Advisory Board to the Secular Student Alliance
The Advisory Board to the Secular Student Alliance (SSA) is a multi-faceted, multi-functional body of representatives from various fields of expertise, recognized and valued as distinguished contributors to the secular movement. The Advisory Board is comprised of individuals invited by the SSA Board of Directors to participate in a very dynamic student organization by offering their guidance and experience in support of SSA's operations, governance, programming, and planning. Typical contributions made by members of the SSA Advisory Board:
- Guidance and expertise in the business affairs of a non-profit organization
- Input into the overall structure, focus and development of the organization
- A source of ideas and strategy to be employed by the organization
- A sounding board for ideas generated within the student secular movement
- Expertise in topics related to atheism, ethics, humanism, philosophy, politics, religion, science, and sociology
- Faculty advisor assistance
- Speaking at events
The SSA wishes to acknowledge and thank our advisors (below) for their commitment and support.
Hemant Mehta, Advisory Board Chair
Amanda K Metskas
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- The existence of God
- The Resurrection
- Religion & morality
Dan Barker is the author of Just Pretend: A Freethought Book For Children, Maybe Yes, Maybe No: A Guide For Young Skeptics, Maybe Right, Maybe Wrong: A Guide For Young Thinkers, and Losing Faith In Faith: From Preacher To Atheist, an autobiographical story of deconversion and critical analysis of Christianity and the bible.
Mr. Barker became a teenage evangelist at the age of fifteen. He received a degree in Religion from Azusa Pacific University and was ordained to the ministry by the Standard Community Church, California, in 1975. He served as associate pastor at a Quaker Church, an Assembly of God, and an independent Charismatic church. Mr. Barker maintained a touring musical ministry for 17 years, including eight years of full-time, cross-country evangelism. An accomplished pianist, record producer, arranger and songwriter, he now produces freethought music and has completed three musical albums.
Dan is a staff member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. He writes a regular column for Freethought Today, the Foundation's newspaper. Mr. Barker has also travels extensively for debates and lectures.
- Religion in public schools
- Church-state separation
- Religion in politics
- Religious freedom
- The Constitution & Founding Fathers of the USA
- The Religious Right
Robert Boston is a policy expert at Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) and also serves as assistant editor of AU's monthly magazine Church & State. Mr. Boston is recognized as a leading writer and researcher on church-state topics and an advocate for the separation of church and state. He frequently writes about the political goals of the Religious Right and other church-state issues, such as religion in public schools, tax aid to sectarian institutions and religious freedom. Boston is the author of Close Encounters with the Religious Right: Journeys into the Twilight Zone of Religion and Politics (Prometheus Books, 2000), The Most Dangerous Man in America? Pat Robertson and the Rise of the Christian Coalition (Prometheus Books, 1996) and Why the Religious Right Is Wrong About Separation of Church & State (Prometheus Books, 1993). His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Liberty, Insight, The Public Eye, The Freedom Writer, Jewish Monthly and Free Inquiry. In addition, Boston often serves as a spokesman for Americans United and has appeared on NBC's "Nightly News," CNN's "Headline News," Fox News Channel's "In Depth," Odyssey Channel's "News Odyssey" and other programs. He has also appeared as a guest on talk-radio shows across the country and been interviewed by numerous print media outlets. He also represents Americans United at speaking engagements around the nation.
- Located in San Francisco, CA
- Author of the widely-read and well-respected Greta Christina's Blog
- Regular atheist correspondent for AlterNet
- Creator of the "Atheist Meme of the Day" on Facebook
- Professional writer and editor on atheism, sexuality and sex-positivity, LGBT issues, politics, culture, and other issues since 1989
- Follow Greta on Twitter @GretaChristina
- Author of Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the
Greta Christina is one of the most widely-read and well-respected bloggers in the atheist blogosphere. She is author of Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, an Amazon best-seller in the Atheism category, and was ranked by an independent analyst as one of the Top Ten most popular atheist bloggers. She is a regular atheist correspondent for AlterNet, the online political magazine with over 1,200,000 hits a week, and has been writing about atheism and skepticism for her own cleverly-named Greta Christina's Blog (now part of the Freethought Blogs network) since 2005. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and anthologies, including Ms., Skeptical Inquirer, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the anthology Everything You Know About God Is Wrong. She has been writing professionally since 1989, on topics including sexuality and sex-positivity, LGBT issues, politics, culture, and whatever crosses her mind. She is an experienced and entertaining public speaker, who has been doing public speaking for many years.
