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Our people

The members of the Board are nominated and elected by our Members and Associates.

Our Board members during a Board meeting in Amsterdam, February 2020

The Board is responsible for managing Humanists International in accordance with the Bylaws, the Internal Rules and the policies and directives of the General Assembly. The Board members are nominated by Humanists International Member Organisations and are elected by the General Assembly, and are Directors and Trustees of the Humanists International.

The Board has a directly-elected President, a Vice-President, and a Treasurer. The term of office of Board members is normally three years. All Member Organisations may nominate individuals to positions on the Board and candidates must be a member of a Humanists International Member Organisation, or an Individual Supporter of Humanists International.


Andrew Copson

Andrew joined the Humanists International Board in 2010 and has been serving as President since 2015. He has been Chief Executive of Humanists UK since January 2010, following five years coordinating the Humanists UK’s work in education and public affairs. Andrew writes, talks and campaigns on Humanism and humanist topics extensively. He is a former director of the European Humanist Federation (EHF) and former head of the Humanists International delegation to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Andrew studied Classics and Ancient and Modern History at the University of Oxford.


 

Anne-France Ketelaer

Anne-France is Chief Executive of deMens.nu (the Flemish Belgian Humanist Organization) and vice-president of Humanists International. She studied Law at the Free University of Brussels (the Humanist University of Belgium) and started her career as a teacher in non-confessional humanist education. In 1989 she became a Legal Advisor for deMens.nu and in 1998 she was appointed as Vice-Chief Executive. In June 2016 she was promoted to Chief Executive of deMens.nu. Her goal is to reinforce humanism and its importance on a regional, national and international level.


 

Boris van der Ham

Boris van der Ham is the president of the Dutch Humanists. He is a former Member of the Dutch Parliament, as well as a writer and actor. He was elected to the Dutch House of Representatives for the social liberal Democrats party in May 2002. He wrote the law that made and to the ban on blasphemy in the Netherlands. In November 2012 he was elected the chairman of the Dutch Humanist Association, Humanistisch Verbond, where his focus has been on freedom of speech, education, and fostering international solidarity with atheists and humanists, in particular through the project Among Non-believers. He vlogs on humanism on freethinking on www.freethoughtvlog.com and made two documentaries on the subject of humanists facing persecution, in particular in the Islamic world. In 2018 he published the book Nieuwe Vrijdenkers (New Freethinkers) on ex-Muslims. In 2020 his new book will be published: ‘On humanism’. In his Miami speech he will answer the question: ‘what keeps free people together’. He is also the Treasurer of Humanists International.


 

Anya Overmann

Anya Overmann is President of Young Humanists International and has held multiple roles in the American Ethical Union, specifically in the youth section. She was raised in the Ethical Culture movement and attended the Ethical Society of St. Louis since she was a young child.
Anya received her Bachelor’s degree in Communication from Truman State University and is a freelancing writer currently living as a digital nomad. Her passion lies in advocating vigorously for humanist and progressive values both within and beyond the United States.

Debbie Goddard

Debbie Goddard has over two decades of experience as an organizer and activist. She became involved with the secular movement as a college student in 2000 and attended atheist, freethinker, humanist, and skeptic group meetings in Philadelphia, New York City, New Jersey, and central Pennsylvania. Her involvement increased over time: she served on local advisory boards, started a student group, edited a monthly campus freethought email newsletter, and held a work-study position at the Center for Inquiry’s office in Rockefeller Center. In 2002, she was recognized in a Beliefnet “Godless Who’s Who” list as “The Student Activist” and in the Washington Blade as an “out” nonbeliever.

She began working in the Department of Campus & Community Programs at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, NY, in 2006. After serving as a field organizer and as campus outreach coordinator, she became Outreach Director in 2012 and managed CFI’s U.S. branches and the international student outreach program. She also directed African Americans for Humanism. In 2012, she led a notable billboard and ad campaign featuring black atheists, and in 2009, she coordinated an international campaign highlighting blasphemy laws and free expression. Additionally, she was the lead organizer for the Women in Secularism 4 conference and the annual CFI Leadership Conference.

Debbie is also engaged in LGBTQ activism, civil rights work, and training new organizers in her community. She facilitates workshops and gives presentations on campaign-building, evidence-based activism, diversity and outreach, group organizing, humanism and politics, and other topics for community groups, campus groups, and national conferences across North America.

Kristin Mile

Kristin Mile is a lawyer and civil servant. She worked for the Directorate of the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority and the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration before being hired by the Norwegian Gender Equality Ombud in 1995. She headed this organisation from 2000 to 2005, and in 2006 was appointed secretary-general of the Norwegian Humanist Association, Human-Etisk Forbund, serving in this role for twelve years. Kristin is now working for the Council for Religious and Life Stance Communities.


