Board of Directors
|Gary Brill has been an active member of NJHN since the mid-90s. He was co-founder of HumanLight in 2001 and co-founder of the Humanist Community at Rutgers University in 2009. He received a Ph.D. in Personality and Social Psychology from New York University, worked for 20 years in the software industry, then subsequently taught psychology at Rutgers University for 16 years. He is married to Tamar Kieval Brill, another NJHN board member.|
|Jennifer Vriens has made social justice her lifelong passion. She has worked in the field of fundraising since 1999 specializing in women’s issues, including domestic violence, reproductive rights and women’s economic empowerment. She currently serves as the Director of Development and Marketing at the YWCA Union County, Union County’s domestic violence program.
Continuing her commitment to women’s issues and philanthropy, Jennifer was the Founding President of the New Jersey Abortion Access Fund, New Jersey’s first state-wide abortion fund, and currently serves on the Board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals - New Jersey Chapter.
She has a master’s degree in Counseling, a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Delaware, and maintains her Certified Fund Raising Executive certification.
|Brenda LaDuke grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania on the shores of Lake Erie. Although her family belonged to a Methodist church, she became a Sunday School dropout when she was just 7 years old, skeptical of both Santa Claus and the bible. She attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania, graduating Cum Laude with a BA in International Studies, and moved to New Jersey in 1994.
While at college she made many atheist friends (including Rob Boston of Americans United) and began to identify as an atheist. A few years after moving to New Jersey, she began to feel isolated - surrounded by theists, mostly Catholic - so she started seeking out communities with similar values to her own, and came upon a few secular humanist organizations in Yahoo Groups. She joined but remained mostly an observer until a few years ago when she attended her first secular humanist dinner, and has been active with NJHN ever since. After living in New Jersey for over 20 years, she has found a sense of community and belonging, and finally feels at home thanks to the relationships she is continuing to develop with members of NJHN.
Brenda currently works for Johnson & Johnson in Information Security, is married and has 3 school-aged children that she is raising to be humanist, with a side of skepticism. She is also an avid quilter, having had several blue ribbon quilts on display at the Middlesex County Fair over the years, and donates quilts to children and babies via various organizations and events, as well as NJHN's annual winter party silent auctions.
|Jasmine grew up in Brooklyn, NY - the melting pot of the USA and was exposed to different cultures and beliefs at an early age and learned to view life from more than one perspective. While her mother raised her Roman Catholic, and she even attended Catholic school, her father came from a Jewish family with a different set of beliefs. That dynamic caused her to express doubt that any of these particular beliefs were true. By observing how hypocritical some churchgoers were, she landed on the belief that religion was not necessary to be a good person.
She earned a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Physical Anthropology from Rutgers University New Brunswick Campus. While there, she joined the student-run group Atheist Student Alliance to meet like-minded individuals. The group offered a community for nontheists that she wanted to continue to be a part of even after she graduated. She was fortunate to have attended a presentation on Secular Humanism by Gary Brill of the Humanist Community at Rutgers and naturally transitioned into attending events with the New Jersey Humanist Network.
She has served as the NJHN Secretary since joining the board of directors in 2017.
Jasmine is the proud owner of her first home in 2020 and now lives in Ewing with her significant other Reynaldo Colon and eleven cats. She had previously worked with Trenton Cats Rescue to trap cats for the Trap Neuter Release program in her previous community and finding stray kittens good homes to go to. She greatly enjoys acrylic painting and had an art gallery held in Championship Bar in March of 2019 as well as submitting artwork every year since 2012 for Trenton’s Art All Night event. Jasmine has also donated paintings for NJHN’s silent auction that is held during the winter holiday party each year.
Tamar Kieval Brill
|Tamar Kieval Brill originally hails from Albany, NY and lived in NYC between 1972 and 1982 for college and graduate school. She has a B.A. in psychology and education from Barnard College, Columbia University, and an M.A. in counseling from NYU. Aside from a five-year stint in corporate America, she’s spent all of her working life in higher education, first at NYU and for the last 31 years as at Rutgers University, where she was an Assistant Dean in the School of Arts and Sciences’ Office of Academic Services until her recent retirement.
She’s been involved with Humanism for more than 20 years on various levels. She’s been a member of NJHN since 2008, though attended many events for much longer than that. She has served as a member of the NJHN Board since 2011, assisting with the membership committee, and has also been involved in the Humanist Community at Rutgers University. Tamar is also a member of the I.L. Peretz Secular Jewish Community. She is married to Gary Brill and they have an adult son, Zach, who is a medical researcher at Merck Laboratories.
|Erica Cohn has been a member of NJHN since 2013 and joined the Board in 2017.
Earning a bachelor's degree in Government from Skidmore College, she is a Senior Claims Adjudicator for the Social Security Administration's Disability program.
From the age of 12, she has done campaign work for state and federal candidates, backing those with a liberal agenda. Growing up in the Jewish tradition, she has felt strongly about the separation of church and state. She has been an out atheist since 2012.
In addition to her political and activism interests, she is also a working musician. For 15 years she ran a women's a cappella group that performed up and down the East Coast, and opened for such acts as Ray Charles and Rockapella. She also worked with various singer/songwriters performing and recording, and is currently in two performing bands.
