Joe Beck


After retiring as a New York licensed social worker, Joe Beck initiated the Humanist Perspective cable access TV program. After appearing as a guest on the show, Paul Kurtz invited Joe to join the Council for Secular Humanism where over 250 programs were produced at the Center for Inquiry, airing as far away as  Hawaii. After receiving his Master of Social Work from the State University of New York at Buffalo, Joe developed a humanist oriented stress management program , “ More Glad, Less Sad, Mad, Scared and Guilty”.


After 10 years of certification as a Humanist Celebrant with the rights of traditional clergy, Joe became Florida’s first Humanist Chaplain with visiting privileges at local hospitals and has motivated the West Palm Beach VA, Martin Health Systems, and the Indian River Medical Center to mention humanist support for patients in patient brochures. In June of 2014, after years of negotiation and with legal assistance from Monica Miller, attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, Joe delivered the first Humanist invocation for Florida’s Martin County Board Of Commissioners meeting. 


Joe has requested the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office to cease officially sponsoring and providing indirect financial assistance to the Vero Beach (Christian oriented) Prayer Breakfast and is currently involved with two patient allegations of religious proselytizing at a hospital and local hospice.




Jamila Bey


is a journalist based in Washington, DC. She also writes for the Washington Post blog, She the People and contributes to MSNBC.


 Jamila served a decade-long stint as a producer and editor at National Public Radio working for shows including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Tell Me More with Michel Martin, and Talk of the Nation. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The New Humanist of  London, Jazz Times Magazine and WebMD as well as on The Today Show and radio stations around the country.


A sought-after speaker and writer, Jamilas areas of expertise include science, health and family policy, and all issues concerning the First Amendment.  She particularly enjoys reporting on issues concerning religion and the separation of church and state.




Marcia Cohen

Marcia S. Cohen, Esq.  holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Roosevelt University of Chicago, a Masters degree in Music Composition from Northwestern University, and received her Juris Doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law in 1984.  Since becoming a member of The Florida Bar, she has practiced almost exclusively in the area of labor and employment law with a concentration in employment discrimination and sexual harassment, and has the distinction of having had a successful case before the U.S. Supreme Court as co-counsel with the EEOC.   She became a certified mediator in 1990 and a certified arbitrator in 1995.

 Ms. Cohen has been a guest lecturer  on U.S. civil rights and employment discrimination law at the University of Paris at Nanterre, and was an Adjunct Professor of Feminist Jurisprudence at Stetson University College of Law and the University of South Florida.  She was Chair of the International Law Section of the St. Petersburg Bar Association from 2006 to 2009, is a member of the Legal Panel of the Pinellas County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and was the 2007 recipient of its Gardner Beckett Civil Rights Award.  Marcia Cohen divides her time between Florida and Paris, France, where she is Of Counsel to the international law firm of Cimadevilla Avocats.




Margaret Downey


Margaret Downey founded the Freethought Society (FS) and the Anti-Discrimination Support Network (ADSN) in 1993. In 1994 Margaret founded the Thomas Paine Memorial Committee. Margaret has represented the interest of the nontheist community (since 1995) at several United Nations conferences.


She is a past board member of the American Humanist Association, The Humanist Institute and the Thomas Paine National Historical Association. She is a current board member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Scouting For All and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Robert Green Ingersoll Museum.  In the year 2002, Margaret became the first “Secular Humanist Celebrant” in Pennsylvania.

Margaret served as president of the Atheist Alliance International for two years.


In 2007, Margaret designed the Tree of Knowledge.  Margaret has been a guest on National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation and Radio Times. Television appearances include features on local news stations as well as ABC’s Nightline, PBS and Fox News.




D. J. Grothe

A board member of The Institute for Science and Human Values, D.J. Grothe has lectured widely on topics at the intersection of science and ethics at dozens of universities including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, UCLA and UC Berkeley. 

Once a professional magician, with special interests in the psychology of belief and processes of deception and self-deception, Grothe is formerly President and CEO of The James Randi Educational Foundation and served as Vice President at the Center for Inquiry.

Along with his partner, Thomas Donnelly, he created the celebrated radio show and podcast interview program Point of Inquiry in 2005. Grothe hosted over 200 episodes. Most recently he was the host of the radio show and podcast For Good Reason.

He's an associate editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, and edited the book On the Beauty of Science, about the life and work of mathematician and Nobel Laureate Herbert Hauptmann. He has appeared on numerous national and local radio programs in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, as well as on a number of television programs, such as Talk Back Live, Spike's 1000 Ways to Die, SyFy's The Joe Rogan Experience, and The Travel Channel's Mysteries at the Museum.



