Board of Directors
The Humanist Society Board of Directors
Kathy Diedrich, President
Kathy Diedrich has been active in secular and humanist groups for nearly a decade, first as a member of AHA and later as a Humanist Celebrant. Kathy is also active in the Rochester Area FreeThinkers (RAFT) group, a local 501c3 secular organization. There she organizes events, secures speakers, and serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors.
Following a first career at IBM, where she served as a software engineer, manager and project manager, Kathy took a very different professional path and launched Minnesota Life Celebrations. Using her credential as a Humanist Celebrant, and leveraging her newly earned certificate credentials in Weddings, Funerals and Memorials, and Ceremonies for Families and Children, Kathy has been providing professional secular ceremony services since 2010. She has performed over 250 ceremonies, writing each one to meet the needs and wishes of her clients. While the demand for secular services came as somewhat of a surprise, Kathy is happy to provide custom, meaningful ceremonies throughout southeastern Minnesota, and to often be the first face of Humanism for her clients.
Donna Forsythe, Vice President
Donna Forsythe grew up in a Quaker family. As an adult, she identified as an ‘atheist Quaker’, later realizing this was the foundation for Humanism. Forsythe worked as an inner-city educator for 30 years, when she took a sabbatical in 2014 to earn her Masters in Leadership and Administration. That year, Marriage Equality passed in her state of Pennsylvania. Within days of the lifting of the same-sex marriage ban, she officiated her first wedding, marrying two men in their 70s, which prompted her to go through the Humanist Society to become endorsed as a Humanist Celebrant.
This would prove to be a life-changing event, leading Forsythe to retire from education in 2018 to pursue her Humanist Celebrant business full-time. Since becoming a celebrant, she has officiated over 250 ceremonies and built a full-time celebrant business, Lehigh Valley Celebrants, which includes a group of four other Humanist Celebrants who work with her. Her background in theater and her previous work as a teacher, as well as a librarian/storyteller, has provided a unique skill-set. Her goal is to craft meaningful, couple-centered ceremonies and to create an atmosphere where everyone feels like they’re part of the celebration. Most recently, she has collaborated with her local LGBTQ center to provide Transgender Namings to those in her community.
Read her TheHumanist.com article, “Love Wins: LGBT Wedding Expo Embraces Marriage Equality”
Steven R. Bechtel, Secretary & Treasurer
Steven R. Bechtel is a graduate of the Tulane University and The George Washington University Law School. He is the senior partner of the Mateer & Harbert law firm in Orlando, Florida. Steve is also an Arbitrator and holds a Florida Real Estate Salesman’s License. Steve’s community service has included holding office in civic organizations and voluntary service on governmental boards in the Central Florida area. Steve has been a secular humanist most of his adult life. He has been a member of the American Humanist Association for several years and regularly attends its annual conferences. Steve also is a member of the Board of Directors of the Secular Coalition for America. In 2012, Steve became a Humanist Society Celebrant and has greatly enjoyed presenting a secular prospective to events which are so significant to people’s lives, such as weddings and memorial services, throughout Florida. Steve teaches a class in Humanism at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.
Ben is now an endorsed Humanist Chaplain, but he was raised in the evangelical church. Over time his academic studies in Judaism (at The Ohio State University) and Bible Interpretation (at the University of Oxford) challenged him to rethink how he understood religion and spirituality. Eventually this rethinking led him to humanism and its progressive outlook on life. Humanist values continue to inspire Ben’s work as a professional chaplain for a major hospital system where he helps people find their inherent worth and dignity. When he’s not out visiting patients, he’s teaching new chaplains and volunteering with his local AHA chapter, the Humanist Community of Central Ohio. He is the first Humanist Chaplain certified by the Humanist Society to seek certification from the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education as a Certified Educator.
Christine serves as the Secretary for the American Humanist Association Board of Directors, and is the AHA representative to the Humanist Society board. She is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Communication, Media, and Film, Faculty of Arts, at the University of Calgary, Canada. Her research involves studying the strategies employed by the Intelligent Design Creationism movement, and her areas of focus include history, philosophy and sociology of science, Actor Network Theory, and rhetoric. Christine is past President and current Director for Atheist Alliance International, and a regular co-host on the Calgary-based Legion of Reason podcast. She has delivered presentations at local venues (including guest lectures and debates), as well as at prominent conferences in Canada and the US, on various topics of interest to humanists and secularists.
Jason Callahan is the Chaplain for the Thomas Palliative Care Unit at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Massey Cancer Center and an Instructor for the Departments of Patient Counseling and Pastoral Care at VCU. Jason is a seminary educated secular chaplain, endorsed by the Humanist Society and nationally board certified by the Association of Professional Chaplains. Prior to coming to VCU, Jason worked as an advertising executive
and trauma informed professional counselor. He is passionate about increasing the numbers of non-
theistic board certified chaplains. He is also a member of the Greater Richmond Humanists.
Jocelyn Williamson is a lifelong atheist and Humanist, as well as an endorsed Humanist Celebrant and Invocator. She serves as the President of the Florida Humanist Association and co-founded the Central Florida Freethought Community (CFFC). The CFFC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization of freethinkers, Humanists, atheists, and secularists working and playing together with reason and compassion as guiding principles. She serves as a Florida Representative for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, State Director for the American Atheists and serves on the Board for the BE Orlando Humanist Fellowship.
Sarah is a transgender atheist woman who left Christianity with a passion for community building–especially in rural areas where it’s often difficult to be “out” or find like-minded people. She came to humanism out of the “angry atheist” phase on seeing a need for secular communities to focus our energy into productive, positive impacts in our world. Sarah is an endorsed Humanist Celebrant, Support Group Leader with Recovering from Religion, co-founder and Director of the Atheist Community of Polk County, and Producer/Host of the show “Freethought in Florida”.
Arthur Jackson, Board Member Emeritus
For me humanism comes closest to what is needed to change the world for the better so I have spent the bulk of my life working to improve and advance it. I have been active in the American Humanist Association since 1962. In June 1963 I attended AHA’s first training session to provide Humanist officiants for weddings and other ceremonies. After that (1965-69) worked as assistant director, coordinating AHA’s officiant and chapter programs. Then came to San Jose as the full-time, paid executive director of the local AHA chapter to experiment with developing a model to help chapters become more firmly based. Have actively been involved with the AHA national chapter program and what is now known as Humanist Society ever since. Author, The Humanist Chapter of the Future and the Future of Humanism (1982, 1993), and How to Live the Good Life: A User’s Guide for Modern Humans (2011).