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2012 Conference Speakers!


Here is a list of people who have agreed to speak at our 2012 conference! More will be added as they accept.

Jessica AhlquistKeith Lowell Jensen
Ben BlanchardSarah Maddox
Greta ChristinaJen McCreight
Evan ClarkClaire Minnis
Ted CoxHemant Mehta
Matt DillahuntyDrew Pruitt
Lori FazzinoAndrew Seidel
David FitzgeraldDave Silverman
Kenny FlaggHerb Silverman
Kelley FreemanPatrick Smith
Kathy GoodmanJason Torpy
Adam LeeDustin Tucker
Annie Laurie GaylorA.J. Johnson
Michael GobaudEdwina Rogers
Sharon MossSuzy Lewis
Amanda KniefGordon Maples
Barry MarkovskyScott Cragin
Greg LammersJon Paolone
Mike CreamerJames Croft
Andrew TrippDavid Niose
Andy CheadleHarrison Hopkins
Blake PageBrittany Shoots-Reinhard
Chana MessingerAmy Young

Jessica Ahlquist is a seventeen year old secular activist from Rhode Island. Two years ago she began fighting against an unconstitutional prayer banner displayed in her public high school, eventually leading to litigation.  She won her lawsuit in January and has since been the target of hate mail, harassment, and death threats. A local politician referred to her as an “evil little thing,” a nickname she has proudly embraced.  She now works in supporting other students and speaks at events throughout the country.
Ben Blanchard is a senior Biomedical Studies Major (microbiology focus), at St. Cloud State University, where he serves as co-president of SSA at SCSU. Ben aspires to make the world a better place by first creating plastic eating bacteria, then becoming a pediatric oncologist. He is a very active student, and is an executive board member in several other organizations. He also works as a senior consultant at the St Cloud State Technology Helpdesk, a tutor, and a resident hall community advisor. In his little free time, he enjoys absorbing random knowledge from the internet, friendly debates with devout theists, doing science, and amassing nerd-cred.

Greta Christina is the author of Greta Christina's Blog.

Greta Christina has been writing professionally since 1989, on topics including atheism, sexuality and sex-positivity, LGBT issues, politics, culture, and whatever crosses her mind. She is on the speakers bureau of the Secular Student Alliance.

Evan Clark is the current chair of the Secular Student Alliance and is the former student body president at California Lutheran University. 

Evan was the founder and president of the Secular Student Alliance at California Lutheran University, which was the first SSA affiliate officially recognized by a parochial university in the country.  Evan was also elected student body president at CLU, making him the first open-atheist to hold the position.  More recently, Evan organized a new Humanist community group in Thousand Oaks, CA and works full time as a marketing specialist for LYC Mortgage.  

Ted Cox garnered international media attention for his undercover reporting on gay-to-straight therapy programs. A journalist who frequently covers religion, Ted has toured the country speaking to SSA affiliates about ex-gay programs, the Mormon temple ceremonies, the pro-life movement, and various other forms a religious quackery. When not writing bios in the third person, he spends his time drinking tasty beer and picking cat hair off his shirt. Follow his work at facebook.com/tedcoxwriter.

Matt Dillahunty is the president of the Atheist Community of Austin and host of their live, call-in, television program, "The Atheist Experience", seen on cable and streamed live to the world. A fundamentalist Christian for more than 25 years, his best efforts to become a minister backfired and gave birth to one of the most prolific voices on atheism of the past decade. In addition to hundreds of live television shows and thousands of informal debates on the show, he's also engaged in formal debates and traveled the United States speaking to local secular organizations and university groups as part of the Secular Student Alliance's Speakers Bureau.

Lori Fazzino is a doctoral student in the department of sociology currently working on her master’s and Ph.D at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is a former Catholic turned Evangelical Christian who helped found a church, was a youth internship director and worship leader, and considered becoming a youth pastor. Lori deconverted from her Christian beliefs in 2005 when she was kicked out of her Evangelical church. Her former religious experiences motivate her current research on the processes of deconversion and the importance of secular communities. 

David Fitzgerald has also been called "one of the busiest atheist activists in the Bay Area." In addition to serving on the board of San Francisco Atheists, Center For Inquiry-SF and The Garrison-Martineau Project, he is also the Director/Co-Founder of both the world's first Atheist Film Festival and Evolutionpalooza!, San Francisco's annual Darwin Day celebration. He has a degree in history and was an associate member of CSER (the former Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion). He lectures around the country at universities, churches and national secular events and may be best known for his popular multimedia presentations The Ten Thousand Christs and the Evaporating Jesus and The Complete Heretic's Guide to Western Religion.

Kenny Flagg, President/Founder of Freethinkers of UND.

Kenny was raised in a small town in rural Minnesota and came out as an atheist his senior year of High School. Upon facing some opposition he attended the SSA 2011 conference to learn more about the secular movement. After attending the SSA conference he started a freethinkers group in Grand Forks, ND where he attends school.

