Women in Secularism 2 - Speakers

Speakers (2013)

Lauren Becker

Lauren Becker

educator, organizer, director of marketing & promotions, Center for Inquiry

Lauren Becker, director of marketing and promotions for the Center for Inquiry, is a science and nature interpreter who has taught at museums, parks, and planetariums around the country. Known for her commentaries on Point of Inquiry, the radio show and podcast of CFI, she is an experienced environmental activist and advocate for science literacy and education. She is also an associate editor of Free Inquiry magazine.


Ophelia Benson

Ophelia Benson

author, editor, commentator, Butterflies & Wheels

Ophelia Benson blogs at Butterflies and Wheels, part of the Freethought Blogs network, and runs the website of the same name. She co-wrote (with Jeremy Stangroom) The Dictionary of Fashionable Nonsense, Why Truth Matters, and Does God Hate Women?, and is a columnist for Free Inquiry, The Freethinker, and The Philosophers' Magazine.


Jamila Bey

Jamila Bey

author, editor, journalist

Jamila Bey is a journalist based in Washington, DC, where she hosts the radio show The Sex, Politics And Religion Hour: SPAR with Jamila which airs in Washington, DC, New York City, Miami, Chicago and Pittsburgh. She also writes for the Washington Post blog, She the People. She served a decade-long stint as a producer and editor at NPR, working for shows including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Tell Me More, and Talk of the Nation. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The New Humanist of London, Jazz Times Magazine and WebMD as well as on The Today Show and radio stations around the country. She is currently working on a book that critically examines the role played by religion in the lives of African-American women.


Soraya Chemaly

Soraya Chemaly

writer, activist

Soraya Chemaly is a feminist thinker and writer. Her work appears regularly in the Huffington Post, Fem2.0, The Feminist Wire, AlterNet, and other online media. Soraya was a guest on NPR's Talk of the Nation to discuss her piece "I'm No Longer Catholic, Why are You?" and is the author of the viral "Message to Girls About Religious Men Who Fear You" and "10 Reasons Why The Rest of the Word Thinks The US is Nuts."


Greta Christina

Greta Christina

writer, blogger, Greta Christina’s Blog

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, and has been writing about atheism and skepticism for her own cleverly-named Greta Christina's Blog since 2005. She is a regular contributor to AlterNet, Salon, The Humanist, and Free Inquiry, and her writing has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and anthologies. She has been writing professionally since 1989, on topics including sexuality and sex-positivity, LGBT issues, politics, culture, and whatever crosses her mind.


R. Elisabeth Cornwell

R. Elisabeth Cornwell

evolutionary psychologist, executive director of Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science US

R. Elisabeth Cornwell is the executive director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science US. She has been responsible for bringing Richard Dawkins to a number of universities across the United States and Canada as part of a general outreach program to students. She initiated the OUT Campaign and, more recently, Non-Believers Giving Aid, which raised over $500,000 for Doctors Without Borders and the International Red Cross for Haiti relief. In addition to her work with the Foundation, she is an evolutionary psychologist whose research includes examining the underlying mechanisms of human mate selection. More recently she has been exploring the relationship of various psychological traits to religious belief across the spectrum from strong theism to strong nontheism.


Vyckie Garrison

Vyckie Garrison

creator of No Longer Quivering

Vyckie Garrison was once a prominent member of the Quiverfull community, a rapidly growing Christian fundamentalist movement that bans birth control and encourages huge, "Biblical families" such as the Duggar Family of TLCs "19 and Counting" fame. Since leaving the movement, she has become a well-respected adversary of Biblical patriarchy and the damage it inflicts. Her blog No Longer Quivering provides support to women and children who are escaping abusive religious movements, and to provide the public with accurate, compassionate information on the unique challenges faced by the spiritually abused.


Debbie Goddard

Debbie Goddard

activist, organizer, director, CFI Outreach and African Americans for Humanism

Debbie Goddard is the director of outreach at the Center for Inquiry and the director of African Americans for Humanism, a program of the Council for Secular Humanism. Before working for CFI, she participated in local freethought groups in the greater Philadelphia region and helped organize and support campus groups internationally as a volunteer. She has also been involved with LGBTQ issues and progressive activism.


