The Speakers Bureau is made up of individuals who have graciously offered to speak, debate, or perform with discounted (or waived) honorariums for SSA chapters.
The Speakers Bureau is reserved only to current SSA chapters. We will do our best to find you a speaker to meet your needs. We also offer funding assistance for travel expenses.
The views and opinions expressed by the individuals on the SSA Speakers Bureau are solely those of the individuals themselves and do not necessarily represent those of the Secular Student Alliance and its employees.
Politics & Legal Issues
Patrick Elliot is Senior Counsel for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and a spokesperson on state and church issues with the media, including the Los Angeles Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Fox News, MSNBC and other national news sources covering state/church issues.
His speaking engagements have included freethinker groups, conventions, legislative testimony, and training for school administrators.
Patrick has managed a First Amendment caseload that includes pseudonymous litigation, prayer in schools, Ten Commandments displays, and legislative prayer. He has advised the foundation on numerous state/church conflicts and lawsuits.
Andrew Seidel is a constitutional attorney and the Director of Strategic Response at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, where he fights to keep state and church separate. He regularly writes for Freethought Now!, and other popular outlets such as Friendly Atheist, Religion News Service, and ThinkProgress, and in more scholarly venues like Constitutional Studies and the Education Law & Policy Review. He's active on social media @AndrewLSeidel. Seidel's first book, which challenges Christian nationalism and the idea that America was founded on Christian principles, is set to be released in May 2019.
Andrew is happy to speak on religion and the law, religious privilege in the law, state-church separation, the Christian nation myth, America's secular history, politics and legal issues, religion and secularism, and more.
Religion & Secularism
Dan Barker is a former evangelical minister and the co-president of Freedom From Religion Foundation. He is the author of more than 7 books, including, Godless: How An Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists, and the forthcoming, Author of Free Will Explained: How Science and Philosophy Create a Beautiful Illusion.
Dan has appeared on dozens of TV shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Daily Show with John Stewart, is the host of "Freethought Radio," and has done more than 120 public debates.
Dan is also an accomplished musician and songwriter.
Dan is available to discuss such topics as:
- "Losing Faith in Faith," his story of de-conversion from preacher to atheist
- How to be good without a god
- The importance of state/church separation
- Did Jesus rise from the dead?
- Did Jesus exist?
- Debating the existence of a god
- Debating morality
- Debating evolution
- Debating the separation of church and state
Ryan Bell is the National Organizing Manager at the Secular Student Alliance. He comes to secular activism after nearly 20 years in congregational pastoral ministry and, in 2014, a very public deconversion that he wrote about at the “Year Without God” blog. Since that time, Ryan has been a writer and speaker on the subjects of religion, humanism and justice. In 2015, he founder of Life After God and the host of the Life After God podcast. His writing can be found at The Humanist, CNN, and The Guardian.
Carlos Bertha is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the US Air Force Academy. He teaches Ethics, Symbolic Logic, Critical Thinking and Philosophy of Science and is the faculty advisor for the USAFA Cadet Freethinkers Club. Carlos is a Colonel in the US Army Reserve and is currently a Plans Officer at a Sustainment Command in Los Alamitos, CA. He is on the board of directors of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF). Carlos has been a speaker at various national atheist/humanist conferences (as well as some academic ones) and can speak extensively on religion and the military, just war theory, skepticism, and philosophy of science.
Carlos is happy to speak on these topics:
- Religion and the military
- Just War Theory
- Critical thinking
- Philosophy of science
Over three decades of Christian ministry, Bart Campolo became increasingly committed to building loving relationships, working for a better world and cultivating a sense of gratitude for the wonders of life. Now, as a community builder, counselor, and humanist chaplain at the University of Cincinnati, Bart inspires and supports people who are banding together to actively pursue goodness in and openly secular way.
For more information visit www.bartcampolo.org.
