Debbie Allen (Skomer), President
Debbie has been an active volunteer with the Humanist Fellowship since becoming a board member in 2009. She assumed the presidency of HFSD from Michael Summers in April of 2011. Debbie was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the American Humanist Association, and began serving a four year term January 1st, 2013.
During the summer of 2009 Debbie organized the San Diego Coalition of Reason, and still serves as it's director. For the past three years she has served as the co-facilitator of Recovering from Religion, and last year she reestablished the San Diego Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and serves as its president. She is also a Humanist Chaplain, volunteers at the VA Hospital in La Jolla, and is co-organizer of Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers-San Diego.
Debbie was raised in a non-religious "Christian" home (i.e. worshipping the "trinity"–Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy). Among her close relatives were Catholics, Mormons, and Lutherans, who exposed her to prayer, religious doctrine and observances, and great music. Being naturally curious about the universe she concluded by junior high that god did not exist... at least the one she had been introduced to, and she decided she was an atheist. Looking for a "likeminded" community as an adult, Debbie converted to Reform Judaism because of their commitment to social justice, intellectual integrity, and their acceptance of her nonbelief.
Prior to joining the Humanist Fellowship Debbie was a devoted volunteer at her synagogue, serving on the board of directors and as chair of several committees. Debbie is "retired" from a career as a psychotherapist in private practice and investigator in neuropsychological research at the UCSD School of Medicine.
Debbie loves the beach, has trouble dragging herself off a dance floor, and will always be an active participant in any debate. She is happily married to an understanding and generous man who is patient with her many commitments to the secular community.
Wilfredo Perez, Vice President
Wilfredo Perez is a Filipino-American who was raised as a “Navy brat” on the East Coast, mainly in Pensacola, Florida. He moved to San Diego in 1983 and has lived here since then He is a proud alumnus of San Diego State University and earned a B.A. in Political Science and a Master of Public Administration degree from SDSU. He also has a law degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Wilfredo has worked for the County of San Diego for over 25 years and is a manager in the Public Health Department. He is a strong advocate of separation of church and state, science, critical/rational thought, environmentalism and civil rights.
Wilfredo was sent to a fundamentalist Baptist Sunday School and church as a boy and later attended a Catholic church. His parents and other relatives are very religious. But he has been a Freethinker for well over two decades. He is currently a board member and Vice President of the Humanist Fellowship of San Diego (HFSD). Additionally, he is a member of the East County Heathens and participates in the Recovering from Religion group to support those who have recently thought themselves out of religion.
Wilfredo’s hobbies include reading, watching foreign and independent films and nature documentaries, hiking, working out, fishing, travel, and attending Freethought events and SDSU football and basketball games. He has traveled extensively in Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America and believes that international travel provides one with an education that cannot be obtained in any classroom. One of his favorite quotes is from Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
Wilfredo strongly believes in the “First Commandment of Freethought”: Think for yourself! He lives in east Chula Vista with his wife Marites and their five cats.
Mary Becker is a native of San Diego and currently resides in Escondido. She is married with two grown children, six grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Mary was born to parents who were scientific realists; no Bibles and no church. As a child, she began to wonder why so many people were religious Truly perplexed as to their motivation, she began to study belief systems. "Fifty years later (and despite having an IQ of 143), I am still perplexed."
In the early 1980's Mary read a copy of the magazine, "Free Inquiry", and was surprised to see that there were so many people in San Diego who shared the philosophy of secular humanism. In 2012 she founded the San Diego North County Humanists group, which later merged with the Humanist Fellowship.
Mary is a professional artist and published writer. She has worked as a manager, department head, and Advanced Certified California Nursery Professional. She spent about ten years developing hybrid tetraploidal day lilies as a hobby, and served as the vice president of the Southwest Hemerocallis Society.
Ten years ago Mary became interested in DNA testing as a tool for anthropology and genealogy, so created several surname and geographically based DNA projects for which she now acts as a volunteer — assisting people in discovering their family history, and finding their long lost family members.
Madeline is a mother of three, ages 29, 16 and 10. She enjoys belly dancing,hiking and singing. Madeline works part time bringing music and music therapy to senior centers throughout San Diego county. One of her favorite quotes is Hillel's. " If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?" She says that it expresses the perfect balance of ethics, morality and immediacy. She enjoys meeting new people and finding out how beautifully, and complexly screwed up we all are. “Being human is both clumsy and delightful!! :)”
Cy Chadley was born and raised in London where he graduated from University College London, majoring in Economics. His career with an international British construction company took him to many parts of the world; his work brought him to San Diego in 1981, where he decided to retire in 1991. Cy became a U.S. citizen in 1993.
In addition to his career, Cy has traveled extensively, visiting over 100 nations, taking a keen interest in local history, politics and culture. He is a member of the United Nations Associations in the U.K. and the U.S.; he was presented with the 2010 Carroll and Noah Cannon award for his promotion of the values contained in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Cy is a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union and the American and British Humanist Associations. He has been active with the San Diego World Affairs Council since 1995, including being President of the North County Chapter from 2004 to 2008. Additionally, he has been active with the Continuing Education Center - Rancho Bernardo since 1997, and is currently a member of their academic affairs committee.
