reason for change: leadership conference - july 24-27, 2014 - amherst, ny - cfileadership.org

reason for change: leadership conference - july 24-27, 2014 - amherst, ny - cfileadership.org

If you're a CFI student group leader, or if you're starting a skeptic, secular, or freethought group at your college or high school, we invite you to attend CFI's Leadership Conference July 24–27 at the Center for Inquiry–Transnational.

This year, for the first time, we are also welcoming leaders of affiliated skeptic and freethought community groups to the CFI Leadership Conference. This includes leaders of groups affiliated with the Council for Secular Humanism, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, or the new CFI Network.

The event brings together student and community activists from across North America for four days packed with leadership training, workshops, networking, educational presentations, and more! The program begins on Thursday afternoon and wraps up Sunday at lunchtime.

About the CFI Student Leadership Conference

group photo from 2013 Leadership Conference

Center for Inquiry On Campus promotes and defends reason, science, and freedom of inquiry in education, and is committed to the enhancement of freethought, skepticism, secularism, humanism, philosophical naturalism, rationalism, and atheism on college and high school campuses throughout North America and around the world.

Since 1996, the Center for Inquiry's campus outreach initiative has brought together students and community leaders to train them in outreach, advocacy, activism, and leadership.

The CFI Student Leadership Conference is designed around three main objectives. First, we give student and community leaders the tools and skills necessary to make an impact in their communities. Second, we create an atmosphere where new and experienced leaders can network and establish important connections to other leaders in the movement. Finally, we hope to inspire and energize the attendees and empower them to make real change in the world.

If you are a student leader and would like to attend the CFI Student Leadership Conference, please go to the registration page and fill out the online form. The registration fee does not have to be paid up front, and travel grants are available on a rolling basis to help students attend.  Register now »

Connect with Other Attendees

Planning to attend? Join us on Facebook to connect with the other students and community leaders who are coming, and follow @cfioncampus on Twitter for the latest updates.

Not a Student?

If you are a leader of a CFI-affiliated skeptic or freethought community group, you can register for the conference for the first time this year.

We also encourage leaders who are able to donate to help us provide travel grants to the many student group leaders who are eager to attend but who cannot afford the full cost of travel. If you're interested in sponsoring students from a specific school or region, please contact Debbie Goddard by e-mail or at (716) 636-4869 ext. 421.

Read more about the difference your donation can make and donate now »

Conference Presenters

Conference presenters include Desiree Schell, Edward Tabash, Debbie Goddard, Cody Hashman, Stef McGraw, Ben Cook, Max Nielsen, and more to be announced in the coming weeks.  Read more »

Policies

Policy of the Center for Inquiry on Hostile Conduct/Harassment at Conferences: View policy »

UB’s Summer Conference Guest Guide: View guide (.PDF) »

Location

Center for Inquiry–Transnational
3965 Rensch Rd.
Amherst, NY 14228

Travel to CFI–Transnational

By car: Parking is available at the Center for Inquiry and at the dorms.

By bus or train: We can provide rides to and from the bus and train stations in the Buffalo metro area. Please be in touch with us at oncampus@centerforinquiry.net to arrange shuttle service.

By plane: CFI–Transnational is about 20 minutes away from the Buffalo-Niagara Airport (BUF). If you are flying in, please send your itinerary to oncampus@centerforinquiry.net to be added to our shuttle schedule.

View Google map »

Meals

All meals from Thursday afternoon through lunch on Sunday are included in the cost of registration and take place on the CFI premises. Vegetarian and vegan options are available. If you have other specific dietary requirements or any food allergies, please indicate that on the registration form.

