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Training, Activism, and the Movement

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Speakers About Training and Activism

Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar
  • Located in Houston, TX.
  • Born in June 16th 1991, right after first gulf war, lived all childhood under Sanctions and Saddam Hussein Nationalist and Islamist Dictatorship.
  • The 2nd chapter of my life starts with the U.S Intervention in 2003 and the Civil War between Sunnis and Shias
  • Late 2007 my eldest brothers was killed in Iraq by Al Qaeda which ruined the family since then.
  • I lived in exile from September 2009 in many countries across the Middleeast east and South East Asia.
    March 2013: I arrived to the United States.
  • Education: Computer Science (Started 2011) going to continue here in the United States
  • Self Study: Philosophy and Macro economics since age 8 (which is the reason why I am an Atheist since birth).

    Projects created:

  • Global Secular Humanist Movement - its roots started from a local group I created in Iraq, today it has more than 195,000 Followers and growing.
  • Branches: 5 so far across the world. And 7 will be created this year.
  • Secular Post - Media platform for Secularists from all over the world to publish their ideas and thoughts (especially in countries with limited free speech and Atheists are prosecuted)
  • Written for publications such as : Big Think, National Post, Washington Post
  • Speeches: Found on YouTube
Dan Arel
  • Lives in San Diego, CA
  • Writes Op-Ed's for AlterNet, Salon and The Huffington Post
  • Author of an upcoming book on raising children in a Christian America
  • Has a column in American Atheist Magazine called Danthropology
  • Is the newsletter editor for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
  • Is the author of Parenting Without God: How to Raise Moral, Ethical and Intelligent Children Free From Religious Dogma
  • Also now the Ethics Expert for the Global Secular Council
  • Twitter: @danarel

Greta Christina
Evan Clark
  • Located in Thousand Oaks, CA
  • Chair of the Secular Student Alliance Board of Directors
  • Founder of the first SSA Affiliate on a religious campus
  • First atheist Student Body President at California Lutheran University
  • Co-Founder of the Humanist Community of Ventura County
  • Founder and Director of Spectrum Experience LLC
  • Twitter: @evansaysblah
James Croft
  • Located in Somerville, MA
  • Vice-Chair of the Humanist Graduate Community at Harvard
  • Assistant Editor of The New Humanism
  • Founder of Temple of the Future
  • Humanist Celebrant
Ian Cromwell
  • Located in Vancouver, Canada
  • Anti-racist, skeptic atheist, feminist, humanist
  • Author of The Crommunist Manifesto at Freethought Blogs
  • Health economist, health services researcher
Thea Deley
  • Located in Paonia, CO
  • Only comedian on SSA's roster with a vajayjay.
  • Called 'a face of new Atheism' by Denver's "Westword."
  • Founding minister of the Church of Personal Responsibility.
  • Promises to restore your virginity or send you home with a condom.
  • Rated "Rad!" by Metro State University student newspaper.
  • Once burst into a church and yelled at the worship band to STFU.
  • Performing at American Atheists' 2014 national conference in Salt Lake City.
  • Twitter: @theadeley
Kate Donovan
  • Located in Boston, MA
  • Blogger at Freethought Blogs, Friendly Atheist, and Teen Skepchick
  • Volunteer SSA Network Coordinator for Military Students
  • Studying Psychology and Human Development & Psychological Services at Northwestern University

Topics Include:

