Dr. Eugenie Scott, Keynote Address
anthropologist, former director of the National Center for Science Education
We are honored to have Dr. Eugenie C. Scott join us at FREEFLO this year. As former Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, she was often on the front lines in the media, the legislature, and the court to promote science as a way of knowing as well as the need to teach evolution and climate change. A former college professor, Dr. Scott lectures widely, and is called upon by the press and other media to explain science and evolution to the general public.
Dr. Scott is the author of Evolution vs Creationism: An Introduction, co-editor (with Glenn Branch) of Not In Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong For Our Schools, and the author of many articles in science journals. She has served as President of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists and has been honored by both scientists and educators with the the National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal, the National Science Board Public Service Award, the AIBS Outstanding Service Award, the Geological Society of America Public Service Award, the AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility, the California Science Teachers Association Distinguished Service Award, and the National Association of Biology Teachers Honorary Membership award, “the association’s highest honor.”
In 2009, Scientific American named her “one of 10 outstanding leaders involved in research, business or policy pursuits that have advanced science and technology.” She holds honorary D.Sc. degrees from McGill University, Ohio State University, Mt. Holyoke University, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Rutgers University, the University of New Mexico, Colorado College, the University of Missouri, and Chapman University, and was awarded the University Medal from the University of California-San Francisco. Asteroid 249540 Eugeniescott was named for her in 2014.
Writer, Social Activist, Social Justice Coordinator with the American Humanist Association
Sincere Kirabo was a recipient of the 2014 O’Hair Scholarship from American Atheists in recognition of his activism promoting the civil rights of atheists and separation of religion from government.
Sincere's work focuses on cultivating increased critical consciousness of social injustice, particularly within humanist spaces. He also operates as social justice coordinator for the Washington DC branch of the United Coalition of Reason. His work can be found on TheHumanist.com, Everyday Feminism, The Establishment, HuffPost, and Patheos, among others.
Doug Mesner, "Lucien Greaves"
Social Activist, Co-Founder of the satanic Temple(TST)
Advocating for acceptance of non-theistic religious exemption and privilege, TST has proven to be one of the nation’s most effective counter-balances against theocratic encroachments. The organization is best known for its ongoing efforts to place a Satanic monument next to a 10 Commandments monuments on public grounds, and its ongoing legal efforts to oppose reproductive rights restrictions nationwide (including Federal and State lawsuits in Missouri against the State's mandatory 72-hour abortion waiting period). Recently, TST made international headlines when their offer to deliver an opening invocation at a Phoenix City Council meeting moved the City to end their long-held tradition of public prayer altogether.
Lucien Greaves is an internationally recognized activist who has appeared in numerous high-profile media outlets including, MSNBC, NPR, Huffington Post Live, CNN, Harper’s Monthly, Newsweek, Fox News, Vice, Salon, Rolling Stone, and many more...
Lucien Greaves has lectured nationwide and has been a featured speaker for national conferences held by American Atheists, Atheist Alliance, the Secular Student Alliance, and more.
Florida Science Teacher, Director of Center for Inquiry's Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES)
Bertha Vazquez has been teaching middle school science in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for 24 years. She has BA in Biology from the University of Miami and a Master’s in Science Education from Florida International University. A seasoned traveler who has visited all seven continents, she enjoys introducing the world of nature and science to young, eager minds.
An educator with National Board Certification, she is the recipient of several national and local honors, including the 2014 Samsung’s $150,000 Solve For Tomorrow Contest and The Charles C. Bartlett National Excellence in Environmental Award in 2009. She has been the Miami-Dade Science Teacher of the Year in 1997, 2008, and 2017. She is the 2017 recipient of the National Association of Biology Teachers Evolution Education Award and is also one of Florida’s 2017 finalists for the most prestigious science award in the country, The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
Yvette d'entremont, "SciBabe"
Scientist, writer, BLOGGER
With a B.A. in theatre, a B.S. in chemistry, and a master's degree in forensic science with a concentration in biological criminalistics, SciBabe combines science and sardonic humor to cut through the hype in social media. Her blog, SciBabe, is dedicated to "clearing up misinformation about science, food, and nutrition."
Yvette worked for eight years as an analytical chemist and she currently runs SciBabe full time as she writes and speaks to educate consumers about falsehoods in alternative medicine, the anti-vaccination movement, and the anti-GMO movement.
Can you spot fake news when it pops up in your Twitter feed? Are you sure? Even the most skeptical scientists can have trouble separating landmark discoveries from hyperbolic writing or dry satire when reported in popular media. Yvette's talk will be an entertaining guide to seeking out accurate reporting on science and other topics in our evolving media landscape.
Author, Host of The Thinking Atheist Podcast
Seth Andrews is coming back to FREEFLO again in 2017! He is a video producer and former Christian broadcaster who now hosts thethinkingatheist.com, one of the most popular online atheist communities in the world, a site which encourages all to reject faith, pursue reason, explore doubt, and to "start thinking."
