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Board Members

Margaret Downey of West Chester, Pennsylvania

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. Continue reading Who is Margaret Downey for more information.

Norm R. Allen Jr.

A simple Google search will immediately demonstrate Norm Allen’s humanist “street cred.” He established African Americans for Humanism (AAH) in 1989. Under his trailblazing leadership, it was the only humanist organization primarily dedicated to attracting people of African descent throughout the world to organized humanism. From 1989-2010 he was the first and only full-time African American humanist activist traveling the world promoting humanism and skepticism.

In 1991 he edited his first book, African-American Humanism: An Anthology. That groundbreaking book was the first to demonstrate the extent to which humanism has influenced Black life, culture, intellectualism and activism. In 2003, he edited The Black Humanist Experience: An Alternative to Religion. That was the first collection of essays in which Black humanists discussed their personal paths to humanism.

Allen has worked as editorial associate, deputy editor, associate editor, letters editor and reviews editor for Free Inquiry. He founded and edited the AAH Examiner, the international newsletter of AAH, and the only publication of its kind. He was the editor of The Human Prospect, the journal of the Institute for Science and Human Values, now known as the Paul Kurtz Institute. He wrote a column for the journal called “the Allen Angle,” and he wrote an online column for the Institute called “Reasonings.”

While head of AAH, Allen was able to get news stories about African American humanism in the Black media on a regular basis. Most of the then-200 Black newspapers and about 40 of the then-400 Black radio stations carried AAH articles and news releases, or featured the group’s spokespersons. This was the first time Black humanism had received widespread coverage in the Black media.

One of the group’s most successful news items was about their African-American Humanist Declaration released in 1989. It was the first such declaration issued by people of African descent.

Aside from having had articles published in numerous journals, books and encyclopedias, Allen has been featured in major media, including CNN, C-Span, BBC Radio, Fox News and others. His pioneering efforts paved the way for African American humanist leaders, thinkers and scholars today.

Allen is the only African American humanist leader and thinker that maintained strong ties with Black humanists outside the U.S. Allen established and/or strengthened over 70 humanist groups in 30 African nations. He visited Africa seven times and helped send many reading materials and establish humanist libraries on the continent.

Today, Allen writes a regular column on Medium.

Olga Bourlin of Seattle, Washington

Olga is editor of The Human Prospect, a journal published by the Paul Kurtz Institute for Science and Human Values. In the past she has served as Vice President of the Humanists of Washington.

Having grown up in China and Brazil before emigrating to the United States at age 9 has given Olga an abiding love of history and a relentless curiosity about cultures around the world. She has written for Free Inquiry, The Human Prospect, Apogee, The Secular Humanist Press, The Examiner (the newsletter for African Americans for Humanism (AAH)), and is an independent history contributor for BlackPast.org. A big fan of the First Amendment, Olga was a co-founder and co-chair of the Northwest Feminist Anti-Censorship Taskforce.

Being a skeptic, secular humanist, antiracist, liberal, progressive Democrat would describe Olga's political leanings. Reading, writing, movies and opera are some favorite leisure activities.

Patti Butcheck of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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.

Sharon Chen, North Carolina

Sharon Chen is an outgoing and energetic Taiwanese American community influencer, leader, and activist living in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill triangle of North Carolina since 2003. She was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina to immigrant parents from Taiwan. She’s a native North Carolinian who is bilingual and speaks Mandarin Chinese fluently.

Chen graduated from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill with a BA in Sociology. She currently works as a private military contractor assisting the United States Armed Forces with her Mandarin Chinese speaking skills. She is also a private tutor teaching Mandarin.

Chen is an independent film and media contractor for the award-winning filmmaker and director Rob Underhill. Her prior work experience includes the North Carolina Symphony, Lenovo, and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Leadership, professional networking, social media marketing, writing, editing, event planning, business development, and communication are just some of Chen’s strengths and passions. She is experienced at connecting people and providing marketing, and promotion.

Chen is known for her values and strength of character. She is committed to excellence and has a fervent drive to succeed. She’s highly motivated to learn as much as possible and communicate in a way that influences people’s behavior and meets their needs.
 Chen is well-connected both politically and socially. Her circle of friends and associates includes executives, government officials, directors, leaders, managers, business owners, entrepreneurs, physicians, attorneys, engineers, real estate brokers, creatives, musicians, artists, innovators, and many other powerful community leaders.

Chen is a multicultural individual with a global mindset. She loves volunteering and giving back to the community. She highly values diversity inclusion and enjoys traveling, attending live theater, visiting museums, and going to concerts. She is also physically active and loves being outdoors, participating in zip-lining opportunities and hiking.

In addition, Chen spends much of her free time volunteering at her alma mater UNC-Chapel Hill, promoting non-profit organizations, and volunteering for local/state politicians and elected government officials.

The causes she holds closest to her heart are promoting secular humanism, freethought, and separation of church and state; ending poverty and domestic/family violence; supporting social, economic, and racial justice; and promoting mental health advocacy, education, and research. She’s passionate about living a meaningful, purposeful life with positive growth. Most importantly, she loves inspiring and motivating others, paying it forward, and having a positive impact on the community.

Victoria De la Torre of San Diego, California

Victoria was born in Southern California into a Latina singleparent household within a patriarchal society.  After a strict Catholic upbringing, she discovered freethought in 2007 while at the University of San Diego in pursuit of a future in the law.  

