Toni Van Pelt, a longtime feminist and humanist activist, was elected president of NOW in July 2017. She is also president of the NOW Foundation and chair of the NOW Political Action Committee, and serves as the principal spokeswoman for all three entities. Van Pelt oversees NOW’s multi-issue agenda, which includes: achieving constitutional equality for women, advancing reproductive rights and justice, promoting racial justice, stopping violence against women, winning civil and human rights for the LGBTQIA+ community, and ensuring economic justice.
Spurred to action by attacks on reproductive rights in her home state of Florida, Van Pelt has served in leadership positions at all levels of NOW since 1989. She is a past president of Florida NOW (1996-2003) and past director of NOW’s southeast region–in addition to serving two terms on the national board (2010-2014). Van Pelt began her journey with the organization as the treasurer of the Upper Pinellas NOW chapter, and remains fiercely devoted to grassroots activists working at the local level.
Van Pelt is a longtime advocate for secular humanism, and the separation of church and state. Prior to joining the National Action Center full-time, she lobbied for policies driven by the empirical scientific evidence as opposed to faith. She is co-founder, president, and public policy director for the Institute for Science and Human Values. A former vice president and public policy director of the Center for Inquiry, Van Pelt organized and directed one of the first public policy offices of the secular humanist movement in Washington, D.C.
Van Pelt is a former member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and her past career as the owner of a travel agency specializing in international travel has given her the opportunity to expand her worldview through global travel. She is committed to building an inclusive, intersectional, and intergenerational feminist movement.