Friday, May 5, 2023
This session description is coming soon!
Steven Emmert is Executive Director of Secular Coalition for America (SCA). He is an experienced nonprofit executive having worked in the policy, advocacy, and health sectors. He is a firm believer that the voice of the secular community needs to be expanded and more broadly heard. The rise of Christian nationalism has him even more committed to SCA’s work and mission. Prior to joining SCA, he was Deputy Director at Us Helping Us, an organization fighting to reduce the impact of HIV and achieve health equity for underserved and marginalized populations. Having also worked for Planned Parenthood affiliates in nearly all parts of the country, Steven has advocated for health access and equity in eight state capitals as well as on Capitol Hill (here in Washington, DC). While his passion is healthcare, he is critically aware that it all starts with a firm foundation of separating the affairs of the state from those of religion.
Steven enjoys traveling, cheering for his Houston Cougars, and — thanks to COVID — has played WAY too many hands of Phase 10.
Jé Exodus Hooper (them/they) is an arts and cultural community curator, clergy, and scholar, who has served the Ethical Culture and Congregational Humanist Movements for over eight years while an instructor of performance theory at Ohio University School of Theater . With a passion as an activist aesthete, ethicist, and community-based performator, Hooper identifies themselves within the Humanist spectrum as a neo-mannerist. A term inspired by the artistic work of Ernie Barnes, a Black American artist, whose work was displayed on a 1970s sitcom entitled, Good Times. Specifically, centering voices on the margins beyond conventional Humanist cliché, such as reason, logic, science, and rationale without a God, Dr. Hooper calls us to be in wonder with ourselves and the world around us, honoring that there is more to know and understand about ourselves and each other.
Even with their stylized face of pleasantry and joy, Dr. Hooper does not shy away from topics of discomfort, dysfunction, and disorder that have disproportionately restricted folks on the margin, who seek to cultivate a social elegance in an obscure technical sophistication of aliveness that the traditional status quo cannot imagine. Decolonizing the mind requires a skill of word-working and/or love language –a folk-talk that focuses on the ecosystem of collective freedom through embodiment, intuition, imagination, and human socio-practice of improvisation. Here, power is traded for purpose, privilege is exchanged for personality, and prejudice is exuded into pleasure.
Dr. Hooper observes the art of living as a human necessity where they must interpolate new materiality of being and existence. Their most authentic work is not only found in the confines of the academy, institutions, and/or religious façades – they are most alive as a griot of digital spaces, an artivist of studios and stages, a public theologian of dance-hall or clubs, and a provocateur of the preaching body, where they hold and carve-out space for their siblings of all kinds. Dr. Hooper dares their audience to “take off the mask” courageously as Baldwin explains and furthermore live or be a cultural archetype of “… quest and daring and growth” that others may find a home in our humanity. This kind of transaesthetic and transdisciplinary approaches console and agitate communities by re-imaging and re-claiming narratives that honor the inherited worth and dignity within all people – a he[art] work that Jé is committed to!