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California Freethought Day

Speakers and Distinguished Guests

This year's speakers, our emcee, and other recognized individuals are shown below. But don't forget about this year's Authors and Podcasters and Entertainers.

Speakers

Yvette d'Entremont, "SciBabe"

Yvette d'EntremontYvette was working as an analytical chemist when she launched SciBabe as a side project. What started as a hobby for passion and fun turned into a full time job after a few viral successes.

With an academic background in forensics and toxicology, a sharp BS detector, and a big dose of humor, she's taken her brand of science communication to make science more relatable and accessible in a social media landscape of misinformation.  

Follow her on Instagram and Twitter (@TheSciBabe) and on YouTube (@SciBabeTV).

Sarah Levin, Secular Strategies

Sarah LevinSarah is the founder of Secular Strategies, a consulting firm that is pioneering the mobilization of secularist voters and empowering policymakers, lawmakers, and change-makers to be effective champions of secularism in the United States.

Sarah worked for the Secular Coalition for America from 2013–2019 in various roles, including Director of Grassroots and Community Programs and Director of Governmental Affairs. In 2016, she facilitated the establishment of the first ever Secular Caucus in the Texas Democratic Party and worked with secular Democrats to get three secular policy resolutions incorporated into the party’s platform. Sarah proudly represents the secular community as a Co-Chair on the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) Interfaith Council. She helped to pass a resolution at the DNC in 2019 that expressly welcomes religiously-unaffiliated voters into the party, recognizing their values and historic marginalization.

Prior to joining the Secular Coalition, Sarah completed her AmeriCorps service, serving low-income immigrant and refugee families as a bilingual community liaison at the Greenbrier Learning Center in Arlington, Virginia. She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from American University, where she served on the leadership board of the university’s Secular Student Alliance affiliate.

Follow Sarah on Twitter and Instagram (@sarahmlevin).

Debra Olson, Granddaughter of CA Gov. Culbert Olson

Debra OlsonDebra is the granddaughter of California's atheist governor, Culbert Olson. After leaving office, the governor became the first president of the United Secularists of America.

Debra founded PeaceSolutions.org and TheScienceGovernor.com after graduating Magna cum Laude from UCLA and supporting progressive causes over a decade. She is currently the Chief Innovation Officer of PeaceChannel.com, Senior Advisor for the United Nations Peace Education Day Conference, and serves as the Senior Advisor for The First Annual Education Day Virtual Conference. 

Debra has been recognized by the FFRF for recounting her grandfather's legacy and contributions to freethought in a book she co-authored, The Honorable Culbert Levy Olson: Governor of California 1939-1943, Humanitarian, Ex-Mormon, and Atheist with Dr. Craig West Wilkinson (available on Amazon and Audible).

Follow Debra on Twitter (@DebraDOlson) and Instagram (@debradolson).

Debra will share with us stories about her grandfather, including his devotion to freethought, near the start of our program.

Suzi Bakker, Past President, League of Women Voters of Sacramento County

Suzy BakkerSuzi retired from the California Energy Commission in 2003 after twenty-six years as an energy analyst and advisor. In the spring of 2013, following her retirement, Suzi joined the League of Women Voters of Sacramento County and elected to Board Treasurer shortly afterward.

After serving as treasurer, Suzi was elected Board President in the spring of 2020. During her tenure, she served on a committee studying the Sacramento Police Department’s policing practices in light of recently past legislation establishing California’s standard for peace officer use of deadly force.

Suzi will share what the League learned about law enforcement in Sacramento County and what role community members and organizations can play in making law enforcement accountable, transparent and engaged with the communities they serve.

Follow the LWVSC on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@LWVSacramento).

Emcee

Ian Harris, from "Critical AND Thinking"

Ian HarrisIan is a comedian, director, and podcast host. As a comedian, his act is a fascinating and funny mix of spot-on impressions and clever, cutting-edge comedy that has landed him on Jimmy Kimmel, Comedy Central, and his own TV special, "Critical & Thinking".

His keen grasp of science is evidenced by his satirical, skeptical take on everything from religion to global warming-deniers and beyond and has been compared to Lenny Bruce, Bill Maher, and George Carlin.

The podcast he co-hosts, Critical AND Thinking with Ian Harris and Ty Barnett, discusses political and social issues every week. The show is informative, edgy, politically charged, and features some of the most thought-provoking guests on any show.

Ian has performed for American Atheists, American Humanist Association, the Reason Rally, and has been a regular at DragonCon.

Follow Ian on Twitter (@Comediocre), Instagram (@comediocre1), and YouTube (@ianharriscomedian).

