Board of Directors
Margaret Downey, Founder and President
Margaret founded the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia (FSGP) (now 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. Continue reading “Who is Margaret Downey” for more information.
Carol has been an atheist since her teens, after recognizing that the Roman Catholicism she’d been immersed in made no sense to her. For many years, she thought she was alone as an atheist, but in the early 90s she discovered online communities and encountered atheist groups everywhere! She became the senior sysop on Compuserve’s religion forum and served in that capacity for 13 years, and was a sponsor of the Freethought and Science/Philosophy sections there along with her deceased husband, Lee. A writer, photographer and artist, her writing is often about the nature of atheism and its many branches, such as Freethought, Naturalism, Humanism, etc. Her artwork explores the beauty and mystery of nature and is viewable at www.carolroper.com. Endlessly curious, her passion for science and art enriches her personal life as a mother and grandmother. As a concerned humanitarian, Carol’s ambition is to encourage tolerance and compassion. She considers herself a secular Buddhist as well as a Freethinker, atheist, and Naturalist. Carol writes frequently on science and freethought topics.
Glen reached the conclusion that there are no deities gradually, as he transitioned from his Conservative Jewish upbringing through Reconstructionist, Reform, and (finally!) arriving at Secular Humanism. He is currently on the Board of Shir Shalom, a community for Secular Humanist Jews in the Greater Philadelphia area. Glen retired from the practice of Dentistry in 2001. His main “occupation” is playing Mr. Mom for his two teenage children. He is also currently working as a bookkeeper for his partner’s hair salon. His interests include travel, reading, bicycling, woodworking, and the intellectual challenge of discussing (OK, arguing about) faith with religious friends and relatives. Glen finds writing about himself in the third person somewhat embarrassing and rather amusing.
Dan Hoffman, Treasurer
Dan has been a member of the Freethought Society since its founding in 1993. He was born into a large Catholic family, was an alter-boy as a child, became a Protestant Fundamentalist as a teenager, and returned to his Catholicism while serving in the military.
Dan was a social activist while in high school and in college. After his tour in the Navy, he entered the Catholic Seminary and was there when Pope Paul VI and Catholic Progressivism died. While retaining his faith, he attended LaSalle College, earning a BA in philosophy, and Villanova University, earning an MA in philosophy. Because he could no longer maintain the illusion required to hold onto theology, and because he opposed the injustice done in its name, Dan rejected belief in any gods; though he still shares the out of fashion humanistic values of Christianity, and of America– accepting the marginalized, and helping those in need.
Andrew Barrett is a student working toward degrees in philosophy and mathematics. He has diverse academic interests which include logic and the philosophy of mathematics. He wishes to promote skepticism, critical thinking, and reason based ethics. His activism encompasses many areas and focuses on personal responsibility and self determination.
Sally Flynn escaped Christianity some fifty years ago.
In addition to focusing on religious intrusion into government, Sally Flynn has supported Planned Parenthood and women’s rights issues, and was active in the civil rights struggle of the 1960s. It took several decades to evolve from a moderate, cultural Christian to a rational humanist and atheist, and Sally continues to be very active in the movement. Other interests and memberships are the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Bob, a.k.a. Robert E. Kay, M.D., is a retired psychiatrist who graduated from Tufts University Medical School and served his residency at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Although raised Jewish-atheist, Bob converted to the Baptist faith as a youth, eventually returned to his atheist roots in college, and has since been a dedicated Unitarian. After serving seven years in the Army, he settled in Philadelphia, where he treated both adults and children in many different inpatient and outpatient settings. Best-known for his acclaimed paper “The Know-Nothing Psychiatrist” (Psychiatric Times, April 2002), Bob has remained engaged in the field by volunteering his time, writing and lecturing since his 2006 retirement. Active in numerous causes, most especially in the academic, psychiatric, medical, political and anti-war fields, Bob is an honorary member of Grandmothers For Peace and works with FSGP’s Helping Hands Committee.