Seth chronicled his transition from believer to atheist in his autobiography, Deconverted: a Journey from Religion to Reason, and his second book Sacred Cows further explores - with a healthy dose of humor - curious (and often alarming) religious traditions around the world. Seth's weekly podcast is a top-rated show on BlogTalkRadio, with over 40 million total downloads, and consistently ranking in the top three of over 15,000 active shows.
With a mix of humor and heart, Seth uses his abilities as a communicator and storyteller to inform, entertain and encourage the pursuit of a personal relationship with reality.
Dr. Ryan Cragun
Researcher, Author, Professor at the University of Tampa
Dr. Ryan T. Cragun is a partner, parent, and sociologist of religion (in order of importance). Originally from Utah, he now lives in Florida and works at the University of Tampa. His research and writing focuses on religion, with an emphasis on Mormonism and the nonreligious. His research has been published in a variety of academic journals, including: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Sociology of Religion, Journal of Sex Research, Journal of Religion and Health, and Journal of Contemporary Religion.
He's the author of several books, including, How to Defeat Religion in 10 Easy Steps, What You Don't Know About Religion (but Should), and Could I Vote for a Mormon for President?.
When he's not working, he's spending time with his partner and child, cooking, watching science fiction, hiking, playing soccer, or tinkering with computers.
Rafida Bonya Ahmed
Author, Researcher, Humanist Activist, Blogger
Rafida, Bonya Ahmed is a published author and moderator at Mukto-mona, an internationally award winning blog. Until recently, she worked as a Senior Director in the Finance industry. She has joined the University of Texas at Austin as a visiting scholar to research the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.
She is the widow of Avijit Roy, a well known writer, blogger, and activist who founded Mukto-mona as the first online platform for Bengali-speaking freethinkers. Roy and Ahmed were brutally attacked by Islamists during a book signing trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2015. Ahmed was gravely injured during the attack yet she continues to work with international and local groups to help Bengali bloggers and activists as well as for justice for Avijit and others murdered for speaking out about their beliefs.
Ahmed is dedicated to drawing attention to the growing culture of impunity in Bangladesh. For her continuing work significantly moving society forward, in 2016, the FFRF presented Ahmed with the Forward Award.
Science Teacher, Author, Spokesperson and Co-Founder of Florida Citizens for Science
Brandon is a former Marine Corps combat correspondent and former public information officer for the Volusia County Sheriff's office. He is currently a Volusia County high school science teacher.
He authored Going Ape: Florida's Battles over Evolution in the Classroom. and, in his spare time, advocates for science education in Florida through is work as a board member of Florida Citizens for Science.
Associate counsel for the Freedom From Religion Foundation
Liz received her BA in English from the University of Florida in 2005. After college, she spent a year as a full-time volunteer in AmeriCorps. She attended Tulane University Law School and received her Juris Doctor in 2009.
After law school, she worked as a deputy public defender in southern Colorado. She joined the Freedom From Religion Foundation as a staff attorney in January 2013, after working for the Foundation part-time since September 2012.
Executive Director, Secular Student Alliance
Kevin Bolling is the executive director of the Secular Student Alliance. He has served in that position since 2017. Kevin brings with him 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience. His career has included over 10 years of student association management and on-campus program development from Los Angeles to Boston.
For 10 years, Kevin served as the Executive Director of the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation, a charitable trust serving the healthcare needs of the industries’ largely immigrant workforce. Most recently, Kevin served as the Director of Philanthropy at the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, a major LGBTQ arts advocacy organization, whose youth outreach work has moved thousands of hearts and minds across the US towards embracing LGBTQ equality.
Director of strategic response for the Freedom From Religion Foundation
Andrew graduated cum laude from Tulane University with a BS in neuroscience and environmental science and magna cum laude from Tulane's Law School where he was awarded the Haber J. McCarthy Award for excellence in environmental law. He studied human rights and international law at the University of Amsterdam and was awarded the Outstanding L.L.M. Award. Andrew has written a book on International Human Rights Law.
Andrew is a former Grand Canyon tour guide and accomplished nature photographer. His work has been displayed in galleries in Colorado, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Maryland. He joined the FFRF team as a constitutional consultant in November 2011 and now assists with hundreds of state/church violations across Florida and the US each year.
Executive Director, Camp Quest Southeast
Amy Monsky is the executive director for Camp Quest Southeast, bringing a week of fun, friends, and freethought to kids (and adults!) in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama.
Amy first became involved in Camp Quest in 2010 while searching for a secular alternative to Boy Scouts. After that first transformative week, she went on to found Camp Quest South Carolina which has served over over 475 kids and is now expanding Camp Quest locations throughout the southeast, including Camp Quest Natchez Trace in Mississippi operating for the first time in June 2017 and Camp Quest Florida which is tentatively set to open in 2018.
