Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees of The Humanist Community of Central Ohio (HCCO) are elected by the membership to direct and program the day to day operation of the group. Also assisting the group and the Board is our Director of Programing. Feel free to meet them and ask questions at an HCCO sponsored event, through our contact page, our group Facebook page, or on Twitter.
Jeff Dubin, President
Like most Humanists, Jeff was one long before he knew what the word meant. Today, he understands it as incorporating human-based ethics, reason-based epistemology, politics, environmental concern, interest in the arts, and valuing community. Here's the concise "elevator speech" with which he's become pretty content: "Humanism = compassion + reason."
Jeff has a degree in Psychology from Earlham College, and a Master of Social Work from OSU. He works full time as a clinical social worker, mainly with clients who have severe mental illnesses. He likes to read books and news, critically discuss politics and philosophy, go to the gym, and spend time outdoors.
He has served on the HCCO board for numerous years, in addition to involvement in Students For Freethought and the Secular Student Alliance, and attends local Humanist and freethought events whenever his schedule allows.
Agnes Vishnevkin, Vice President
Agnes was born in the former Soviet Union, where the government frowned upon religion and being Jewish had more to do with avoiding serving as a target for discrimination than believing in god or attending a synagogue. When Agnes was 12, her family immigrated to the United States and settled in Brooklyn, New York. Finally free to learn about and practice Judaism, Agnes decided she did not need to bring god into her life to be a good person.
Agnes became involved with HCCO in 2012, soon after she moved to Columbus, and she hopes to help HCCO become a stronger organization. Agnes has over 10 years of nonprofit experience, including development, grantmaking, strategic planning, operations, and social enterprise. Currently she is a consultant helping nonprofits get more out of their database systems and streamline their operations. Agnes holds a BS in Public Affairs from Baruch College and an MBA in Nonprofit Management from Brandeis University. She is a member of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus.
In her free time, Agnes enjoys spending time with family and friends, exploring the trails of Columbus parks, and practicing self-reflection.
August Brunsman, Secretary
August Brunsman is the executive director of the Secular Student Alliance. He has served in that position since 2001, and started getting paid for it in 2004. He also worked as a programmer for the Institute for Humanist Studies from 2001 to 2004. In 1997 he co-founded Students for Freethought at the Ohio State University (now SSA @ OSU). He graduated from OSU Phi Beta Kappa in 2001 majoring in psychology and minoring in mathematics and cognitive science.
In his spare time, August enjoys painting, drawing, cycling, gardening, cooking, programming, and hanging out with his wife and two cats.
DJ Gregor, Treasurer
DJ is a self-described geeky nerd that enjoys helping to build and run the Humanist Community in his spare time. By day he's a computer geek and in his off hours he enjoys working on open source computer software, tending to a small but growing vegetable garden (when in season and Sharon lets him), and working on the endless stream of projects that comes with an old house. He holds a bachelors degree from The Ohio State University in economics.
Doug discovered there was a label for his worldview when he found HCCO in 1995. He has been a member of HCCO since then as well as serving on the Board several times and holding just about every elected office. He was President in 2001 and 2002. Doug served as assistant newsletter editor from 1997-1999 and editor in 1996 and then again 2000-2007.
In his spare time Doug likes to write. He edits and contributes to several blogs including Secular Left, iHumanism, Doug’s Views, and Review Geek. Because he does these blogs and noodles on the computer, he is very pale and lacks many friends. (Just kidding….)
Dan began his adult life as a spirit filled fundamental bible believing Christian having been "saved" at the age of 14 years of age. Becoming convinced that life centered on "right doctrine" and "a passion for the lost" he was very active in youth ministry and campus ministry during college. While serving in the US Navy Dan focused on living as a witness to his faith. Reporting to the Sub Base Chaplain for training he conducted the protestant church services when out to sea.
After the military Dan continued to serve actively in ministry and eventually stepped out in 'faith' to participate as the pastor of a Calvary Chapel church plant on the NW side of Columbus. A little over three years into the effort the adventure came to an end due to financial problems.
While Dan remained a Christian for several more years after this, even serving in another local area church as home group leader, it was during this time that he began to study and question things in a way he had never questioned before. Beginning a very emotional and terrifying journey of doubt he eventually found the Clergy project which is a safe haven for active and former clergy who no longer hold supernatural beliefs.
Dan now facilitates the Recovering from Religion chapter here in Columbus and is very excited about helping HCCO reach out to the community with the message of Humanism. In his spare time he still enjoys the study and discussion of religion, anthropology and philosophy. He also plays at drawing cartoons - www.coffeecomix.com
Michele was raised in a Christian home, growing up in a Baptist Church being extremely active in all areas of the ministry. She served over 20 years within the different ministries: children and youth groups, President of the Ladies Missionary Group, Sunday School teacher and Coordinator of Mother of Preschoolers. After a few years of life changing moments, Michele started to question her faith and belief in a god. Over the last seven years of searching for a group that feels the same way that she does, Michele join HCCO in June of 2012. Being a first year board member Michele is looking forward to what the new year holds.
In her spare time, Michele is working on her Associate Degree from Columbus State Community College and spending time with her husband Darrell and their children Jessica and Josh. Michele and Darrell enjoy visiting the Columbus Zoo and their bi-yearly trips to Gatlinburg Tennessee
After a slow transition from a Southern Baptist upbringing to a science-focused nontheistic humanist view in his teenage years, Jamie Nichols has been a member of HCCO since April 2012. He's also been involved in Columbus Skeptics since 2009. He hosts the social cycling HCCO meetup and the Science Madness events (kid-focused science demonstrations) through the Secular Parenting branch of HCCO. He has volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters for over 5 years. Though professionally a systems performance engineer, he is a science enthusiast in his spare time, making science videos for YouTube and building props for Halloween.
Shauna Strand Sowga
Shauna is a lifelong humanist who has always seen life through the humanist lens. Shauna became involved with HCCO in 2011, and has presented at two monthly programs, one focused on being raised humanist, and the other focused on diversity in the humanist movement. She is a sociologist who has studied food access and inequality, the ethical and social aspects of genetically modified seeds, and religion and religion separatist/extremist movements in the United States, including time spent on Hutterite colonies in South Dakota. She is currently a sociology professor at Columbus State Community College. In her spare time, she likes cycling, reading, and dabbling in perfume and soapmaking. Her goal for her time on the board is to better establish connections between and among members, a "care and concern" support network to assist members in crisis and/or grief.
Derrick's background in teaching and law has given him experience both in critical thinking and in the thoughtful caring needed for effective community building. His interest in being “good without God” and ensuring human rights for LGBT people fit well with HCCO’s goals.
In his earlier work as a board member and president, Derrick helped expand our outreach, diversify our membership, organize operational systems, build our capital and welcome the contributions of other volunteers who have taken HCCO to a new level. Derrick is excited to be back on the board again to help HCCO take advantage of many the opportunities to expand our community and to plan ways to meet the our future needs.
Julia McCain, Director of Programing
Julia became involved with HCCO through Heathen Chicks in the spring of 2011. By the time fall had arrived, she had joined HCCO as the first staff member ever recruited by the organization. Julia focuses on coordinating events, volunteer management, and membership growth.
Julia has worked in the nonprofit sector since 2005 serving in many different capacities. Primarily, she has focused on volunteer management, program development, and creating systems to measure outcomes. She is looking forward to entering her second year with HCCO. Julia is excited to build a vibrant community that serves needs and desires of its members and the community-at-large.
HCCO Board of Trustees hard at work