning special services, such as the All Music Sundays, and appreciates the opportunity to give sermons about the history of sacred music and the integral role of Music in Worship. Riviera has a proud legacy of supporting music and the arts and Dr. Brooks is honored to be a part of bringing wonderful musicians and high quality musical presentations to the South Bay Community. When not working at Riviera, Dr. Brooks is the conductor of the CSUDH Chamber Singers, an ensemble that performs traditional choral music, including works by Britten, Schumann, Debussy, Vaughan Williams, and Pergolesi. Dr. Brooks also directs the University Chorus, a pop choir that performs with a live rhythm section, recently performing music by The Beatles, Prince, Michael Jackson, Queen, and Stevie Wonder, as well as jazz and Broadway favorites. As you can see, Dawn’s musical tastes are broad and she loves to bring many styles and genres of music to Riviera. Dawn and her husband, Cory (our worship accompanist) have two, young sons who are very good at keeping their parents “on their toes."
Tracy Underwood, Office Manager
Tracy grew up in Los Angeles and has a business degree from Cal State Northridge. Prior to becoming RUMC’s office manager, she was Toyota USA’s national manager of corporate contributions. Tracy likes working at Riviera, and fully embraces our mission statement. She credits her mother as a powerful role model influencing her journey of faith. Tracy wears many hats and is ready and willing to help with any and all of the church's activities and projects. Her capable and helping hand is always available to all at Riviera!
Angela Hurd, Youth Director
Angela has a big and wonderful heart for teenagers and youth ministry. The daughter of a United Methodist pastor in Alabama, Angela has grew up in church- Sunday School, youth groups, musicals, choirs and all the fun stuff that goes with being a “church kid.” After all of that, Angela still loves Christ and the work of the church! She married her high school sweetheart and they've been married 25 years. She attended University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music as a theater major. Angela, her husband and daughter moved to New York City where Angela did commercial work, NYC Fringe Festival, dinner theater, her one woman show and even a few musicals. Her work in youth ministry began in New York City. After moving to California in 2003, the Hurd family found their church home at Riviera UMC and Angela volunteered as a youth counselor and then joined the staff as youth director in 2014. She is a published author, inspirational speaker, columnist for RAGE magazine, nanny, karaoke superstar and animal activist.
Cory Johnson, Worship Accompanist
Cory Johnson received his Master of Music degree in Composition from CSU Long Beach. He is an award-winning composer, whose music is exclusively distributed through Hal Leonard. As a church pianist and organist, he works for four parishes in the Orange Catholic Diocese, and is the organist and composer-in-residence at Riviera United Methodist Church in Redondo Beach. Cory performs regularly with his own jazz trio, the Americana group “morning star,” and Corner Pocket vocal jazz quartet. He has been a featured performer at Steamers, the Torrance Cultural Arts Center, the Fullerton Fox Theatre, and the Redondo Beach Baroque Festival. Cory currently teaches music theory and piano at Fullerton College.
Additional Staff Members:
Annie Gomm, Director of Communications (email@example.com)