Conference 2016: "Humanist Voices: Secular Solutions for a Troubled World"

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Crowne Plaza Cleveland South - Independence

5300 Rockside Rd · Independence

How to find us

Off of Rockside Rd., just West of I-77

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Center for Inquiry Northeast Ohio proudly presents its 2016 conference!

"Humanist Voices: Secular Solutions for a Troubled World" will feature four outstanding special guest speakers, along with a delicious banquet lunch to be enjoyed in the company of fellow secular humanists.

While religion in itself cannot be blamed for all of the problems in today’s world, it remains at the very root of many of them. We have the seemingly endless tug of war between religion and secularism in our own nation, which manifests itself in our public policy by means of religious interference in education, equality and women’s reproductive rights.

Elsewhere, nearly all of the world’s 49 Muslim-majority nations have at least some imposition of religious law on all of the inhabitants of those nations. Furthermore, a number of those nations are full-blown theocracies in which nearly every element of one’s behavior is controlled by so-called religious authority, at the expense of citizens' most basic human rights (including freedom of thought).

This adherence to religious dogma (and its mixture with politics) continues to cause a myriad of very serious problems in much of the world. These problems include interference in the application and exercising of human rights, impediments to scientific, technological, economic and environmental progress, and of course senseless violence – sometimes on a grand scale. Unfortunately, a “solution” that is offered up often in religious societies, especially after tragic events, is simply more prayer.

What ideas can secular humanism offer to a troubled world – ideas and strategies which might eventually lead to workable solutions?

Center for Inquiry Northeast Ohio is proud to present our conference for 2016, “Humanist Voices: Secular Solutions for a Troubled World.” Join us on Saturday, September 17 to hear the ideas of four very special guest speakers who will each give presentations on the general theme. Attendees will also enjoy a delicious banquet lunch between the morning and afternoon sessions!

Our esteemed guest speakers:

Sarah Haider

Sarah Haider is an American writer, speaker, and activist. Born in Pakistan and raised in Texas, Sarah spent her early youth as a practicing Shia Muslim. In her late-teens, she began to read the Quran critically and left religion soon after.

In 2013, she co-founded Ex-Muslims of North America, where she advocates for the acceptance of religious dissent and works to create local support communities for those who have left Islam.

In addition to atheism, Sarah is particularly passionate about civil liberties and women’s rights. You can reach Sarah at [masked] , @SarahTheHaider ( and read more about Ex-Muslims of North America at (

David Niose

David Niose has served as president of two Washington-based advocacy organizations, the American Humanist Association and the Secular Coalition for America. He is currently the legal director of the AHA, overseeing litigation of church-state cases in state and federal courts all over the country.

He is author of two bestselling books, Nonbeliever Nation and Fighting Back the Right, and has written for publications such as the Washington Post, Salon, Huffington Post, and many others. Niose also has a popular blog atPsychology Today called "Our Humanity, Naturally," where he writes about public policy and culture-war issues from a humanist standpoint.

Stephanie Danes Smith

Stephanie Danes Smith is an assistant professor in the College of Communication and Information at Kent State University. Prior to coming to Kent State, Smith worked for the United States Federal Government, spending nearly 27 years with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). She also had significant executive experience in defense (U.S. Navy) and public diplomacy (the U.S. Department of State).

At the CIA, Smith served in a variety of roles supporting the collection of intelligence. In her pinnacle assignment there (as Director for Support) she was the senior-most woman at CIA and the first woman to hold that job. Smith led the largest of CIA’s four directorates, managed it's largest budget, and led a worldwide workforce. She achieved the highest rank possible in the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service and her career accomplishments were rewarded with the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the CIA Director’s Award and 20 exceptional performance awards.

Smith’s extensive professional experience outside of CIA also includes a number of “firsts.” She was the first CIA officer to serve as Executive Director for Administration at the National Security Council, under Dr. Condoleezza Rice; she later became the first CIA officer to serve as a senior advisor to the Bureau of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the Department of State, where she co-founded the Counterterrorism Communications Center. Later, she was the first CIA officer selected for a senior executive assignment at the United States Navy, where her work as the Deputy Director of the Shore Readiness Division was recognized with a U.S. Navy Special Act Award.

Smith graduated from Kent State University in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1994 with a master’s degree in public administration.

In 2011, Smith was honored with the William D. Taylor Distinguished Alumni Award from the Kent State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Smith was raised in Niles, Ohio, and now resides in Warren, Ohio, with her husband, Bill.

Paul Fidalgo

Paul Fidalgo has been communications director of the Center for Inquiry since 2012. He is responsible for CFI's The Morning Heresy, a daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities, and has been instrumental in much of CFI's international outreach.

Paul holds a master’s degree in political management from George Washington University, and has previously served as communications director for FairVote: The Center for Voting and Democracy and the Secular Coalition for America. Paul is also an actor and musician whose work includes five years performing with the American Shakespeare Center. He lives in Maine with his wife and kids. Find him online at, and on Twitter as @paulfidalgo.

The registration price includes a banquet lunch - the meal choices are Chicken Almondine, Salmon, Vegetable Lasagna or a vegan option (in previous years it has been a Grilled Veggie Stack).

Registration cost: $55 for CFI members, $65 for nonmembers; student price is $25. Register here:

Doors open at 8:30am; the conference will begin at 9am.

Note: registration closes at midnight on Tuesday, September 13.

See you there! :)