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Arkansas Society of Freethinkers Message Board General Discussion › Meet the Nominees

Meet the Nominees

George S
user 13502116
Little Rock, AR
Post #: 150
This thread is for all nominees for future Board members and Officers to post a short bio of themselves
George S
user 13502116
Little Rock, AR
Post #: 151
Hello Everyone,

My name is George Sterpka and I am running for a Board position.
I've served on the Board this last year and found the growth of the ASF very encouraging.

Our growth will present us with new challenges in the years to come, but I feel we can meet those challenges by being innovative.
My past experience serving for several years as a Board member and as President of another volunteer group gives me some incite as to how to meet some of those challenges.

Of course this will require strong cooperative leadership and the input and participation of more members like yourself.

If elected I plan to encourage members to attend the Board meetings and will work to get the meetings posted as an event. Attending Board meetings. I feel, is the best way to get others interested in the business of the group and to attract future Board members and Officers. Presently, we are limited to the number of members who will be able to attend because of seating, but my hopes are that we will see more people wanting to attend, so that we have to find a larger venue.

I would also like to see the Board meeting agenda posted at least a week before the meeting to inform members of important issues.

I feel the ASF has come a very long way in a very short time, and has a very long way to go.
Imagine our group in 10 years with three of four thousand members.
These are exciting times.

I'd like to thank last year's Officers and Board members for the time, dedication, patience and the fine job I thought they all did. It was a pleasure serving with all of you, and I am saddened to see some of you leave.
I want to especially thank Anna and Elaine, and those who helped them for the success of Darwin Day.
it was exceptional and I think a great success.
A feather in ASF's cap !

I would also like to personally endorse Susan Heffington for President,
and Anne Orsi for Vice President.

Peace
geo

PS - Be sure to check the box to "Track this discussion."
Richard S.
Hello all,

My name is Richard Seese, and I am running for a board position. I have several years experience leading on-line communities. I am one of the two main administrators/organizers for Arkansas Alliance of Atheists and Agnostics, as well as on the committee for Science and Technology with the National Atheist Party.

I have 17+ Years working with all things in digital communication, as well as thinking creatively and outside the box to overcome communication issues/barriers for past clients/employers.

If elected, it is my goal within the first year, to have a rock solid foundation for both internal and external communication with the Board, Officers, Committees, and members. My focus will be to drive membership participation (paying or non-paying), create welcoming packets, and provide a reliable means of deploying them.

I believe with an organization this large now, that it is important to bring chaos to order, and that it is important that members be informed of events, news, and issues at home and abroad. My other focus will be on rebuilding the website, linking events to/from the website, and using it as a central place to find detailed information about your board, important news, etc.

I also believe in the importance of social engagements, and getting to know others through fun and entertaining events. If elected, I will be encouraging others to step up, and let us invade their homes for quality game nights, movie nights, etc.

Together, we can make ASoF a stronger, more resilient force to be reckoned with, and show others it's okay to be good without god, because they are not alone. Together, we can also repair the divide that has happened recently, and encourage everyone to come together, forgive the past, and move forward. Together.

Thank you!

P.S. I strongly support Susan Kent as President Elect, and Anne Orsi as Vice President. I foresee a stronger more productive future ahead of all of us.

Richard Seese
Deborah M.
DeborahMcE
Arkadelphia, AR
Post #: 13
Greetings and Salutations!

What an exciting time to be a Freethinker/Atheist/Agnostic/Skeptic! We are coming together in our communities all over the country to support one another, to affect change and to promote a secular society in which to live and raise our children and grandchildren!

I’ve been a dues-paying member of ASoF since December 2009 and I appreciate the nomination for a position on the board. I very much support and, if elected, will continue the current movement/need toward a more visible and accessible board of directors.

I’m co-organizer of the Hot Springs Freethinkers (HSFT) and am proud of the dramatic growth spurt we have experienced in just over a year. We are now challenged with finding a larger venue for our monthly meetings!

I’m committed to the work of re-claiming the name “Atheist,” so that the world can know we are their neighbors, teachers, waiters, lawyers, janitors, nurses, and even government officials, while recognizing it is not always feasible for some (at least for now!).

I also am dedicated to creating a “safe” and welcoming environment to all newcomers and especially to those who are still “in the closet” or are getting their first taste of living without deities.

I feel strongly that we must always strive to keep our eyes on our purpose(s) and to work diligently to resolve and minimize our personal differences for the greater goal of promoting and ensuring a secular society.

There is indeed much work to be done and I’m excited to be a part of it! Thank you for your consideration!

Warmly and in reason!

Deborah McElhannon
A former member
Post #: 3
Hello, my name is Ambrosia (Amber) and I am running for a board position.