  • Pseudoscience and Women
  • Alternative Medicine in Practice: Homeopathy & Handwaving
  • Mental Health: The Skeptic's Approach
  • So You Want to be a Student Activist?
  • The Nice Atheist: Mediating and Mediators in the Community
JT Eberhard
  • Located in Lawrence, KS
  • Blogger
  • Co-Founder of Skepticon
Fred Edwords
  • Located in Washington, D.C.
  • Guidance and expertise in SSA publications
  • Input into mutual cooperation between SSA and AHA
  • Contributions to SSA literature and content
  • Participation in the Speaker Series and Debate Circuit
Patrick Elliott
  • Located in Madison, WI (frequently travels to Minnesota)
  • Attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation
  • Spokesperson on state/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.
  • Speaking engagements have included freethinker groups, conventions, legislative testimony, and training for school administrators.
Tim Farley
Lori L. Fazzino
  • Located in Las Vegas, NV
  • Doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Studies Evangelical Apostasy and deconversion  processes
  • Secular Student Alliance UNLV board member (2011-2012)
  • Former Evangelical believer and meat eater
  • Click here for her UNLV faculty page
Zack Ford
  • Located in Washington, DC
  • LGBT Editor, ThinkProgress.org
  • Founder, ZackFordBlogs.com
  • Founder, Queer and Queerer Podcast
  • Twitter: @ZackFord
Kelley Freeman
  • Located in Columbus, OH
  • Communications Associate for the Secular Student Alliance
  • Former intern for both the SSA and Foundation Beyond Belief
  • President/Officer of SSA at the University of South Carolina (2010-2013)
  • Founder and president of Forward Progressive Alliance at USC (2011-2013)
  • Contributor to Friendly Atheist
  • Has spoken at multiple conferences and freethought venues throughout the country
  • Twitter: @ramenneedles
Iris Furman
  • Located in Davie, FL
  • Previous President and Co-Founder of Secular Student Alliance at UCF
  • Campaign Manager of Knights Against 8
  • Organized a 99% Spring Action Training on Direct Action
  • Involved in Labor Organizing during my stay progressive community.
  • Progressive Activist
  • Twitter: @Furmanator
Jessika Griffin
  • Located in Bloomington, IN
  • SSA Regional Campus Organizer for the Mideast Region (IL, IN, MI, OH, & KY)
  • Education: BS in Public Management from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU Bloomington. Minor in legal studies.
  • Former Secular Alliance at IU President ('12-'13) and Outreach Director ('11-'12)
  • Identifies as a skeptic, secular humanist, and atheist
  • Twitter: @SSAJessika
  • Jessika can speak on secular activism, building a community on campus, doing interfaith work, how to run social media and other promotional resources, and working with off campus groups.
Jennifer Hancock
  • Located in Tampa Bay, FL
  • Former executive director for the Humanists of Florida Association.
  • Author: The Humanist Approach to Happiness: Practical Wisdom Writer and producer of An Introduction to Humanism on DVD
  • Tampa Humanist and Freethought Examiner for Examiner.com
  • Writes a freelance column about Humanism for the Bradenton Herald newspaper.
  • Writes the Happiness through Humanism blog and podcast.
Jason Heap
  • Located in Washington, DC
  • Travelled to nearly 40 countries through work, leisure and service projects.
  • Family and friends come from over 10 religious traditions.
  • Qualified as a Teacher of Religious Education in the UK's State-maintained schools.
  • Was first appointed as a Headteacher (the UK equivalent of a 'Teaching Principal' in the US) at the age of 32.
  • First applicant to be a Humanist chaplain to the US Navy (application ongoing).
Chris Highland
  • Located in San Rafael, California
  • Non-theistic freethinker; "Nature Chaplain" 
  • Instructor in "natural spirituality" through Cherry Hill Seminary; adjunct instructor, Dominican University and Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley
  • Nine published books including Life After Faith
  • Presbyterian Minister for 14 years (1987-2001; Master of Divinity degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary; parish associate for 10 years; left ordination for reasons of conscience)
  • Interfaith Chaplain in county jails--10,000 inmates per year-- and with unhoused, homeless poor--in one of the nation's wealthiest counties-- for 20 years (directed county emergency shelter for 2 winters)
  • Taught courses in congregations on World Religions and Sacred Scriptures
  • Philosophy major, Seattle Pacific University--evangelical college
  • Former Evangelical (high school through college attended Baptist, Pentecostal,
    Protestant, Campus Crusade and House Church congregations; youth group leader; wide biblical and ecumenical knowledge)
Sikivu Hutchinson
  • Located in Los Angeles, CA
  • Sikivu Hutchinson is the author of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values WarsGodless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels, and the forthcoming White Nights, Black Paradise, a novel on Peoples Temple and the Jonestown Massacre.
  • She is the founder of Black Skeptics Los Angeles, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, and a Senior Fellow for the Institute for Humanist Studies. The Black Skeptics Group sponsors annual First in the Family Humanist scholarship awards.
  • She is also the project director of the Women's Leadership Project feminist humanist mentoring program.
Chris Johnson
  • Located in New York, NY
  • Author of the photography book, "A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God"
  • Director of upcoming film version of the book.
  • Has raised over $125,000 on Kickstarter for the book/film of "A Better Life"
  • Interviewed atheists from around the world for the two projects including notable figures such as, Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Steven Pinker, Penn & Teller, Julia Sweeney, Alex Honnold, & Derren Brown, among others.
  • Check him out on Youtube here.