Adam Chalom is a dynamic speaker, and a clear and inspiring teacher. He is a life-long Humanist, having been raised as a Humanistic Jew at the Birmingham Temple, the founding congregation of Humanistic Judaism. He has worked full-time as a Humanistic Rabbi since 2001 and has been the Dean for North America of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism (IISHJ) since 2007. Chalom holds a B.A. cum laude from Yale University, a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and rabbinic ordination from the IISHJ.
Adam would enjoy speaking on topics including:
- What is a Secular Rabbi? (or "What is a secular Jew?" or "What is secular Judaism?")
- Holidays without the Holy: Secular Approaches to Religious Tradition
- From Myth to Fact: Ancient Jewish History
- “Secular Spirituality:” Oxymoron or Emotional Meaning?
- Judaism Without God? YES!
IISHJ will cover all speaker costs if your campus is located near the following cities: Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington DC, Detroit, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
Dauv Evans is a professional speaker, trainer, and author. He received his BA in History from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, his MBA from the University of Phoenix, and his PhD from Capella University in Higher Education.
His latest book, Emancipation of a Black Atheist, chronicled his journey out of faith and examined the role of religion in the Black community.
Dauv is an advocate for Black nonbelievers who are struggling to navigate their social surroundings and live in their truth.
Dauv would enjoy speaking on the following topics:
- Navigating Black religiosity
- Leaving the Black church
- Raising the next generation of freethinkers
- Debating the role of religion in the Black community
Chris is a former minister, interfaith chaplain, shelter director, and non-profit housing manager, he received a BA in Philosophy and Religion from Seattle Pacific University and a Master of Divinity degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary.
He served as a Presbyterian Minister for 14 years (1987-2001), working as an interfaith chaplain in a county jail and then on the streets with homeless persons. In 2001 he left his ordination for reasons of conscience.
Chris has taught mentally challenged adults for six years, taught World Religions and Sacred Scriptures of the World in congregations and later directed a county emergency shelter for two years. He now teaches classes on naturalistic freethinking through colleges and other venues.
For more information on Chris, visit his website at www.chighland.com
Sikivu Hutchinson is an American feminist, atheist and author. She is the author of Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels (2013), Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars (2011), and Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles (Travel Writing Across the Disciplines) (2003). Moral Combat is the first book on atheism to be published by an African-American woman. In 2013 she was named Secular Woman of the Year.
Chris Johnson is a New York-based photographer and filmmaker. He received his undergraduate degree in film production (along with a minor in religious studies) from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. His photography has been seen in various outlets, including The New York Times. He is the author of the coffee table photography book, “A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God” as well as the documentary film version, “A Better Life: An Exploration of Joy & Meaning in a World Without God.” He has traveled the world on a screening/lecture tour about A Better Life, speaking and screening the film in over 110 cities on six continents — from Reykjavik to Shanghai.
For the book and film of A Better Life, he interviewed many prominent atheist figures such as Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Dan Dennett, Derren Brown, Pat Churchland, Julia Sweeney, Penn & Teller, and many more. He has given talks on atheism and his work at conferences, universities, non-profit organizations, and community groups. In addition, he has also been a guest on numerous podcasts, radio and TV shows around the globe.
Alix Jules is a secular activist in the Dallas-Ft. Worth where he is a specialist in the area of atheism in diverse communities.
He chairs the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason’s Diversity Council, is local organizer for Black Nonbelievers (Dallas) and is an adviser to the Council for Secular Humanism’s African Americans for Humanism initiative.
Alix has been featured in Ebony magazine, “One Man’s Journey into Atheism,” Godless: the documentary, and he has garnered national attention as one of the modern faces in Black humanism.
Andy Norman is a philosophy professor at Carnegie Mellon University, a humanist activist, and a dynamic presenter. His provocative presentation "Out Your Doubt: Freeing Your Closet Humanist" has thrilled audiences and galvanized a thriving humanist community in Pittsburgh.