During her studies in philosophy and theology, Victoria discovered the intellectual path of reason and began exploring a more secular understanding of the world.  De la Torre directed her attention to the field of science, reading Dawkins and Darwin, embracing evolution and the natural universe over the myth of a deity with a divine plan.  She combines her cultural traditions with logic, reason and enlightenment, especially helping fellow Hispanics, who not only have a unique and distinct path to freethought, but also often feel alone, scared, and torn as they recover from religion.

Victoria believes that through secularism we can achieve the American dream, because the beauty of humanism presents the affirmation of our true potential through logic, reasoning, and understanding.

Victoria is the current Community Outreach Coordinator for the Humanist Association of San Diego, organizing the association’s involvement in local parades, fundraisers, and homeless outreach. She is a member of the Freethought Society’s Diversity Outreach Committee, creating and facilitating programs, Hispanic materials and events.

Sally Flynn of Pocopson, Pennsylvania

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.
Alan Gold

Alan Gold of Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Alan is married to Frances, is the father of three children and grandfather of four. He lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania with cats, dogs, turtles and 30 chickens. He grew up in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.

Gold retired from Wells Fargo Advisors as Sr. Vice President September 1, 2016 after 41 years in the securities and insurance business.

He as a BA from Penn State and a Masters Degree from American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. and served in the Peace Corps in Afghanistan 1971 to 1973.

His hobbies are world travel, reading most anything, attending live concerts, Facebook (a lot), sports, especially singles racquetball and tennis, movies and most any art form, artist (modern), writing, gardening, nature, science, photography, bridge, chess, piano, volunteering for most anything, politics, and a love of people.

Gold is a lifelong atheist, never having even a hint of doubt...if proof is shown about a god's existence makes as much sense as if proof can be shown that the Santa Claus story is real.

Since 1990, Gold has been active in the International Spring Festival that takes place in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. He became a chair of the Festival in 2013.

Gold was named PennSuburban Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year in 2015. He is active in nonprofits, including Pearl S. Buck International, United Way, B'nai B'rith (regional and local president), Boy Scouts (not since 1997) as Scoutmaster, Order of the Arrow, Eagle Scout. Gold was Man of the Year of his local synagogue and has received commendations for community service by Wells Fargo, the local municipality, and President Barack Obama.

Patrick S. Inniss, Seattle, Washington

Despite enduring a Christian education at the hands of the Sisters of Notre Dame and Jesuits, Pat became an atheist as a young adult. His commitment to activism, however, didn’t happen until 1988 when his daughter was denied participation in a Scouting program. This energized Pat to not only initiate a campaign protesting discrimination against atheists and gays in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), but to also address the concerns of nonbelievers more broadly by participating in and eventually leading freethought groups. These efforts, along with pressure brought by others including Margaret Downey, led to the elimination of the belief requirement in the BSA’s Explorer program.

For several years Pat was the editor of Secular Subjects, the newsletter of the Rationalist Society of St. Louis. In that same period about 30 years ago Pat also produced dozens of installments of Freethinking 101, a local access cable show. Some of these are still viewable on YouTube.

After moving to Seattle in 1993 Pat became active in the Humanists of Washington, and eventually co-founded a new freethought group, Seattle Atheists. Pat continues to commentate on freethought issues as well as other societal concerns such as racism and homophobia. As a former freethought group organizer and leader, Pat feels that freethought needs to find a new role that is well adapted to current social and technological trends. This would include broadening the reach of freethought into a wider variety of communities and utilizing innovative strategies to promote our ideas.

Glen Loev of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

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.

David Rice, Pennsylvania

For the past 25+ years, ever since ‘converting’ from evangelical Christianity to Humanism, I’ve become increasingly involved in helping the Secular Movement push forward. This has led to a number of different activities, including:

  • helping form and lead a coalition of secular groups in Southern California (SoCal Secular
    Coalition), including planning of two annual leadership summits

  • becoming president of the United Nations Association-Orange County chapter of UNA-USA, with a focus on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals for the world (SDGs, based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) here in Orange County

  • starting local secular community groups that meet weekly

  • creating and working on a Strategic Plan for the secular movement

  • meeting with leaders of various national secular organizations

  • joining the board of the Humanist Association of Orange County (CA)

I fully support the “CASE” approach to building secular communities... focusing on Community, Advocacy, Service and Education, and urge secular groups to adopt this broad approach to activism, with a focus on working together to leverage all our combined resources, and create a more effective mobilizing presence in each key area. I am especially committed to promoting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all of which highlight essential Humanist values, and to improving the movement’s overall ability to market, educate, organize and fundraise for key organizations like Secular Student Alliance (SSA), Secular Coalition for America (SCA), American Humanist Association (AHA) and others.

I’m not particularly interested in trying to ‘convert’ current ‘nonbelievers’ to Humanism, but rather to fill the overwhelming need of helping give the many who are leaving religion but have no idea of the existence of such a fulfilling belief system an inspiring community for them to land and identify with. That... and working with many other groups and organizations who are all trying to solve many of society’s problems. As the saying goes: “By their fruits shall you know them”.

Greg White of Bristol, Pennsylvania

Greg has been an atheist/humanist/freethinker since at least the age of 12.

He 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.