Topics Include:

  • The journey of creating "A Better Life" - from concept to published book!
  • Crowdfunding
  • A new way of looking at atheism
  • Atheism and Death
Mary Johnson
  • Located in Nashua, NH
  • Mary was a nun in Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity for 20 years before abandoning her religious faith to rejoice in her freedom
  • Mary enjoys helping bridge the communicaton gap between secular and religous people, since she understands how good people on both sides work
  • An Unquenchable Thirst, her memoir about her 20 years as a nun, was named to Kirkus Revew's list of Best Nonfiction of the Year
  • She’s been interviewed by Rosie O’Donnell and on national radio in the US, Canada and Australia
  • She is Creative Director of Retreats for A Room of Her Own Foundation
  • Her opnion pieces have appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, National Public Radio, the Huffington Post, and Bloomberg.com
  • Mary has been intervewed by The Friendly Atheist and Daylight Athesm, and has an article upcoming in The Humanist magazne.
  • Mary is in the process of becomng a Humanist Celebrant and is eager for the opportunity to help nonreligious people celebrate special moments in meaningful ways.

Mary is happy to speak on these topics:

  • Living an Authentic Life: Big Concept, Practical Steps
  • When Everything Changes Overnight
  • The Joys of Doubt
  • Herding Cats: Building Secular Community
  • Godless Heathen within a Religious Family: Avoiding Domestic Armageddon
  • This I Believe: A Weekend Workshop to Help Clarify Your Thoughts about Life and Living Well
Jamie Kilstein
  • Located in Brooklyn, NY
  • Comedian and Co-Host of Citizen Radio
  • As seen on MSNBC, Conan O'Brien, Showtime, and more
  • Doesn't hate women
  • Performed at The Reason Rally, Global Atheist Convention etc
  • Twitter handle: @jamiekilsteind
Adam Lee
  • Located in New York, NY
  • Author of the blog Daylight Atheism
  • Cited in Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion
  • Won first prize in a science-writing contest judged by Steven Pinker
  • Was singled out in campaign attack ads in 2008 run by a Republican senator
  • Lifetime member of the Freedom from Religion Foundation
Lyz Liddell
  • Located in Columbus, OH
  • Director of Campus Organizing at the Secular Student Alliance
  • Proponent of nontheistic involvement in interfaith programs
  • Advisor for Foundation Beyond Belief "Challenge the Gap" program
Gordon Maples
  • Located in Columbus, OH
  • Manager of the Secular Student Alliance's Regional Program
  • Formerly SSA's Regional Campus Organizer for the Southeastern US
  • Founder of the Southeastern Collegiate Atheist Alliance
  • President/Officer of Alabama Atheists and Agnostics (2010 - 2012)
  • Has inadvertently appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, The Blaze, and Creation Today.
  • Has spoken at multiple conferences and freethought venues throughout the Southeast and the rest of the country
  • Twitter @SouthernHeathen

Steven Martin
  • Located in Ripon, WI
  • Professor of Communication at Ripon College, in Ripon, WI
  • Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Public Address from Penn State University
  • Teaches courses on the rhetoric of social movements, U.S public address, political campaign communication, public speaking, argumentation theory, and metaphor and social problems
  • Advises the Secular Student Alliance at Ripon College
David G. McAfee
  • Author of Mom, Dad, I'm an Atheist: The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-Believer and Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings
  • Contributor to American Atheist Magazine and Canadian Freethinker
  • Graduated with BA in Religious Studies and English
Jennifer McCreight
  • Seattle, WA
  • Member of the Secular Student Alliance Board of Directors
  • Co-founder and former President of the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue University
  • Blogger at Blag Hag (www.blaghag.com)
  • Creator of the widespread "Boobquake" event
  • Contributor to the American edition of The Atheist's Guide to Christmas
  • Profiled in More Magazine in an article on the new feminists
Dale McGowan
  • Located in Atlanta, GA
  • Editor/co-author of Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers
  • Author of freethought satirical novels Calling Bernadette's Bluff and Good Thunder Editor of Voices of Unbelief: Documents of Atheists and Agnostics (2012)
  • Founding Executive Director of Foundation Beyond Belief
  • 2008 Harvard Humanist of the Year
  • Author of Atheism for Dummies
Hemant Mehta

Hemant's speaking topics include:

  • The story behind I Sold My Soul on eBay
  • The need for critical thinking in public schools
  • The challenges of being a young atheist
  • Why skeptics can be so gullible
Ashley F. Miller
  • Currently located in Columbia, SC
  • Currently getting PhD in Mass Communications, focusing on Women's Studies and Reality TV
  • Worked in reality television as an editor -- shows included Toddlers & Tiaras, Flipping Out, Ace of Cakes
  • Plays the Ukulele
  • Member of the SSA Board of Directors
  • Communications Officer at Provide -- An organization dedicated to abortion access, especially in the South
  • Twitter: @ashleyfmiller

Ashley would love to speak on the following topics:

  • Atheism and diversity
  • Introduction to feminism
  • Media literacy and how to work with the media
  • Religion versus women, minorities, and LGBT
  • Using Social Media effectively
  • Film, Television, Young Adult Literature
  • Blogging, Podcasting, Vlogging
  • History of Christianity
  • Coping with burn out
Miri Mogilevsky
  • Lives in NYC
  • Studied psychology at Northwestern University
  • Now studying social work at Columbia University
  • Blogs about social justice, psychology, and basically everything at freethoughtblogs.com/brutereason
  • Tweets @sondosia
  • Enjoys Russian literature and Cheezits

Topics Include:

  • Psychology & mental health (especially as they relate to skepticism)
  • social justice
  • sexual health
  • LGBT/women's issues
  • writing/blogging/activism
  • social media
David Niose
  • Located in Lunenburg, Massachusetts
  • Author of Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans, and Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on Reason (December 2014)
  • Former president of the Secular Coalition for America and American Humanist Association
  • Legal Director for the American Humanist Association
  • Attorney who has litigated on behalf of Secular Americans
  • Humanist blog at Psychology Today, called "Our Humanity, Naturally."
  • Twitter: @ahadave
Blake Page
  • Spent two years enlisted in the Army
  • Went to West Point for 3 1/2 years until resigning in order to draw attention to failures to uphold the Constitution by military leaders
  • Served as president of the West Point Secular Student Alliance for one year
  • Currently serving as Director of Military Religious Freedom Foundation Affairs at USMA
  • Currently working on a book to provide comprehensive analysis and personal perspective on the implications of church and state violations in the military

Topics Include:

  • The culture of religious privilege in the military and how it effects our nation at large
  • The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, its mission, details about recurrent problems in the military, and how we address them
Anthony B. Pinn
  • Located in Houston, TX
  • Harvard University PhD (1994)
  • First African American to hold an Endowed Chair at Rice University
  • Author/editor of 28 books - including several on humanism
  • Director of research for the Institute for Humanist Studies
  • Named the Harvard University Humanist Chaplaincy "Humanist of the Year" in 2006
  • Received the African American Humanist Award from the Council for Secular Humanism in 1999
Darrel Ray
  • Located in Bonner Springs, KS
  • Organizational psychologist with lifelong interest in the psychology of religion
  • Author of three books, two in organizational psychology and one on religious infection
  • Principal researcher on the recent report: Sex and Secularism: What Happens When You Leave Religion, A survey of 10,000 American secularists
  • Founder of Recovering from Religion - "Learning the joy of faith free living" www.recoveringreligionists.com
  • Raised in a fundamentalist home.
  • Professional speaker, trainer and consultant
  • Hobbies include mountain climbing, skiing, gardening, reading and travel
Conor Robinson
  • lives in Los Angeles, California
  • founded Yale's Humanist Society
  • founded the Pathfinders Project
  • received the 2014 Humanist Visionary award from Foundation Beyond Belief
  • directs the Humanist Service Corps

Topics Include:

  • Pathfinders Project
  • the Humanist Service Corps
  • humanist fundraising dilemmas and strategic solutions
  • leading and engaging millennials
  • effective communication
  • expressing humanist values through service
  • ethical issues in international service from a humanist perspective
  • mitigating superstition by promoting development
  • vetting potential volunteer opportunities
  • evaluating project success using both process and outcome measures
  • other topics may be suggested!
Andrew L. Seidel
  • Lives in Madison, WI and loves to travel
  • Degrees include:
    • Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and environmental science, cum laude
    • Juris Doctor, magna cum laude
    • Masters of Law, summa cum laude
  • Speaking events:
    • Andrew has given more than 30 talks at universities and law schools across the country.
    • He has given talks and workshops at the last three SSA conferences in Columbus and has debated Bill O'Reilly.
    • He frequently writes for FFRF's blog: http://ffrf.org/new/blog
  • Awards include:
    • FFRF Graduate Student Essay Contest, Second Place 2010
    • Haber J. McCarthy Excellence in Environmental Law Award
    • Outstanding Masters of Law Student, Denver University Law School
  • Forthcoming book on international human rights
  • Attorney, Photographer, Writer, and Former Grand Canyon Tour Guide.
Herb Silverman
  • Located in Charleston, SC
  • Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the College of Charleston
  • Founded and was faculty advisor to the Atheist-Humanist Alliance
  • President of the Secular Coalition for America
  • Former candidate for Governor of South Carolina
  • Founded Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry in South Carolina
James Sutter
  • Located in Seattle, WA.
  • Co-creator of the Pathfinder RPG, currently the best-selling tabletop roleplaying game in the world.
  • Professional author, game designer, and worldbuilder.
  • Author of the novels Death's Heretic and The Redemption Engine, a fantasy series about an atheist in a world where gods are objectively real.
  • Ranked #3 on Barnes & Noble's Best Fantasy Releases of 2011. Finalist for an Origins Award and the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel, and winner of numerous ENnie awards for setting and game design.
  • Regular guest speaker at Gen Con, World Fantasy Convention, Norwescon, Paizocon, Clarion West Writer's Workshop, and more.
  • Twitter: @jameslsutter
David Tamayo
  • Located in Reston, VA
  • President and Founder of non-profit Hispanic American Freethinkers
  • Host of the secular HAFree Podcast (in Spanish)
  • Freemason for over 15 years
  • Teaches critical thinking seminars to high schools in Northern Virginia (Washington, DC suburbs)
  • BS in Computer Science from George Washington Univ.
  • MS in Management of Information Technology, University of Virginia
  • Twitter handle: @davidfromhafree
Christopher Tanner
  • Located in Jenson, Michigan
  • PR Director/Organizational Director and Co-Host of Atheist Analysis.
  • They provide a network of 7 shows a week ranging from politics, religion, education, lectures, debates, and science to 15 active blogs per week.
  • He is passionate about small activist groups and helping them grow.
  • LGBTQ Activist/Feminist Activist/Secular Humanist
  • I have an associates of Business Management and 10 years of managing experience helping to develop individuals to maximize their careers within the constructs of an organization.
Valerie Tarico
Mandisa Thomas
  • Located in Atlanta, GA
  • Born and raised in New York City
  • Never formally raised religious
  • Married with 3 children
  • A founder and President of Black Nonbelievers, Inc.
  • Current board member of Foundation Beyond Belief
  • Twitter: @mandy0904
Gleb Tsipursky
  • Located in Columbus, OH
  • I am Co-Founder and Ideator-in-Chief of Intentional Insights, a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to promoting rational thinking, emotional intelligence, and social intelligence
  • I am a history professor, specializing in analyzing decision-making processes and outcomes in various historical contexts
  • I am the former president of the New York University secular student group
  • I am an activist of the secular humanist group in Columbus, OH (The Humanist Community of Central Ohio)
  • I am an activist of the atheist group in the Unitarian Universalist (UU) church in Columbus, OH (UU Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists)
  • Twitter: @Gleb_Tsipursky
Rebecca Vitsmun

* Located in Puyallup, WA
* Developing Crisis Responders with Foundation Beyond Belief, the first national crisis responder program for the secular community
* Co-host and writer for weekly radio program, Ask an Atheist
* Outed on live national television by Wolf Blitzer after a tornado destroyed her home.
* Board member of Humanists of Washington
* Twitter: @ActuallyAtheist

Many people will remember Rebecca Vitsmun from the CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer where she responded "I'm actually an atheist" and a big laugh to his repeated question of "Do you thank the Lord?" after her home was destroyed in a tornado.
Standing in the rubble of her home being proselytized to by volunteers, Rebecca decided to go on the search to find a humanist crisis responder team to become involved with and soon discovered, none existed. Rebecca has teamed up with the Foundation Beyond Belief as Crisis Responders Development Coordinator and has begun pulling in talent from around the country to work on the creation of the program.
Rebecca is a co-host and writer of the radio program Ask an Atheist out of Tacoma, WA. Ask an Atheist is a weekly show dedicated to atheism, skepticism, Secular Humanism, and issues of separation of church and state. 
In her local community, Rebecca is the Volunteerism Chair for Humanists of Washington.

Stephanie Zvan
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