I am originally from outside the Bible Belt, so it was quite a culture shock when I moved to Arkansas. I have never attended church, and found that I was having difficulties making friends here without doing so. I was bored, sad and lonely, then I was "saved"... by ASoF! Now many of you are my friends and there are many group events so I am never bored. smile

I have often taken leadership rolls in various groups since I was in Junior High, including being an officer in the Society of Women Engineers in Wayne State University. I am also one of the two main administrators/organizers for Arkansas Alliance of Atheists and Agnostics.

As a board member, my goal would be to create transparancy so that interested members can:

  • easily access basic group information
  • know more about the activities of the group leadership
  • be easily able to make comments/suggestions/concerns (online and in person)
  • become involved through special committees

I would also try to encourage more young people to get involved in the group with fun social activities. My goal is to always be available for members to approach with questions/concerns/comments. I would also make sure meeting minutes were available for all board meetings.

The membership body is the heart and soul of any group, so the leadership should strive to keep open communication with them. If I was elected on the board, any member could come directly to me with concerns. I will make sure you are well represented. I am easy to contact in person or online. If you have any questions, feel free to message me
LeeWood T.
doubting-thomas
Little Rock, AR
Post #: 7
Hello,

My name is LeeWood Thomas. I am looking to retain my position on the Board.
I am a founding member and do what I can to attend as many freethought functions
as I can. I also serve as a Public Relations liaison between our group and the media.
This group has grown leaps and bounds over the last couple of years and I'm happy
and proud to have been part of that growth. One of the things I look for in this group
is give back to the community so that we can reverse the negative connotation surrounding
the word ATHEIST. I plan to continue coordinating our adopted highway mile clean ups,
issuing press releases on occassions that call for it, being a watchdog for church/state
violations, coaching our Laid Back Kickball team (The Non-Prophets) and getting our group
active in the community-such as entering us in the Holiday Parade.
I also enjoy meeting like minded individuals and this group is great for doing so.
I would appreciate your vote to keep me on the Board and I thank you for that consideration.
Within Reason,
LeeWood Thomas
Skip D.
user 32630762
Little Rock, AR
Post #: 1
Greetings.

Call me Skip. I've been called many things, but that's what my family & friends call me.

I studied archaeology, spent several years in the military, have travelled extensively around the world, have learned several languages, and have honed the arts of diplomacy and compromise. I am fascinated by politics, debate, and other intellectual activities, and never adhered to the old dictum that one must never discuss religion or politics.

I was consciously aware that I was a skeptic, iconoclast, and pursuer of scientific knowledge from the age of three, and I've never strayed from that path. I was born and grew up in the north, in a family that encouraged those traits, and in communities where the religious were tolerant and skeptics were accepted.

The circumstances that brought me to Arkansas were unexpected, as was my remaining here for over twenty years. One thing that I did expect was a population far more consumed with religion, and far less tolerant of people like myself who question and challenge their beliefs, nor was I disappointed.

I was pleased when I found the Facebook group for the ASoF. Here was a group of kindred spirits with whom I could openly express myself and engage in discussions without prejudice or retaliation. Unfortunately, I very soon discovered how wrong my initial assessment had been. Discussions turned to arguments, which became disputes, controversy, and bitter antagonism. Discussion threads were removed, friends became adversaries, and valuable participants were driven from the group. Finally, with no discussion, the board decided to solve the problem by ending open discussion on Facebook, a solution which further alienated many members and caused more to leave the group.

A few new members decided to step up and run for board positions to bring new blood to the group and try to prevent such failures of communication in the future. Certain others have taken it upon themselves to block the efforts of some of these candidates to even be included on the ballot, in much the same way as the Facebook debacle was handled - behind the scenes, in secret, using threats to intimidate and force agreement.

For this reason, I have changed my initial decision not to become involved in the politics of the group, and am a candidate for president. I detest underhanded behavior and pressure tactics, and stand firmly against them.

Here are some of my goals as a candidate for president:

• I believe that this group should embrace social media, both in public and private discussion grouips.
• I believe that there should be coordination and synchronization between the different media, to avoid the necessity of checking multiple venues (Facebook, Meetup, e-mail, etc) to keep informed.
• I strongly believe that we need a secure, robust website as a central locus for sharing information and enabling discussion.
• I intend to encourage every opportunity for the ASoF to make outreach to the public, both by example and invitation, providing positive alternatives to the ever-present religious and "faith-based" activity which dominates news and public awareness.
• I firmly believe that a more active membership, and especially an active board and functioning committees, is a goal that we must strive for, including both social and constructive functions to extend our reach and expand public awareness of the alternatives that science and a secular life provide.

