Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB) was founded in 2009 in Georgia by Dale McGowan, who envisioned a way for humanists to give to charity by "passing the tithing plate". There's no supernatural power to make this world a better place. It is up to us. Foundation Beyond Belief is humanity at work.
Foundation Beyond Belief seeks to end poverty and hunger, promote good health and well-being, and foster employment opportunities and economic growth by mobilizing individuals and organizations that embrace humanist values.
How We Do It
We Put the 'Human' in Humanism
Foundation Beyond Belief’s vision and mission excited Clare from its inception in 2009 and she has been proud to serve on the FBB Board of Directors since 2012. Clare started her work in secular activism at a Unitarian Universalist church as Chair of the Social Action Committee. From there, involvement in Center for Inquiry Austin lead to a four-year tenure as Executive Director. Her activism centers around community-building and science education. Clare received her Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Entomology at The University of Kansas. A postdoctoral position at The University of Texas brought Clare to Austin in 1997, and she found she just couldn’t leave. She jumped off the “Academia Train” to raise a family. In addition to her social activism, she pursues a career in art.
Janet Heimlich is an award-winning journalist and the founder of the national nonprofit organization, the Child-Friendly Faith Project, which raises awareness of religious child maltreatment. She is the author of Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment, the first book to fully examine the issue of child abuse and neglect enabled by religious belief. Janet has been a freelance reporter for National Public Radio and has written articles for such publications as Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, and the Texas Observer. She has won more than nine journalism awards and honorable mentions, including the regional Katie. In addition, she is a professional copyrighter and website content creator. Janet graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in communications and a minor in English. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her teenage daughter.
Phil Session was born and raised in Texas in two church homes, one Baptist and the other a Free Church of God in Christ. After getting involved with the secular community in 2013, his efforts centered around volunteerism and community service projects. That passion led him to organize and/or attend hundreds of volunteer activities in groups centered around non-belief in Austin and San Antonio. Phil is the volunteer coordinator for the Freethinkers Association of Central Texas and serves as its acting Vice-president. He is also the head organizer/coordinator for Austin Atheists Helping the Homeless and is on the board of Recovering from Religion. Phil previously served as Vice-president and volunteer coordinator for the Atheist Community of Austin, a co-host for The Atheist Experience, producer for Godless Bitches 2.0 and served as a lay leader at the Atheist/Humanist Meeting on Lackland Air Force Base.
Alix Jules is an advocate for social impact and applying innovation for positive human change. He’s authored numerous articles and blogs on inequality, reform, educating and raising children, and sustainable communities. He's been featured in Ebony Magazine, Time Magazine, and quoted in the Oxford Journal of Sociology of Religion on conceptualizing identities. Alix co-founded the largest humanist group in Texas (The Fellowship of Freethought) and has various affiliations with national skeptic organizations, humanist groups, and STEM associations. He's spent most of his professional career in technology enablement, analytics, and research. He’s recently undertaken enabling social entrepreneurs and developing impact strategies with an international team at HEC Paris.
Allie Ashmead is an atheist and humanist who grew up in rural Virginia in the Baptist church, but quickly abandoned religion when she left home for college. She has been in the IT industry for over 25 years and has spent her career doing business analysis, supporting SaaS systems, and building cloud solutions to manage data. She attended her first religious skeptic gathering in 2016, where she became interested in activism and volunteer work. She actively supports Black Nonbelievers, has done volunteer work for Clay County Democrats in Florida, and is currently a member of a local group Palm Coast Atheists. Her hope is to be more actively involved in secular humanist organizations and make a positive impact in the world through social change.
Alice Ashton is a humanist nearing her retirement from the United States Navy and plans to start a new profession in journalism. She is also an intern with the Ask & Tell Project. She has a history of leadership and task management through the military and volunteer work she has done. She left the LDS Church in 1998, but didn’t fully accept her atheism until 2005. She eventually came to accept that she was transgender and came out while serving, being one of only about 1,400 transgender service members serving openly under the current regulations. She worked to mentor younger transgender service members on how to navigate the military healthcare and administrative systems, co-founded a local transgender support group, and aided 15 service members in getting their diagnoses before the new ban took effect. She got involved in Atheist Conventions in 2015 and moved into more social justice oriented activism in 2017. She works to bring a better understanding of all marginalized groups to the general public through elevating those marginalized voices and helping share their stories.