Jennifer Michael Hecht


is a poet, a historian, a philosopher and a commentator. Her bestseller Doubt: A History is the story of philosophical and religious doubt. Hecht’s The End of the Soul: Scientific Modernity, Atheism, and Anthropology won the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s 2004 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award “for scholarly studies that contribute significantly to interpretations of the intellectual and cultural condition of humanity.” The Happiness Myth brings a skeptical eye to modern wisdom about the good life. Her latest book, Stay: the History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It, came out with Yale University Press in November 2013.

Hecht’s poetry books are The Next Ancient World which won three national poetry awards; Funny which Publisher’s Weekly called “one of the most original and entertaining books of the year”; and Who Said, which came out with Copper Canyon Press in November 2013.

She has appeared on Hardball MSNBC, HuffPost Live, the Discovery Channel, The Morning Show, and on radio: All Things Considered (forthcoming), several BBC radio shows, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Leonard Lopate Show, On Being with Krista Tippett, and others. She has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, Politico Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, American Scholar, and The Washington Post.




Carol Anne Johnson


Carol has been an advocate for those with special needs since the birth of her own special needs child in 1990.  She has been active in the public school system and with other community service organizations that are devoted to children and families, including those with special needs (JWB, PARC, NAMI).  Since graduating from Stetson University College of Law, the primary focus of her law firm has been to provide special needs planning services and advocacy for families with special needs children of all ages and individuals with their own special needs, as well as end-of-life services and planning. 

Carol is currently actively involved with the Community Law Program, a community-service organization providing civil legal services to indigent community residents and foster children transitioning out of foster care. 

Carol Anne Johnson, Esq., practices law in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, Florida at Carol Johnson Law Firm, P.A., by appointment only, with a new office scheduled to open in Columbia, South Carolina in June of 2015.




Anne Klaeysen


Dr. Klaeysen is a leader at the NY Society for Ethical Culture, Ethical Humanist Religious Life Adviser at Columbia University, and Humanist Chaplain at New York University. She holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in Pastoral Counseling from Hebrew Union College and is a graduate of The Humanist Institute, which she serves, with Carol Wintermute, as co-Dean




Janis Landis

Janis Landis  is a retired Treasury executive who now is the President Elect of the Final Exit Network (FEN).  FEN is the only American organization that advocates for the right of competent adults suffering from intractable, unbearable medical conditions to make their own end of life decisions.   She was initially drawn to this work because of her philosophical convictions about a meaningful life.  But the decision of several States to prosecute FEN, in violation of its members Fifth Amendment rights, caused her to focus her energies into this organization.

 Janis is a lifelong resident of New York City,  a proud graduate of the City College of New York, and served on the City College Fund Board.   She holds a Masters in Political Science from Columbia University, and her husband of 45 years retired as Chair of Political Science at Hofstra University.   They have two married children and are expecting their first grandchild in June.



Ralph Lewis


Staff Psychiatrist, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Consultant Psychiatrist, Odette Cancer Center (regional cancer center located at Sunnybrook).

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.


He obtained his MD in 1990 at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, the country where he grew up.  He completed a four year residency training program in Psychiatry at the University of Toronto in 1996, followed by a two year clinical-research fellowship and a concurrent Masters of Science in Neuroscience, at the University of Toronto. Since 1998  he has been on staff as a psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, a large teaching hospital in Toronto, with a faculty appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. Ralph’s clinical work focuses on youth and young adults with complex mood, anxiety and psychotic disorders and other mental health problems, in addition to adults of all ages with mental health problems associated with cancer, including patients with terminal illness. In the last several years, Ralph has been increasingly interested in the role of belief systems in mental health and their cognitive basis. He is also interested in the existential philosophical struggles faced by patients confronting life threatening or life altering illnesses. Ralph identifies personally as a secular humanist, and as a secular Jew who values his Jewish cultural tradition. He maintains close personal, family and professional relationships with people of strong faith from various religious backgrounds, and takes an active interest in understanding the intellectual arguments underpinning those faith traditions. Ralph lives in Toronto with his wife and three children.




Ana Lita


Ana Lita, Ph.d, is the Co-founder and Executive Director of the Global Bioethics Initiative (GBI), an international not-for-profit organization incorporated in the State of New York in July 2011, and the former director of the Appignani Bioethics Center. She received a Ph.D. degree from Bowling Green State University, Ohio, specializing in Applied Ethics and Social Philosophy, an M.A. in Sociology from the Central European University, Prague and a B.A. in History of Philosophy from the University of Bucharest, Romania. She held a tenure track position (2001-2004) as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Lincoln University, Missouri. From September 2009 to June 2010 she was a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics. 