 

Leo Igwe

Leo Igwe is both a scholar and an activist. He holds a B.Phil and an M.A in philosophy from Seat of Wisdom Seminary Owerri and University of Calabar in Nigeria and a doctoral degree in religious studies from the University of Bayreuth in Germany. Before embarking on an academic study of religion, Igwe founded the Nigerian Humanist Movement(now the Humanist Association of Nigeria) and worked for some years for the International Humanist and Ethical Union in the UK and the Center for Inquiry in the US. He was a guest professor (Winter Semester 2018/2019) at the Catholic University of Applied Sciences in Munich, Germany. He has research interest in witchcraft, religion and atheism in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia. At the moment, Igwe devotes his time to campaigning for the release of the detained Nigerian Humanist, Mubarak Bala, working to eradicate witch persecution and fostering critical thinking in schools

Roslyn Mould

Roslyn Mould has been a member of the Humanist Association of Ghana since it was founded in 2012. She was Secretary and Chair of the Young Humanists International African Working Group from 2014 to 2019. She has been Organizing Secretary, President and Council Member of the Humanist Association of Ghana from 2015 to 2019. As President of Humanist Association of Ghana she helped to build the young group to become the umbrella organization for non-religious groups in Ghana and the biggest allies to the LGBTI+ community and feminist movement in Ghana. She was recently elected Coordinator for the West African Humanist Network. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Modern Languages.


 

Uttam Niraula

Mr. Uttam Niraula is a founder of Society for Humanism (SOCH) Nepal. Executive Director of SOCH Nepal. He has formed an alliance against improper customary practices in 31 districts of Nepal. He also runs a Humanist High school in Nepal with about 600 students. He is a journalist and small businessman too. He served IHEYO (International Humanist and Ethical Youth Organisation) as a vice president and communication officer in the past.


 

David Pineda

Founder and president of Humanistas Guatemala, formerly know as Asociación Guatemalteca de Humanistas Seculares (AGHS), he is an engineer and entrepreneur. David started questioning his catholic upbringing since his early teen years, and finally gave up all supernatural beliefs at age 19 while studying science subjects in college. In 2012 he started working with a small group to eventually found Guatemala Humanists. He loves nature, reading and snakes. He believes in human solidarity and the exchange of ideas. He works to make a positive change in the world.


 

Staff

Staff can be reached via our Contact page.

Gary McLelland

Gary joined Humanists International in February 2017. Before this he worked for the Humanist Society Scotland since 2013 as Head of Communications and Public Affairs. He has also previously served as a Board member of the European Humanist Federation based in Brussels, as well as a board member of the Scottish Joint Committee on Religious and Moral Education.

Before working in Humanist campaigning, Gary worked for a global citizenship project at the Mercy Corps European headquarters in Edinburgh, and also in policy and service delivery in education and social work.

He has a BSc (hons) in psychology, a diploma in childhood and youth studies and master’s in human rights law, in which he researched the approach of the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations’ approach to so-called ‘blasphemy laws’.


 

Elizabeth O’Casey

Elizabeth started as Director of Advocacy in January 2016, after two years heading Humanists International’s delegation to the UN in Geneva. She focuses her work on the rights to freedom of thought, belief, and expression, non-discrimination and LGBTI rights, sexual and reproductive rights, the rights of the child and the rights of women, particularly in relation to religious, traditional and cultural laws and practices.

Elizabeth manages Humanists International’s advocacy work at a number of institutions, including at the UN in Geneva, New York and Paris, the Council of Europe, European Union, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Organisation of American States, and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). She also does human rights training sessions for politicians, diplomats and officials.

Elizabeth is: a member of the OSCE Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief; a Member of the Global Steering Committee of the UN Fez Process; and a member of the Advisory Board for the EU’s Global Exchange on Religion in Society. She is also Vice Chair of the UN NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief (in Geneva), an International Patron for the Pink Triangle Trust and an International Advisor at the Raif Badawi Foundation.

She has a PhD in International Political Theory from the London School of Economics, where she was a Michael Leifer Scholar. She has spent time as a Global Justice fellow at Yale University, served in various policy and advocacy positions in the UK and EU, and has worked as a consultant on sexual and reproductive health and rights. She is based in Brussels.


Emma Wadsworth-Jones

Emma joined Humanists International as its first Humanists at Risk Coordinator in April 2020. She is responsible for managing Humanists International’s casework and campaigning activities on behalf of humanists at risk, working in coordination with the rest of the team and our members and partners.