Although exclusively focused on Camp Quest now, Amy has served the freethought community since 2009 in various local, state, and national capacities, including executive director of Atheist Alliance of America, co-chair of the Secular Coalition for South Carolina, president of the Charleston-based Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, and founder of Secular Humanist Families of Charleston, South Carolina’s first secular parenting support group. She received the Carolinas Freethinker of the Year award in 2012 and Camp Quest’s Builder award in 2016. Amy lives with her family in Charleston, South Carolina.
Author, President of American Atheists
David Silverman is President of American Atheists and was the creator and Executive Producer of the 2012 Reason Rally. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in computer science from Brandeis University, his MBA in marketing from Penn State, and his CAGS in international business from Seton Hall. Dave served as a professional inventor at Bell Labs for 8 years (74 issued patents) and a Marketing Director for Natural Microsystems.
He has been an atheist since he was 6-years-old, became an activist in 1996 and soon became New Jersey State Director for American Atheists. He also founded the Alliance of Lucent and AT&T Atheists and Secularists, the first employee club of its kind. He was tapped to be American Atheist's National Spokesperson in 2004, and became Vice President in 2008. The Board elected Dave as President in September of 2010.
@MrAtheistPants has appeared on most major news programs including The O’Reilly Factor, The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, Ronan Farrow Daily, Scarborough Country, CNN’s Paula Zahn NOW, Nick News, Hannity and Colmes, FOX and Friends, NPR’s All Things Considered, and many more.
Dr. Dan Batcheldor
Author, head of Physics & Space Sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology
Dr Batcheldor just published his first book, Astronomy Saves the World: Securing our Future Through Exploration and Education.
His research started with super-massive black holes; those exotic objects whose masses can reach billions of times that of the Sun and have been observed at, or near, the centers of galaxies. He uses photometric, spectroscopic, and polarimetric techniques to examine the role super-massive black holes may have played in the evolution of galaxies.
Daniel holds a BSc (Hons) Astronomy University of Hertfordshire and a Ph.D. Astrophysics University of Hertfordshire. He has been conducting research into the next generation of imaging devices which are theoretically capable of imaging Earth-like planets around other stars.
Executive Director, Secular Coalition for America
Larry T. Decker has spent nearly two decades in Washington, D.C. as a government relations professional in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.
Prior to joining the Secular Coalition, Decker has a long history in Washington. Most recently, he was the campaign manager for D.C. mayoral candidate, Reta Jo Lewis.
Decker served as the Director of Public Policy for Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. During his time at the Global Fund, Decker secured more than $1 billion in federal appropriations for the Global Fund during a period of economic austerity. He successfully executed an outreach and education campaign to meet with all new Republican Members of Congress following the 2010 midterm elections in an effort to ensure an understanding of the devastating consequences of cutting U.S. support to the Global Fund.
A native of Upstate New York, Decker started his career in Washington working for former U.S. Representative Sherwood L. Boehlert (R-NY). He is a graduate of Ithaca College where he received his B.A., magna cum laude. In his spare time, he enjoys volunteering as an EMT in suburban Maryland.
Senior Legislative Representative, Secular Coalition for America
Sarah Levin is the Senior Legislative Representative at the Secular Coalition for America where she has managed and grown the organization’s state chapter program and implemented various grassroots campaigns on the national and state level.. Prior to joining the Secular Coalition in 2013, Sarah worked with local nonprofits and businesses to provide free, bilingual educational programs tailored to low-income, immigrant and refugee families during her AmeriCorps service.
In 2016, Sarah worked with local activists to host the first ever Secular Caucus at a state political convention, where three policy resolutions were incorporated into the Texas Democratic party’s platform. She built on this momentum by arranging a reception for secular Democrats at the National Democratic Convention and working with Utah delegates to secure the Utah Democratic Party’s approval of an official Secular Caucus.
Sarah graduated cum laude with a Bachelor's degree in International Studies from American University, where she also served as president of the university’s Secular Student Alliance affiliate.
Nicholas J. Little, Esq.
Legal Director, Center for Inquiry
Nick Little is the legal director of the Center for Inquiry, based out of Washington, D.C. After his education at Oxford University and the University of Warwick in the U.K., Nick moved to the United States and received a law degree from Vanderbilt University. Nick successfully represented an apostate from the Middle East, who faced deportation to and execution in his native Sudan for the crime of converting away from Islam, winning him asylum in the United States.
He also worked with mentally ill New Yorkers to ensure adequate provision of state resources enabling patients to leave institutions and safely and productively live in the community; represented hearing disabled citizens in their efforts to ensure local hospitals provided sign language interpreters as required by the Americans With Disabilities Act; and represented individuals in complaints of malpractice against the D.C. Metropolitan Police. When his firm closed, Nick moved to the non-profit sector and accepted a position with CFI. Aside from internal legal work for CFI, Nick has filed amicus briefs in the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case and the Seventh Circuit challenge to unfair tax breaks given to housing allowances paid to religious ministers.