You can check out Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, here.
- The public's understanding of science
- Science literacy
Richard Dawkins won both the Royal Society of Literature Award and the Los Angeles Times Literary Prize in 1987 for The Blind Watchmaker. The television film of the book, shown in the 'Horizon' series, won the Sci-Tech Prize for the Best Science Programme of 1987. He has also won the 1989 Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London and the 1990 Royal Society Michael Faraday Award for the furtherance of the public understanding of science. In 1994 he won the Nakayama Prize for Human Science and in 1995 was awarded an Honorary D.Litt. by the University of St Andrews. In 1996 he was named Humanist of the Year and has been Vice President of the British Humanist Association. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1997 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001, he was also winner of the 1997 (Fifth) International Cosmos Prize in Commemoration of Expo' 90 as well as the Kistler Prize in 2001.
Richard Dawkins's first book, The Selfish Gene (1976; second edition, 1989), became an immediate international bestseller and, like The Blind Watchmaker, was translated into all the major languages. Its sequel, The Extended Phenotype, followed in 1982. His other bestsellers include River Out of Eden (1995), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), and Unweaving the Rainbow (1998). More recently, he has published A Devil's Chaplain (2003) and The Ancestor's Tale (2004).
- Writing and editing articles
- Helping with group startup
- Helping with discrimination issues against the Atheist community
Margaret Downey founded the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia (FSGP) and the Anti-Discrimination Support Network (ADSN) in 1993 and the Thomas Paine Memorial Committee in 1994. She is also editor and publisher of the bi-monthly newsletter published by FSGP, The Greater Philadelphia Story.
The Thomas Paine Memorial Committee has established proper recognition for the memory of Thomas Paine in various Pennsylvania cities including Philadelphia, Lancaster, and York. Margaret authored the Philadelphia City Council Resolution that declares June 8th as Thomas Paine Day. Margaret is also the author of city proclamations in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and in Garden Grove, California.
ADSN is concerned with discrimination against the Atheist community. ADSN monitors public office positions and public schools. ADSN acts immediately upon negative stereotyping by writing letters of complaint that demand the offending party to cease hate speech and issue a public apology and/or retraction. In December of 1991 Margaret filed a discrimination case against the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) through the Human Relations Commission of Pennsylvania. After nearly eight years she lost her case against BSA. In the U.S. Supreme Court case James Dale v. Boy Scouts of America, BSA declared itself "private" to avoid the question of open membership, thus ending her appeal and many other court cases against BSA's discriminatory membership policy. ADSN efforts are responsible for convincing movie producer Steven Spielberg to disassociate himself from BSA.
ADSN's "Erasing Prejudice" program distributes information and training methods in order to develop a national speaker's bureau that teaches about tolerance and diversity at elementary, secondary, and university levels. As ADSN's founder and president, Margaret has represented the interests of the nontheist community (since 1995) at several United Nations conferences and spoke at the United Nations Freedom of Religion and Belief meeting in New York City. She also attended the 2001 United Nations Freedom of Religion and Belief Conference in Madrid.
Margaret is a past board member of the American Humanist Association and the Thomas Paine National Historical Association. She is a current board member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, The Humanist Institute, the Godless Americans Political Action Committee, Advisory Board Member of the Robert Green Ingersoll Museum and the Atheist Alliance.
In the year 2002, Margaret became the first "Secular Humanist Celebrant" in Pennsylvania. Taking advantage of Pennsylvania's "Self-Uniting" marriage licenses, Margaret performs godless weddings and funeral ceremonies.
- 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
Fred Edwords is the former Executive Director of the American Humanist Association (AHA) and former editor of The Humanist magazine. His experiences in the humanist movement are diverse and he has written extensively on a variety of subjects that move and shake the secular community. Fred was awarded Rationalist of the Year by the American Rationalist Association in 1984 and received both the HUMCON Pioneer Award from HUMCON in 1992 and the Humanist Pioneer Award from the AHA in 1986. He is a regular contributor to The Secular Web and participates in Camp Quest each year. Fred Edwords also took part in the First Annual Conference of the Secular Student Alliance with a though-provoking talk on the relevance of humanism to our lives and the world at large.