Thanks for letting me introduce myself and thanks for your consideration of my candidacy.
Anne O.
AnneOrsi
Little Rock, AR
Post #: 18
I've been nominated for Vice President and for the Board. The way our bylaws currently read, I can be elected to the position of Vice President without being a board member. As we experienced this past year with a President who was not elected to the board, such a situation can be frustrating, so I ask you to vote for me for both positions. (We hope to change the bylaws to eliminate this problem in years to come.)

I've been a member of ASF for several years and regularly host various events, including the New Member Potluck and Socrates Cafe. I was on the Interim Board of Directors that saw several local secular organizations join together under the umbrella of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers, and have worked on the Bylaws and on getting ASF's 501(c)(3) status with the IRS so that donations to the organization are tax deductible. My involvement with this group extends to everything it does, not just one aspect of it. ASF provides a necessary service to the local secular community. Its actions have been, and will continue to be, crucial to the secular movement in Arkansas. ASF is not afraid to file suit to enforce separation of church and state, which makes me extremely proud of the founders of the group as well as its current leadership.

ASF has many great plans for the upcoming year, and our long-range plan is being written. Our Darwin Day event, expanded in 2012 to cover an entire weekend of activities and lectures, is something we want to continue to provide in years to come. This year we hope to bring a secular conference to Little Rock by partnering with secular groups having a national reach and the money to help pay for speakers. We hope to reestablish the Recovering From Religion support group for people who have just found their way to secular life and are dealing with anger and rejection while undergoing this crisis. And of course, we want to keep bringing the organization's regular events, like Skeptics in the Pub, to the attention of the public.

To accomplish these things, the Board of Directors and Officers should be familiar with ASF's workings, its function, and its mission. They should serve with the best interest of the organization always in the forefront of their minds, even if that means making unpopular or unpleasant decisions. The secular movement is important and is gaining strength in this country much less rapidly than in Europe. The Arkansas Society of Freethinkers can, with proper management, be part of the force propelling the movement into a stronger position so that political leaders listen to un-churched constituents on issues of education and maintaining separation of church and state.

Currently I serve on the Board of Regents of Gunston Hall, the historic Virginia home of founding father George Mason. Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which is still found in the Virginia State Constitution. Article 16 of the Virginia Declaration provided that "That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other." Twenty years later Mason was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Mason's Virginia Declaration eventually served as the basis for the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution. Mason stressed the importance of the separation of church and state even though he was an active member of a church.

Unlike Mason, I am an atheist. However, I respect and agree with part of the idea he espoused in Article 16: that religion can be directed by reason and conviction. I also believe in forbearance, love and charity. I have always been highly offended by anyone who truly thinks such qualities are limited to Christianity.

Freethinkers are people who think for themselves and draw their own conclusions about the world around them. Religious fundamentalism, like any extreme position, is dangerous to freedom. I believe that people who hold onto some religious beliefs, or who have doubts they have not yet fully come to terms with, are Freethinkers if they examine their world and draw their conclusions about it based on the evidence they have. Science and history teach us a great deal about our present world. Applying the lessons learned in a reasoned, logical manner will take us much farther than will a book of myths from the Iron Age.

Professionally, I am a lawyer and a freelance writer. I have served as an officer and director of several nonprofit organizations and for-profit corporations during the last twenty-five years. Below is a list of the boards I've been a part of and the positions I've held. My years of experience in the stewardship and governance of nonprofit and for-profit organizations is an asset to the Board of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers. Please vote for me so that ASF can continue to benefit from my knowledge and experience.

Corporate Boards

ARNO, Inc.
Member of the Board 2003-present

Pioneer Farms
Member of the Board 2002-present

Three Rivers Title Services, Inc.
Founder and Chairman of the Board 1999-present

Almand, Orsi & Campbell PLLC
Managing Member since 2009


Legal Organizations, Offices and Awards

Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association
Chair, Domestic Relations Division, 1997-98
Certificate of Recognition, 1998

Arkansas Association of Women Lawyers, since 1988
President, 1995-96
President Elect 1994-95
Parliamentarian, 1993-94

Pulaski County Bar Association
Member since 1988
Hospitality Chairman, 1995-96

Arkansas Volunteers for the Elderly
Volunteer attorney since 1991

Central Arkansas Legal Services
Volunteer attorney since 1989

Arkansas Bar Association, Since 1988
Member, Probate Law Committee, 1997-Present
Member, Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Committee, 1994-Present
(Chairman 2003-2004, Chair-Elect 2002-2003)
Member, Women and Minorities in the Law Committee, 1994-1998
Member, Real Estate Committee, 1999-Present

