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Student/Alumni Speakers Bureau

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Welcome to the Bureau!

The Student Speakers Bureau is intended to provide great, low-cost speakers to SSA affiliates in the US. All members of this Bureau are either current students or recent alumni. They are proven speakers that have been well received by their groups, as well as by other groups.

Student speakers are meant to travel within their areas only; a student from California is not meant to be flown over to Mississippi for an event. This is to reduce the cost of speaker events to affiliates who may not necessarily be able to afford a national speaker. Student speakers do not charge any kind of honorarium and are often willing to sleep on couches instead of in hotel rooms.

SSA Speakers Bureau funding may be requested to bring in a student speaker, however the max for a student speaker event is $100 as costs should not be over that. If you would like to apply to be on the Student Speakers Bureau, be sure to put in an application. It is a great chance to gain public speaking experience, interact with other students, and get even more involved in the movement.

If you're interested in having one of the below student speakers come to your school and give a presentation, click here to fill out our online Speaker Request form. Or email us with any questions.

AL | AK | AZ | AR | CA | CO | CT | DC | DE | FL | GA | HI | ID | IL | IN | IA | KS | KY | LA | ME | MD | MA | MI | MN | MS | MO | MT | NE | NV | NH | NJ | NM | NY | NC | ND | OH | OK | OR | PA | RI | SC | SD | TN | TX | UT | VT | VA | WA | WV | WI | WY

There are currently 29 speakers on the SSA Student/Alumni Speakers Bureau.

United States

Arizona

Andre Salais
  • Located in Tempe, AZ
  • Education: AA Political Science, AG, AAS Surgical Technology, Cert. Global Citizenship
  • Majors: Political Science, Philosophy; Minors: Religious Studies, Human Rights, Linguistics
  • Experience with political lobbying and campaigns (gubernatorial, state legislative, other local offices), parliamentary procedure, and policy writing and presentation.
  • Former Media Officer with the LGBTQ Alliance at Mesa Community College, former Senator at Large, VP of Communications, and Executive VP with ASMCC.
  • Founder and former President of the SSA at Mesa Community College
  • Current President of the SSA at Arizona State University
  • Andre also blogs here.

    Topics Include:

  • Working with Religious Groups on campus
  • Understanding Legislation
  • Religion in International Relations: How religion in government affects foreign policy and diplomacy
  • Lobbying: Why lobby, how to do it, and who your allies are?

    Can also run workshops on:

  • Understanding Your Team (MBTI: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator)
  • Arranging a Successful Lobbying Event
  • Group Planning

    Andre is willing to sleep on a couch and travels at a low cost or for free when able.

Arkansas

Brennan Dunham
  • Located in Russellville, AK
  • Performs stand-up, sometimes in drag
  • Runs a blog dealing with religion and LGBT issues
  • Has given a speech dealing with Church/State separation to a mixed/no faith audience
  • Has formal training in public speaking

Topics Include:

  • LGBT issues
  • Church/State separatio
  • Debating with believers
  • Stand-up comedy (particularly related to atheism and LGBT issues)

California

Dan Arel
    • Located in San Diego, CA
    • Undergraduate in Biological Anthropology
    • Blogger at Emily Has Books (www.emilyhasbooks.com)
    • Secular Activist
    • Work in Social & Email Marketing

    Topics Include:

    • Human Evolution
    • Marxism, Socialism and Anti-Capitalism
    • Social Class / Social Issues
    • Democracy in America
    • Christian and Muslim Religious Influence on World Peace
    • Internet Marketing and Outreach
    Rebecca Cardone
    • Located in Thousand Oaks, CA
    • Majored in Political Science and Global Studies while minoring in Philosophy and Religion
    • Extensive study abroad experience in England and Israel/Palestine as well as throughout Europe
    • Student body president at California Lutheran University ('12-'13)
    • Extensive research on human rights and the relationship between religion and politics both domestically and internationally
    • Identifies as an interfaith humanist and has experience in interfaith engagement among students and university administration

    Topics Include:

    • Learning Religious Language with a Legitimate Secular Purpose
    • Authoritarian vs. Pluralistic Secularism in Politics
    • Humanism and Human Rights
    • Religion and Politics
    • Bringing Secular Students to the Interfaith Table
    Michael Caton
      • Medical student at UCSD
      • Blogger at luckyatheist.blogspot.com
      • Active in both Secular Student Alliance at UCSD and San Diego New Atheists
      • Nontraditional student with successful career in drug development prior to medical school
      • Avid trail runner and general outdoors person

