Secular Women Work 2

FOR RELEASE February 27, 2018

Media contact:

Conference website:

Kickstarter website:

Minneapolis, MN – Secular Woman and Minnesota Atheists are bringing back their activist training conference, and they’re using Kickstarter to make it possible. The Secular Women Work conference will be held in Minneapolis this August 24–26 and features accomplished activists  Jessica Xiao, former program assistant at the American Humanist Association and current Prison Book Club Coordinator, and Greta Christina, writer and cofounder of Godless Perverts. Mandisa Thomas will be returning as well after another successful three years for Black Nonbelievers.


Come August, the conference will feature a full slate of exclusively women and genderqueer speakers. The original conference in 2015 highlighted the importance of “women’s work” in the secular movement. Secular Woman president Monette Richards explains, “The recent revelations that atheist figureheads and organizations knew and did nothing about Lawrence Krauss long before his recent #metoo reckoning demonstrate how far we still have to go as a movement in valuing the contributions of women. There’s no better time than now for another Secular Women Work.”


The conference has returned to Kickstarter to sell conference tickets and raise additional funding. The first Secular Women Work was the first atheist or skeptic conference to successfully crowdfund. “There’s a perception of waning interest in secular conferences. We think people are just looking for the right conference to take them to the next level in their activism. The Kickstarter lets us test our theory before committing resources”, said Minnesota Atheists incoming associate president Stephanie Zvan. The campaign launches today, and tickets will only be available through Kickstarter until it fully funds.


In addition to conference tickets, which will be transferable, the Kickstarter offers backer rewards such as t-shirts, custom SurlyRamics jewelry, and advertising space. Those who can’t attend but want to support the conference can buy and donate a scholarship to another activist. The campaign will end March 29.


The Secular Women Work conference will be heavy on skill-building and problem-solving workshops, with panels and speakers covering specialist topics. All workshop leaders, panelists, and speakers will be seasoned activists themselves. Additional speakers are expected to be announced during the Kickstarter campaign.


The conference will be held in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs on the University of Minnesota’s West Bank campus. Conference organizer Chelsea du Fresne explained that the venue was an important factor in making the first conference special. “Not only is the space wonderful for getting to know other activists, but being surrounded by so much political accomplishment is inspiring. Today, more than ever, those reminders that we can make a difference really matter.”


The conference is a joint project of the Minnesota Atheists and Secular Woman.

You can find the kickstarter here.

SWW Schedule for Skepticon 10

We are just over a week away from Skepticon 10! Check out the workshops we have in store for you.


Creating a Welcoming Group – 9:00 AM
Mandisa Thomas
You can plan the events, but to get people in the seats, they have to feel they belong.This workshop will walk you through making your group a welcoming one.

Organizing a Lobby Day – 10:00 AM
Monette Richards
We’ve clicked on action alerts, sent faxes, emails and texts. We have even called our elected officials, mostly to end up in voice mail. What’s the next step? Why not go visit them in person? Why not take your friends, too!

Secular Activism Campaigns: What Works, What Hasn’t Worked, and How To Be More Effective -11:00 AM
Debbie Goddard
Building on the activism framework presented at Skepticon 9, Debbie Goddard will guide the workshop through a hands-on analysis of several secular campaigns. We’ll look at how they were designed, who they’re “talking” to and why, how they measured effectiveness, and what, in hindsight, they could have done better. We’ll also brainstorm new activism campaign ideas and messaging. Bring your experience and your creativity!

Making Ourselves Relevant In the Resistance – Noon
Greta Christina & Debbie Goddard
On paper, organized atheism and skepticism should have a major role in the current resistance movements in the US. Do we? If not, why not? In places where we do, what helps make that happen? What do we have to contribute to these movements? And what can we do — on the individual, local, and national levels — to improve our presence in the resistance and make more of a contribution?

Deescalation –  1:00 PM
Rebecca Hensler
With every direct action, there is a chance the situation will get out of control. Explore ways to deescate before things get bad.

Creating a Self Care Plan – 2:00 PM
Hiba Bint Zeinab
We often talk about the importance of self-care. But do we know how to actually put it into practice?

Imposter Syndrome – 3:00 PM
Stephanie Zvan, Monette Richards and Jessica Xiao
Impostor syndrome is that feeling that you’re just faking what you do and are going to be found out any minute. It keeps us from fully appreciating our own work and from tackling new, ambitious projects that need to be done. Come gather tips and exercises to combat this problem and be a more effective, secure activist.

Consent- 4:00 PM
Heina Dadabhoy
Have questions about consent? Fnd answers as you work through this workshop.


Start your own podcast – 10:00 AM
Marissa Alexa McCool and Maddy Love
So, you wanna start a podcast…

Lessons from AIDS Activism – 11:00 AM
Ingrid Nelson,  Laura Thomas & Rebecca Hensler
Learn Direct Action from activists who have been there and done it. These members of ActUP will go over the lessons they learned during AIDS Activism.