Massimo Pigliucci


Prof. Pigliucci has a Doctorate in Genetics from the University of Ferrara (Italy), a PhD in

Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut, and a PhD in Philosophy from the

University of Tennessee. He has done post-doctoral research in evolutionary ecology at

Brown University and is currently K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at City College and

Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His research interests include the philosophy of biology, the relationship between science and philosophy, and the nature of pseudoscience.


In the area of public outreach, Prof. Pigliucci has published in national magazines such as Philosophy Now and The Philosopher’s Magazine among others. He is a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a Contributing Editor to Skeptical Inquirer. Pigliucci edits the Scientia Salon web magazine (scientiasalon.org), and co-hosts the Rationally Speaking podcast (rationallyspeakingpodcast.org).




Debra Smietanski


Debra Smietanski is a special counsel and estate planning attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP. She focuses her practice on complex estate planning techniques for high net worth individuals, and she is board-certified by The Florida Bar in wills, trusts and estates. Ms. Smietanski is a member of the firm’s Estates & Trusts Practice.


Professional Memberships

A licensed certified public accountant, Ms. Smietanski is a member of the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants and served as president for the American Woman's Society of Certified Public Accountants, Tampa Chapter, from 1996 to 1997.


She is also a member of the Hillsborough County Bar Association and is currently the chairman of the HCBA Wills for Heroes Committee; the Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers, where she served as treasurer and a member of the board of directors from 1993 to 1997; and the Florida Association for Women Lawyers, where she served as secretary and a member of the board of directors from 1993 to 1995.




Robert B. Tapp 


Robert B. Tapp B.S., Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of Humanities, Religious Studies, and South Asian Studies at the University of Minnesota. Since retirement in 1996, he has been teaching at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. 

 During his first appointment (St. Lawrence University) in the 1950s he pioneered courses on religions and the sciences and religions and sexuality. Prior to the 1961 merger of Unitarians and Universalists, he chaired a study commission on religion and science, and after the 1961merger he chaired a long-range planning commission that conducted the then-largest denominational survey (Religion Among the Unitarian Universalists: Converts in the Stepfather's House, 1973). He also chaired a commission on inter-religious dialogue for the International Association for Religious Freedom (1967-73).

He was program co-chair for "The Impact of Worldviews--Secular and Religious--on the Sustainability of Democracies" in Assisi, Italy, 2008 and is on the planning committee for “Toward a Reasonable World” in San Diego, 2011. He was a founding member of the North American Committee for Humanism in 1982. From 1993-2005 he was dean of The Humanist Institute and editor of Humanism Today. He was managing editor at the founding of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, and edited Humanism Today (1996-2006), Multiculturalism (2000), Ecohumanism (2002), and The Fate of Democracy (2006). 

 Robert compiles The ISHV Cyber Think Tank  (ishv.net).




Lois Uttley


Lois Uttley is Director of the MergerWatch Project, a national initiative working to protect patients’ rights and access to care from the threat of religious/secular hospital mergers and religiously-based health care restrictions. Ms. Uttley created the MergerWatch Project in 1997, prompted by reports that reproductive health services were being eliminated at secular community hospitals merging with religiously-sponsored hospitals. Since then, she and her staff have assisted community-based coalitions fighting more than 110 proposed religious/secular hospital mergers across the country, with a strong record of success. To support this advocacy, she has initiated research and the development of proposed public policies to protect patients’ rights and slow the enactment of religious “refusal clauses” that allow hospitals, health insurers and other institutions to refuse to provide services that conflict with religious doctrine.




Toni Van Pelt

Ms Van Pelt is a co-founder, the public policy director and congressional lobbyist for the Institute for Science and Human Values (ISHV). As former vice president and initial public policy director of the Center for Inquiry she organized and directed one of the first public policy offices of the secular humanist movement in Washington, DC focusing on the importance of science, separation of church and state, women’s and LGBTi rights. She continues this work with the Institute. She regularly presents on a variety of issues including how to effectively participate in American government as a citizen, how to lobby state legislators, ethics in the scientific community, alternative and complementary medicines, the United Nations Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and women’s rights. She is a long time feminist activist serving on many National Organization for Women (NOW) boards and committees since 1989. She serves as a board member at large for  the Institute for Humanist Studies.


All things subject to change at any time without notice.

© 2015 Institute for Science and Human Values, Inc.























© Institute for Science and Human Values, Inc.