Susan lives in Atco, NJ and has worked as a secretary and book production editor for over 25 years. However, Sue’s role as a political activist is her most important work. Sue worked for President Obama’s campaign, and is an activist member of Progressive Democracy South Jersey for the past three years. Through this group, Sue has participated in two Congressional campaigns. She also volunteers as the group’s secretary, is a member of its Steering Committee, Movie Committee and host for meetings. Sue is proud to have been in dozens of protests as a participant and/or organizer. Sue is an energetic member of the board of FSGP and the Helping Hands committee. She is also a member of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, American Atheists, the Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Atheists meetup.
Tom Melchiorre is the former editor of and contributing writer to Secular Nation and Secular World magazines, and has been involved with and a member of The Freethought Society since returning to the Philadelphia area in the late 1980s. During his tenure as editor, he traveled the world, reporting on atheist happenings and gatherings on three continents, and discovered, encouraged, and fostered many up-and-coming, and now prominent, writers in the atheist community. Tom has also written for The Freethought News–with a regular column in the early years–and provided proofing and editing services throughout its history. Tom is the owner of Write Edit Publish!, and provides these services and guidance to individuals, businesses, government agencies, organizations, and nonprofits, both atheist and religious, for books (nonfiction and fiction), newsletters, public relations, and more.
Tracy Lockwood grew up in a restrictive religious compound. At the age of eighteen, she got out and began her journey toward freedom. She is committed to working for church and state separation and advocates for the rights of children in religious communities.
Atheist/Humanist/Freethinker since at least age 12. Greg White is motivated toward growing our community beyond the confines of online activity and small local groups to a thriving force of Humanity and decency throughout the US and the world, fighting for Church/State separation and an end to childhood indoctrination.
A humanist since childhood, an atheist since a young adult, Patricia Butcheck has always supported Humanist values and advocates for reason without religious bias, church/state separation, and secular acceptance. A long time member of the Freethought Society, Patti is a returning member of the FS Board. She loves science and learning, and considers discovery and education to be humanity’s highest goals. An animal rights advocate, she has been involved in rescue and worked with no-kill shelters. Traveling and photography round out Patti’s varied interests.
Jennifer Taylor was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised within a dual-religious family (Jehovah’s Witness and Baptist); she was skeptical from a young age with an inquisitive nature. She considers herself both an atheist as well as a secular humanist with a strong interest in community service and separation of church and state issues. She currently serves as the organizer for Black Atheists of Philadelphia, a group that both welcomes and encourages nontheists of diverse backgrounds to become both open and active within the Greater Philadelphia area. Black Atheists of Philadelphia is affiliated with African Americans for Humanism and the Greater Philadelphia Coalition of Reason (PhillyCOR). Jenn is also an active member of the New Jersey Humanist Network. Furthermore, she is an avid Jazz enthusiast who also organizes the Philadelphia Jazz Meetup. Jenn is presently employed within corporate America, has a background in project management, and has more than seventeen years of diverse management level experience.
Jenn regularly visits several groups within the PA/NJ area and has also attended numerous secular events, conferences and rallies, including the Reason Rally and the Blackout Secular Rally, and has also participated in the Madison Atheists booth during the group’s “Ask An Atheist” event. In addition, she has been a guest on the Black Freethinkers Radio show and has served as a panelist during the People of Color Beyond Faith virtual conference. Her short-term goals are promoting diversity within the secular community and being an encouraging force and support to members of the secular community who have not publicly proclaimed their skepticism about religion. Long-term, her mission is to help move the world towards accepting valid information related to decisions that affect us all and as well as help provide networking opportunities, information and support to those who have yet to discover their voice within the secular community.
Charlotte Carney is a teaching artist and expresses her atheism and secular humanism in some of her work as well as when she is teaching. A recent painting by Charlotte was used by the National Center for Science Education, and has also had work shown on the Brights’ Net (www.the-brights.net) and The Eloquent Atheist (www.eloquentatheist.com). Charlotte lives her life as an out atheist, adding that openly living your life well as a godless individual — with kindness, respect and tolerance of others — is the best way to represent atheism.