Finding Your Way Around Moose –  2:00 PM
Sam Farooqui
Ex-Muslim issues can be really complicated for never-Muslims to parse. Frequently, never-Muslims fall prey to overcorrection, saviorism, or just plain silence. This workshop has been designed to educate never-Muslims on the intersections that tend to be involved where ex-Muslims are concerned, and how to work with and for those issues, in order to create substantive change.

How to do a Workshop – 3:00 PM
Stephanie Zvan
Do you want to put on a workshop, but aren’t sure how to design an effecctive one? Learn how to use the interactive nature of workshops to build confidence while conveying useful information.

SWW Schedule for Skepticon 9

Just four days until Secular Women Work workshops at Skepticon. Come find us starting bright and early (enough) on Friday!

Handling Public Criticism 10 a.m.
It’s going to happen to us all sooner or later. If we don’t get criticized, it’s because we’re not accomplishing anything. How do we keep our reactions productive?
Stephanie Zvan


Celebrating Activism 11 a.m.
There’s always more work to be done, but celebrating our wins is one of the keys to avoiding activist burnout. But how do we do that?
Monette Richards


Effective Advocacy: A Humanist Approach 12 p.m.
As activists and members and allies of minority populations, advocacy plays a big role in our lives; but how can we ensure that our advocacy is truly effective, and not leading to further harm? This workshop explores power and control dynamics and common missteps as well as provides you with tools and tips to be the best advocate you can be.
Amanda Novotny


Craftivism: The Politics of Knitting 1 p.m.
Who would think of knitting as a subversive act? Bring your yarn, y’all! Let’s discuss, and engage in, some craftivism!
Kelley Freeman


Student and Non-Student Groups Working Together 2 p.m.
Student and non-student groups share many goals, but they don’t always have the best track record working together on them. How can we change this?
Debbie Goddard


Social Justice: From Theory to Practive 3 p.m.
If there is a devil, it’s in the details
Heina Dadabhoy


Planning for Direct Action 4 p.m.
Confrontation can be powerful, but make sure your prepared for everything that can happen.
Rebecca Hensler, Ingrid Nelson, Laura Thomas


Our Skepticon Schedule

Just two days until Secular Women Work workshops at Skepticon. Come find us starting bright and early (enough) on Friday!

Wiki Editing 10 a.m.
History is only “real” if it’s documented, and Wikipedia has quickly come to be the central repository of that documentation. Bring your favorite wifi enabled device to help us record our history.
Monette Richards


Abortion MythBusting 11 a.m.
The push to limit reproductive rights depends on a lot of bad information. Come work through how to counter the most common of these with an accessible blend of understanding medicine and cause and effect.
Niki Massey


Combatting Impostor Syndrome 12 p.m.
The push to limit reproductive rights depends on a lot of bad information. Come work through how to counter the most common of these with an accessible blend of understanding medicine and cause and effect.
Stephanie Zvan


Succession Planning and Building Leadership Teams 1 p.m.
Organizations live or die on the strength of their teams. Come find out how to build a strong team that won’t fall apart when a key player leaves.
Stef McGraw


Finding Great Speakers 2 p.m.
Building a speaker list for an event or lecture series means balancing name recognition, offering something new, diversity, cost, and a host of other factors. Come talk about where we can find the
Chelsea Du Fresne


Funding Social Change 3 p.m.
This workshop will cover everything from how to create an effective plan for raising funds, making the ask and what to do when the money comes in.
Steph Montgomery


Activism Within Limits 4 p.m.
Not everyone can march at a protest. Not everyone can donate to support their causes. Whatever limitations you live with, however, there are still ways to help change the world. Come brainstorm.
Trinity Aodh


Building a Better Workshop

A few years ago, atheist and skeptic organizations started adding workshops to their conferences, and that was great. Workshops are hugely useful when you’re trying to become more effective, as the activist wings of both movements were, or when you’re trying to apply abstract principles to your life, as rank-and-file members of both movements were.

There were a few problems, however, because everything was new. While some presenters knew what to expect from workshops and had maybe even facilitated some before, most people didn’t. They had skills and knowledge to share, but no good idea of how to get that across in a workshop format. Nor were conference organizers clear on what they wanted or expected from their workshops.

As a result, we ended up with a few workshops and a whole lot of mini-lectures. Now, lectures can be great, and if your purpose in adding workshops to your event is to keep adding content after you’ve spent your speaker budget on the main stage, there’s no reason to stretch beyond the mini-lecture. But if your goal for workshops is to get people to change their behavior, to be more effective or to live their principles more fully, lectures can’t substitute for workshops.

Why? Because the interactive nature of workshops builds confidence at the same time it conveys information. You can walk away from a lecture thinking the information is interesting but you don’t have what it takes to apply it. You can’t do the same with a workshop where you’ve spent a good chunk of time applying your new knowledge. You know you can do it because you just did.