Rebecca Goldstein

Rebecca Goldstein

novelist, philosophy professor

Rebecca Goldstein is a novelist and philosopher. She received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University, after which she taught at Barnard College, Columbia University. The recipient of many prizes for both fiction and scholarship, in 1996 she was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Prize. Her first novel was the critically acclaimed bestseller The Mind-Body Problem, and there have been six more works of fiction, including her latest novel, 36 Arguments for The Existence of God: A Work of Fiction. She is also the author of Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel, named one of the top science books of 2005 by Discover Magazine, and of Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity, which received the Koret International Prize for Jewish Scholarship. She has been awarded several honorary doctorates, Guggenheim and Radcliffe fellowships, and is a Humanist Laureate. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005 and was named the Humanist of the Year in 2011 by the American Humanist Association and Free-thought Heroine by the Freedom from Religion Foundation also in 2011.


Jennifer Michael Hecht

Jennifer Michael Hecht

teacher, poet, author of Doubt: A History

Jennifer Michael Hecht is the author of three history books and two volumes of poetry. Her bestseller Doubt: A History demonstrates a long, strong history of religious doubt. Hecht’s The End of the Soul: Scientific Modernity, Atheism, and Anthropology won the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s 2004 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award “for scholarly studies that contribute significantly to interpretations of the intellectual and cultural condition of humanity.” Her most recent book, The Happiness Myth, brings a skeptical eye to modern wisdom about the good life. Hecht’s poetry books are The Next Ancient World, which won three national poetry awards, and Funny, which Publisher’s Weekly called “one of the most original and entertaining books of the year.” Her prose and poetry appear in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Boston Globe, and the Washington Post. Hecht earned her PhD in the History of Science from Columbia University in 1995 and now teaches in the MFA program of Columbia University and The Graduate Writing Program of The New School University.


Melody Hensley

Melody Hensley

executive director of CFI–Washington, DC, organizer, Women in Secularism

Melody Hensley is the executive director of CFI–Washington, DC. She has a background in volunteering and community organizing, and for ten years has been involved with church-state separation, reproductive rights, progressive issues, and secular activism in the DC area. Prior to her current role, she served as the CFI–DC event and volunteer coordinator.


Susan Jacoby

Susan Jacoby

journalist, author of Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism

Susan Jacoby is an author, most recently of the New York Times best seller The Age of American Unreason, about American anti-intellectualism. She lives in New York City and is program director of the New York City branch of the Center for Inquiry. Jacoby, who began her career as a reporter for the Washington Post, has been a contributor to a wide variety of national publications, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the American Prospect, Mother Jones, the Nation, Glamour, and the AARP Bulletin and AARP Magazine. She is currently a panelist for On Faith, a Washington Post-Newsweek blog on religion. Her book Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism was named a notable book of 2004 by the Washington Post and the New York Times. The Times Literary Supplement and The Guardian also named it an ‘Outstanding International Book of the Year.’ Wild Justice: The Evolution of Revenge was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.


Teresa MacBain

Teresa MacBain

executive director, Humanists of Florida

After 20 years of ministry as a Methodist Pastor, Teresa MacBain realized she no longer believed and "came out" publicly at the 2012 American Atheist Convention. Teresa holds the distinction of being the first active female pastor who came out as an atheist from the Clergy Project. As a result, she has been featured throughout the mainstream press, including CNN, NPR, Fox News, USA Today, and the Washington Post. She is currently writing her first book, which is scheduled for release in late summer 2013. Teresa was recently named Executive Director for the Humanists of Florida Association.


Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Marcotte

author, journalist, executive editor, Pandagon

Amanda Marcotte is a journalist and feminist writer who has written for a variety of publications, including Slate, Salon, and the American Prospect. She podcasts at RH Reality Check about reproductive rights and blogs regularly at Raw Story’s Pandagon.


Sarah Moglia

Sarah Moglia

campus organizing communication specialist, Secular Student Alliance

Sarah Moglia became interested in the secular movement while attending a Christian college. She founded a Secular Student Alliance group on campus and faced an enormous backlash for doing so. She now works for the Secular Student Alliance as the Campus Organizing Communications Specialist. Sarah is also a board member of Go Vegan! Go!, a nonprofit that offers technical and administrative support to other vegan nonprofits.


