The Yale Humanist Community’s Advisory Board is composed of non-Yale affiliated academics, authors, and activists who support our mission and values and want to help us in our work by offering counsel, advice, ideas, and feedback. For YHC’s Faculty Board of Advisers, click here.
Alom Shaha is a science teacher, writer, and filmmaker, who has spent most of his professional life sharing his passion for science and education with the public. He is the author of The Young Atheist’s Handbook and has produced, directed and hosted a number of science themed television programs and videos. Alom has held fellowships from the National Endowment for Science, Technology, and the Arts (NESTA) and the Nuffield Foundation for his work as a science communicator and teacher. He has represented his community as an elected politician, and been on the board of a range of charitable organizations; he currently serves as a trustee of the British Humanist Association. Alom teaches at a school in London and writes for a number of print and online publications. For more information, see his website.
Dr. Anthony B. Pinn is Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University, where he is also the founding director of the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning. Pinn is also director of research for the Institute for Humanist Studies (Washington, DC). His areas of research and teaching include constructive theologies, religion and culture, African American religious thought, and humanism. He earned his Ph.D. in the Study of Religion at Harvard University in 1994. His dissertation was entitled “I Wonder as I Wonder: An Examination of the Problem of Evil in African-American Religious Thought.” The topic of theological responses to evil and suffering in Black religion provided the foundation of Pinn’s early work. Today, he is the author/editor of over thirty books, including Humanism: Essays on Race, Religion, and Cultural Production (2015).
The Reverend Greg McGonigle is the University Chaplain of Tufts University, where he leads a multifaith team of seven chaplains who serve over twenty religious and philosophical communities, offering more than thirty spiritual gatherings each week and many other opportunities to develop religious literacy and promote multifaith engagement. At Tufts, he worked to create the first university-funded Humanist position in the U.S. Rev. McGonigle previously served as Director of Spiritual Life at Oberlin College and as a campus minister at the University of California, Davis. He holds an A.B. magna cum laude from Brown University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School. A Unitarian Universalist minister, he is also an Affiliated Minister in The Memorial Church at Harvard University, serves on the Harvard Board of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life, and is past president of the National Association of College and University Chaplains.
Dr. Jacqueline Bussie is Director of the Forum on Faith and Life and Professor of Religion at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. Dr. Bussie teaches and publishes in the areas of theology, service-learning, problem of evil studies, Christian ethics, interfaith cooperation, and faith and public life. Her education includes a B.A. Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Davidson College, a M.A.R. in Religion from Yale University Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in Theology, Ethics and Culture from the University of Virginia. A well-published public theologian, award-winning author, engaging teacher, and valued servant of the church, Dr. Bussie is a much-sought-after public speaker and workshop leader. Her first book, The Laughter of the Oppressed (2007, T & T Clark/Continuum), was the winner of the national Trinity Prize. Her second book, Outlaw Christian: Finding Authentic Faith by Breaking the Rules, will be released by HarperCollins/Nelson Books on April 19, 2016.
Dr. Jennifer Michael Hecht is a poet, philosopher, historian and commentator. She is the author of the bestseller Doubt: A History, a history of religious and philosophical doubt all over the world. Her new book is Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It, out from Yale University Press. Her previous works include The Happiness Myth, which brings a historical eye to modern wisdom about how to lead a good life. Hecht’s The End of the Soul: Scientific Modernity, Atheism, and Anthropology won Phi Beta Kappa’s 2004 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award “for scholarly studies that contribute significantly to interpretations of the intellectual and cultural condition of humanity.” She holds a Ph.D. in the history of science/European cultural history from Columbia University (1995) and has taught in the MFA program at Columbia University and the New School in New York City. She is a member of the New York Institute for the Humanities. She has appeared on Hardball on MSNBC, the Discovery Channel, and The Morning Show. She lectures widely.
Dr. Juhem Navarro-Rivera is an expert on Latino politics and religion. He is currently affiliated as a research associate at the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College where he was a Research Fellow between 2007 and 2012. From 2012 and 2014 he was a research associate at Public Religion Research Institute in Washington, DC. Dr. Navarro-Rivera has a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Connecticut where he taught courses in quantitative methods, political science and Latino studies. His dissertation explores the impact of cultural factors and lived experiences in the development of political ideologies among Latinos in the United States. Dr. Navarro-Rivera has published articles, columns, and reports on Latino religion and politics in places such as Free Inquiry, Friendly Atheist, Religion in the News, and Spiritual Politics.
Kevin Roose is a writer, an editor, and a TV maker. His two books, Young Money (2014) and The Unlikely Disciple (2009), explored the world of young Wall Street bankers and the world of evangelical Christian college students, respectively. Young Money was a New York Times bestseller, and was optioned for a TV series by Fox Television Studios. By day, he’s a senior editor and co-executive producer at Fusion, the ABC-Univision joint venture. Before Fusion, he was the tech columnist at New York magazine. And before New York, he worked at The New York Times, where he covered Wall Street for the paper and for DealBook, the Times‘ financial news site. In previous lives, he’s worked as a tennis-camp counselor, a juice bar barista, and a Biblical slave. (Long story.) He’s also written for magazines like GQ, Esquire, and ESPN: The Magazine.
Leighann Lord is a stand-up comedian who has appeared on Lifetime, HBO, and Comedy Central. She performed at Women in Secularism 3 and CFI’s Student Leadership Conferences. Leighann is featured in Chris Johnson’s book A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning In a World Without God. She was the NYC face of the African Americans for Humanism Doubts About Religion campaign and appeared in CFI’s Millions Living Happily Without Religion campaign. She’s the author of Leighann Lord’s Dict Jokes: ALTernate DEFinitions for Words You’ve Probably Never Heard of But Will Definitely Never Forget. And she is a co-host on Star Talk Radio with Neil de Grasse Tyson.