Ian will be emceeing our event and participating in the Authors and Podcasters Panel in the afternoon. He'll also perform standup at the Supporters' Reception.

Award Winners

Karina Quintanilla, Palm Desert City Council

Karina QuintanillaIn 2020, Karina ran for, and won, a seat on the Palm Desert City Council (District 1) with 61% of the vote as a secular candidate. A resident of the Coachella Valley since 1984, Karina has been a member of numerous organizations and served in multiple leadership positions.

After graduating from UC Riverside with a degree in Spanish, Karina pursued her passion for education; she feels fortunate to have worked with students from Kindergarten to PhD programs. At CSUSB and UC Riverside School of Medicine, she was an academic advisor who shared her experiences as a first generation student and increased equity in recruitment and retention for the BSN in Nursing and PhD in Biomedical Sciences, respectively.

Karina is a mother, daughter, sister and aunt, who enjoys hiking, geological research, and passionately advocating for the rights of others. Karina plans to pursue a PhD, studying the impact of environmental pollutants on the equity of education for children in California.

Karina will be accepting an award recognizing her work as a secular elected official.

Mynga Futrell

Mynga FutrellMynga is a retired educator based in Sacramento and co-foundered Freethought Day in 2002.

While working academically and professionally in the field of science education, Mynga has been an activist in the civics and freethought movement. She co-founded the local Atheists and Other Freethinkers (1993) and the Reason Center (2014), and played key roles organizing the city’s annual Darwin Day community celebration.

With her husband, Paul Giesert, she co-founded the nonprofit Brights’ Network as an international online constituency for persons who hold naturalistic worldviews.

Mynga has served briefly on such boards as the American Humanist Association, the Atheist Alliance International, and on the advisory councils of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and California 3Rs.

Mynga will be accepting our award recognizing her lifetime of achievement in the afternoon.

Margaret Downey

Margaret DowneyMargaret has been advancing the secular community, nationwide and here in California, in a variety of unique ways merging her passion for celebration, acting, and bringing people together.

Her first work began in 1993, founding the Freethought Society and the Anti-Discrimination Support Network (ADSN), as well as the Thomas Paine Memorial Committee.

Her work has been published in multiple books and she's represented the nontheist community at several conferences of the United Nations and on NPR's Talk of the Nation, ABC Nightline, PBS, and FOX News.

She has served on the boards of the American Humanist Association, the Humanist Institute, Freedom From Religion Foundation, and the Robert Green Ingersoll Museum, and served as the president of Atheist Alliance International.

In 2007, Margaret began the tradition of the Tree of Knowledge during the winter holiday season, hosted events that celebrate skepticism on Friday the Thirteenth, co-founded San Diego's Secular Day of the Dead, and is the organizer of the yearly Skeptic Parade Entry, part of the DragonCon festivities. And in 2021, along with co-sponsors and star-studded entertainers, Margaret co-founded Mayday for Humanity that raised $25,000 for homeless shelters and food banks.

Margaret will be accepting our award for her community-building efforts in the afternoon.

Bruce Gleason

Bruce GleasonBruce is the founder of the Backyard Skeptics, one of the oldest and largest secular meetups in Southern California. In 2011, he organized a campaign that placed 17 atheist-themed billboards throughout Orange County. His group continues to host monthly debates with local religious leaders and, during the summer, with Ray Comfort at the Huntington Beach pier.

Bruce is also the director of two science-base conferences: Freethought Alliance and LogiCal-LA

Always a curious individual, Bruce dabbled in philosophy, physics and psychology in his twenties and thirties. Through his business, Thumbs Up Productions, Bruce has offered his talent as a video producer to local, state, and national secular events.

Bruce will be accepting our award for his community-building efforts in the afternoon.

Scholarship Winner

Sailor Alfonzo

Sailor AlfonzoSailor is a rising high school senior from Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego, California where she is President and Founder of UNICEF, the Secretary and Event Leader of Science Olympiad, Head of Community Service for CSF, Secretary for NHS, a Peer Counselor, and a Varsity Swimmer.

Her service and commitment to various extracurricular activities shines in her list of scholarships and honorable awards received over the years in fields ranging from academic excellence to athletic recognition. Sailor hopes to have a future career in the healthcare field, while also pursuing creative writing about current social issues in hopes to change society for the better.

Sailor won our Scholarship Essay contest and was one of several winners of our #ScholarshipHaiku contest on TikTok and Twitter. Follower her @sailora17 (on Twitter) and @sailoralfonzo (on TikTok).

Sailor will read her winning pieces at the main event and our reception.