Andy would enjoy speaking on the following topics:
- Creating and Living Secular Values
- Out Your Doubt: Freeing Your Closet Humanist
- The Problem With Faith
- The Problem With Reason
- Why We Reason: The Evolutionary Origins of Humanity's Reasoning Faculty
- Why Religious Ethics is Incoherent
- On the Moral Imperative to Dismantle Religious Ideologies
- Religious Ethics: Why it Worked and Why it No Longer Does
- The Evolutionary Origins of Prosocial Behavior
Anthony B. Pinn received his BA from Columbia University and his Master of Divinity and PhD in the study of religion from Harvard University. He is currently the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and professor of Religion at Rice University. Pinn is the founding director of the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning, also at Rice University. In addition, he is Director of Research for the Institute for Humanist Studies—a Washington, DC-based think tank.
Pinn’s research interests include humanism and hip hop culture. He is the author/editor of over 35 books, including, When Colorblindness Isn’t the Answer: Humanism and the Challenge of Race (2017); Humanism: Essays in Race, Religion, and Cultural Production (2015); Writing God’s Obituary: How a Good Methodist Became a Better Atheist (2014); Everyday Humanism, Dale McGowan and Anthony B. Pinn, editors (2014); African American Humanist Principles: Living and Thinking Like the Children of Nimrod (2004), and the novel, The New Disciples (2015).
Anthony would enjoy speaking on the following topics:
- Diversity in the Humanist Movement
- African American Humanism
- Humanism and Popular Culture (particularly Hip Hop)
- Challenges Religion Poses for Public Life
- Religion in America: Promise and Pitfalls
Dr. Darrel Ray is a clinical psychologist, author, and activist. In 2009, he helped found Recovering from Religion, a self-help group for those leaving their religious indoctrination. "The Secular Therapy Project" helps people find secular, science-based therapy. He is the author of The God Virus: How Religion Affects Our Lives and Culture and Sex and God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality.
Mandisa Thomas is the founder and President of Black Nonbelievers, Inc. Although never formally indoctrinated into belief, Mandisa was heavily exposed to Christianity, Black Nationalism, and Islam.
Mandisa is a sought after public speaker and has a number of media appearances to her credit, including CBS SundayMorning, CNN.com, and JET magazine. She has been a guest on podcasts such as The Humanist Hour and Ask an Atheist, as well as the documentaries Contradiction and My Week in Atheism. Mandisa currently serves on the Board of American Atheists and previously for Foundation Beyond Belief and the Secular Coalition for America.
As the president of Black Nonbelievers, Inc., Mandisa works to encourage more Blacks to come out and stand strong with their nonbelief in the face of a strong religious climate.
Carter Warden is a former conservative pastor of 25 years, now openly atheist. Using the pseudonym “Adam Mann,” he was a founder of The Clergy Project, its first member and one of its first forum moderators. “Adam” was one of the original five interviewees in the 2010 Daniel Dennett- Linda LaScola article, “Preachers who are not Believers.” While still in ministry, he was interviewed undercover by ABC World News Tonight and the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Carter made his change of beliefs public at the Freedom From Religion Foundation National Convention on October 7, 2016.
He hopes that his story and freethought songs will bring encouragement to those who feel trapped because of changing beliefs, people who fear openly identifying themselves as non-religious, and anyone who desires to be honest and genuine about personal beliefs, identity and personal expression that may go against societal norms.
Carter now works in higher education planning student activities and advising student organizations. He likes to interweave humor and his original freethought music into his talks and workshops to make for an enjoyable and engaging experience.
Carter is available and would love to speak on such topics as:
- The Agony and Art of Coming Out as Secular
- Being a Good Ungodly Person and Authentic Leader
- Determining Your Organizations DNA and Creating Your Campus Identity
- The Creation, Commissioning and Calling of The Clergy Project
Fernando Alcántar is a former denominational leader for the Foursquare Church in Mexico, the United Methodist Church in the United States, and international missionary leader for Azusa Pacific University. He is now a gay atheist activist and author of, To the Cross and Back: An Immigrant’s Journey from Faith to Reason.
