The AHA Board of Directors | Bios

2012 Board of Directors Nominee Bios

AHA 2014 Board of Directors Election Slate

The 2014 AHA Board Nominations Committee nominated eight (8) candidates for six (6) open seats on the AHA Board of Directors. The eight candidates (in alphabetical order) are: Jennifer Kalmanson, Howard Katz, Raul Martinez, Dan Moran, Susan Sackett, Christine Shellska, Roberta Simpson, and Jason Torpy.


Jennifer Kalmanson

Bio

Jenny Kalmanson is finishing out her first term of service on the AHA Board of Directors as its Vice President. She envisions a climate of cooperation in which AHA can lead the growth of the entire Humanist movement as we develop outreach into youth-oriented mainstream markets.

Statement of Interest

After spending sixteen years as a systems engineer in the space industry shepherding such missions as the Dawn mission to the dwarf planets Vesta and Ceres and the Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission 4, she is now pursuing her lifelong dream of writing full time. Her current effort will culminate in a book on deception and trust; why we evolved these capabilities, how they may have helped us in the past, and how they play into the modern challenge of breaking free from harmful superstitions.



Howard Katz

Bio

In my early teenage years I started astudy of world religions--I questioned why I was brought up to think that my religion was the "right" one and everyone else's was wrong--and they of course had the same mindset. 

Through years of looking into other's viewpoints, I grew away from any belief in  supernaturalism or organized religion.  In my 20s I was introduced to Humanism as a formal philosophy, and joined the AHA--almost 30 years ago.

Community involved has been important to me.  I've been active with the American Civil Liberties Union, and was awarded the ACLU of IL's Volunteer of the Year award whem I helped form 3  state chapters.   I served IL N.O.W. 3 years as an Officer.  I've also served as a Board member for our local American United group, as well as  our AHA Chapter.  I've held multiple public offics , and am a 23+ gallon blood donor.  I'm an officer of our County Democratic organization, as Parliamentarian.  I involve myself in activist coalitions focusing on human rights, the environment, and peace issues. I also currently serve on a local Tax Board overseeing funding for community mental health services

12 years ago I became a Celebrant through the Humanist Society, and within a year was asked to be on the HS's Certification Committee.  I also was asked to become an HS Board member, and a year later was elected as the HS President where I worked on procedures, policy updates and rewriting the Society's Bylaws.  I've opened dialog with other organizations that might be interested in working in conjunction with the HS and the AHA in promoting issues of common interest. I currently serve on the HS's Board of Directors and Certification Committee.

Statement of Interest

 As an AHA Board member, I have served on the Chapter, donor Humanist Charities and policy committees, as well as represented the AHA at numerous speaking events and information tables.

Humanism offers society an ethics and a philosophy that can advance the general welfare without  overlaying supernaturalism/superstition.  I promote that philosophy daily--with the different jobs that I work and the people I work with.  It's imperative that we who adhere to Humanism show that we have not just a viable option, but a workable blueprint to offer-one that promotes rationalism and logic in dealing with problems, and not the same 2000-year-old retreaded answers that show they aren't answers.


Raul Martinez

Bio

I was born in Mexico City in 1971 and have identified myself as a Humanist since I was about twelve. It was my father who first introduced me to CSICOP, the Skeptical Inquirer magazine and eventually, to the Humanist Manifesto.

I moved to the United States in 1996 and became an American citizen in May of 2001 (because I wanted to vote). I joined the Humanist Association of Las Vegas and Southern Nevada in 2002 and was elected Vice President of the organization in 2003. I remained in that position for one year.

I was elected to the Board or Directors of the AHA on January of 2009.

I have a BA in Marketing from the Institute of Technological Studies of Monterrey and have worked in many fields. I also hold several Microsoft Certifications and currently work as a Network Technician in the IT Department of Cox Communications in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I am the author of the children’s book, “There is a Purple Dragon in my Washing Machine”, which is a great tool for introducing Humanism to children.

In 2013 became a Humanist Celebrant and finally became certified to solemnize weddings in Las Vegas, NV - this after having my application denied twice by the County Clerk for not being a member of a religious organization.

In 2014 I was elected co-president of the Humanist Association of Las Vegas So Nevada.

Statement of Interest

In spite of working full-time and spending time with my wife and my two sons, I still manage to dedicate a large portion of my time to the Humanist cause.

I enjoy public speaking and injecting humor into traditionally serious matters because I believe that one good laugh can be more powerful than a thousand words.