- Building community for humanists, atheists & agnostics
- Humanist/Atheist & religious pluralism/interfaith work
- Humanism: the Good Life (without God), or "atheist spirituality"
- What is humanism?
Greg M. Epstein serves as the Humanist Chaplain of Harvard University and sits on the executive committee of the 38-member Harvard United Ministry interfaith corps of chaplains. In 2005 he received ordination as a Humanist Rabbi from the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, where he studied in Jerusalem and Michigan for five years. He holds a BA (Religion and Chinese) and an MA (Judaic Studies) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a Masters of Theological Studies from the Harvard Divinity School. He recently agreed to write his first book, Good Without God, for William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Epstein was the primary organizer of " The New Humanism," an international conference in honor of the 30th Humanist Chaplaincy of Harvard University, which drew one of the largest and most diverse audiences of any Humanist gathering in North American history. He blogs for Newsweek magazine and The Washington Post, and his work as a Humanist Rabbi and Chaplain has been featured by National Public Radio, BBC Radio, Newsweek, The Boston Globe, The Jewish Daily Forward, and more. He is an adviser to two student groups at Harvard College, the Secular Society and the Interfaith Council, and to the Harvard Humanist Graduate Community.
- Guidance and expertise in High School programming and development.
- Guidance and expertise in educational programs and resources.
- Contributions to SSA literature and content.
- Participation in the Speaker Series and SSA Events and Conferences.
Mynga Futrell earned a Ph.D. in science and curriculum development and, after teaching at an elementary free school, at junior and senior high levels, and at the national college for the deaf, Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, she worked for a while in teacher education, ran a computer training business, and is now a full-time freelance writer in California. A founding member and past vice president of Sacramento's Atheists and Other Freethinkers, Mynga is a current board member of the Atheist Alliance and a volunteer counselor at Camp Quest 2000. She is a bicycle advocate and licensed motorcyclist who has been TV-free for 26 years. Mynga co-authored Teachers, Computers, and Curriculum (a text for teachers), Different Drummers: Nonconforming Thinkers in History (includes freethought material), and the web site Teaching About Religion.
- Guidance and expertise in SSA management and operations
- Input into SSA issue focus and activist programs
- Input into mutual cooperation between SSA and Camp Quest
- Participation in the Speaker Series, Debate Circuit and SSA Events and Conferences
Edwin Kagin is a lawyer/poet. He is a practicing attorney in the state of Kentucky, focusing on First Amendment and Constitutional cases. While an unsuccessful State Senatorial and State Supreme Court candidate, he remains determined to pave the way for other atheist political candidates in his state. He is a founding member of the Free Inquiry Group of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, and a regular contributor to its newsletter "Fig Leaves."
Edwin is the founder and director of Camp Quest, the first secular humanist summer camp in the United States. Edwin in the Kentucky State Director for American Atheists, Inc and a member of their Speakers' Bureau. He is co-author of the book, "The Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in American." In February, 2005, a book of his writings, "Baubles of Blasphemy" was released. Edwin & his wife Helen Kagin were named "Atheists of Year" for 2005 by American Atheists.
- Socio-political history
- Popular culture
Wendy Kaminer, a lawyer and social critic, writes about law, liberty, feminism, religion, and popular culture. Her latest book is Free for All: Defending Liberty in America Today. A former Guggenheim Fellow, she is the author of six previous books: Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and Perils of Piety; True Love Waits: Essays and Criticism; It's All the Rage: Crime and Culture; I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional: The Recovery Movement & Other Self-Help Fashions; A Fearful Freedom: Women's Flight from Equality; and Women Volunteering: The Pleasure, Pain & Politics of Unpaid Work. Her articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, The Wall Street Journal, The American Prospect, Free Inquiry, Dissent, The Nation, and Newsweek. Her commentaries have aired on NPR's Morning Edition. Before embarking on her writing career, Ms. Kaminer practiced law as a staff attorney in the New York Legal Aid Society and the New York City Mayor's Office. She served on the National Board of the American Civil Liberties Union from 1999 to 2006.