Cy's main hobbies are dancing and gardening; he dances whenever he is able – Scottish Country, American Square and Choreographed Ballroom dancing. In recent years, he has developed an environmentally compatible native plant garden at his home in Escondido to which he welcomes interested visitors.
Nicola Duggan, Secretary
Nicola has two daughters aged 3 and 6 and lives in North County San Diego with her husband Michael. Nicola currently volunteers for HFSD and has a board position with Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, San Diego chapter. Additionally she volunteers for Planned Parenthood and is a volunteer legal advisor for the nonprofit Drug Discovery for Tropical Diseases.
Her hobbies include skiing, weightlifting, and reading. She is an advocate for secular humanism and is actively involved in trying to create a community center for the secular communities in San Diego.
Thomas was born and raised in New Jersey. He was raised in a Christian home and attended a private Christian school for most of his schooling. At 16 he became suspicious of religion and began researching other philosophies. After High School he enlisted in the United States Navy and found his way to San Diego in October '95.
Thomas met his wife Kendra in April '97 and they were married in January of the following year. He is the father of two energetic children, Emily and Joshua. They recently purchased a home in El Cajon, and Thomas spends his free time renovating and fixing it up.
Thomas has always been sought out for positions of leadership throughout the last 18 years of his career in the Navy and has excelled in all areas of personnel management and administration. He looks forward to "retiring" soon from the Navy and transitioning to the civilian world with the skills learned in the Navy.
Thomas decided to become involved with the Freethought community while on deployment in 2011. He has since formed a San Diego group for Military Atheists and Freethinkers and has become an active member of the Humanist Fellowship of San Diego.
Some of Thomas' hobbies include hiking, reading, and social media. He also blogs infrequently HERE
Rick grew up in the Boston area and came to San Diego in 1977 upon graduating from the University of Massachusetts with a BA in Management. He also earned an MBA from the University of San Diego (USD) and, most recently, a certificate in Nonprofit Management from USD. Rick worked as a contracts executive in local firms such as SAIC and Qualcomm before beginning a modest retirement in 2007.
Rick’s family background is that of blue collar Catholics with a determined approach to getting through life, aided in many cases by the false solace of alcohol and other drugs. Rick’s journey has included Catholicism and agnosticism as a youth, 12 step immersion, Unitarianism, Church of Religious Science and Buddhism. A primary reason for Rick’s involvement in Humanism is to promote youth outreach and secular education.
Rick has extensive experience on nonprofit boards such as the Rwandan Orphans Project and Sledgehammer Theatre. One of his favorite volunteer experiences was helping the Center for Policy Initiatives (CPI) pass the Living Wage Ordinance in San Diego.
Rick lives in Hillcrest with his lovely wife, Astrid. Rick’s three grown children live locally. Astrid is employed at UCSD and shares Rick’s passion for travel with recent trips to Turkey, Greece and their favorite, Paris. Rick is a huge baseball fan (Red Sox/Padres), an avid walker/hiker, beach roller skater/biker, muscle car aficionado, and popular media junkie.
Sean is an active member of the secular humanist, skeptic and atheist communities in Southern California. He was raised in a secular home. However, he was baptized Catholic, attended a Lutheran preschool, worked for a national Christian evangelist organization throughout high school and attended seminary school with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). He has since devoted much time into scholarly research on modern religions, the Bible, the Qur'an, and the philosophies and history surrounding them.
Sean has always been an excited fan of science and has two bright young boys with his beautiful freethinking wife. They have been the driving forces behind Sean's passion to reduce the negative impacts of religion and dogma in general on societies. He has always followed the idea that one should never be a spectator of suffering or confident ignorance. Sean's focus is in community outreach for nonbelievers and participating in public debates and discussions to educate believers.
Apart from learning and teaching others about "life, the universe and everything," Sean loves to play the blues on his guitar; so long as his wife and boys are dancing and playing the drums.
James is currently a Country Specialist for China (Refugees and Business) with Amnesty International (AI). He holds a M.Phil in History from Yale University with a concentration in Chinese history. James was a Yale Fellow in East Asian Studies as well as a Research Fellow for the Institute of Humanistic Studies at Kyoto University, Japan.
In 1996, he created the first China website for AI. He has also worked with AI groups throughout the country for the release of prisoners including Tegexi, Jigme Sangpo, and Wei Jingsheng. James has spoken at numerous public forums, and conducted many interviews with the media. He has worked with numerous organizations including the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. James has been particularly active in political asylum cases, and has testified in person or in writing at more than a dozen immigration hearings. In 2008, he participated actively in AI's campaign for the Olympics. He has also prepared criticisms of U.S. government documents, including the annual State Department Human Rights report.
James reads Chinese, Japanese, French, and German. He lived in Japan for nine years and lectured at Shoin University in Kobe for five of those years. James has also lived in Taiwan for a year and has frequently traveled to Hong Kong, mainland China, and throughout other areas of Asia as well as Europe.
James is the founder of Kongo Associates, an intercultural consulting firm.