Brighter Brains

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Board Members & Advisors is the communications outlet for the Brighter Brains Institute (BBI) - a Piedmont, California 501c3 non-profit.

We promote and support humanist activities worldwide. Our alternate name, and website, is


Anthony B. Pinn (PhD in Religion, Harvard University) is professor of humanities and professor of religion at Rice University. His research includes religion, culture, and humanism. He is the author/editor of numerous books, including African American Humanist Principles (2004), By These Hands: A Documentary History of African American Humanism (2001), and The End of God-Talk: An African American Humanist Theology (2012). He is Director of Research for the Institute for Humanist Studies and Board of Directors for the American Humanist Association.

Ophelia Benson is an author, editor, columnist and blogger, who writes about atheism, feminism, and politics. She has edited the website Butterflies and Wheels since 2002; she is a former columnist and associate editor of The Philosophers’ Magazine; and she’s presently a columnist for Free Inquiry and The Freethinker. She’s co-authored three books (with Jeremy Stangroom): The Dictionary of Fashionable Nonsense; Why Truth Matters, and Does God Hate Women?

Philip “Phil” Zuckerman, PhD is a professor of sociology at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. Phil Zuckerman is the author of The Nonreligious (Oxford, 2016) and Living the Secular Life (Penguin, 2014), and the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Secularism (2016) and The Social Theory of W.E.B. Du Bois(2004). He blogs for Psychology Today and the Huffington Post. The American Humanist Association featured Zuckerman as a speaker on rising Irreligion in the United States, he’s on the editorial board of Secularism and Nonreligion and is a convener of the Non-religion and Secularity Research Network conference. In 2011 he founded and currently chairs the first Secular Studies program in the United States, at Pitzer College.

Lutzka Zivny lives in the North Beach Area of San Francisco, where she is a community activist, graphic artist/designer/illustrator, and Lyft driver. She is the co-ordinator of BBI’s outreach and fundraising for LGBT causes, and our ambassador to the Rusinga Humanist Orphanage project (directed by Czech and Slovak women) - Lutzka is a dual citizen of the USA and Czech Republic. Previous to BBI, she’s done volunteer work for Friends of Yick Wo and International Rescue Committee (a refugee resettlement nonprofit).

Walker Bristol is the Humanist in Residence at Tufts University and a student chaplain at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Formerly having worked with the Foundation Beyond Belief and the Humanist Community at Harvard, Walker is passionate about creating chaplaincy spaces where people can share their stories and through those stories be mobilized to social action. Walker was born and raised in North Carolina and now lives in Massachusetts.

Hank Pellissier - Is the founder / program director of BBI. He’s a brain health and education writer at, ex-columnist at,,, author of Brighter Brains: 225 ways to elevate or injure IQ, with an MA in Humanities/Religious Studies. He produced the first San Francisco Atheist Film Festival, a 2010 Atheist Calendar, and The Future of Religion conference (Piedmont, 2014). He’s the founder of two preschools: Bernal Kids Co-op and Mission Kids Co-op, and he directed Institute of Ethics and Emerging Technologies Africa Future Project. Bio here.

Laura Paoletti specializes in Women’s Healthcare as a Nurse Practitioner, providing care for women across the life-span with a clinical focus on teenagers, contraception and sexual health. She has practiced as a Certified Nurse Midwife since 2001, delivering over three thousand babies. She works in the Birth Center at Sonoma Valley Hospital as an RN, and is also Clinical Director of the Sweet Success program, providing clinical oversight and support for pregnant women with gestational diabetes.

Dr. Bruce Chou MD received his medical degree from University of Illinois. He is an anesthesiologist at Oak Valley Hospital, in Oakdale, California. He has sponsored four BBI classrooms; two at BiZoHa Orphanage Humanist School, one at Kahendero Nursery Humanist School, and one at Vision Care Humanist School. He is a highly-valued supporter of our mission to promote humanism, reason, self-reliance, and life extension.