Before joining Humanists International, Emma gained more than seven years’ experience in casework and campaigning across Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East at PEN International.

She holds an MA in Psychology and Spanish, an MSc in Comparative Politics (Latin America), and is currently studying for a Post-Graduate Certificate in Human Rights.

Giovanni Gaetani

Giovanni joined Humanists International in January 2017, first as Growth & Development Officer and then as International Development Manager. Since 2019 he oversees the whole Growth & Development Plan of Humanists International, focusing on the support of the existing Members and Associates, the creation of media and membership resources, the expansion of the humanist network in those areas of the world where Humanists International is underrepresented, etc.

In April 2016 Giovanni obtained a PhD in Philosophy from Rome “Tor Vergata” University with a thesis entitled “If you want to be a philosopher, write novels. The philosophy of Albert Camus”. He has published more than thirty academic papers in English, French, and Italian mainly on the philosophy of Camus and Nietzsche. He has published also many articles on secularism, liberalism, and pluralism in different international revues and blogs.

Before joining the Humanists International, Giovanni worked as a volunteer for the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR). In 2013 he won the UAAR best thesis prize with his work on “Nihilism and Responsibility at the age of God’s death in Nietzsche and Camus”. In 2017 he published his first book on “Atheism and Philosophy without Gibberish” for the Italian publisher “Nessun Dogma”. In 2020 he published his second book: “Against nihilism. The atheist and humanist wager of Sisyphus” for the Italian published “Diogene Multimedia”.


 

Jean Zong

Jean is a Financial Administrator at Humanists International having joined the organisation in July 2019. She oversees the day to day financial and accounting processes at Humanists International, provides support to other staff, and ensures general smooth running of the office.

Before joining Humanists International, Jean gained several years of finance experience working in a variety of industries.

Jean holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from Beijing Technology and Business University, as well as a Master’s degree in Economics and Finance from University of Kent.

Kacem El Ghazzali

Kacem El Ghazzali is a MENA Advocacy and Casework Consultant at Humanists International. He has been representing Humanists International at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva since 2013.

His work focuses on researching, providing information and evaluating strategies relating to cases originating in the MENA region together with the Humanist at Risk coordinator and the rest of the team.

Kacem is also an essayist and a passionate advocate of secularism and humanism. His essays have been published, among others, in Le Monde, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Neue Zürcher Zeitung and The Huffington Post, and he is the co-editor of the secular Arabic/French magazine La Vague Culturelle. In 2018, he was among 30 other personalities named as Swiss of the Year by the Swiss Sunday newspaper SonntagsZeitung.

Lillie Ashworth

Lillie joined Humanists International as Advocacy Officer in April 2020. She supports our human rights advocacy work at the UN Human Rights Council, the Council of Europe (CoE) and the OSCE, with a focus on representing our views at the CoE and OSCE, and supporting our members in engaging with the UN.

Lillie has a masters degree in international law and prior to joining Humanists International she was practising as a solicitor advising in international judicial proceedings. She also has experience volunteering in a legal capacity at the Centre for Women’s Justice (a UK-based charity supporting victims of domestic violence) and the Howard League for Penal Reform (a charity advocating for the rights of people in prison).

Mahalet Tadesse

Mahalet is a Research & Campaigns Consultant at Humanists International, where she will get an insight and assist the organization in its efforts to campaign on humanist issues. She joined the team in February 2020 as an intern.

Before joining Humanists International in February 2020, Mahalet was an intern at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where she covered the political and humanitarian situation in Ethiopia, including human rights and governance. She has also interned at different NGOs, including SOS Children’s Villages USA.

Mahalet holds a bachelor’s degree in International Studies from the University of Oslo. She has previously studied Peace and Conflict in Pondicherry, India and Law at American University in Washington D.C., USA.

Tommaso Virgili

Tommaso Virgili is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the WZB-Berlin Social Science Centre, where he works on the project “Modernization Movements and Reform Theology within Islam in Response to the Challenge of Fundamentalism, with a Focus on Islam in Europe and the Countries of the Islamic World”. He received his Ph.D. in Comparative Public Law from Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa (Italy), with a thesis focused on the constitutional rights of homosexuals and freethinkers in Egypt and Tunisia. He is also a Research Associate at the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies and a Visiting Fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy – policy centres based in Brussels.

Volunteer Representatives

United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva Delegation

  • Kacem El Ghazzali

United Nations, New York Delegation

  • Margaretha Jones
  • John Wagner

Council of Europe

  • Renate Bauer
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