Every year, Minnesota Atheists nominate and elect board members to serve in leadership roles for our organization. This year, at the January membership meeting. nine atheists were nominated by the membership and await election in February. Nominees for the board are, Bjorn Watland, Jeannette Watland, Grant Steves, Jack Caravela, Andy Flamm, George Kane, Cathy Prody, Crystal Dervetski, and Mike Haubrich. Read the full article to see their candidate statements.
Bjorn Watland — Nominee for President
I'm Bjorn. Despite being the web editor, you've probably seen me offline, either on the cable showor at one of our many events. I work with CASH at the U of MN to serve as a resource to a successful student organization. I also work with the Secular Student Alliance at the national level to make our student groups around the state even more successful.
I have been inspired by the many different kinds of members Minnesota Atheists has attracted.My focus for the next year will be to delegate eager volunteers to run events that interest them, including book clubs, discussion groups, pub nights, and anything else people come up with in order to grow our community. Atheism doesn't have to be a lonely lifestyle.
Jeannette Watland —Nominee for Associate President
I'm Jeannette. You may have seen me at different events over the last few years, such as the pub crawl, blood drive, or membership meetings. I've worked with young special needs children as part of my degree at the U of M and use those skills at Camp Quest of MN as a counselor.
For Minnesota Atheists, I've been working to shrink the generation gap between college age atheists and our membership. I've also worked with the Charitable Works Committee to help our community and to make the image of atheists a positive one. I look forward to participating in community outreach events like speeches, and parades.
Grant Steves — Nominee for ChairIt has been a privilege to serve the MNA community as the Associate Chair. I look forward to the responsibility of being the Chair of the Board.
In the last two years, I have dedicated my time to helping produce cable shows, conducting interviews on the radio show, writing and editing for the Newsletter, and presenting topics at the membership meetings.
As the Chair of MNA, I would like to maintain and develop the organization. We need to continue to expand our membership by using new and creative methods. We need to continue putting into practice our media line: “If you are interested in us; we are interested in you.” In my professional career, I served as the Chair of several school district committees, and as the President and Vice President of the local teacher’s professional group. Being a leader has taught me the importance of listening often and speaking seldom.
Statement from Jack Caravela — Nominee for Associate ChairI served as Treasurer of Minnesota Atheists in 2006 and 2007, choosing to fill a necessary role in its operation while learning more about how it is run. Those years showed significant progress, but the greater growth and innovations of the past year have inspired me to serve again, this time as Associate Chair.
My main interest remains the same: to build membership. The past year has seen new faces, new initiatives and new participants, reminding me how much more we can achieve with greater numbers. Although we have seen a notable increase in ranks of Minnesota Atheists, the growth of subscribers to our Meet-up website has been tremendous. I plan to find ways to encourage more of those who have shown an interest through Meet-up to get involved with Minnesota Atheists and help our organization grow with a diverse mix of people who share the goals of community building and activism in support of secular government and society.
George Kane — Nominee for SecretaryGeorge Francis Kane is running for a second consecutive term as Secretary, an office he has held a total of seven years. He has been a member of Minnesota Atheists for thirteen years, and has served on the Board of Directors for the last eleven. During that time he has been both President and Chair, and has engaged in a variety of outreach beyond the atheist community. He is a regular interviewer on Atheists Talk, both on cable TV and on radio. He was also a frequent interviewer on “Freethought Forum.” He writes the News and Notes column on church/state separation issues for the Minnesota Atheist newsletter. In 2000, George started a Freethought Toastmasters Club in Saint Paul, the second Toastmasters Club in the nation formed especially for the development of Freethinkers. George graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1970 with a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy.
Andy Flamm — Nominee for TreasurerAs the incumbent, I feel confident that I am the best candidate for treasurer in this election. My opponents are all Bozos who lack experience. Heck, they think that just because they can see a bank from their window that they know how to manage the funds of a large and growing organization. If you don't want to see all of Minnesota Atheists' cash go up in smoke, vote for me. And please, let's keep this election positive.
Cathy Prody — Nominee for Director at LargeI am seeking an at-large position on the board, a position I held approximately four years ago, before a job took me to Michigan. I have been a member of Minnesota Atheists for approximately seven years, remaining a member while I was in Michigan. Returning to the Twin Cities after being away for about three years, it has been exciting to see the changes that have occurred with Minnesota Atheists. For example, membership is more diverse, with younger people taking active roles. Also outreach with talk radio, cable and meet-up groups has increased our visibility in a positive way. If elected, I will focus on any legal issues that may arise. I am also interested in maintaining high ethical standards both on the board and with our representation of atheism to the public. I have a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley, and a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law. I am a practicing patent attorney.
Crystal Dervetski — Nominee for Director at LargeHello everyone. I began my membership with MNA in March 2008. Becoming quite active over the last year, I'm truly committed to our motto, “Positive Atheism in Action” through my work and actions. I am a firm proponent of not being passive with our mission, and I advocate anywhere can for our organization.
Currently, I manage the MNA MySpace page, am assistant organizer for the SMNA Meet Up, assist with managing the MNA forum, and am on the Editorial Board. I also had the pleasure of
working on the Atheists Talk TV show for two episodes. I write for the MNA Newsletter and also my local paper. Giving back actively is important to me, so I am very involved in charity work as well. Being an outspoken person, I feel I exemplify the idea that atheists are kind, positive and rational influences. I would do anything I could to assist with the functioning of MNA and keep it as successful as it already is.