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California Freethought Day

Sunday, October 15, 2017

California State Capitol Building



Sikivu Hutchinson, Ph.D.

Sikivu HutchinsonSikivu is an educator and writer.  She received her doctorate from New York University and is the author of Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles (2003), Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars (2011), Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels (2013) and the novel White Nights, Black Paradise (2015), on Peoples Temple and the 1978 Jonestown massacre. 

She also wrote, directed and produced a short film of White Nights, Black Paradise and is currently working on a stage adaptation.

She has contributed chapters to The Oxford Handbook of Secularism and Gender and Planning from Rutgers University and her articles have been published in the Washington Post, the Huffington PostReligion DispatchesThe Humanist Magazine and the L.A. Times

She is a contributing editor for The Feminist Wire and the founder of the Women’s Leadership Project, a feminist mentoring program for girls of color in South L.A.  In 2016, she was invited by the State Department to present her work in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Limpopo, South Africa and was also a keynote speaker at the Mandela and Kathrada Foundations’ Anti-Racism Network conference.

Her forthcoming novel Rock n’ Roll Heretic: The Life and Times of Rory Tharpe, is due in 2018. Find her on Twitter @sikivuhutch or visit her website.

Sikivu will be our first speaker, just after opening remarks at noon.

David Tamayo

David TamayoDavid is the founder and president of Hispanic American Freethinkers, the first and only national organization of its kind. David was also the Vice President of the Reason Rally Coalition, and has an extensive background in the support and growth of the secular movement.

He has an MS in Information Technology from the University of Virginia, and is the CIO for a large aerospace engineering company in Washington D.C, and was a sponsor of the Langley High Shool Cybersecurity Team that competed in the U.S. Air Force's National CyberPatriot Competition.

David is currently working on a documentary about Latino beliefs in the United States.

Watch his interviews with August Brunsman and Matt Dillahunty, both on YouTube.

Hear his interview with Thomas Smith at Serious Inquiries Only.

David will be speaking in the early afternoon.

Larry Decker

Larry DeckerLarry joined the Secular Coalition for America as its Executive Director in December 2015. Larry has spent two decades in Washington, D.C. as a government relations professional in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Larry spent nearly eight years at the national headquarters of the American Red Cross where he served in two critical leadership roles, first as the Senior Director of Congressional Affairs, where he managed a team of government relations professionals.  He then took on the role of Director of Government Operations, where his unit was responsible for all operational relationships between the American Red Cross and Federal government agencies and state and local emergency management agencies.

A native of Upstate New York, Larry graduated from Ithaca College, where he received his B.A., magna cum laude. In his spare time, he enjoys volunteering as an EMT in suburban Maryland. He resides in Washington, D.C.

Larry will take the stage for his primary speech in the mid-afternoon when he will also introduce Rep. Athena Salman. In addition, Larry will join us as we recognize Dr. Richard Pan at 11:30 AM, and Larry is hosting a workshop during Leadership Day.

David Smalley

David SmalleyDavid is a podcast host, speaker, activist, author, and comedian, combining his love for entertainment and media with his passion for skepticism, truth, and equality, by starting Dogma Debate, a podcast focused on educating the public with humor and unique, respectful discussions.

David has appeared on The Adam Carolla Show, Mohr Stories with Jay Mohr, CNN, FOX, NewsMaxTV, and many radio shows and podcasts, encouraging humanism and extending peaceful and respectful challenges to dogmatic claims.

With 15 years as a media producer, 18 years as a live performer, and his fascinating past as a former Evangelical Christian, he is now an atheist with a unique take on biblical and political topics.

He and his team have raised over $300,000 for charity in the last 3 years through his annual 24-Hour Broadcast and other events.

David will be closing out Freethought Day with his speech at 5:00 PM.

Jessica Xiao

Jessica XiaoJessica is a Washington, DC-based writer, interested in activist culture, radical vulnerability, feminism, race and identity, mass incarceration, and climate injustice.

You can find her work at Everyday Feminism, The Establishment, Huffington Post,, and Medium. She is the Prison Book Club Coordinator at Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop, a nonprofit serving incarcerated youth tried as adults.

From 2015 to 2016, Jessica was the Projects Assistant at the American Humanist Association, Operations Manager at Humanist Press, and Assistant Editor at She is Co-Chair of the Feminist Humanist Alliance.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science in Economics and Psychology from McGill University. You can find her on Twitter @jexxicuh.

Hear her interview with Thomas Smith at Serious Inquiries Only.