Fernando speaks to your chapter about:
- Humanism and recovering from religion
- Sexual identity and LGBT rights
- Mental illness and fighting the stigma
- Cultural allegiance and the immigrant story
- Surviving tragedy and healing from the past
- Igniting a spirit of adventure and awe in the human experience
Social Justice Issues
Dan Arel is an award-winning journalist as well as the author of Parenting Without God; and The Secular Activist. His work appears regularly in The New Arab and has also contributed to The Hill, Huffington Post, Time, CounterPunch, Alternet, Salon, and more.
Dan is available to discuss such topics as:
- Anti-fascism and humanism
- Religion in Politics
- The Importance of Secular Activism
Rachel McWilliams is a proud veteran who served as a Broadcast Journalist for the United States Army and the Wisconsin National Guard. She has a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Psychology from Winona State University. Rachel is an active advocate and survivor of military sexual trauma and has worked closely with Senator Tammy Baldwin (WI-D) to find justice for MST and sexual assault survivors. She is also the creator and director of Speaking Out: Why I Stand, a theater project about military sexual trauma.
Rachel would love to speak on:
- Military Sexual Trauma
- Long-term Effects of Sexual Trauma
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Navigating College with Invisible Disabilities
- Invisible Disabilities
- Finding my Voice as a Sexual Assault Survivor
- Speaking Out: Why I Stand-A theater performance on military sexual trauma
- Bystander Intervention and Consent
Heina Dadabhoy spent their childhood as a practicing Muslim who never in their right mind would have believed that they would grow up to be an atheist feminist secular humanist. Heina has been an active participant in atheist organizations and events in and around Orange County, CA since 2007, and on the national stage since 2011. Heina is a speaker and panelist on a range of diverse topics including feminism, race, LGBTQ issues, the challenges of deconversion, Islam, non-monogamy, strategies for inclusivity, and the various intersections of the above. You may have heard them at the Huffington Post Live and Have Your Say on the BBC World Service or read about them in the New York Times.
Karen Garst is author and feminist activist with PhD from University of Wisconsin.
Karen is known for her presentation entitled, "From Goddess to God: Elimination of the Feminine Divine," which traces worship of a mother goddess through monotheism to the present day.
She is the author of two books: Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life without Religion, an anthology of 22 women who tell their stories of leaving religion, and Women v. Religion: The Case Against Faith and for Freedom, due out in June 2018, an anthology which traces the impact of religion on African-Americans, Hispanics, Jews, LGBTQ, etc.
Learn more about Karen Garst at www.faithlessfeminist.com.
Rajani Gudlavalleti & Megan Kenny
Rajani Gudlavalleti and Megan Kenny first met as graduate students at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. They found an instant connection, having both been raised as young children in the San Francisco Bay Area and instilled with zealous dedication to social justice.
Rajani is a second-generation Asian Indian queer woman. Her work focuses on advancing social justice at the intersections of public health and the legal system. Currently, she is lead community organizer for Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition, advocating to end the war on drugs and anti sex worker policies. Rajani is also a consultant with Baltimore Racial Justice Action, co-organizer of Baltimore Asian Resistance in Solidarity, and board member of Foundation Beyond Belief. She holds a Master’s in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor’s in Sociology and English Literature from Willamette University.
Born and raised in white, middle class California suburbia, Megan has lived along the East Coast for the past 24 years. She graduated from Yale University in 1998 with a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy and went on to work in education for the next 11 years before moving to Baltimore in 2009. These days, Megan works as a data analyst for a variety of businesses, non-profit organizations, and volunteer projects. She is a co-founder of Open Justice Baltimore, a volunteer organization that develops open source data projects to increase transparency of the Baltimore Police Department and Baltimore City officials. Like Rajani, Megan also received her Master’s in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University in 2011.