Paul Griffiths worked in the 1980’s with squatter’s rights groups in Bristol, UK, in the 1990’s he worked with Myamar refugees and Karen tribal community associations in Mae Sot, Thailand, and in the 2000’s he worked with Afghani and Pakistani immigrants in London, UK. In San Francisco today he works with developmentally challenged adults, and he’s a singer-songwriter-activist who organizes music concerts to benefit progressive and charitable causes.

Karen Zelevinsky is VP of Engineering at Pegasystems. She attended Tufts University and lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her family has sponsored three orphan children at BiZoHa Orphanage, (Muhindo Zolash, Nakabirwa Faith, Kalisa Andrew) and her donations have helped construct four classrooms at the BiZoHa branch of Kasese Humanist Primary School (Zelevinky Classroom, Loving Heart, Helping Hands, Open Mind). BiZoHa’s tractor was obtained via Karen’s generosity.

Justin Silbaugh is an educator, leader and international development professional. Justin lived in Uganda from 2006 - 2016, taking on several director-level roles in grassroots education organizations. He served as the creative director of Mango Tree Educational Enterprises, the country director of In Movement: Art for Social Change and the executive director of Foundation for Development of Needy Communities (FDNC).

Mykel Alvis is a long-time contributor to Brighter Brains Institute humanist projects in Uganda. He is the BBI representative to the Southern USA, an active member of the Birmingham, Alabama atheist community, and an on-and-off officer (ex-President) of the Brighter Brains Institute. Mykel has been instrumental in getting people to sponsor orphans at Rays of Light Orphanage School, Kasanga-Kaghema Orphanage School, and Mughete Junior School. Early vocations included ballet dancer and bar bouncer; he is presently working in software development - every aspect, from architecture to testing to delivery.


Bwambale Robert Musubaho (Director of BBI Uganda Humanist Outreach) is a biological science graduate, a humanist and educationist. He’s the founder and director of Kasese United Humanist Association, a community organization in Western Uganda that embraces the humanist ethos, and engages in local developmental activities. He directs BiZoHa Orphanage, BiZoHa Orphanage Humanist School, Kasese Primary Humanist School, Kahendero Nursery Humanist School, and three BBI clinic: Jane Shrimpton Clinic, Andrea Vogt Clinic, and Pellissier Science Laboratory. Additionally, he oversees BBI’s humanist projects in the region. His work can be viewed here. His great passion is to help children and youths attain basic education and vocational skills to help them achieve self reliance.

Roslyn Mould is President of the Humanist Association of Ghana (HAG) & Chair for the African working group (IHEYO). She has been atheist since 2007 as a de-converted Catholic and a member of the Humanist Association of Ghana (HAG) since 2012. She helped organize the first-ever West African Humanist Conference in 2012 sponsored by International Humanist and Ethical Youth Organisation (IHEYO). Roslyn organizes meetings with members in Kumasi and Accra, writes blogs, represents the group in media interviews, and promotes humanism and critical thinking via social media and articles. Roslyn’s bio is continued HERE.

Mubarak Bala describes himself on his Facebook page Humanist Society of Northern Nigeria as “A Humanist. An Atheist. An ardent Anti-Theist. Angry at callous religions.” He is a chemical engineer from Kanos, Nigeria - a Sharia State and hotbed of Muslim fundamentalism. He was raised in “Wahhabi Islamic thought, with a jihad ideology” but he was an atheist activist by 2009, receiving death threats for blaspheming Islam. In 2013 he was beaten up by three uncles and his father - a leading Islamic cleric - drugged by his older brother, and locked up in a psychiatric hospital; his atheism was categorized by an Egyptian doctor as a “mental disease.” He tweeted his predicament - from the hospital toilet - via a smuggled cell phone. Help was mobilized by the “Godless Mom” of Canada and the London-based International Humanist Ethical Union.