Tif discovered secular Buddhism and humanism at a young age. She believes that we are all part of an interconnected global community, with a collective responsibility towards each other. Through conscious living, compassion, and advocacy, we can make a positive impact on the world around us. Tif has a background in startups and nonprofits, working across multiple industries and causes. She has spent time as a marketing consultant and executive at several early stage startups. She also has experience in various nonprofits, working with both grassroots and management levels. Currently, Tif serves on the Board of Directors for Njiko, a recently-founded nonprofit that advocates for social impact. She has a M.A. in Anthropology from Hunter College and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Global Leadership from Indiana Institute of Technology.
Wendy is a graduate of Yale Divinity School, where she was a founder of an atheist, agnostic, and multifaith community that continues to foster interbelief dialogues and initiatives on campus. She was a Volunteer Coordinator with the Yale Humanist Community. At Foundation Beyond Belief, Wendy spent a year with Pathfinders Project, an international humanist service project designed to find the location to launch Foundation Beyond Belief's own Humanist Action: Ghana. She then served as the Humanist Disaster Recovery Coordinator and Beyond Belief Network Coordinator for FBB, and Humanist Action: Ghana: Ghana Co-Administrator. Wendy is now back in the US and serving as the coordinator of FBB's programs. Wendy writes about religion, humanism, and interbelief engagement primarily for her blog (interbelief.com), State of Formation, and NonProphet Status.
Yvonne administrates and coordinates the Humanist Action: Ghana program Yvonne is a secular humanist/atheist from the Volta Region of Ghana. From an early age, she was driven to expand her knowledge of the world through music, books, and movies. She is still very passionate about music and credits that love for her humanistic perception of the world. After graduating from high school, Yvonne studied graphic design for a year and worked as a secretary for a small company in Accra before taking a short course in child care and working as a nanny in Saudi Arabia. She also spent a year in South Africa working again as a nanny and touring the country. During that time, she joined the Durban Freethinkers of SA, which led naturally to her joining the Humanist Association of Ghana when she moved to Accra a couple of years ago.
Emma Renfrew has spent her career in various roles at nonprofits both large and small, and is thrilled to bring her experience to bear as Development Director with Foundation Beyond Belief. Raised to believe in the tenets of humanism and secular Judaism, Emma feels right at home with the mission of FBB. Emma currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and daughter, though her heart remains in her hometown of Cleveland. In addition to wrangling a headstrong toddler, Emma spends her time reading; hiking the hills of Pittsburgh; learning to sew; and fantasizing about writing the Great American Novel, though her many and diverse talents do not extend to the writing of fiction.
Seráh Blain is a mom, an activist, and a humanist communications expert. With more than 20 years of political and nonprofit communications experience, Seráh has dedicated her career to advancing social justice through public policy and grassroots community organizing. She is currently Partner and Senior Strategist at Spectrum Experience (a humanist brand and PR firm), and a producer and co-host for the Humanist Experience podcast. She has also served on the Board of Directors for the Secular Coalition for Arizona, the Prescott Pride Center, and the Arizona Interfaith Movement. Seráh was the recipient of Foundation Beyond Belief’s Humanist Innovator of the Year Award in 2014.
Eric Zaklukiewicz is a communications professional who has specialized in nonprofit and progressive political advocacy since 2016, often largely working in the sphere of humanistic and secular issues. His work has included fielding writing, design, and other communications needs for clients such as Secular Coalition for Arizona; progressive government affairs firm Fortitude AZ; and humanist public relations firm Spectrum Experience. He is also a past producer of the Humanist Experience podcast featured by FBB. He has assisted in fundraising, communications, field organizing, and PR work for numerous political candidates running on humanist values platforms. Eric is also a creative professional, having cultivated his many of his communications skills studying film, producing music, and working for over a decade as a professional theatre actor.
Leah is an experienced administrative professional and a committed secular humanist from Houston, Texas. She joined the FBB team in 2019 and is excited to be able to use her talents and skills to support a cause she believes in. Leah holds an Associate in Science and would someday like to become a sex educator. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, particularly fantasy and science fiction, crochet, LARP, and spending time with her chosen family.
Chris is a website and software developer who grew up in Grand Haven, Michigan. He has a degree in Computer Science from Grand Valley State University. He is well versed in English, Spanish, and a plethora of programming languages. Chris also serves on the board for Camp Quest Michigan, a humanist residential summer camp for children, and served two years as President of his university’s Center For Inquiry group. He lives in Michigan with his soon-to-be wife and their 3 cats: Ellie, Arya, & Rambo. When he isn’t knee-deep in code, Chris loves to spend his time reading, cooking, and watching Star Trek.