Board of Directors
|Lisa Ridge has been a member of NJHN since 2002 and is currently serving as President. She has also served as Vice President, Program Chair, and Membership Chair.
A nonbeliever at a young age, Lisa 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 five cats in Ewing in Mercer County.
|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.
|Bio coming soon.|
|Linda Mastellone has served as the NJHN Treasurer this past year, and previously was its Secretary from 2011-2017. Linda was a councilwoman for Flemington Borough (2008-10) and a member of the Flemington-Raritan School Board (2011-12). Professionally, Linda 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.|
|Gary Brill has been an active member of NJHN since the mid-90s and has previously served as its President. He was co-founder of HumanLight in 2001 and co-founder of the Humanist Community at Rutgers University in 2009. Gary 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.|
|Tim Ridge has been active in NJHN since 2003 when he first joined the Board of Directors. He has held the offices of Vice President and Treasurer. He has also been the Webmaster since late 2003 after re-designing the website. Tim is also a co-organizer of Mercer County Humanists and is an admin of Facebook groups for NJHN, Mercer County Humanists, and the Humanist Community of Rutgers University.
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.
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 is an Assistant Dean in the School of Arts and Sciences’ Office of Academic Services.
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 a 28-year old son, Zach, who is a medical researcher at Merck Laboratories.
|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.
Bill has been a member of NJHN and an "out" atheist for about 11 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.
|Erica Cohn has been a member of NJHN since 2013, but just recently 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.
Everett 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.
|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. Brenda 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, Brenda 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, Brenda 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.
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: Lisa Ridge
Program: Jennifer Vriens
Membership: Lisa Ridge
Finance: Linda Mastellone
PR/Outreach: Everett Henson
Bylaws: Linda Mastellone
Nominating: Gary Brill
Webmaster: Timothy Ridge