Mary Johnson is a Humanist activist and author. A certified Humanist Celebrant, the New Hampshire A-List named her the state’s top wedding officiant. Her memoir, An Unquenchable Thirst, was named one of the year’s best nonfiction books by Kirkus Review. A former nun, Johnson joined the Missionaries of Charity at age nineteen. During her twenty years as a sister, Johnson lived and worked with Mother Teresa for extended periods. Johnson also serves as Creative Director of Retreats for A Room of Her Own Foundation, a group that supports women writers. Johnson and her writing have appeared widely, including in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, O the Oprah Magazine, The Huffington Post, Bloomberg View, Religion News Services, The Humanist Magazine, National Public Radio, CNN, MSNBC, and “The Rosie Show.” Johnson is a firm believer in honesty as service.
Michael De Dora is director of public policy and representative to the United Nations at the Center for Inquiry, an educational and advocacy organization that advances reason, science, and secular values. In addition, he serves as president of the United Nations NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Michael received a master’s degree in political theory from Brooklyn College, and a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and communication from the University at Albany. He previously spent three years as executive director of CFI’s office in New York City. Before joining CFI, Michael was a news writer and editor at both FOXNews.com and the City University of New York.
Dr. Monica R. Miller is Assistant Professor of Religion & Africana Studies and Director of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Lehigh University. Among other publications and forthcoming manuscripts, she is the author of Religion and Hip Hop (Routledge) and most recently, The Hip Hop and Religion Reader (Routledge) with Dr. Anthony B. Pinn and Religion in Hip Hop: Mapping the New Terrain in the US (Bloomsbury) with Dr. Pinn and rapper Bernard “Bun B” Freeman. Miller is a Senior Research Fellow with The Institute for Humanist Studies (IHS), Associate Editor of The Journal of Hip Hop Studies, Co-Founder, prior Co-Chair, and Steering Committee Member of ‘Critical Approaches to the Study of Religion and Hip Hop Culture’ (AAR), member of the international scholarly collective, Culture on the Edge, contributing editor at Marginalia (A LA Review of Books Channel), and editorial board member of Culture on the Edge: Studies in Identity Formation book series with Equinox. Miller is currently at work on her next monograph project, New Black Godz.
Nick Sagan has been a professional writer for 20 years, crafting novels, screenplays, teleplays, comic books, animation episodes and computer games. Among his credits are the acclaimed Idlewild Series, episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager, Zork Nemesis: The Forbidden Lands; and (with science writers Andy Walker and Mark Frary) You Call This the Future? Nick is a creator of the Shrapnel graphic novel series for Radical Publishing, co-writing the most recent arc, Shrapnel: Hubris, with his wife, Clinnette Minnis. Most recently, Nick produced the two-part TV special, Alien Encounters. The son of astronomer Carl Sagan and Pioneer plaque artist Linda Salzman, Nick was 6 years old when his greeting, “Hello from the children of planet Earth,” was placed aboard the Voyager Golden Record as a representation of the English language for potential extraterrestrials to one day discover.
Philip Kitcher is John Dewey Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. He is the author of twelve books, including Life After Faith: The Case for Secular Humanism; Living with Darwin: Evolution, Design, and the Future of Faith; In Mendel’s Mirror: Philosophical Reflections on Biology; Science, Truth, and Democracy; and The Lives to Come: The Genetic Revolution and Human Possibilities. Professor Kitcher was the first recipient of the Prometheus Prize awarded by the American Philosophical Association for “lifetime contribution to expanding the frontiers of research in philosophy and science.” He is also the winner of many other awards, most recently the Award for Distinguished Service to the Columbia Core Curriculum, the Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award from Columbia University, the Lannan Foundation Notable Book Award (given for Living with Darwin), and the Friend of Darwin Award (given by the National Committee on Science Education).
Dr. Reza Aslan, an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, is author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. He is the founder of AslanMedia, a social media network for news and entertainment about the Middle East and the world, and co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of BoomGen Studios, the premier entertainment brand for creative content from and about the Greater Middle East. Aslan’s degrees include a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University, a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University, a PhD in the Sociology of Religions from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa. An Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, he is also a member of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities and the Pacific Council on International Policy. He serves on the board of directors of the Ploughshares Fund, Narrative Four, PEN USA, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Levantine Cultural Centers.
Wendy Thomas Russell
Wendy Thomas Russell is an award-winning journalist, author and editor. A native midwesterner, Russell has spent the bulk of her career in Southern California, writing and editing for newspapers, magazines, and other online and print publications. For 10 years, she covered criminal justice and special projects for the Long Beach Press-Telegram—for which she won dozens of awards and honors, including being named Journalist of the Year by the Society for Professional Journalists’ Greater Los Angeles Chapter. Inspired by her own experience as a secular mother raising a young daughter, Russell in 2011 launched Relax, It’s Just God, a blog and book for secular parents unsure about how to address the topic of religion with their children. Relax, It’s Just God has been featured by dozens of print and online publications and blogs — including the Washington Post, the New York Times’ Sixth Floor Blog, Psychology Today and the Humanist Project at Harvard. The book, Relax, It’s Just God: How and Why to Talk to Kids About Religion When You’re Not Religious, was released March 31 by Brown Paper Press, a small publishing company she helped found. Russell hosts the Natural Wonderers blog on Patheos.com and writes an occasional online column for PBS NewsHour. She lives in Long Beach, Calif., with her husband and daughter.