Kelley Freeman is a senior at the University of South Carolina pursuing a bachelor of arts in Russian Language & Literature with a minor in sociology. She has been involved with her SSA affiliate, the Pastafarians at USC, since 2009 and helped organize the 2010 SSA Southeastern Leadership Summit in Columbia and was the SSA intern for the summer of 2011. Other than all the awesome things she's helped do with Pastafarians, she is also on the board of Camp Quest South Carolina, has worked with university housing, in a service sorority where she served as the Service Vice President for 2011-2012, will be a peer leader for the University 101 program this fall and is a regular contributor for Friendly Atheist. 

Annie Laurie Gaylor is the co-founder and co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. She is also the editor of Freethought Today and author of several books, including Women Without Superstition: No Gods-- No Masters. She is the winner of the 2012 Freethought Backbone Award.

Michael Gobaud currently attends the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he is Vice President of the Nevada Justice Association. He also attended UNLV as an undergrad, majoring in philosophy and serving four years on the executive committee of the Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity.  He is a former President and Public Events Officer of the SSA at UNLV, during which time his restructuring and recruiting efforts helped the group to see its largest membership growth to date. He is currently in the process of starting another SSA chapter at UNLV specifically for fellow law students. He is an avid drummer, juggler, chess player, artist, and debater.

Kathy Goodman is assistant professor of student affairs in higher
education at Miami University. She earned her Ph.D. at the University
of Iowa in May 2011. Kathy’s research and teaching interests include
the impact of college experiences on student development; diversity
and equity in higher education; spirituality, existentialism, and
atheist college students.

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City and the author of the blog Daylight Atheism. He's been cited by Richard Dawkins and attacked by Republican senators.
Keith Lowell Jensen performs intelligent stand up comedy from a skeptic's perspective at conventions, comedy festivals and at clubs in small towns in the middle of nowhere where Jensen is often the first "Out" atheist many of the audience members have ever experienced. The Daily Kos said "This man is very funny" and TimeOut New York gives Jensen's latest album Four Stars. 

AJ. Johnson was raised Baptist in the "Bible Belt," and attended a private Christian elementary school before permanently transitioning to a secular education. She was often skeptical of religion, but officially “fell from faith” after learning about Evolution via Natural Selection and recognizing the uncivilized way that the Bible portrays the issues of women, gays, and slaves. She attended and graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She gained leadership experience serving as a residential advisor for first-year students, and teaching English to Thai students abroad. Before joining American Atheists, she served as Assistant Director of Development for Scholarships at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Sarah Maddox is an Ecology and Field Biology major (Wildlife Management focus) at St. Cloud State University, where she co-founded the SSA at SCSU in 2009. She is currently one of three very busy co-presidents of the group, and this is her third SSAcon. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys baking, playing with her pet rabbit, having outdoor adventures, quoting Carl Sagan, and reading about all kinds of science. She aspires to make the world a better place for animals as a zookeeper and/or wildlife rehabilitator.
Jen McCreight is a lifelong non-theist, but became vocal about her atheism when she started college at Purdue University. Surprised and alienated by the highly religious atmosphere, she co-founded the Society of Non-Theists for like-minded students. During this time she also started to blog at Blag Hag, a popular atheist blog, which became infamous partially thanks to "Boobquake." Jen graduated from Purdue University in 2010 in Genetics and Evolution, and is working towards her PhD in Genome Sciences at the University of Washington. She is now on the Board of Directors of the SSA.  
Claire Minnis graduates in May with her BM in Music Education. After three years ofendless singing, percussion-ing and
RA-ing, she dedicated her final semester forming Good People: A Secular Student Alliance, Millikin University’s firstnon-
religious community, giving special attention to building a sustainable, successful organization in very little time. Claire
loves hiking in her native land of Southern Missouri, and after the sun goes down, she roams St. Louis trivia nights collecting spirit awards.

Hemant Mehta, blogger at FriendlyAtheist.com and Chair of Foundation Beyond Belief.

Hemant is the former chair of the Secular Student Alliance and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago.

Drew Pruitt, former President and former Public Events Officer, Secular Student Alliance at UNLV
Drew has a bachelor's degree in Marketing from the Christian school Azusa Pacific University, three years experience working in sales, and owned a restaurant with 25 employees. After moving to Las Vegas and enrolling in grad school at UNLV, he spent three years working with the SSA at UNLV, one year as President and one year as Public Events Officer.

Edwina Rogers joined the Secular Coalition for America as the Executive Director in May 2012. She boasts two decades of experience on Capitol Hill as a lobbyist and attorney, including roles as General Counsel for several high profile politicians. Rogers has extensive experience as a public policy expert, worked for two Presidents and four Senators, and n her most recent role as Executive Director of the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative, she organized a coalition that included major employers, consumer groups, labor unions and health care providers, and successfully implemented the Patient Centered Medical Home model around the country. She enjoys spending time with her two children, keeping up with current events and following pop culture. 