Rajani & Megan can speak to your campus about:
- Grassroots organizing
- Racism and other forms of oppression within the secular community
- Secular experiences in the anti-racist movement
- Conditioning of structural racism/white supremacy/anti-Blackness
- A personal Asian-American experience within the secular movement
- Data analysis and the use of quantitative data in academia and policy development
- Personal experiences in the Ivy League and other prestigious PWI academic institutions
- Multi-racial friendships and relationships
More information at: rajaniandmegan.com
Marissa Alexa McCool
Marissa is a queer, polyamorous trans woman who came out by screaming in the face of a hate preacher. She is a published author, multiple podcast host and producer, public speaker, and LGBTQ/atheist activist.
Marissa went from being homeless in her early 20s to graduating the Ivy League Cum Laude with three degrees after not passing a single year of high school. During that time she studied writing, media, anthropology, and theatre; which gives her a unique sense of communication both written and oral.
Since beginning podcasting, she has interviewed a wide variety of atheists and skeptics, including most notably Noam Chomsky. She wrote a book a few days after the election that captured the spirit of the immediate aftermath and since then she has spoken at Lehigh Valley Humanists, Skepticon, NaNoCon, the FreeThought Alliance Convention, and the UPenn V-Day.
Marissa has published six books since November 2016 and have had numerous contributing skeptics like Karen Garst, Noah Lugeons, Chris Kluwe, Dan Arel, Eli Bosnick, Mandisa Thomas, and many others. Most recently I hosted a live podcast record in Chicago with Stephanie Zvan, Mandisa, and Alix Jules.
Marissa can speak to your campus about the following topics:
- LGBTQ issues
- Transgender issues, transition, and visibility
- Cultural anthropology
- Media studies, especially cinema
- Writing, podcasting, public speaking
- Theatre, acting, performing
- Intersectional activism
- Sexual assault and harassment
Learn more at Marissa's website: rismccool.com
Danielle Muscato is a civil rights activist, trans woman, writer, debater, public speaker, podcast host, and media pundit. She has appeared on or been quoted in Rolling Stone, People, Time, The New York Times, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, SPIN, Entertainment Weekly, Billboard Magazine, and on CNN, BBC News, NPR, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, MTV News, VH1, Howard Stern, "The Real Story" with Gretchen Carlson, The O'Reilly Factor, Huffington Post Live, The Raw Story, and many more.
She is the former Public Relations Director for American Atheists and former host for two seasons of the nationally syndicated cable TV news talkshow Atheist Viewpoint.
Miss Muscato will discuss honoraria on a case-by-case basis and is very negotiable.
For more information, please visit www.DanielleMuscato.com.
Stephanie Zvan's parents decided they wouldn't raise their children in any religion. They would keep the kids out of church, religion out of the home, and let them decide what religion they wanted to be part of once they grew up. Decades later, neither Stephanie nor her brothers have ever found a religion that calls to them.
Coming to religion as an outsider, Stephanie doesn't have much interest in theology or apologetics. She'd rather get on with creating that post-religious world the demographics tell us is coming. She wants to help make it a good one, with strong humanist organizations and communities, as well as a solid understanding of science and skepticism.
For more information, please visit Stephanie Zvan's website
Stephanie Zvan can speak about:
- An Activist's Introduction to the Just-World Fallacy
- Communities Without Churches: What Fandom Can Teach Organized Atheism
- Coming to Grips with Shame
- Handling Criticism in the Age of Social Media
- What Do You Mean Science Is Racist?
- Secular Women Status Check
Science & Technology
Aaron Adair is a physics teacher at Malden Catholic High School. He earned his Bachelors degrees in physics, astronomy, and math at Michigan State University and his PhD in physics at The Ohio State University.
His academic research is largely in physics education, and he has published and given academic talks related to early Christian literature and the interaction of science and religion. He is the author of the book, "The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View" which looks at various attempts to explain the Christmas story using science and why they fail.