Erica is grateful for the opportunity to work for NJHN, and looks forward to the new and exciting things the group will be doing.
|Everett Henson was born and raised in Indiana but left for military service at age 20 and never returned to his home state. Military technical training led to a rewarding career in IT which he still enjoys.
From his teens, he was relatively indifferent to religion and doubtful of the efficacy of prayer. However, in the early 2000s he experienced a personal crisis that caused him to delve deeper into his own beliefs and seek a greater understanding of himself and others. It was around this time that he stumbled upon Humanism as a philosophy and understood immediately that he had been a Humanist most of his adult life without realizing it. A description which he now suspects applies to many other people as well.
He is an avid motorcyclist and home handyman. He and his wife, also a Humanist, have raised a nearly grown son with Humanist values.
He discovered the NJHN Meetup group online and joined in 2015, but remained only a lurker for nearly a year (for some unfathomable reason). When he finally appeared in person at a meeting, he was warmly welcomed and extremely pleased to find himself among so many like-minded people that shared his Humanist, progressive values.
Everett became a Board member in 2017 and is happy to contribute to the greater good in whatever small way he can.
|Linda Mastellone has previously served as the NJHN Treasurer and Secretary.
She was a councilwoman for Flemington Borough (2008-10) and a member of the Flemington-Raritan School Board (2011-12). Professionally, she was the Executive Director of the Franklin Township Chamber of Commerce and the Events Coordinator for the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. Both positions helped her learn about non-profit management--including financial matters, organizing, and event planning. She has used those skills to help NJHN as it continues to grow and reach out to the Humanist community.
|Lisa Ridge has been a member of NJHN since 2002 and has previously served as President, Vice President, Program Chair, and continues as the Membership Chair and an admin of NJHN's Facebook group.
A nonbeliever at a young age, she learned about Humanism in the late 1990s and knew she'd found the worldview that matched how she'd lived her life. She was an environmental activist from 1980-2004 at the local, state, and national levels, but became more involved in secular activism after moving to New Jersey in 2001. She is committed to creating a positive, productive Humanist community in New Jersey and working with other secular organizations in the region to achieve that goal, especially now with the challenges we face in a diverse but divided society.
Lisa supports various other secular organizations with her membership. She is an Air Force veteran, works as an administrative assistant and librarian for the State of New Jersey, and lives with her husband Tim, another NJHN Board member, and their six cats in Ewing in Mercer County.
|Tim Ridge has been active in NJHN since 2003 when he first joined the Board of Directors. He has previously served as Vice President and Treasurer. He has also been the Webmaster since late 2003 after re-designing the website. He is also an admin of NJHN's Facebook group.
Tim is a self described science junkie, but is also very interested in politics. Committed to lifetime education, he continues to learn more about cutting edge science and works to elect progressive candidates to state and national office. He has appeared several times as a speaker for NJHN, presenting his mini-biography of Carl Sagan and a talk about economic fascism in the United States. He is a secular humanist first, but is also a gnostic (strong) atheist. Committed to advancing feminism and feminist values, he is proud of the strides that NJHN has made over the past fifteen years to both increase the number of women members and elect them more than half the positions on the Board of Directors. One of his current goals is doing outreach to the LGBTQ community, people of color, and finding a way for NJHN to become more visible in the community.
|Bill Schlegel lives in New Brunswick and has spent his entire life in the immediate area, having grown up in Old Bridge. He has worked in the computer industry as a software tester. He began his career at Bell Telephone Laboratories as a Technical Associate, and moved into software later.
He has been a member of NJHN and an "out" atheist for many years. He had a strict Catholic childhood, but began to question church authority when he was a young adult, as the Church seemed to be antiquarian in its focus and increasingly at odds with the world as he perceived it. A few years later in high school, a series of science courses caused him to doubt the religion more deeply, and by the time he was 18, he stopped attending regular church services, the superficial "Vatican II" reforms having failed to impress him. He remained, however, a "default" Deist for most of his life until reading Richard Dawkins' book "The God Delusion." It encouraged him to be more honest with himself about his beliefs, and to seek out others with similar outlooks. Being part of a community strengthens individuals, and it was a joy for him to find others like himself in the midst of a society in which religion of some form is constantly valorized.
Mary Ann Zagar
|Mary Ann Zagar goes by MA. She grew up in Louisiana with two Catholic parents, and happily left Louisiana in 1987 after completing a design degree from LSU. She always felt uncomfortable with her family’s religious beliefs. She enjoyed her god-free life throughout adulthood in New Jersey and Connecticut, but did not introduce herself as an atheist until around 2014.
She has been an active member of NJHN since 2013. Being part of the NJHN community has helped her realize godless is exactly what she had been doing, but becoming part of the Humanist community was what she was missing. NJHN welcomed her when she was looking for a better way. Being part of NJHN has allowed her to do more for others in a more meaningful way.
Executive: Gary Brill
Program: Jennifer Vriens
Membership: Lisa Ridge
Finance: Brenda LaDuke
PR/Outreach: Everett Henson
Bylaws: Erica Cohn
Nominating: Mary Anne Zagar
Webmaster: Timothy Ridge