Biira Loice Ngunguro is the director of Kanyenze Women’s Group. She completed Senior Four at Kyondo Primary School; after graduation she married Bwambale Jinaan Ngungoro and now she has two daughters and seven sons. She co-founded Kanyenze Women’s Group in 2000, and soon afterwards the Kanyenze People’s Co-operative Savings and Credit Society Ltd. She started a day care centre in 2006 and she has also served as a village worker and village development committee member.

Abdulrahman Aliyu lives in a Sharia state of northern Nigeria. He was born in Borno state; the home of Boko Haram. He is an atheist, humanist and vegetarian. He attended university but he had to drop out because his father (a prominent Islamic cleric) cut off his tuition due to his atheism. Abdulrahman has read many books by Richard Dawkins, San Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. He speaks three language: Kanuri, Hausa, and English, and he understands a little Arabic. He is also helping HumanistGlobal/BBI’s Ex-Muslim Support Centre.

Joseph Kasibirehe lives in Musasa village, Kanyasi parish, Kyondo sub-county, Kasese District, Uganda. From 1996-2001 he worked as a coordinator assisting people displaced by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) insurgency. From 1996 to the present he has worked as a committee chairperson overseeing numerous successful community projects in the Kyarumba region. He manages Brighter Brains activities here, dispersing funds to orphanages, primary schools, youth groups, clinics, and vulnerable children.

Teddy Ithungu lives in Kyarumba, Uganda. She is a community worker and a Gender Action Learning System (GALS) trainer for Bukonzo Joint Cooperative, and a teacher at Musasa Primary levels 1-7. She is also a coffee and banana farmer, with 618 coffee trees on eight acres of land, plus a eucalyptus plantation and ducks, hens, goats and three pigs. She also owns a motorcycle that she rents it out for 10,000 UGX ($3) a day.

Leo Igwe has been the Western and Southern African representative to IHEU, the International Humanist and Ethical Union. He has bravely worked to end a variety of human rights violations, including anti-gay hate, sorcery, witchcraft, ritual killing, human sacrifice, “untouchability”, caste discrimination, “child witch” superstition, and anti-blasphemy laws. He is presently enrolled in a three year research program me on “Witchcraft accusations in Africa” at the University of Bayreuth, in Germany.

George Ongere is the executive director of Center For Inquiry – Kenya. He’s written an e-book, Does Africa Need God? : a perspective from an Atheist in Africa. He works with campus secular groups throughout the region; his humanist essays can be read HERE and his humanitarian perspective is superbly expressed in his essay “Using Humanism to Help the Less Fortunate in Africa.”


Yasmine Muhammed is an Arab-Canadian university educator, activist, and author who has a blog called Confessions of an Ex-Muslim. She recently completed a memoir entitled: From Al Qaeda to Atheism. In it she describes how, even though she was born and raised in North America, she endured the same traumas that are familiar to Muslims across the planet. As a child, she was beaten for not memorizing the Quran. As a teenager, she was forced into a marriage to a member of Al Qaeda (after he was bailed out of prison by Osama bin Laden). And as an adult, she wore a niqab, and lived in a home/prison with paper covering all the windows. Yet, somehow, with nothing but a high school diploma and a baby in tow, she got out.Yasmine’s message is one of hope to her fellow ExMuslims.

Lily Rice is Graduate Attache at the British Institute in East Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. As a Cambridge University anthropology student, she’s currently writing a paper on humanism in Uganda. In spring 2017 she visited Kasese Humanist School, BiZoHa Orphanage Humanist School, Kahendero Humanist School, Cayenne Humanist School, Garama Secondary Humanist School, and Mother Givers Humanist School, taking numerous photos and sending in a detailed, valuable report that helped guide the future policies of Brighter Brains Institute.

