In our January 2021 Call for Submissions, we asked for articles in consideration of “Contemporary Humanism’s Biggest Priorities and Challenges for 2021“. In the United States of America (USA), one of the leading humanist organizations, American Humanist Association has left the gates with a clear indication that the identity of leadership within humanist organizations is a leading priority.
Roy Speckhardt announced that he will be leaving his position as American Humanist Association Executive Director by the fall of 2021
Speckhardt, who joined the American Humanist Association (“AHA”) staff 20 years ago and was appointed Executive Director in 2005, says his decision to open his position for a new voice is the right one for the AHA and the humanist movement.
Speckhardt explained that, “Being at the helm of such an organization as the AHA, whose mission is so critical to our times and whose influence far outstrips its size, was the greatest honor of my life, but I’ve decided it’s time for me to step down and make room for new leadership. It is my emphatic hope that my seat is filled with a Black or Brown humanist because our movement has gone too long without such diversity at the helm and this would open the door for the AHA to truly achieve its potential as a humanist and anti-racist institution.”
Speckhardt oversaw the AHA’s exponential growth and evolution from a small organization focused more on the philosophical aspects of humanism to an advocacy powerhouse with significant access in all levels of government. During his tenure, the organization quadrupled its capacity and membership, and its annual reach grew explosively from thousands previously to millions today. He helped move the organization from a modest townhouse to a statement headquarters building in the heart of the nation’s capital, a venue where the founding members of the Congressional Freethought Caucus gathered to determine its mission. Speckhardt saw the organization achieve many firsts, from seeing humanists and other nontheists named in federal legislation, to launching the movement’s first staffed social justice department, to seeing the first time an AHA staff attorney argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I have gratitude for everything our team, members, and supporters invested. It’s because of you that we were able to achieve successes together,” Speckhardt added. Coming to the AHA after serving six years with the Interfaith Alliance and once appointed the AHA’s Executive Director, Speckhardt made hundreds of public appearances, wrote scores of published articles, and authored the AHA’s primer, Creating Change Through Humanism. His next book, Justice Centered Humanism, will be released in April 2021.
Sunil Panikkath, President of the AHA Board of Directors, praised Speckhardt for his many years of service.
“Roy drove the humanist perspective to new heights of awareness, acceptance, and prominence. He traveled the nation meeting with local leaders and other supporters, regularly defended humanist viewpoints in the media, and assembled a team of professionals ready to make a difference in Washington,” said Panikkath.
Panikkath said that a search is underway to find a new Executive Director for the AHA, which will celebrate its 80th anniversary next year. Speckhardt will remain at the AHA through the transition and will continue to be closely involved as chair of a new AHA Board Committee on Advancement.
“With the help of our chosen executive search firm Professionals For Non Profits, who have posted the position, we are getting started on a thorough, nationwide search to find new leadership for the American Humanist Association, a search that will involve all AHA stakeholders,” said Panikkath. “I am confident we will find a new leader who will be well qualified to meet the challenges before us and to take advantage of opportunities for further growth and development of humanism.”
The American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming worldview of humanism, which—without beliefs in gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
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