Maryam Namazie

Maryam Namazie

activist, blogger, Nothing is Sacred

Maryam Namazie is a campaigner and blogger with a history of leadership roles in many organizations, including as spokesperson for Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain, and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, and as the founder of Iran Solidarity. She initiated the Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar 2012-2013 in support of Egyptian Aliaa Magda El Mahdy and the Manifesto for a Free and Secular Middle East and North Africa. She was shortlisted for Journalist of the Year Award at the Dods Women in Public Life Awards (2013); selected one of the top 45 women of the year 2007 by Elle magazine Quebec; awarded the NSS’ 2005 Secularist of the Year; selected ‘Iranian of the Year’ by Iranian.com readers in 1997 and 1998; International Rescue Committee medal recipient (1988); and received the Julia B. Friedman Humanitarian Award in 1987. In June 2012, The Islamic regime of Iran’s media outlets did an ‘exposé’ on Maryam entitled ‘Meet this anti-religion woman.’


Katha Pollitt

Katha Pollitt

essayist, critic, poet

Katha Pollitt is a poet, essayist and columnist for The Nation. She has written for many publications, including the New Yorker, The Atlantic, the New York Times, and Free Inquiry, and her work appears in many anthologies. She has been an atheist since she was six. She is completing a book about abortion rights.


Carrie Poppy

Carrie Poppy

animal rights activist, podcast co-host, Oh No, Ross and Carrie!

Carrie Poppy is a long time activist who has worked in many social causes, including LGBT rights, science advocacy, and interfaith understanding. For the last decade, she has been actively involved particularly in the animal protection movement. She also co-hosts the popular science and faith investigations podcast, Oh No Ross and Carrie, which has driven her to be acupunctured, fire-cupped, reiki-cleansed, baptised as a Mormon, "transmitted" as a Raëlian, and more. Carrie spent most of her young life as a devout Christian, working toward the ministry, but left her faith when she examined Christianity from a scientific and historical perspective.


Amy Davis Roth

Amy Davis Roth

artist, blogger, Skepchick

Amy Davis Roth (A.K.A. Surly Amy) is a 4th generation multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She is the creator of Surly-Ramics. Her designer jewelry line is inspired by and encourages science, humanism, atheism and critical thinking. Amy is a longtime contributor to the widely popular blog Skepchick.org. She is managing editor for Skepchick's sister site that deals with the intersection between art, science and skepticism called Mad Art Lab. She loves to add her creative skills to the fight against pseudoscience and ignorance.


Desiree Schell

Desiree Schell

activist, podcast host, Skeptically Speaking

Desiree Schell is the host of Skeptically Speaking, a syndicated live radio show and podcast that broadcasts across North America. The program explores the connections between science, popular culture, history and public policy, to help listeners understand the evidence and arguments behind what’s in the news and on the shelves. In her day job as the Senior Organizing Advisor of a public sector union, Desiree creates curricula and teaches courses on effective activism.


Shelley Segal

Shelley Segal

singer, songwriter

Shelley Segal is an Australian singer-songwriter. In 2009 Shelley recorded her first EP with acclaimed producer Josh Abrahams. She completed a Bachelor of Applied Music at Box Hill Tafe in 2010. In 2011, 'Chemistry,' a song that Shelley had co-written and recorded with world renowned DJ Carl Cox, was released as a single on his album, a remix of which spent two weeks at number one on the Beatport charts. After becoming involved in secular activism in Australia, Shelley wrote An Atheist Album, a musical representation of her secular humanist worldview, which she toured all around the US, UK and Australia in 2012, including performances at the Reason Rally, the American Humanist Association's Conference, the 5-year anniversary celebration of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, and the Global Atheist Convention. Shelley's upcoming release, Little March, is a collaboration with accomplished guitarist Adam Levy (Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman, Amos Lee), and produced by Grammy Award-winning engineer Husky (Sheryl Crow, Tom Waits, Fiona Apple).


Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

cohost of Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, creator of Skepchick

Rebecca Watson is a writer and podcaster who leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She co-hosts the popular podcast The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, which garners more than 65,000 listeners per week. Watson travels worldwide to deliver presentations on science, skepticism, and feminism. In 2008, an astronomer named asteroid 15329 in her honor.


Stephanie Zvan

Stephanie Zvan

blogger, Almost Diamonds, radio host, Atheists Talk

Stephanie Zvan blogs at Almost Diamonds on the Freethought Blogs network about skepticism, feminism, atheism, politics, and skeptical feminist atheist politics. She is a co-host of Atheists Talk, one of the few commercial radio programs that explicitly presents an atheist perspective, and she's recently been elected Associate President of Minnesota Atheists.