Past Conferences

Learn more about previous years’ CFI Student Leadership Conferences:

Paul Fidalgo is communications director of the Center for Inquiry, and previously led communications for the Secular Coalition for America and FairVote: the Center for Voting and Democracy. He holds a master’s degree in political management from George Washington University, where his master’s thesis was on atheists in American politics. 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 Jessica and children Toby and Phoebe. His personal blog is Near-Earth Object

Paul Fidalgo is communications director of the Center for Inquiry, and previously led communications for the Secular Coalition for America and FairVote: the Center for Voting and Democracy. He holds a master’s degree in political management from George Washington University, where his master’s thesis was on atheists in American politics. 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 Jessica and children Toby and Phoebe. His personal blog is Near-Earth Object

Sergio De Lara has been volunteering and working with several non-profits for almost a decade. These include two organizations which he co-founded, that focus on sustainability and community-building. Growing up in an irreligious household within Catholic Mexico provided him with many interesting experiences and insights. Now in based in Toronto, he is leveraging his experience and expertise to develop the community and advance CFIC’s mission locally and nationally. He is a proud and committed environmentalist, humanist, atheist and feminist.

Sergio De Lara has been volunteering and working with several non-profits for almost a decade. These include two organizations which he co-founded, that focus on sustainability and community-building. Growing up in an irreligious household within Catholic Mexico provided him with many interesting experiences and insights. Now in based in Toronto, he is leveraging his experience and expertise to develop the community and advance CFIC’s mission locally and nationally. He is a proud and committed environmentalist, humanist, atheist and feminist.

Eric Adriaans, a resident of Southwestern Ontario, joined CFI Canada as the National Executive Director in March 2014.  As a charitable sector professional, Eric has worked and volunteered for many of Canada’s best recognized charitable agencies.  Dedicated to lifelong learning, Eric obtained a B.A. (Psychology and English) from Carleton University and is currently enrolled in Athabasca University’s Legislative Drafting and Seneca College’s Paralegal programs.

Eric Adriaans, a resident of Southwestern Ontario, joined CFI Canada as the National Executive Director in March 2014.  As a charitable sector professional, Eric has worked and volunteered for many of Canada’s best recognized charitable agencies.  Dedicated to lifelong learning, Eric obtained a B.A. (Psychology and English) from Carleton University and is currently enrolled in Athabasca University’s Legislative Drafting and Seneca College’s Paralegal programs.

Lindsay Beyerstein is an investigative journalist in Brooklyn, New York. Her reporting has appeared in Slate, The Columbia Journalism Review, Newsweek, Al Jazeera America, The New Republic, and other publications. Her photography has appeared The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times’ City Blog, and other outlets. She is the co-host of Point of Inquiry, a radio show and podcast produced by the Center for Inquiry. She is the lead writer at the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to honoring excellence in socially conscious journalism.

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Marcus Thompson is a senior at Phillips Academy, Andover and a lifelong atheist from Manchester, Massachusetts. At Andover, he is the president of the Democrats Club, Vice President of Model UN, and founder of the Andover Atheist Society, once rejected and still yet to be approved by Andover’s administration. He has led local campaign activities for Senator Elizabeth Warren and interned in her Boston office. Marcus’ interests include politics, history, and international relations. In his free time he enjoys playing squash and listening to classical music.

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Isaiah Smith is a human rights activist and is the founder of the Universal Human and Civil Rights Union (UHCRU), as well as his own political campaign. At 19 years old, he is currently a fully time correctional officer in a Texas prison and is about to start school in the fall as a full time student. He is dedicated to becoming an attorney and a politician in the future. Isaiah has over 80 online news articles about him for standing up for things that he believes in, such as gay rights and the separation of church and state.

Sarah Levin is the Outreach Coordinator at the Secular Coalition for America. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in International Studies at American University, where she served as the self-described “majority whip” for the American University’s Secular Student Alliance affiliate, AU Rationalists and Atheists. She loves to travel and has backpacked solo through eight countries, most recently in Brazil for the World Cup. 

Sarah Levin is the Outreach Coordinator at the Secular Coalition for America. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in International Studies at American University, where she served as the self-described “majority whip” for the American University’s Secular Student Alliance affiliate, AU Rationalists and Atheists. She loves to travel and has backpacked solo through eight countries, most recently in Brazil for the World Cup. 

Jordan Balderas is a recent graduate of North Shore Senior High School in Houston, Texas. The majority of his senior year was spent attempting to start a secular group known as Youth For Truth. He now spends his time preparing the student leaders for the upcoming school year, in order for the group to keep functioning. Once the group grows out of its infancy, he hopes to get the group more involved in activism and humanitarian work. 