Changing the perception of atheism in the popular mind is a challenging task, but is one that I have embraced wholeheartedly for many years. I know that as a board member, I will have the opportunity to exhort this change with greater magnitude and scope.

Thank you for your consideration.


Dan Moran

Bio

Dr. Daniel Thomas Moran, born in New York City in 1957, is the author of seven volumes of poetry, the most recent of which, A Shed for Wood, was just published by the prestigious Salmon Poetry in Ireland. He earned a B.S. in Biology from Stony Brook University (1979) and a Doctorate in Dental Surgery from Howard University (1983). He has done readings in Ireland, Italy, Austria, Great Britain, and at The United Nations. He served as Vice-President of The Walt Whitman Birthplace Association in New York, and The Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and been Literary Correspondent to Long Island Public Radio.

In 2005, he was appointed Poet Laureate by The Legislature of Suffolk County, New York. His collected papers are being archived by Stony Brook University. Volumes of his poems have been published in Romanian by The University of Bucharest A Spanish collection, translated by Mariela Dreyfus of New York University, will be published 2014. An Albanian collection will be published in Kosovo in 2014. He is has served six Boards of Directors and is now on the Board of The New Hampshire Humanities Council. He has been an Ordained Humanist Celebrant since 2005 and is presently Poetry Editor for TheHumanist.com. He has performed weddings in New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

He is a recently retired Clinical Assistant Professor from Boston University's School of Dental Medicine, where he delivered the Commencement Address in 2011. In 2011 and 2012 he received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the graduating class. He now lives with his wife Karen in Webster, NH.

Statement of Interest

I have had a long interest and involvement in The Humanist movement and am a strong believer in its principles and philosophy. I have been an atheist all my adult life and feel that like-minded people need to find ways to define themselves in terms of what they believe rather that allowing themselves to be defined by what they do not believe. In that regard, AHA has been a singular and crucial voice. The Board and our Executive Director have made enormous strides in the furtherance of Humanism and it is my hope that I might be afforded the opportunity to apply my knowledge and long experience, along with a deeply felt passion and enthusiasm, in a manner which would be beneficial to The AHA and its stated aims. I feel that I can be an asset and even an inspiration to The Board, and to our members, and would be most proud to be of meaningful service and support.


Susan Sackett

Bio

I grew up in Connecticut and Florida and received both my Bachelor of Arts and Master of Education degrees from the University of Florida in Gainesville (1964;1965). In 1968, I moved to Los Angeles, where I taught for a short time. But my lifelong dream of working in Hollywood persisted, and I quit my teaching job to work in the entertainment industry.

In August 1974, I began an association with Gene Roddenberry, creator of the television legend Star Trek, serving as his personal executive assistant for over 17 years until his death in October 1991. I served as Production Associate during the first five seasons of Star Trek: the Next Generation. With my writing partner, Fred Bronson, I sold several stories and a teleplay to that series. I am also the author of 10 books.

Since 2005, I have been on the Board of Directors of the American Humanist Association, where I serve on the Executive Committee as Secretary, chair the Awards Committee and serve on several other committees.

In August, 2011, I was elected a Vice President on the Executive Committee of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), which meets primarily in Europe several times a year.

I have been a Certified Humanist Celebrant since 2001.

Statement of Interest

It was my mentor, Gene Roddenberry, who first introduced me to humanism back in 1989. His friend, Isaac Asimov, then Honorary President of the American Humanist Association, sent Gene a copy of his book, Asimov’s Guide to the Bible. Gene shared Dr. Asimov’s book with me, along with several others -- and I was hooked on humanism! After that, I joined AHA and began attending conferences. I later became involved with my local humanist group – the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix -- serving as their president for 11 years (2000 to 2010). During my presidency, we grew from 25 members to over 250, receiving AHA’s Chapter of the Year Award in 2001. After a generous donation of a building from one of our HSGP members, I wrote and was awarded several grants from AHA and other sources, enabling us to purchase and refurbish our own Humanist Community Center, the first such building in the nation.

As a board member of AHA, I have served on various committees. Currently I Chair the Awards Committee, as well as serving on the Chapter Services Committee. I am also Secretary of the Executive Committee. I hope to continue serving on the AHA Board of Directors, so I may help the movement as we grow ever stronger.