Andrew Seidel, Constitutional Consultant at the Freedom From Religion Foundation (ffrf).

Andrew graduated cum laude from Tulane University with a B.S. in neuroscience and environmental science, magna cum laude from Tulane University Law School, and completed his Master of Laws at Denver University Sturm College of Law with a perfect GPA.  Andrew is a former Grand Canyon tour guide and accomplished nature photographer; his work has been displayed in galleries in Colorado, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Maryland.  After practicing law in Colorado Andrew moved to Wisconsin to take a job with FFRF and he loves it.

Dave Silverman is the president of American Atheists and inspiration for the popular "WTF" meme face. He was also the organizer of the Reason Rally.
Herb Silverman is Founder and President of the Secular Coalition for America, and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the College of Charleston. He founded the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry in Charleston, SC, and was founder and faculty advisor to the College of Charleston student Atheist/Humanist Alliance. He is a board member of the American Humanist Association, advisory board member of the Secular Student Alliance, and member of the Advisory Council of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Patrick Smith, President of Secular Students at Collin College

Patrick has been an atheist most of his life, but didn't get involved with the movement until he joined SSCC. He has been a member of Secular Students at Collin College since its formation in the fall of 2010, and its president since Spring 2011. 

Jason Torpy, President of MAAF

Jason Torpy is President of the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers. He served in the Army for 11 years, rising from Private to Captain and serving in the US, Germany, and Iraq. He is a graduate of West Point and The Ohio State University.

Dustin Tucker is a non-traditional student and sophomore studying archaeology at the University of South Carolina.  He is a five-year veteran of the US Army, co-President of Pastafarians at the University of South Carolina, and founder of the Columbia Coalition of Reason.

Amanda Knief is the Administrative Director for American Atheists. She fomerly worked for the Secular Coalition and was the only lobbyist that worked within the movement to lobby DC politicians for the needs of non-theists.

Sharon Moss is the SSA's Alumni Director and the former president of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio. She also serves on the University Interfaith Association at Ohio State. 
Suzy Lewis is the manager of the Richard Dawkins Foundation store. She works closely with the SSA and other organizations to sell, and give away, awesome swag to the masses. She will happily work with your student group to set up fundraisers with RDF merchandise and other fund stuff.
Gordon Maples is the SSA’s Regional Campus Organizer for the Southeastern United States. He is a former President of the University of Alabama student group Alabama Atheists and Agnostics and is the founder/director of the Southeastern Collegiate Atheist Alliance. Gordon previoiusly volunteered as a Regional Network Coordinator for the SSA.
Scott Cragin is currently a professor of marketing and management at Missouri Southern State University where he is the founding faculty advisor for SSA@MSSU. His undergraduate degree is in mechanical engineering and he has an MBA from Northwestern University and PhD in marketing from Oklahoma State. He was recently elected to the SSA Board of Directors.
James Croft is a candidate for an Ed.D in Human Development and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE),and a vice-chair of the Humanist Graduate Community at Harvard. He endeavors to create a true Humanist fellowship in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is also a member of the SSA Speakers Bureau.
Andy Cheadle recently graduated from Wright State University pursuing a BS in psychology and behavioral neuroscience. He is the SSA Group Starting Specialist and works to gets new and potential groups off the ground.
Andrew Tripp is currently studying Philosophy at DePaul University. He is also currently the leader of the DePaul Alliance for Free Thought (DAFT).
Jon Paolone is an officer of Secular Student Alliance at University of Alabama, Birmingham.
Greg Lammers is the Missouri State Director of American Atheists.
Barry Markovsky is the advisor to the SSA affiliate group at University of South Carolina. He won the SSA's Best Advisor Award at last year's conference and has spoken at other SSA conferences as well.
Michael Creamer is the advisor for the Secular Student Alliance at Rutherford High School in Panama City, FL.
David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association, is author of Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans, which is set for release on July 17 by Palgrave Macmillan.  He is an attorney who is currently litigating a case challenging the “under God” wording of the Pledge of Allegiance, using equal protection grounds rather than the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Harrison Hopkins successfully challenged his high school's prayer at graduation last year with the help of FFRF. He also won an SSA Best Award last year for his efforts. He then went on to start and lead the Secular Student Alliance at Presbyterian College.
Blake Page is the founder and leader of the SSA affiliate at West Point, where he navigates through all the intricacies and unique challenges of running a student group at a US military school.
Brittany Shoots-Reinhard studied Social Psychology at The Ohio State University and has volunteered for Foundation Beyond Belief for several years.
Chana Messinger is a member of University of Chicago Secular Student Alliance, where ehs has led the group for a couple years.
Amy YoungAmy Young is an assistant professor of German at Central College. She is also the advisor for Secular Student Alliance at Central College.
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