Jordan Balderas is a recent graduate of North Shore Senior High School in Houston, Texas. The majority of his senior year was spent attempting to start a secular group known as Youth For Truth. He now spends his time preparing the student leaders for the upcoming school year, in order for the group to keep functioning. Once the group grows out of its infancy, he hopes to get the group more involved in activism and humanitarian work. 

Leighann Lord was the New York City face of the African Americans for Humanism Outreach Campaign sponsored by the Center for Inquiry. She was featured in The Atheist Book: A Better Life by Chris Johnson. Leighann is the co-host of the weekly podcast Skeptiles and can be heard on StarTalk Radio with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Her stand-up has been seen on: Lifetime, VH-1, Comedy Central, HBO & The View and she performed at CFI’s Women in Secularism III.
Curious? Want to learn more? Visit cfileadership.org to find out about our conference for leaders in the skeptic and freethought movements, taking place July 24-27, 2014.

Leighann Lord was the New York City face of the African Americans for Humanism Outreach Campaign sponsored by the Center for Inquiry. She was featured in The Atheist Book: A Better Life by Chris Johnson. Leighann is the co-host of the weekly podcast Skeptiles and can be heard on StarTalk Radio with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Her stand-up has been seen on: Lifetime, VH-1, Comedy Central, HBO & The View and she performed at CFI’s Women in Secularism III.

Curious? Want to learn more? Visit cfileadership.org to find out about our conference for leaders in the skeptic and freethought movements, taking place July 24-27, 2014.
Michael Cardus has a focused expertise on leadership, organization development and team building, working with a variety of businesses, teams and individuals. He is frequently asked to create pragmatic solutions to address the development of high performance teams, retention of talent, innovation of product and profit streams, interpersonal and intergroup conflict, coaching of leaders, and development of systems to drive trust attracting behaviors and development of skilled knowledge to increase organizational and personal effectiveness. Working primarily with teams and management within these organizations, his role has been to coach, counsel, facilitate and conduct focused group work. He has been involved with CFI Camp Inquiry since 2009, has a love for philosophy and skeptical discourse, and wishes he was taller. 
Curious? Want to learn more? Visit cfileadership.org to find out about our conference for leaders in the skeptic and freethought movements, taking place July 24-27, 2014.

Michael Cardus has a focused expertise on leadership, organization development and team building, working with a variety of businesses, teams and individuals. He is frequently asked to create pragmatic solutions to address the development of high performance teams, retention of talent, innovation of product and profit streams, interpersonal and intergroup conflict, coaching of leaders, and development of systems to drive trust attracting behaviors and development of skilled knowledge to increase organizational and personal effectiveness. Working primarily with teams and management within these organizations, his role has been to coach, counsel, facilitate and conduct focused group work. He has been involved with CFI Camp Inquiry since 2009, has a love for philosophy and skeptical discourse, and wishes he was taller. 

Curious? Want to learn more? Visit cfileadership.org to find out about our conference for leaders in the skeptic and freethought movements, taking place July 24-27, 2014.
Jennifer Beahan is Assistant Director of CFI–Michigan. She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of CFI–Michigan and is working to build a secular community throughout Michigan. Her interests include volunteer management, program development and evaluation, secular activism, and women’s rights. She holds a Bachelor’s of Music Education (K-12), and in addition to her work for CFI she teaches private music lessons on piano and woodwinds. Prior to being hired as the Assistant Director, Jennifer volunteered at CFI-Michigan for 4 years and was the editor of a quarterly newsletter, assisted in Long-Term planning and founded several ongoing programs at CFI–Michigan.
Curious? Want to learn more? Visit cfileadership.org to find out about our conference for leaders in the skeptic and freethought movements, taking place July 24-27, 2014.

