The Heartland Humanist Conference was proud to to have hosted the following speakers at our inaugural conference August 14-16, 2015. You are invited to review the speaker list below along with their bios. The conference planning committee and the Board of Directors of the Omaha Metro Area Humanist Association offers our sincere thanks to each of them for their contributions in making our first conference such a huge success!
2015 Heartland Humanist Conference Speakers
A leading voice for humanism in the United States and abroad, Fred Edwords is recognized as an outstanding lecturer, debater, and teacher on human rights, humanist philosophical issues, and effective outreach techniques for organizations in the community of reason. He has appeared on national and local television in the United States and Canada, has been interviewed on radio and for newspapers around the world, and has lectured in North America, Europe, and India. He has also written for several publications in the United States and elsewhere.
Fred Edwords served for fifteen years as AHA executive director and twelve years as editor of the Humanist magazine before becoming AHA director of communications. He then served as National Director of the United Coalition of Reason for six years and today is the Director of planned giving for the AHA and its Humanist Foundation.
Jason Heap is the Executive Director of United Coalition of Reason and was the applicant to become the first ever Humanist chaplain in the United States armed forces. Jason’s work as an educator for the past ten years has put him positions as a humanist leader. As a teacher of Religious Studies and Philosophy in the United Kingdom, helping students and their families understand that he was a humanist was a challenge by itself but, over time, most people were appreciative that he was able to teach about religion in an objective manner. Jason’s travels around the world have put him in touch first-hand with other religions, such as Daoism, Shintoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism: religions that don’t look toward a theistic being to control life and ethics but rather encourage people to look to themselves for the answer to life’s questions.
Lea Halterman is President of the Iowa Chapter of Compassion and Choices and is a passionate advocate for the work Compassion and Choices does and for the universal right to a choice in when we end our terminal illness. Compassion & Choices is the leading nonprofit organization committed to helping everyone have the best death possible. For over thirty years they have worked to reduce people’s suffering and give them some control in their final days – even when injury or illness takes their voice. They offer free consultation, planning resources, referrals and guidance, and work across the nation to protect and expand people’s options at the end of life. Compassion & Choices works with individuals and allied organizations throughout America to make aid in dying an open, legitimate option recognized throughout the medical field and permitted in all states aross the country.
Howard Katz has been a Board Member of the AHA since 2011 and a Humanist Celebrant for over seven years. Howard has been active with the Americans Civil Liberties Union and was awarded the ACLU of Illinois’ Volunteer of the Year award. He’s a former officer of Illinois National Organization for Women (NOW), board member of the local Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and board member of the Humanists of West Suburban Chicagoland. He’s held multiple public offices and is currently parliamentarian of his County Democratic organization. He’s been a member of the AHA for over 30 years after being introduced to humanism in his 20s.
Ron Knapp, who generally thinks of himself as a “Naturalistic Humanist” is Minister Emeritus of the First Unitarian Church of Omaha having served as Minister there for 20 years. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Central Michigan University, a Masters of Divinity degree from Drew University and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree from Dartmouth College. Ron is the author of three books through Outskirts Press, “Of Life Immense: The Prophetic Vision of Walt Whitman,” “That’s All Right If He’s Really Saved: Sermons from a Liberal Religious Pulpit,” and “Moments: A Memoir.”
Andi Grubb is a Health Educator and staunch advocate for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. For nearly 100 years, Planned Parenthood has promoted a commonsense approach to women’s health and well-being, based on respect for each individual’s right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning. Access to comprehensive sexuality education is a critical part of this mission and the one to which Andi has devoted her effort. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education and Social Sciences from Portland State University in Oregon and has worked to educate young people both internationally and locally.
Paul Knupp is President and Co-Founder of the Humanists of Iowa and holds a Doctor of Education degree from Drake University. From June of 1979 to June of 2006 Paul served as a Minister at various churches and was Ordained at the United Church of Christ in October 1985. In 2013 Paul became an American Humanist Association Certified Humanist Celebrant and in December of 2014 a member of the Association of Professional Chaplains. Paul currently works as a Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, IA and is a supporter of the Autism Society of America.
Clay Farris Naff is a freelance science journalist based in Lincoln, Nebraska, and is the Humanist magazine’s science and religion correspondent. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including his latest, “Free God Now!” Clay is a member of the Board of Directors of Nebraska Citizens for Science (NCFS) which works to educate the public on the nature and importance of science. In particular, it works to foster public support for science education, scientfic research, and the impartial use of science in the formation of public policy. NCFS sponsors the Lincoln Forum on Science and Religion, which meets regularly twice a month at the Bennett-Martin Library for presentations, lectures, and discussions.
Thanks to all for your support of our conference!