He has given numerous talks to secular student groups, including on the subjects of ancient aliens, history, science, religion, and how they all come together.
Matthew Facciani graduated from Westminster College where he earned a B.A. in psychology with honors. After college, Facciani went on to pursue a PhD in cognitive neuroscience at The University of South Carolina. While in studying neuroscience, Facciani realized that he was more interested in studying human behavior from a broader perspective and switched into the sociology PhD program at the University of South Carolina. Outside of his academic work, Facciani gives talks and writes articles about science for general audiences and is also an activist for gender equality and sexual violence prevention.
Matthew would enjoy speaking on:
- The sociology, psychology, and neuroscience of religious belief and atheism
- What causes people to be anti-science
- Why religion is not a mental illness or delusion
- Gender equality, consent, & sexual violence prevention
- Political engagement & providing scientific testimony
Learn more about Facciani’s work at www.matthewfacciani.com.
Abby Hafer is a speaker, writer, and humorist who particularly loves taking on Intelligent Design, Creationism, the politics surrounding them, and science denialism in general.
A few years ago, she realized that Intelligent Design is a political pressure group, not a scientific issue. With this figured out, she realized that what we need are political-style arguments in defense of evolution. Her presentations contain bulletproof science, but are short, easy to understand, easy to repeat, and make the opposition look bad. She uses humor to puncture bad arguments. Crucial questions are raised, such as “Why do mens’ testicles have such a bad location?” and “Who does God like better, us—or squid? Once she mentions testicles, everybody pays attention.
She has written a book titled The Not-So-Intelligent Designer—Why Evolution Explains the Human Body and Intelligent Design Does Not which was published in 2015.
Dr. Hafer has a doctorate in zoology from Oxford University, and teaches human anatomy and physiology at Curry College. She is a former DJ and loves doing radio and TV.
Ben is a University of Chicago Chemist/Biologist, founder of SSA chapters at Elmhurst College and the University of Chicago, former Executive Producer of Sunday Assembly Chicago. He lectures about evolution at The Field Museum.
Today, I continue my research career and speak around Chicagoland about various topics including: The Central Science: Chemists' failure to engage the public (and how that can change); Building secular communities, traditions, and rituals; The Evolving Planet; Dinosaurs.
Mark Edward is a professional mentalist who specializes in magic of the mind. He has spent over twenty five years in world class venues from high-end night clubs and theaters to hundreds of private party and corporate events. As one of only five specially chosen and trained mediums in the history of Hollywood's famed Magic Castle, he has performed fifteen years of seances that helped him perfect the role of spirit medium and psychic entertainer.
Mark would enjoy speaking on the following topics:
- Psychic Phenomena
- Cold Reading
- Psychic Investigation
- Ghost Hunting
- Testing Psychics
Mark asks for a $300 honorarium, plus expenses, from SSA affiliates who host him at their campus.
Learn more about Mark Edward at his website, www.themarkedward.com.
To reflect, challenge, comfort and inspire herself and her audience
The rootsy singer songwriter and guitarist is a seasoned tour warrior, honing her live show at bars, clubs, festivals and lounge rooms across Australia, UK and North America over the last 5 years.
Carter Warden is a former conservative worship pastor of 25 years, now openly atheist. Having been involved in music nearly all of his life in church choirs, leading worship bands and being the lead singer in a Christian rock band, Carter is now writing and performing secular songs. His songs cover relevant topics such as using reason and critical thinking, the separation of church and state, leaving religion, the pressures of coming out publicly, creating meaning and purpose, and living a life of wonder.
He hopes that his journey and original freethought songs will bring encouragement to those who feel trapped because of changing beliefs, people who fear openly identifying themselves as non-religious, and anyone who desires to be honest and genuine about personal beliefs, identity and personal expression that may go against societal norms. Carter has performed at the national conventions of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Secular Student Alliance, and on Freethought Matters TV and would love to perform for your SSA campus event.
(see additional bio under “Religious & Secularism” speakers)