Jennifer Beahan is Assistant Director of CFI–Michigan. She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of CFI–Michigan and is working to build a secular community throughout Michigan. Her interests include volunteer management, program development and evaluation, secular activism, and women’s rights. She holds a Bachelor’s of Music Education (K-12), and in addition to her work for CFI she teaches private music lessons on piano and woodwinds. Prior to being hired as the Assistant Director, Jennifer volunteered at CFI-Michigan for 4 years and was the editor of a quarterly newsletter, assisted in Long-Term planning and founded several ongoing programs at CFI–Michigan.

Curious? Want to learn more? Visit cfileadership.org to find out about our conference for leaders in the skeptic and freethought movements, taking place July 24-27, 2014.

The Leadership Conference begins on Thursday, July 24 around 4:00pm and ends on Sunday, July 27 around 1:00pm.

Some of the featured workshops and presentations include:

  • Gaining Political Clout on Your Campus, a presentation by Sarah Levin
  • I Had Malaria and So Can You: Secular Service and You, a presentation by Ben Blanchard
    "For a year The Pathfinders traveled doing work in developing countries as atheists. Through 8 countries and 10 projects, they paved the way for a new form of service in the secular community. Learn about secular service, how it affects you, and how you can benefit."
  • High School Activism, a panel discussion with Jordan Balderas and Isaiah Smith, moderated by Max Nielson
  • Campus & Community, a panel discussion with Jennifer Beahan, Jesse Markus, and Benjamin Cook
  • Skeptical Activism Workshop with Desiree Schell
  • Political Advocacy Workshop with Michael De Dora
  • Live Forever: How to Make Succession Planning a Priority, a presentation by Stef McGraw
    Running a group is great, but even better is making sure the group lives to see the days past its original leadership. This presentation will explain the how’s and why’s of effective succession planning.”
  • Taking Your Group to the Next Level, a presentation by Cody Hashman
  • Protests: How and Why, a presentation by Max Nielson
  • How to Throw a Big Event, a presentation by Julie Mankowski and Will Bonnett
  • Developing an Online Presence, a workshop with Sarah Kaiser
  • The Science of Change, a presentation by Debbie Goddard
  • The Scope of Humanism, a presentation by Ron Lindsay

There will also be an optional Secular Celebrant Training available on July 24 from 9:00am until 4:00pm before the conference beings.

Curious? Want to learn more? Visit cfileadership.org to find out about our conference for leaders in the skeptic and freethought movements, taking place July 24-27, 2014.
Curious? Want to learn more? Visit cfileadership.org to find out about our conference for leaders in the skeptic and freethought movements, taking place July 24-27, 2014.
Curious? Want to learn more? Visit cfileadership.org to find out about our conference for leaders in the skeptic and freethought movements, taking place July 24-27, 2014.
James Croft is a Humanist activist and public speaker who has swiftly become one of the best-known new faces in Humanism today. He is a graduate of the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard, and is currently studying for his Doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  As a leader in training in the Ethical Culture movement – a national movement of Humanist congregations – he is an in-demand public speaker, an engaging teacher, and a passionate activist for human rights. James was raised on Shakespeare, Sagan and Star Trek, and is a proud, gay Humanist. His upcoming book “The Godless Congregation”, co-authored with New York Times bestselling author Greg Epstein, is being published by Simon & Schuster.

James Croft is a Humanist activist and public speaker who has swiftly become one of the best-known new faces in Humanism today. He is a graduate of the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard, and is currently studying for his Doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  As a leader in training in the Ethical Culture movement – a national movement of Humanist congregations – he is an in-demand public speaker, an engaging teacher, and a passionate activist for human rights. James was raised on Shakespeare, Sagan and Star Trek, and is a proud, gay Humanist. His upcoming book “The Godless Congregation”, co-authored with New York Times bestselling author Greg Epstein, is being published by Simon & Schuster.

Jesse Markus is a board member of the Center For Inquiry–Portland. Along with Sarah Kaiser of CFI–Western New York, he helps coordinate the Freethought Books Project, which sends secular literature to freethinkers in prison. He currently studies linguistics at Portland State University. 

Jesse Markus is a board member of the Center For Inquiry–Portland. Along with Sarah Kaiser of CFI–Western New York, he helps coordinate the Freethought Books Project, which sends secular literature to freethinkers in prison. He currently studies linguistics at Portland State University.