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Secular Student Alliance Names New Executive Director


Contact: Christian Norton, (703) 314-8280

Columbus, Ohio— The Secular Student Alliance (SSA) is pleased to announce that we have named Kevin Bolling as our new Executive Director. Kevin brings with him 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience. His career has included over 10 years of student association management and on-campus program development from Los Angeles to Boston. For 10 years, Kevin served as the Executive Director of the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation, a charitable trust serving the healthcare needs of the industries’ largely immigrant workforce. Most recently, Kevin served as the Director of Philanthropy at the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, a major LGBTQ arts advocacy organization, whose youth outreach work has moved thousands of hearts and minds across the US towards embracing LGBTQ equality.

Kevin’s leadership will build upon the work of the SSA’s co-founder and former Executive Director, August Brunsman, in expanding the spirit of activism and engagement within our community to embrace a leadership role in our nation’s fight for social justice. Said Larry Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America:

"For 17 years, the SSA has helped foster a community for nonreligious students on college campuses across the country and empowered them to make a positive impact in their communities. The energy, enthusiasm, and outlook that Kevin brings to the SSA has us excited to see how he continues the organization’s indispensable work. The secular students of today are the activists, leaders, and lawmakers of tomorrow. With Kevin at the helm of the SSA, the future of the secular movement looks brighter than ever."

In his inaugural speech as the new Executive Director, Kevin spoke directly to students at the Secular Student Alliance’s annual conference:

You are the first generation in our country’s history with the values and commitment to:
  • Treat women as equal
  • Realize that a room full of men are not the best ones to be making decisions about women’s healthcare
  • Acknowledge and take action against institutionalized racism
  • Understand that love is love is love
  • Embrace that gender identity and expression are not dualistic paradigms, but beautiful spectrums
  • Practice whatever religion you want—or none at all
  • Know that we have one world—that we’d better take care of—and one life, that we’d better make the most of.

Under Kevin’s leadership, the expression of secular values, and not just the representation of secular identity, will be the SSA’s primary focus. It is these values that guide the SSA’s work and commitment to fighting for equity and justice. Since its founding, the SSA has witnessed a steady swell in the number of college students with no religious affiliation—a number that has tripled in the last 30 years, from 10 percent in 1986 to 31 percent just last year. We have also witnessed those values motivating students to align with intersectional movements and effect positive change on their campuses, in their communities—and in our country as a whole.

“Kevin has dedicated his life to non-profit advocacy in the social justice space,” said Evan Clark, Chair of the Board of the SSA. “We're proud to have him on our team as we build a new generation of secular leaders.”

Kayley Whalen, SSA Board Member and Digital Strategies and Social Media Manager at National LGBTQ Task Force, said: “As a board member, I'm confident Kevin has the skills to strengthen the SSA's progressive voice on not just secular issues, but all social justice issues. I'm excited to see another member of the LGBTQ community in a leadership role in the secular movement, as our movements for justice are deeply intertwined and have much we can learn from each other.”

Change is necessary now more than ever, a driving factor in Kevin’s ambitious vision for the Secular Student Alliance. The organization aims to expand its national staff to more fully live out our dedication to social justice and equality. We also plan to deepen collaboration with organizations in both the secular movement and the broader progressive movement. At the heart of this work are our relationships with our students, which Kevin aims to amplify by connecting directly with faculty advisors and student affairs personnel to facilitate increased support for our students’ work.

Kevin’s commitment to the Secular Student Alliance will begin with a nationwide listening tour, a series of interviews with organizations, stakeholders, and social justice activists this summer, followed by a campus tour in the fall, during which he will connect directly with student organizations across the country.

Kevin has made it a priority to connect with media outlets during his initial months with the SSA. Interested journalists should contact Christian Norton christian.norton@secularstudents.org to set up an appointment.

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