Kevin Saldanha was born in Kenya in the Great Rift Valley & he views Africa as his continent of origin, but he was primarily raised in Goa, India, and he presently lives in Ontario, Canada. He has been a longtime, valuable supporter of Ugandan humanism, and his group — Halton Peel Humanist Community - funded a classroom + furniture at the Kasese Humanist Secondary School. Kevin is a veterinarian, and vegetarian, with a great love for animals. He serves as the BBI translator of Swahili-to-English. A longer bio is HERE

Dr. Sarah Fraser grew up in Merigomish, Nova Scotia, and she completed her medical degree at Dalhouse University. She is currently a resident doctor (General Practitioner) at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine in Sudbury. She was a volunteer at a Honduran clinic, she is a human rights activist, a humanist, she enjoys hula-hooping, and bird-watching, and she’s the author of an autobiographical novel: Room for Growth and a collection of poems: Humanity Emergency. Sarah examines the medic reports from Brighter Brains Institute’s 13 clinics and recommends treatments.

Bob Pellissier ( BBI Vice President of Economic Development) is the CEO of RKI Instruments in Union City, California, an electronics company that develops and distributes gas detection devices internationally. He has traveled extensively in Africa, Asia, and South America. As a BBI contributor, he supports eight clinics in Kasese, Kyarumba, and Buhanga, he provides science scholarships to Nyakiyumbu orphans, he created a music classroom in Kyarumba, he dewormed 420 children in Kasese and Nyakiyumbu, he purchased shoes for 230 boys and girls in Kasese and Bwethe, he provides food, books, and educational materials to Kyarumba schools, and he co-sponsored a roast chicken feast for 560 children in Kyarumba. His projects are filed HERE. He enjoys dirt-biking in Southern California, a hobby he hopes to pursue in the Ruwenzori Mountains of Uganda.

Carol Lloyd is Executive Editor of and the best-selling author of Creating A Life Worth Living. She was education editor for, award-winning weekly columnist for San Francisco Chronicle, and has written for The New York Times Magazine, This American Life, The Los Angeles Times, and SF Weekly as well as being featured on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, PRI’s The World and KQED’s Forum and To the Best of Our Knowledge. In 2009, she received a fellowship on Global Health Reporting from the Kaiser Foundation for her coverage of neglected diseases published in the San Francisco Chronicle and Seed Magazine. She has lived two years in Ghana, one year in Costa Rica, and worked as a volunteer in Northern Thailand.

Sean McGuire lives with his wife and son in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He studied Computer Science at McGill and Classics at Concordia. He works with computers in the medical field during the day and blogs at at night. He has created and endorsed several successful fundraisers that benefited the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda.

Kumaran Reddy was raised in Zimbabwe, (Rhodesia in those days). As unrest settled in, the family moved to Lusaka, Zambia, then London, England, in 1969, and eventually Winnipeg, Canada. Kumaran’s mother and father are educators; Kumaran is a musician, artist, videographer and a staunch supporter of humanism, globally, for ten years. His participation in Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics of Manitoba (HAAM) and the Brighter Brains Institute gives him great satisfaction.

Dana Feminova is the Chairwoman, Executive Director, and Main Coordinator of Development Cooperation Projects for the Rusinga Island Orphanage Humanist project in Kenya. She has been working with this community of approximately 50 children—about 60% orphans - since 2002. BBI is assisting her group in its mission to elevate the education, humanism, and health of this community, by helping with fundraising for sustainable projects and sex education. Dana lives in Prague, Czech Republic, but she visits the Kenyan community three times per year.


Andrea Vogt has been a generous contributor to secular causes since 2013. She sponsors a girl at Kasese Humanist Primary School, and an orphan boy at Rays of Light Orphanage Humanist School. She supported numerous fund raisers at Kasese Humanist Primary School, such as the fund to “Electrify” the school, and she has sponsored both the Roadside Stand and the Health Clinic at BiZoHa. She lives in Germany.