So now that I’ve convinced you, as an organizer or potential workshop facilitator, that you want to offer real workshops instead of mini-lectures, how do you go about it? Continue reading Building a Better Workshop

Secular Women Work at Skepticon!

Skepticon has just announced that it’s open for workshop proposals for this year.

Workshops are held on the Friday day of Skepticon from 10:00am until 4:00pm.

Click here to fill out our application form to be a workshopper at Skepticon 8!

That’s not all! We’re excited to announce that we will be partnering with the amazing women over at Secular Woman Work to bring you an entire track of workshops presented by even more awesome ladies! Want to be a part of their exclusive workshop track? Drop them a line at: to get in on what is sure to be our best workshop lineup yet.

Oh, hey. What’s that? Yes, Secular Women Work will be organizing a set of workshops at Skepticon. That means hands-on practical skill-building and group discussions sharing solutions to common activist problems–all brought to you by experienced activists who are women or genderqueer. There’s a lot of experience and skill in this movement, and we want to celebrate it by putting it to work making us all better activists.

Who will you see presenting in the Secular Women Work track at Skepticon? What topics will be covered? Frankly, we don’t know yet. We don’t know who will be there. We don’t know what their strengths are. What we do know is that there is never any shortage of talent at Skepticon, nor any shortage of generosity. We pledge to find you skilled activists who will deliver well-structured workshops for you to learn from.

(If you happen to be one of those activists with an idea for a topic, and you’ll be at Skepticon on Friday, please use the Secular Women Work email above to let us know. Even if you’ve never put together a workshop before, please contact us. We helped more than one presenter at our conference structure their workshop, and they all went well.)

Why should you trust us to find you good workshops? Here’s what people had to say about our conference last month. Continue reading Secular Women Work at Skepticon!

Managing Online Spaces

with Miri Mogilevsky
Workshop Track 2
Set 3

Online groups are great, in part, because the barriers to participation are lower. However, letting these spaces be overrun by any kind of behavior becomes its own barrier to participation for many people. Let’s talk about how to set boundaries for behavior that keep our spaces accessible to the people we want participating.

Miri_Mogilevsky_smMiri Mogilevsky recently graduated from Columbia University with a Masters in Social Work. Her blog, Brute Reason, covers topics such as social justice, psychology, mental health, and whatever else keeps her up thinking till 3 AM. When not writing, Miri devours books and talks to anyone who’s willing to listen about how amazing New York City is.

Activism for Newbies

with Lauren Lane
Workshop Set 2
Track 2

“But what can a nobody like me do?” This is one of the heartbreaking questions we hear in activism, especially since the answer is “Nobody is a nobody” and “So very, very much”. Come to this workshop and come away with ideas on how you–yes, you–can make a difference.

Lauren_Lane_smLauren Lane is the Founder and Executive Director of Skepticon, a national conference located annually in Springfield, MO that promotes skepticism, science education and community building. During her tenure as an undergraduate, Lauren held various leadership positions in the Missouri State University Chapter of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a secular student group that revolutionized student activism. She has been a contributor to The Friendly Atheist, MadArtLabs, and has previously spoken at conventions such as the Secular Student Alliance Convention, FTBCon, and Reason in the Rock.

Avoiding Burnout

with Hiba Krisht
Sunday – 11:15 AM
Workshop Set 4
Track 1

We all know self-care is necessary for activists by now, right? Good. That still leaves us figuring out the how and when. Come learn how to recognize when you need to put yourself first and develop strategies for coping with the everyday stresses and the big events.

Hiba_KrishtHiba Krisht is a writer, lecturer, and professional translator from Beirut. Her stories have been published in The Kenyon Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Blackbird, and Mizna, among others. She is a recipient of the 2012 Jane Foulkes Malone Fellowship from Indiana University and the 2013 JoAnn Athanas Memorial Award in literature from the National Society of Arts and Letters. An apostate from Islam, she grew up between an international expatriate community in Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah guerrilla warfare culture in Lebanon. She has been interviewed about her life and work by VICE News, BBC Radio, and Grazia Daily, among others. She is working on a memoir expansion of her retired blog, Between A Veil and a Dark Place.

Assertiveness Training

with Heather Rosa
Saturday – 11:00 AM
Workshop Set 2
Track 1

One of the hardest parts of movement activism is navigating competing needs. Assertive communication is a tool to help us stay both focused and respectful while dealing with those needs. Come find out what assertive communication is and practice being assertive in some common activist situations.


Heather RosaHeather was a trained support group facilitator for the non-profit Fellowship for Renewed Living, an organization that served people dealing with divorce or other broken relationships. She served on the FRL board for many years, including three as the organization’s President. She has a long history in small-town politics, serving on her city council and as mayor for eight years. As her city’s representative on the library joint powers task force, she managed to expand her local library system in a time when many systems were shrinking.