      Topics Include:

      • Building your network; keeping atheist groups in contact with each other
      • What are beliefs "for", and how everyone can make better decisions
      • What are the concrete ways that religion is causing human suffering in this community?
      • Outreach and growing our numbers
      Larry Hamelin
      • Economics and Political Science student at University of Colorado, Denver
      • Author of the blog, The Barefoot Bum
      • Former substantial contributor to the Internet Infidels Discussion Board

      Topics Include:

      • Philosophy of Religion/Atheism
      • Religion and Politics
      • Religion and Economics
      • Political Philosophy
      • Economic Philosophy

      Colorado

      Ruth McLeod
      • Located in Denver, CO
      • I have my BA in Sociology from Southeastern Louisiana University.
      • I was the president of SELU's SSA group, SELUSHAN, my junior and senior year.
      • I currently am the main organizer for the Denver Atheist MeetUp group (1,450 members) as well as co-founder of a secular women's group (50 members) here in Denver.
      • I worked with Dr. Barbara Forrest in assisting Zach Kopplin in repealing the Louisiana Science Education Act.
      • I have volunteered and worked on putting on multiple conferences in the Denver Metro area including the AAA Conference in 2012 as well as the Colorado Secular Conference in 2013.
      • I have a red Delta Tail Betta fish named Delta because I'm totally creative at naming things.

      Topics Include:

      • How to overcome issues of flyer tampering
      • how to safely/accurately put on lectures and debates
      • mourning the loss of a group member
      • how to properly argue with an on campus preacher- and how to not look like an ass doing so.
      • staying active in the secular community while juggling a full-time job, women's issues, and proving to my family that my atheism wasn't just a phase- and how to not look like an ass doing so.

      Florida

      Ozy Frantz
      • Located in Sarasota, FL.
      • Sociology major, gender studies minor.
      • Blogs at ozyfrantz.com.
      • Has contributed to Jezebel, In Our Words Blog, Role/Reboot, and the Good Men Project.

      Topics Include:

      • Trans Inclusion/Trans 101.
      • Why Skeptics Should Talk About Mental Health.
      • How Cognitive Biases Lead To Oppression and Social Injustice.
      • Misogyny In The Atheist Community.

      Illinois

      Kate Donovan
      • Located in Chicago, IL
      • 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
      Andrew Tripp
      • Graduate of DePaul University, founder of DePaul Alliance for Free Thought
      • Activist for progressive causes
      • Blogs at consideredexclamations.wordpress.com
      • Contributes at In Our Words, FreethoughtBlogs, elsewhere.

      Topics Include:

      • Why Atheism Should Be Involved in Social Justice
      • Making Your Group Active in Progressive Causes
      • Privilege, Colorblindness, and Scientism: How To Identify Our Own Harmful, Otherizing Biases
      • The Prison-Industrial Complex and You: A Skeptical Look at Incarceration

      Can also run workshops on:

      • Racism and anti-racist activism
      • Trans* issues
      • Accessibility Issues
      Benjamin Zalisko
      • College Provisional Secular Humanist Co-Chaplain at Elmhurst College
      • Founder and former President of the Elmhurst College Secular Student Association (2007-2009)
      • Founder and former President of the University of Chicago Secular Alliance. (2009-2010)
      • Currently finishing a PhD in biochemistry at the University of Chicago
      • 5th generation (at least) atheist from southern Illinois
      • Tweets at @ECHumanistChap

      Topics Inclue:

      • Organizing secular students
      • The positive effects of a secular worldview
      • The incompatibility of science and religion
      • The science and secular basis of human morality
      • The need for secular chaplains
      • The role for atheists in "Interfaith" organizations
      • Ben is also a singer and acoustic guitarist and would be happy to perform at an event such as a secular "church" service.

