The Course of Reason

The Who’s Who of the Student Leadership Conference Attendees

June 13, 2011

An overview of the CFI Student Leadership Conference attendees.

We're a little over a week away from the 2011 CFI Leadership Conference (and it's still not too late to sign-up). By this point, you've probably already seen our sweet list of guest speakers. While I'm excited for their talks, I'm even more excited to meet the students who will be in attendence. CFI affiliates are doing amazing things across the world and being able to interact with them at these conference is always one of the highlights. Here's a brief overview of some of the people you'll want to meet next week in Amherst.

Zack Kopplin: A recent high school graduate, Kopplin is a tireless science advocate in Louisiana. The "Louisiana Science Education Act" was a bill passed by Zack's state legislature in 2008 that brought creationism back into Louisiana schools. He decided to do something about it. Kopplin has led the charge to repeal the act – and he's found some success. The New Orleans city council endorsed the repeal, along with 55,000 petition signers and 43 Nobel Laureates. At the end of May, Kopplin was on Hardball to discuss his experience:



Jessica Ahlquist, Damon Fowler, and Harrison Hopkins: These three high school activists burst onto the national stage this year with establishment clause issues in their schools. Ahlquist has been fighting against a prayer posted in her school, while Hopkins and Fowler tried to keep prayer out of their graduation ceremonies. The three did an "ask me anything" on Reddit about their experiences.

Conrad Hudson of the KU Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics (SOMA): Conrad is the President of Kansas's CFI affiliate group and a newly elected board member of the Secular Student Alliance. This year, his group started a new event – ReasonFest – that brought out hundreds of students for a variety of speakers. The opening debate between Dan Barker and a School of Faith instructor had over 500 in attendance.

Cory Derringer, Stef McGraw, and Aaron Friel of the University of Northern Iowa Freethinkers and Inquirers (UNIFI): Last year's recipients of the Secular Student Alliance's "Best Affiliate" award and CFI's "Best Activism" award, UNIFI returns to the conference this year with three attendees. 2011's Darwin Week event was the most successful of the three the group has hosted as they continue to grow and expand their activities.

Sean and Nicole Gillespie of the Air Capital Skeptics Remember the Rapture Day event that garnered all the press attention? Here's the group responsible for it. Despite being relatively new, the Air Capital Skeptics have quickly become a large and successful On Campus affiliate.

Katie Hartman of Skepticon: Katie is the co-organizer of the Midwest's largest skeptic conference, Skepticon. Last year the event brought in 1000 people and boasted 15 speakers including James Randi. She's already well on her way to planning Skepticon IV in November.

James Croft of The Humanist Graduate Community at Harvard: Croft is the social chair of The Humanist Graduate Community at Harvard, where he is a candidate for an Ed.D in Human Development and Education. He's "an Assistant Editor at The New Humanism and a Contributing Scholar for State of Formation (an interfaith community blog), as well as the creator of Temple of the Future, a website dedicated to reviving and reimagining Humanism for the 21st Century."

These names are just the start. The conference will be full of students with interesting stories and experiences. Don't miss your chance to be a part of it. 


About the Author: Trevor Boeckmann

Trevor Boeckmann's photo

Trevor Boeckmann is an intern at the Center for Inquiry, and a recent graduate in economics from the University of Northern Iowa. Boeckmann served as President of the UNI Freethinkers and Inquirers for two years, and this fall will be attending law school at UCLA.




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