American Bar Association
Member 1988-1996

Certificate of Recognition awarded by Hon. Joyce Williams Warren for extraordinary service to the children and families of Pulaski County, Arkansas, 2000

Student Bar Association Legal Research Pool
Secretary-Treasurer, 1987-88

Governor's Advisory Council on Crime
Certificate of Appreciation awarded May, 1990


Civic Organization and Activities

Mount Holly Cemetery Association
Member of the Board since 2010
Chairman, Procedures Committee, since 2010

Gunston Hall (Historic Virginia Home of Founding Father George Mason)
Member of the Board of Regents since 2010
Archaeological Committee

Scott Connections
Member since 1994
Board Member 1996-1998

Arkansas Society of Freethinkers
Board Member
Secretary since 2010
Chairman, Bylaws Committee, since 2010

National Society of Colonial Dames in America in Arkansas
Member since 1994
Newsletter Editor since 2009
Board Member since 2002

Chi Omega Rho Fraternity
Member, Alpha Chapter at Colgate University, 1982-1984
President 1983-84



Susan K.
user 13157058
North Little Rock, AR
Post #: 15
Hello My Name is Susan Kent Heffington
I have been the Vice President of Arkansas Society of Freethinkers for the last 3 years.
I have been a board member since 2010 and have served on numerous committees.
I have been active in the Central Arkansas Freethinker movement since 2005.
I am currently running for President and Board member.
My plan for the coming year is to focus on membership needs. We want to add an Ombudsman position to the current officers.
ASF sponsor a billboard campaign.
ASF Host a Secular event in Little Rock. (Reason in the ROCK)
Repair our website.
Host family events.
Host a fundraiser to send a members child to Camp Quest.
Continue our association with the United Coalition of Reason, American Atheists and FFRF.
I want us to continue the efforts started by our current President David Bentley. Under his leadership we have seen the group grow to over 300 on Meetup.
Build our presence on Meetup and Facebook.
As freethinkers we need to focus as a group on positive issues and what brings us together. We are such a small segment of society we need to concentrate on the things we agree on and not on trivial issues which will tear us apart.
In the past I have served as a council member in Atheist Alliance International.
I am currently on the Board of Directors of PERC.
I have been active in LACorp participating in fundraisers for people living or affected by AIDS/HIV.
I have been an RN for 27 years and recently completed my BSN at UALR where I participated in the SSA.
I also assisted with organizing the SSA at UCA.

Our current bylaws require that I be elected separately to the board and president. As Anne pointed out we experienced a President this year who was not elected to the board which was a frustrating situation. We are currently trying to update the bylaws to prevent this from happening in the future.
As I mentioned I have been a member of ASF from the beginning of the reorganization of the group. I have hosted several events and I also served along with Anne, Mark and Robert and others on the Interim Board of Directors. I am currently working with Anne Orsi and Mark Love in obtaining 501(c)(3) status with the IRS for ASF so donations are tax deductible and we qualify for educational grants. This group and our mission statement are very important to me. We provide a very needed service to the freethinker secular community. Everyone in this group is important in making sure our rights to separation of church and state are not violated. I also want to change the community’s view of atheists and freethinkers. One of my favorite quotes is from Madalyn Murray O’Hair: “An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanished, war eliminated.” You can substitute your particular label “ freethinker, humanist, agnostic or deist” for atheist and it means the same thing. Who can argue with that?
Please vote for me so we can continue the current projects and ASF can benefit from my past experiences.
Thanks you
Mark L.
user 11153876
Group Organizer
Little Rock, AR
Post #: 2
Hi Everyone,

This past year we added lots of new members and events, and I very much enjoyed getting to know many of you personally at those events. I’d like to continue to help chart the course of ASF, by serving as a member of the board. I’m presently a board member, serve as treasure, and have been active in our group since 2005.

Some of the ASF activities I’ve been involved with the last year, include: coordinating the erection of the winter solstice display on the state capitol grounds with a great team of volunteers, helping with the planning and building of our holiday float and participating in the holiday parade, recording, editing, and posting video of our library lecture series on youTube. These sorts of projects increase our visibility with the public, and help potential new members find us.

Other tasks I’ve been involved with, include: finding informative and entertaining videos for our monthly library meetings, handling ASF’s finances, and of course working with other board members to see that ASF is a group we can all be proud of.

As for some background info, I have a strong interest in the sciences, earned a master’s degree in instrumental science, a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, and worked as an electronic engineer for 20 years, designing both hardware and software. I’d classify myself as a strong atheist/skeptic, who will in most situations, challenge delusional thinking. I actually look forward to Jehovah Witnesses coming to my house.

May the rational inherit the earth,
Mark
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