- Guidance and assistance in fundraising
- Guidance and assistance in board governance
- Participation in SSA activities including board meetings and conferences
- Participation in the Speaker Series
Woody Kaplan is a former member of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Board of Directors and served on its Executive Committee. Currently, he Chairs the Board of Trustees of the ACLU Foundation of Massachusetts. He founded the Civil Liberties List (a political action committee) and is a full-time political and civil liberties activist. He is president of the First Amendment Foundation and chair of the advisory board of the Secular Coalition for America. He also advises the Godless Americans Political Action Committee and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. His major activities include lobbying Congress and organizational and development work. Major interests include freedom of expression, the right of dissent, separation of church and state, racial justice, the rights of lesbians and gay men, reproductive freedom, abolition of the death penalty, the rights of the accused, police misconduct and a general extension of political and civil liberties.
Woody spent twenty-five years developing regional shopping centers and is Chief Executive Officer of The Kaplan Group, Inc., which acts primarily as an investor.
- Guidance and assistance in fundraising
- Guidance and assistance in organizational development
Jerry Lieberman has been in higher education for over thirty-seven years. However, he is a real-world activist. He has been a faculty advisor to numerous progressive student organizations over the years. He served on the Secular Student Alliance Board of Directors from 2001 to 2006. He is presently the president of the Humanists of Florida Association. He has created several successful university centers to build partnerships with non-profits community based organizations to address poverty, racism and social injustice. He has also started his own businesses.
Jerry's strengths are in program and organizational development, building collaboratives, working with diverse populations, technical assistance, evaluation and fundraising. He is tenacious, aggressive and outspoken. However, he is a grassroots bottom person and believes strongly in the democratic process. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science from New York University.
Amanda K. Metskas is the executive director of Camp Quest, Inc. She has been involved with Camp Quest since 2003, and served on the board of directors
In addition to her work with Camp Quest, Amanda is the Vice President of the Secular Coalition for America. She co-authored Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief with Dale McGowan, Molleen Matsumura and Jan Devor. Amanda holds an M.A. in political science from The Ohio State University, and a B.A. in international relations and psychology from Brown University. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband August E. Brunsman IV and their two cats. from 2004-2007. Amanda became executive director when Camp Quest, Inc. hired her as its first staff person in January 2008. As executive director, Amanda focuses on providing coordination and support services to all of the Camp Quest programs, and helps launch new Camp Quest camps across North America.
Massimo Pigliucci is a Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York. His research is concerned with philosophy of science, the relationship between science and philosophy, and the relationship between science and religion.
He received a Doctorate in Genetics from the University of Ferrara in Italy, a PhD. in Botany from the University of Connecticut, and a PhD. in Philosophy from the University of Tennessee. He has published over a hundred technical papers and several books. His most recent technical book is Making Sense of Evolution: Toward a Coherent Picture of Evolutionary Theory (co-authored by Jonathan Kaplan, University of Chicago Press). Prof. Pigliucci has been awarded the prestigious Dobzhansky Prize from the Society for the Study of Evolution. He has been elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science "for fundamental studies of genotype by environmental interactions and for public defense of evolutionary biology from pseudoscientific attack."
In the areas of public outreach and critical thinking, Prof. Pigliucci has published in national magazines such as Skeptic, Skeptical Inquirer, Philosophy Now, The Philosopher's Magazine, Secular Nation, and American Atheist magazine. He has also been elected as a consultant for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Pigliucci pens the "Rationally Speaking" blog (rationallyspeaking.org), and has authored the popular science book Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism and the Nature of Science (Sinauer). His forthcoming book is Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell the Difference Between Science and Bunk (University of Chicago Press).
Selected Recent Publications
- Pigliucci, M. 2009. Consciousness, meditation and the Dalai Lama. American Atheist 1: 24.
- Pigliucci, M. 2009. The evolution of evolutionary theory. Philosophy Now 71:6-8
- Pigliucci, M. 2009. Experimental philosophy, an oxymoron?. Skeptical Inquirer 1:16-17
- Pigliucci, M. 2009. The tree of life. Skeptical Inquirer 1:20-21 Department
- Biblical theology
- Biblical interpretation
- Historicity of Jesus
- Historicity of the Resurrection
Dr. Robert Price is the author of Beyond Born Again (1993), The Widow-Traditions in Luke-Acts: A Feminist-Critical Scrutiny (1997) and Deconstructing Jesus (2000). Also, with his wife Carol Selby Price, he co-authored a book on the rock band Rush entitled Mystic Rhythms: The Philosophical Vision of Rush. He has written extensively on religion, theology and the bible for The Christian Century, The Evangelical Quarterly, Christian Scholars Review, The Journal for the Study of The NY, The Journal of Psychology and Theology, Religious Studies, The Reformed Journal, Religious Humanism, Playboy, American Rationalist and others. He occasionally appears on A&E Bible documentaries. He is also the editor of The Journal of Higher Criticism.
