F.A.Q: The CFI/Dawkins Foundation Merger
The Center for Inquiry is merging with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. Here are some answers to a few of the questions we think supporters of both organizations might have. You can also read our press release about the merger here, and a message from Ron Lindsay to CFI’s supporters.
Why is the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science merging with the Center for Inquiry?
Quite simply, CFI and RDFRS have similar objectives and it makes eminent good sense to combine their resources. CFI’s stated mission is to foster a secular society based on reason, science, and humanist values, and RDFRS shares that goal. And CFI shares the stated mission of RDFRS: to remove the influence of religion in science education and public policy and eliminate the stigma that surrounds atheism and non-belief. To put it another way, both organizations seek to make the world a better place for everyone by advocating for science and reason over faith and pseudoscience in all areas of public life, by defending the rights and equality of nonbelievers, and by exemplifying and acting on the values of humanism.
While sharing common goals, both organizations bring to this merger a dynamic mix of different strengths and abilities for achieving those goals. The Center for Inquiry carries with it a rich institutional history, a global network of branches and affiliates, and a vast well of knowledge and expertise in several fields, including science, public policy, philosophy, grassroots action, community building, international activism, political lobbying, and paranormal investigation. The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science brings to the table the unmatched global renown and intellect of one of the preeminent minds of our time, as well as the Foundation’s record of passionate advocacy, creative and groundbreaking initiatives and campaigns, and considerable multimedia savvy.
Rather importantly, it also comes with the intellect, talent, and record of accomplishment in the person of Robyn Blumner, who will lead the combined organizations as CEO.
By combining their talent, brainpower, and resources, they now become the largest freethought organization in the United States. As a result of this merger, they will have greater success in advancing their shared mission.
What will the structure of the CFI/RDFRS merger be? Is one organization “taking over” the other?
This is absolutely not a takeover. This is a merger of two organizations, a joining of equals, though the combined organization will bear the name of the Center for Inquiry. The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science will continue as a division of CFI, as active and vital as ever.
What will be Richard Dawkins’ role within CFI?
Prof. Richard Dawkins will join CFI’s board of directors, chaired currently by Edward Tabash. (See who else is on CFI’s board of directors.) He will also of course be an invaluable source of wisdom, guidance, and the generation of new ideas. Prof. Dawkins and CFI have a long history of mutual respect and collaboration, and this new association is one that all parties are excited to explore.
Does Richard Dawkins now speak for CFI?
There will absolutely be times when Prof. Dawkins explicitly represents CFI as a member of its board and as founder of the foundation that bears his name. But like all of CFI’s staff, board, and volunteers, Prof. Dawkins is his own person, who can and will speak for himself. His views are his own, unless he is specifically serving as a spokesperson for CFI. As someone who is easily one of the world’s most skilled and eloquent communicators of science and secularism, CFI will be honored and delighted to have him represent the organization at those times. CFI’s primary spokesperson will of course be its CEO, Robyn Blumner.
Why is Ron Lindsay stepping down?
The Center for Inquiry has been extremely fortunate to have a leader like Ronald A. Lindsay in the role of President and CEO since 2008. Ron believes deeply in the mission of CFI, and has stated publicly on several occasions that he wants very much for CFI to continue on as a strong and healthy organization well into the future. To ensure that this is so, Ron believes it is important that no single figure be seen to embody all that CFI is, and that after eight years as president and CEO, the time had come for a new person to lead the organization and bring it into the next decade. Ron is doing all he can to ensure a smooth and successful transition of leadership to Robyn Blumner, and he will be a valued friend and resource for CFI for many years to come.
Why did CFI choose Robyn Blumner as CEO?
Robyn is a brilliant and passionate advocate for science, reason, and humanist values, with deep experience and expertise as an activist, lawyer, and journalist. She is a proven and effective leader of major nonprofits, having run two state affiliates of the ACLU and the RDFRS to great success and wide acclaim. She is also a respected journalist, having spent 16 years as a nationally syndicated columnist with the Tampa Bay Times. There is no person better prepared or better qualified to lead CFI, and we are eager for the wider freethought community to hear more from her and get to know her even better.
What happens now that the two groups have agreed to merge?
CFI and RDFRS will begin working as one unified organization immediately, as of this announcement, with Robyn Blumner serving as CEO, and Ron Lindsay maintaining the title of President for a brief period during the transition. There are, as always, several regulatory boxes to check and legal procedures that will need to be satisfied, but the merger will likely be legally formalized by the late spring of 2016. But as far as day-to-day work and activities of the two organizations are concerned, the Center for Inquiry and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science are now operating as one.
Where will the merged organization be located?
The new CFI will continue to be headquartered in Amherst, New York, where most of its employees are located. Both RDFRS and CFI maintained Washington, D.C. offices prior to the merger and will continue to have a prominent presence in Washington, D.C., with the staff of those offices being consolidated in due course. Robyn Blumner will be based in D.C., with frequent trips to Amherst.