      Indiana

      Robby Bensinger
      • Located in Berkeley, CA
      • Former President of the Philosophical Society at Indiana University
      • Education and critical thinking activist
      • Studies philosophy and religion
      • Blogs at nothingismere.com
      Topics Include:
      • Atheism. Agnosticism, and Belief
      • What is Rationality?
      • Naturalism and the Supernatural
      • Arguments For and Against God
      • Can Anyone Be Good Without God?
      • Dualism and the Mind-Body Problem
      • Arguing Effectively

      Michigan

      Anthony Graham
      • Located in: Ypsilanti, MI (near Detroit)
      • Former leader of Southern Illinois University Carbondale Secular Student Alliance
      • Master of Arts- Teaching, Elementary Education
      • Bachelor of Arts Degree- Anthropology, Minor- Sociology Associates of Applied Science Degree- Agriculture
      • Production & Management
      • Associates of Applied Science Degree- Agriculture Business
      • Professionally Certified Elementary School Teacher
      • Currently Teach: Kindergarten through 5th grade Science and 4th grade English Language Arts, Math, Social Studies
      • Successfully lobbied our city's Interfaith Council to allow SSA to participate in Council events. I also assisted in changing language in the Council's charter and bylaws to make it secular friendly.
      • Teach secular studies at a religious school

      Topics Include:

      • Diversity & Volunteerism
      • Youth Volunteerism
      • Student Organizations
      • New Student Orientation
      • Setting Up Events
      • Community Activism
      • Creating a Secular Safe Zone
      • Elementary Education
      • Grade School Secular Education
      • Religious v. Secular Education
      • Building a Web Presence
      • Starting an SSA Group
      • Interfaith Cooperation
      • Basics of Evolution
      • Open to suggestions!

      Minnesota

      Ryan Liebl
      • Located in Eden Prairie, MN
      • Studying English and Political Science at Gustavus Adolphus College
      • Founder and President of the Gustavus Secular Student Alliance
      • Former fundamentalist Christian turned liberal Christian turned Atheist
      • Blogs at http://rliebl.wordpress.com


      Will speak on:

      • Liberal and mainstream Christianity--especially on college campuses
      • Forming groups within religious schools
      • Reaching out to individuals harmed by their religious past and/or upbringing
      • Dealing with religious hostility towards a group
      • Debating religious laypeople about religion more generally
      • Arguing against any of the three major monotheisms
      • Commonly heard religious arguments from design

      New York

      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

      Ohio

      Aaron Adair

      Topics include:

      • New Testament topics
        --historicity of events/people
      • Ancient aliens and related claims
      • Various science/physics topics
      Bryan Poole
      • Located in: Akron, OH
      • Studies at: The University of Akron
      • Majors: Psychology and Philosophy
      • Interests: Ethics and I/O Psychology
      • President of The Secular Student Alliance at The University of Akron
      • Facebook.com/bwp11

      Topics Include:

      • Ethics: General, Biomedical Ethics, and Secular Humanism -Rational Discussion and Effective Argumentation
      • Existentialism: Nietzsche and Religion
      • Psychological Delusions: What is Clear Thinking?
      • Business Church: A survey of The Independent Fundamental Baptists
      • Group Running and Advertising Strategies
      • Sex Education and Secular Sexuality

      Pennsylvania

      Daniel Schiff
      • Volunteer Network Coordinator for the SSA Northeast (NY, NJ, & PA)
      • Studied philosophy of artificial intelligence, values and public life, and robotics and intelligent systems at Princeton.
      • Co-founder and former President of Princeton University Society of Humanists (PUSH).
      • Currently studying education policy at University of Pennsylvania.
      • Avid agnostic atheist, secular humanist, interfaith activist, and ballroom dancer.

      Topics Include:

      • A Primer on Religious and Secular Morality: Meta-Ethics, Normative Ethics, and Applied Ethics.
      • The Teleological Argument for the Existence of Gods.
      • Free Will, Determinism, and the Criminal Justice System.
      • Artificial Intelligence: The Singularity and AI Ethics
      • Utilitarianism in the 21st Century: Animal Rights, Global Poverty, Climate Change, Personhood.

      South Carolina

      Matthew Facciani
      • Located in Columbia, SC
      • PhD Student in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of South Carolina
      • Co-Chair of Secular Coalition for South Carolina
      • SSA Volunteer Network Coordinator for South Carolina
      • Contributor for The Feminist Observer
      • Volunteer for the Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands

      Topics include:

      • Your Brain on Religion: How Psychology and Neuroscience Research Explain Religious Belief
      • Secular Coalition for America
      • The Neuroscience of Mind Reading
      • Feminism and gender violence prevention
      Kelley Freeman
      • located in Columbia, SC
      • founder of the Forward Progressive Alliance at the University of South Carolina
      • a former Secular Student Alliance intern
      • a former Foundation Beyond Belief intern
      • a Camp Quest South Carolina board member
      • contributor for Friendly Atheist blog
      • former president of the Secular Student Alliance at USC

      Topics Include:

      • Forming a progressive network or coalition at your university
      • What's Out There? Getting Atheists Off the Internet and Into Real Life (getting involved with the national secular movement)
      • Being an Indentured Servant to the Movement: The Joys of Interning


      Alternatively, she can do workshops on:

      • Leadership transitions
      • Building diversity and community in your group
      • What not to do on the internet (Social Media!)