Dr. Price holds a Ph.D. in Theology (Drew, 1981) as well as a Ph.D. in New Testament (Drew 1993). As an undergraduate at Montclair State College he served as chapter president for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship and later became both a campus chaplain for the United Ministries in Higher Education and a Baptist pastor. He was Professor of Religion at Mount Olive College and Affiliate Professor of New Testament and Biblical Interpretation at Drew University. He now works for the Council for Secular Humanism as a professor of Biblical Criticism for the Center for Inquiry Institute.
- Religion and the Constitution
- Separation of church and state
- Why do we believe what we believe?
• Evolutionary Psychology
• Science and Skepticism
• Pseudoscience, conspiracies, and hoaxes
• Behavioral economics and evolutionary economics
Dr. Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine and editor of Skeptic.com, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and an Adjunct Professor at Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Shermer's latest book is The Mind of the Market, on evolutionary economics. His last book was Why Darwin Matters: Evolution and the Case Against Intelligent Design, and he is the author of The Science of Good and Evil and of Why People Believe Weird Things. Dr. Shermer received his B.A. in psychology from Pepperdine University, M.A. in experimental psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and his Ph.D. in the history of science from Claremont Graduate University (1991). He was a college professor for 20 years, and since his creation of Skeptic magazine he has appeared on such shows as The Colbert Report, 20/20, Dateline, Charlie Rose, and Larry King Live (but, proudly, never Jerry Springer!) . Dr. Shermer was the co-host and co-producer of the 13-hour Family Channel television series, Exploring the Unknown.
- Guidance and expertise in coalition building
- Input into group development and activism
- Participation in the Speaker Series and SSA Events and Conferences
Herb Silverman is a Professor of Mathematics at the College of Charleston where he has been awarded the Distinguished Research Award. He founded the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry in South Carolina and is faculty advisor to the College of Charleston Atheist-Humanist Alliance. He also donated an endowed Secular Humanist Scholarship. Herb is a National Board Member of the American Humanist Association and the Atheist Alliance. He is president and principal founder of the Secular Coalition for America, an umbrella group of national freethought organizations with an office and staff in Washington, DC. The organization engages legislators and the media on issues of concern to the nontheistic constituency. Herb is also a failed gubernatorial candidate, but a successful notary public who is active in defending the rights of religious non-believers in the political and social arenas.
- Input on strategic planning
- Guidance on marketing and messaging
- Participation in SSA Events
- Input into SSA coalition building and alliance formation
- Guidance on SSA management and operations
Todd Stiefel lives in Raleigh, NC. He graduated cum laude from Duke University. He worked for 12 years for Stiefel Laboratories, holding positions in marketing, sales operations, and strategy. He was the Chief Strategy Officer, the Enterprise Leadership Team chairman, and member of the executive committee of the Board. He was responsible for 250 people including the finance, strategy, risk, facilities, administration and program management functions. He co-led the teams that sold equity to Blackstone and Stiefel Laboratories to GlaxoSmithKline. Todd is a Secular Humanist, an atheist and full-time freethought activist. His mission is to gain respect for freethinkers and ensure the complete separation of church and state. Todd envisions a world where government favors liberty over dogma and freethinkers are prominently visible, united and influential. He serves on the development committee of American Atheists. Todd and his wife, Diana, have two young children.
- Church-state separation
- Civil liberties of nontheists
- Reproductive freedom
- Ethics without God
Edward Tabash is a civil rights attorney and Chair of the National Legal Committee for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, as well as Honorary Chair of the Center for Inquiry West and Chair of the First Amendment Task Force. Since 1980 Mr. Tabash has been California's most active debater advocating women's reproductive rights. He has published numerous articles on civil rights and religious liberty in Beverly Hills Bar Journal, Daily Breeze, Los Angeles Times, and Los Angeles Daily Journal.
Mr. Tabash graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. from UCLA in 1973 and earned his Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles in 1976. Mr. Tabash has participated in debates with many prominent religious spokesmen, including a successful 1999 debate with William Lane Craig before an audience of 1,300 at Pepperdine University, and a debate with philosopher Peter Van Inwaagen, on the issue of "Does God Exist?"