_photo credit Susan Gerbic
Executive Director: Noelle is a secular activist who grew up in Seattle, Washington, but didn't become passionate about secular activism until she moved to Houston, Texas, and was constantly asked "Where do you go to church?" She has worked as a degreed chemical engineer and project manager, but moved to secular activism in 2009. Since then, she has leveraged her previously learned professional skills to help multiple national secular organizations and has also traveled around the country consulting with local groups on the topics of volunteering, leadership, organizational skills, and feminism.
In addition to her work at FBB, Noelle is the founder of Mothers Beyond Belief, is on the advisory board of Secular Woman, and is on the American Humanist Association's LGBTQ Humanist Alliance Advisory Council. Noelle enjoys reading, writing, playing the piano, and the rare occasions when she gets a full night's sleep. She currently lives in Houston with her husband and their young daughter.
Stephanie Guttormson is the Operations Director for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. She gives talks educating people about transgendered people, the challenges they face and how cis people can be better allies. She also has a YouTube Channel, ‘Think Stephtically’, that promotes skepticism and attempts to debunk all manner of woo. She can be followed on Twitter @thematheist , ‘Like’ her Facebook page facebook.com/ThinkStephtically and she can be emailed at stephanie [at] richarddawkins [dot] net.
Margee Kerr has a PhD in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh, where she currently teaches and conducts research on fear, with a focus on how and why people engage with frightening or thrilling material and activities like haunted houses, the paranormal, and thrill rides. Dr. Kerr is the co-investigator on a first-of-its-kind study measuring fear in the real world by collecting psychophysiology data measuring how the brain and body respond in real-life threatening situations. She is the author of SCREAM: Chilling Adventures in the Science of fear, named as a must read by the Washington Post. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Parade, Atlantic Monthly, and NPR’s Science Friday, among other places.
A Christian of 30 years and former religious broadcaster, Seth Andrews ultimately found himself dissatisfied with the explanations and doctrines of scripture and the church. His search for answers let him to reject, completely, Christianity and all other religions, and Seth now hosts one of the largest online atheist communities in the world, The Thinking Atheist.
His "everyman" approach and skills as a broadcaster and video producer have brought, literally, millions into the conversation regarding religious beliefs and the benefits/damage they do in the name of their respective deities, especially in regard to the indoctrination of children.
The Thinking Atheist is on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and BlogTalkRadio.
Born in poverty on St Louis’ north side, Steve Hill has acquired a lifetime of experience in what it’s like to grow up in America as an African American male.
After graduating high school in 1979, Steve continued in his father and brothers’ footsteps and joined the United States Marine Corps. He served for 5 years, becoming a Sergeant, and moved to Los Angeles to work in the aerospace industry.
7 years later, he became restless for a more exciting endeavor and joined the California Department of Corrections (CDC). He gained insight into the system by working at 2 maximum security prisons for 10 years.
Due to a “slight” disagreement with the CDC, Steve was re-trained as a Real Estate Appraiser. He founded his own company, Anaverde Appraisal, in the Antelope Valley (in northern LA county) during the early 2000’s real estate boom.
The mortgage meltdown and Wall Street corruption cemented his decision to speak for those in the middle class with no voice, lobbyist, or advocacy group. With an extremely keen sense of humor, he hits the stage with a stand up performance that enables people to see relevant issues from a very funny, but drastically different, perspective.
David G. McAfee is a Religious Studies graduate, journalist, and author of Atheist Answers: Rational Responses to Religious Questions, The Book of Gods, The Belief Book, Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-believer, and Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings. He is also the founder of The Party of Reason and Progress and a frequent contributor to American Atheist Magazine. McAfee, who writes about science, skepticism, and faith, attended University of California, Santa Barbara and graduated with bachelor’s degrees in English and Religious Studies with an emphasis on Christianity and Mediterranean religions.
McAfee believes strongly that religious education and history should be taught in public schools, including and especially in the United States of America – where general knowledge about those topics is severely lacking. It is only by understanding how the religious systems work, and not by ignoring them completely, that McAfee says we can help others to make rational decisions about them.
"Mandisa Thomas is a founder and President of Black Nonbelievers, Inc. Although never formally indoctrinated into belief, Mandisa was heavily exposed to Christianity, Black Nationalism, and Islam. As a child she loved reading, and enjoyed various tales of Gods from different cultures, including Greek and Ghanaian. “Through reading these stories and being taught about other cultures at an early age, I quickly noticed that there were similarities and differences between those deities and the God of the Christian Bible. I couldn’t help but wonder what made this God so special that he warrants such prevalence in today’s society,” she recalls. Mandisa has a number of media appearances to her credit, including CBS Sunday Morning, CNN.com, and JET magazine. She has been a guest on podcasts such as The Humanist Hour and Ask an Atheist, as well as the documentaries Contradiction and My Week in Atheism. Mandisa currently serves on the Boards for American Atheists and the Reason Rally Coalition, and previously for Foundation Beyond Belief and the Secular Coalition for America. She also is an active speaker, and has presented at conferences/conventions for Freedom from Religion Foundation, Secular Student Alliance, and many others. As the president of Black Nonbelievers, Inc., Mandisa works to encourage more Blacks to come out and stand strong with their nonbelief in the face of such strong religious overtones. "The more we make our presence known, the better our chances of working together to turn around some of the disparities we face. We are NOT alone."