Ted Peters is a professor at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. He is also a futurist and scholar who focuses on the interaction between theology and science. He co-edits the journal, Theology and Science, for the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley. His website is: Ted’s Timely Take, Ted sponsored the “De-Worming the Mangyan” Project, he sponsored a free lunch program for Rays of Light Orphanage, and he’s the main donor to H+ Clinic.

Meredith Newman Debens is an Australian, ex-librarian and ex-teacher. She funded the Future Path Classroom at Mother Givers Humanist School in Buhanga; she designed the furniture inside, and she had the region’s only ceiling installed. She also sponsored the Opening Day party with a baking class, and she funded tree-planting on the downhill slope to prevent erosion from washing the classroom away. In 2017, she organized other Australians into a Friends of Buhanga - Australia group that has tremendously benefited the Buhanga community, purchasing solar lamps, sponsoring a children’s excursion to Queen Elizabeth National Park, and many other philanthropic activities.

Roger Hansen was employed for many years as a planner for a federal resource management agency in Utah. He enjoys traveling and has lived in and/or visited and/or worked in over 40 countries on five continents. He currently lives part time (doing volunteer work) in Uganda, and in the Navajo Nation. His blog is Tired Road Warrior, and he’s a member of the Mormon Transhumanist Association and Engineers without Borders.

Masereka Solomon graduated from Makerere University in 2010. He is a Teacher’s Assistant at Kasese Humanist Primary School in western Uganda, and a contributing writer at the think tank, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology. His specialities are: 1) incorporating new technology into the curriculum as educational aids, 2) incorporating sports and physical education equipment into the Curriculum, 3) fundraising, 4) identifying communities in need in The Congo.

Rachel Edler is an accomplished graphic designer living in Sonoma County, California. She comes from a diverse background of product development, packaging and web design. She is passionate about graphic design as well as science. In her free time she volunteers her design and marketing skills for several scientific and political organizations including the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science and the Secular Coalition for America. Rachel currently sponsors the Rachel Lyn Edler clinic at St. Thomas Nursery school in Kyarumba, Uganda.

Eric Oliver Pellissier is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz. He is the sponsor of Eric Oliver Clinic #1 at Rays of Light Orphanage School, and Eric Oliver Clinic #2 at St. Luke’s Nursery School (both in Kyarumba). Eric also launched the Creativity Laboratory at Kasese Humanist Primary School, by purchasing music equipment, art supplies, a video camera, and other creativity tools. Additionally, he has provided free lunches (beans and corn) for orphans at Rays of Light, he’s provided shoes and clothes for Rays of Light orphans, and he co-sponsored a roast chicken feast for 560 children in Kyarumba. His projects are filed HERE. He is an events producer.

Alex McGilvery lives with his family in Flin Flon, northern Manitoba, Canada. He is the author of The Unenchanted Princess, By The Book, and Playing With Yggdrasil, and other books available HERE. He serves as the minister of a thriving congregation at Northminster Memorial United Church of Canada. Alex has also written essays for the bioethics think tank The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology.

Rosalind “Sally” Melendres is the director of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Community Center on Mindoro Island, in The Philippines. Her school serves the Mangyan indigenous people of the region. BBI sponsored numerous children at her school in 2014-2015, plus we de-wormed the students. In previous years, members of BBI purchased land for the Mangyans, bought tools, seeds, and food. BBI’s partnership with this organization ended because they were Catholic and refused to use birth control. We wish them luck in the future, but their populations exploding, and their primary work (“grass-cutting”) provides a salary of less than $1 per day.

Zoltan Istvan wrote the article that helped BBI collect $5,280 in only 29 hours, to build “the world’s first atheist orphanage.” Zoltan is the “Zo” in BiZoHa. He is a prolific journalist on transhumanist topics, the author of the novel The Transhumanist Wager, plus he was the Tranhumanist Party candidate for President in 2016 and he’s a candidate for California governor in 2018, as a Libertarian Party member.


Brighter Brains Institute is a 501(c)3 non­profit, tax­exempt organization in the United States. Our EIN is #46­3953105.

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