Jessica takes the stage shortly after noon.

Special Guests

Ryan Bell, Emcee

Ryan BellIn 2013 Ryan Bell left a 19-year career as a Seventh Day Adventist pastor due to theological and practical differences with the denomination and his own changing beliefs. In 2014, Ryan launched a blog called A Year Without God which chronicled his experience of leaving his faith behind and living for a year as an atheist. A Year Without God has been covered by CNN, the BBC, The Los Angeles Times, NPR and the Huffington Post, among others.  

Ryan is currently the National Organizing Manager at Secular Student Alliance and an educator, writer, and speaker on the topic of religion, irreligion, and humanism in America. He is also the founder of Life After God and the host of the Life After God podcast, which you can find at

Sen. Richard Pan (CA)

Richard PanRichard is a pediatrician, former UC Davis educator, and State Senator proudly representing Sacramento, West Sacramento, Elk Grove and unincorporated areas of Sacramento County.  He chairs the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, the Committee on Public Employment and Retirement and the Senate Select Committees on Children with Special Needs and on Asian Pacific Islander Affairs.

TIME magazine called Dr. Pan a “hero” when he authored landmark legislation to abolish non-medical exemptions to legally required vaccines for school students, thereby restoring community immunity from preventable contagions. And it is for this reason that California Freethought Day is proud to award Dr. Pan our first-ever award for public service.

The CFD Committee, with Larry Decker of the Secular Coalition for America, will present Richard with an award at 11:30 AM.

Rep. Athena Salman (AZ)

Athena SalmanAs a native Arizonan, community organizer, and progressive leader, Arizona State Representative Athena has worked to strengthen the fabric of communities in her home state. She was presented with the City of Tempe’s MLK Diversity Award for her experience advocating for women, working families, students, children, and immigrants.

Athena graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University with degrees in Economics and Political Science. In light of severe budget cuts by the Arizona legislature, she organized hundreds of students to advocate for higher education. She has worked on successful campaigns to expand Latino voter engagement, increasing voter turnout by nearly 500%. She served as a union shop steward, worked in nonprofits to expand opportunities for girls, and in the public sector to build support for early childhood development. She also has worked on national healthcare and higher education policy.  

Currently, Rep. Salman is the only openly atheist female state legislator in the country. She represents the 26th Legislative District, which comprises Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix and the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community.

Follow Representative Salman on facebook and twitter.

Athena will join Larry Decker and Juan Mendez on stage in the mid-afternoon, and is hosting a workshop on running for office during Leadership Day.

Sen. Juan Mendez (AZ)

Juan MendezJuan is a first generation American and a native Arizonan. Having lived across Maricopa County he attended Tolleson Union High School, received his associate degree from Phoenix College, then graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Justice Studies from ASU.

Elected to the State House of Representatives in 2012, Juan represents district 26 which includes north Tempe, northwest Mesa, some of South Phoenix and the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community.

Before running for office Juan ran the local nonprofit program Arizona Community Voicemail, connecting the homeless and economically vulnerable to jobs, housing, and hope. Today when he isn't at the legislature or in the community he is a substitute high school teacher for the Tempe and Mesa school districts.

Juan will join Larry Decker and Athena Salman on stage in the mid-afternoon.

Joshua Brown

Joshua BrownLiving in Redding, CA, Joshua plans to run for mayor when he turns 18 (he's 13 now). After demonstrating his civic right to lobby on the issues he cares about (including single-payer healthcare, homelessness, and minimum wage), he was sent a cease-and-desist letter by Rep. Dog LaMalfa's staff from the D.C. office.

Then in May, Joshua earned the empathy of the non-religious community when a staffer of LaMalfa wandered into a conversation on his Facebook wall about the separation of church and state. After mentioning that he was not religious, Brenda Lee Haynes posted, "So the good news is you've at least identified your problem. Now you can begin to fix things. Good luck."

We look forward to recognizing Joshua at the event.

We will recognize Joshua in the mid-afternoon.

Community Panel

Our Community panel will share the stage in the mid-afternoon, introduce themselves and their organization, and answer questions from the audience.

United Coalition of Reason (UnitedCoR)

A representative of the United Coalition of Reason will be attending the Community Panel. UnitedCoR promotes science and reason, nurturing unity and developing cooperation within local communities. They donate time, resources and cutting edge technology to help a variety of local nontheistic groups grow their presence, expand their outreach and present a positive face for nontheism by doing good together.