Monday, May 05, 2008

Ellen Johnson to Leave Post as President of American Atheists

[from The Board of Directors of American Atheists]

To Members and Supporters of AMERICAN ATHEISTS...

I want to take this opportunity to tell you about some of the important changes now taking place at American Atheists.

Following over 13 years of outstanding service to American Atheists and the cause of State-Church Separation, Ellen Johnson is leaving her post as President of the organization. Her tenure in this position was marked by some of the most amazing and historic events in our movement's history.

She stepped in following the tragic disappearance of our founder, Madalyn Murray O'Hair and her family, and oversaw the relocation of the American Atheist Center and Charles E. Stevens American Atheist Library and Archives (CESAALA) to New Jersey. She organized the Godless Americans March on Washington, and brought together our nation's diverse and sometimes fractious community of Atheists, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and other nonbelievers. She testified twice before the National Commission on Civil Rights, and made hundreds of media appearances on prime time and cable news TV programs. Ellen also mobilized Atheists and other secularists throughout the nation to speak out on the vital First Amendment issues of our time.

And with all of this, she managed to coordinate the hectic daily activities here at the American Atheist Center.

In the spirit of obtaining all that she (and any other Atheist) can from one life the elegant, energetic and outspoken Ms. Johnson will now focus her passions on a new adventure. Just what that might be we do not yet know. We know, however, that it will be something splendid!

Ellen, who will remain on the Board of Directors, is succeeded by long-time member Frank Zindler.

There have been three presidents of American Atheists since its founding over four decades ago -- Madalyn Murray O'Hair; her successor and son, Jon Garth Murray; and since 1995, Ellen Johnson. They left, as the saying goes "big shoes to fill." We are confident that Frank is fully prepared for this new challenging role. He has a distinguished academic career as a former biology professor, linguist and bible-era historian. He has authored numerous books and articles dealing with a wide range of subjects, everything from the alleged historicity of Jesus to the on-going controversy over teaching creationism in our public schools. His tenure as an activist with American Atheists goes back over 30 years. Frank is a nationally-recognized speaker and debater, and has served as an eloquent spokesperson for our organization.

Frank Zindler will serve as President Pro Temp until a suitable replacement for this office is found. The day-to-day operations at the American Atheist Center will continue -- and so will our activism!

Other Officers and Directors will be staying on as well. Dave Silverman, who has done an outstanding job as our Communications Director, will continue to be the "public face" of American Atheists, working closely with Frank to make sure that our message gets out to the media and others who shape public opinion. Board member Edwin Kagin will remain in his important post as National Legal Director. The American Atheist magazine and all of the other benefits of membership will continue. And so will our efforts to represent you in the important fight for state-church separation, Reason and the civil rights of Atheists.

We're hitting the ground running, folks! The baton is passed -- and we'll continue our all-important work.

Thanking you in advance for your support!