Margaret founded the Freethought Society, and the Anti-Discrimination Support Network (ADSN) in 1993. In 1994 Margaret founded the Thomas Paine Memorial Committee.
Margaret Downey was born into a multi-cultural family in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Growing up in a highly prejudiced southern society in the 1950s, Margaret became concerned about persecution from an early age. She has devoted her life to ending any and all discrimination against any and all peoples of the world. Reading the literary work of Thomas Paine and Robert G. Ingersoll enabled Margaret to develop a keen sense of revolutionary thought. She became an openly declared atheist and activist in her twenties. Free from the constraints of religious dogma and patriarchal systems, Margaret became involved with the feminist movement. Margaret fought for basic rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of choice, personal family leave for working parents, equal pay, and promotional opportunities for women.
David Fitzgerald has been called "one of the busiest atheist activists in the Bay Area." In addition to serving on the board of San Francisco Atheists and Center For Inquiry-SF, he is also the Director/Co-Founder of both the world's first Atheist Film Festival and Evolutionpalooza!, San Francisco's oldest annual Darwin Day celebration.
In addition, he is a writer and historical researcher who has been actively investigating the Historical Jesus question for over ten years. He has a degree in history and was an associate member of CSER (the former Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion). He is at work on the follow-up book to his NAILED: Ten Christian Myths that Show Jesus Never Existed at All.
He lectures around the country at universities, churches and national secular events and may be best known for his popular multimedia presentations David lives in San Francisco with writer, producer and movie actress Dana Fredsti.
Emery Emery & Heather Henderson
Nate Phelps is the son of Pastor Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, which gained infamy from their protests at soldiers’ funerals around the United States. He is the sixth of thirteen children, and was taught his father’s extreme version of Calvinism from an early age. This was accompanied by extreme physical punishments and abuse, extreme dietary and health requirements, and other extreme expectations. Nate left home at midnight on his eighteenth birthday, and moved to California where he built a new life away from his family. He later moved to Canada, and only recently began speaking out about his story after a chance encounter with a reporter while driving a cab in Cranbrook, British Columbia. Nate has now spoken about his story to many groups around North America, and even returned home to Topeka in 2010 to tell his story to the people in his hometown. Today Nate lives in Calgary, Alberta and works for the Center For Inquiry. He is a vocal LGBT advocate, and speaks out against the dangers of religion and child abuse.
Alix Jules is a secular activist in the Dallas – Ft. Worth area commonly involved in issues and topics regarding the role of diversity in the atheist community as well as atheism in diverse communities.
He chairs the Dallas – Fort Worth Coalition of Reason’s Diversity Council and is local organizer for Black Nonbelievers (Dallas) and is an adviser to the Council for Secular Humanism’s African Americans for Humanism initiative and contributes his time to various secular charities.
Alix has been featured in Ebony magazine, “One Man’s Journey into Atheism,” Godless – the documentary, and he has garnered national attention as one of the modern faces in Black humanism.
Jules has a blog, "The Graffiti Wall" on Patheos.
Emery Emery is a filmmaker, director, producer, comedian and host of the hit podcast Ardent Atheist. He's worked with Penn Jillette, and was the editor of film The Aristocrats and The Green Room with Paul Provenza. He directed "Jake Johannsen: I Love You", Chris Porter's, "Screaming From The Cosmos" and produced "Doug Stanhope's, "Oslo: Burning The Bridge To Nowhere" as well as Teller's film, "Play Dead". Emery and Heather also host and produce "Skeptically Yours" podcast.
Heather Henderson is a singer, actress, editor, producer, 10+ year burlesque veteran and co-host of the Ardent Atheist podcast. She has recently relocated from Philadelphia to LA and got her start at the age of 16 as a co-host and mini dancing superstar of the nationwide TV show Dance Party USA. Her career then made the natural progression towards Sesame Street and roles in films like Mannequin 2 and the Disney film Annapolis. She is currently the lead vocalist of Penn Jillette's NoGod Band in Las Vegas and a sought after chanteuse of many LA burlesque troupes such as The Victory Variety Hour, Monday Night Tease, Peepshow Menagerie and Urban Fairytales Burlesque at the Viper Room.
Stephanie Renee Guttormson
Dr. Margee Kerr