      Texas

      Rachel Brown
      • Located in Garland
      • Senior at University of North Texas - Bachelors in Anthropology, subfield Physical Anthropology
      • Research Assistant for UTA Professor of Geology - Derek Main at the Arlington Archosaur Site
      • Member of Secular Student Alliance & Atheists, Agnostics, and Others at University of North Texas
      Topics include:
      • Paleontology/Evolution of life/Life origins
      • Paleoanthropology/Human origins
      • Creationism/ID vs. Evolution
      Kevin Butler

      Topics include:

      • Coming Out Twice: Life as a Gay Atheist
      • Skepticon and Beyond: The Success of Low-Cost, Student-Run Conferences
      • Organizing at a Vending Machine: The Challenges of Community College groups
      • A Juggernaut of Secular Awesomeness: Why you should be paying attention to the secular student movement
      Bradon Cohorn
      • Located in Quitaque, TX
      • Holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology from West Texas A&M University
      • Graduate student at West Texas A&M University
      • 11 years experience as an Emergency Medical Technician
      • Secular Parent
      • Founder and first President of the SSA at West Texas A&M

      Topics include:

      • Church State Separation
      • Campus organizing on one of the most conservative college campuses in Texas.
      • Examples and evidence of Evolutionary theory
      • What it really means to be persecuted in the US
      • Raising Secular Children
      Jamie Farren
      • Located in Amarillo, TX
      • Education: Biotechnology and Philosophy (ongoing) at West Texas A&M University
      • Founding member and President of Freethought Oasis
      • Experience communicating secular and philosophical topics to mixed audiences

      Topics Include:

      • Logical Fallacies and Debating Strategy
      • Philosophy 101
      • Bioethics
      • Communicating Science to Religious Believers
      • Pseudoscience and Scientific Skepticism
      • How Do We Know What We Know?
      Michael Mena
      • Located in McAllen
      • Masters Degree in Ethnomusicology
      • Currently seeking PhD in Linguistic Anthropology
      • Vice-President of Atheist Student Organization (ASO is an affiliate of SSA) at the University of Texas Pan-American

      Topics include:

      • Christian Dominionism
      • 'The Book of Genesis'
      • Comparative Theology
      • Sex and Gender in the Bible
      • Patriarchy and Power
      Daniel Moran
      Topics include:
      • How to Keep Unconstitutional Prayer Out of Your High School
      • How to Respond to Misconceptions of Atheists and Common Theistic Arguments
      • Step Into the Shoes of an Atheist
      • Religion and Secularism in American History and Politics
      • Consequences of Belief
      Daniel also does debates.
      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

      Virginia

      Dustin Lawson
      • Located in Fort Lee, VA.
      • I was a Christian from age 8 to 24.
      • In high school I worked as a lion and tiger trainer at a big cat sanctuary.
      • I gave up the dream of becoming the next Jack Hannah to go to college to become a preacher. I memorized the New Testament while in college.
      • I am a testicular cancer survivor.
      • After college I spent a year traveling the world as the personal assistant to the world famous Christian apologist, Josh McDowell because I wanted to have a career just like his.
      • By the end of that year I had begun challenging everything I believed, eventually giving up religion and the path I was on.
      • I am now an agnostic to the core and I want to spend the rest of my life speaking out against religious dogmatism with my tongue and my pen.

      Topics Inlcude:

      • The weaknesses in Christian and Islamic apologetics
      • The struggle of breaking away from religion after having grown up in the church.
      • Cultural trends and the future of religion
      • How to effectively communicate to a still very much religious world.
      • The negative effects of religious dogmatism
      Dan Linford
      • Located in Blacksburg, VA
      • Graduate student in philosophy at Virginia Tech (thesis topic: "Does the Neglect of Analogy Explain the Rise of
      • Early Modern Atheism?")
      • Bachelor's degree in physics from University of Rochester
      • President of Freethinkers at Virginia Tech
      • Started the "Religion, Science, and Culture Library" at Virginia Tech
      • Blog: http://www.skepticfreethought.com/libere

      Topics Include:

      • Early atheist history (in the 18th and 19th centuries)
      • Science & Religion
      • Creationism and Intelligent Design
      • Anti-apologetics
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