Christine Shellska

Bio

Christine Shellska is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Communication and Culture, Faculty of Arts, at the University of Calgary, Canada. Her research involves studying the rhetorical strategies employed by the Intelligent Design Creationism movement, and her areas of focus include history, philosophy and sociology of science, Actor Network Theory and rhetoric. Among other involvement in the secular community, she is a Secular Humanist Liaison at the Faith and Spirituality Centre at the University of Calgary, a member of the Board of Directors for Atheist Alliance International, and a regular co-host on the Calgary-based Legion of Reason podcast.

Statement of Interest

I am honoured to be nominated to the Board of Directors for the American Humanist Association, and I hope you will consider electing me. I am a lifelong humanist and skeptic, and particularly in recent years I’ve become increasingly concerned with the rise of the religious right in the US and Canada. My research involves analysing the communication strategies employed by the Intelligent Design Creation movement, and my academic goals include influencing educational policy and advancing the public understanding of science. I am passionate about advancing secularism, and excited about the opportunity to participate in AHA’s programs and projects. I have been privileged to present at AHA’s Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism symposium since it was established in 2010; I have spoken on Intelligent Design, establishing a humanist presence at the University of Calgary’s Chaplaincy (now called the Faith & Spirituality Centre), and children’s right to a reality-based education. I offer experience as a Board member for an international atheist organization dedicated to advancing and defending human rights, as well as a strong background in corporate communications, public relations and advertising, and a Canadian perspective on social and political issues. I embrace and endorse the values of humanism, and if elected, I look forward to becoming more involved with advancing the goals of secularism in North America.


Roberta Simpson

Bio

I was born a humanist; I just did not know it at that moment.  My father, James Simpson, and my mentor, Lyle Simpson were President and Secretary of the Humanist Foundation, and the American Humanist Association at that time.  They are still Trustees of the Humanist Foundation and I have attended their Trustees meeting all of my life.  I have a fully paid up lifetime membership in the AHA.  My goal is to serve the AHA with the same vigor and enthusiasm as my father and mentor.  They look upon me for continuing their good work that they have provided the AHA for most of their entire lifetime.  I recognize the magnitude of the shoes I have to fill but I have made it a life goal to do so.

There is not much about the AHA that I am not familiar with, and have personally experienced.  I have passed the bar exams in Maine, Massachusetts and the State of Washington.  I am the managing partner of my law firm located in Southern Maine.  As a litigator, I have learned the values of hard work, attention to detail, thinking globally and working in cooperation with others.  I have also had the benefit of living in a variety of places from the busy metropolises of Japan to rural Maine.  I believe this has allowed me to have an excellent perspective of the world and the vast array of people in it.  I look forward to a lifetime of service assuring that the growth and success of the AHA we are now experiencing continues for our great grandchildren to come and I would appreciate your giving me this opportunity to serve you. 

I strive to live my life as a “happy humanist.”  Central to my personal philosophy is the idea of creating your own luck.  If you can find the silver lining of any situation and be grateful you can count your lucky stars regardless what happens in life.


Jason Torpy

Bio

I have served as Treasurer of the American Humanist Association, its affiliates the Humanist Society, the Center for Freethought Equality, and the Freethought Equality Fund PAC. I also serve as president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF) and hold a seat on the boards of the Secular Coalition for America Education Fund and the Reason Rally.

I have been active with the nontheist community for over a decade. I’ve addressed issues of separation of church and state and equal opportunity for nontheistic service members in Army basic training, Army parachutist training, military academy programs, and in combat situations. I served for 10 years in the military, including five years as a Captain in Germany, Kuwait, and Iraq with the Army's 1st Armored Division. My education includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Management from West Point and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from The Ohio State University. I currently live near Washington DC.

Statement of Interest

During my time on the board, I have taken an active role in leadership, serving as Treasurer, a member of the Executive Committee, and as Chair of the Resolutions Committee and in leadership with affiliate groups. As Treasurer, I’ve reformed procedures and improved reporting and oversight between staff, the board, and the Humanist Foundation, resulting in greater transparency, legal consistency, and financial strength for the AHA and its affiliates. Through the Resolutions Committee, I ensured AHA expressed an unwavering commitment to Scientific Integrity with a new 2014 resolution.

Positive change is difficult and requires strong leadership. I hope to be re-elected to the board so that

I can continue to advocate for a modern, positive, professional, community-focused AHA. I have a nontheistic and naturalistic worldview coupled with a strong humanist ethic, and my personal values are wholly aligned with AHA. I am also an endorsed and active Humanist Celebrant.

American Humanist Association

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