who and why we areAssociation of Secular Elected Officials
Association of Secular Elected Officials
The religiously unaffiliated are the fastest growing demographic in the country and the number of elected officials from this community is also growing. These elected officials do not hold theistic or other supernatural beliefs and seek to govern and advance public policy based on evidence, reason, and compassion. They use many identifiers, including: atheist, humanist, agnostic, skeptic, nonreligious, freethinker, nonbeliever, religiously unaffiliated, and/or spiritual but not religious. We use the word “secular” as shorthand for the wide variety of nonreligious identifiers our members choose.
By openly serving as secular elected officials our members help dispel the prejudice against the nonreligious community, encourage other members of this community to run for office, and make our democracy stronger. The United States’ democratic experiment will be more successful when all Americans participate and are represented in our public institutions. The nonreligious community must be visible and welcomed participants.
The goal of this association is to help elected officials be authentic about their beliefs and ethics, and provide a forum for elected officials to connect with each other for education, support and fellowship.
ASEO was conceived of by Leonard Presberg and Ron Millar at the beginning of 2020 and following a pandemic-related hiatus, formally convened its first Board Meeting in December 2020. The Association of Secular Officials, Inc, is a Georgia Non-Profit Corporation and has applied for IRS 501(c)(3) status.
Founder and President
Leonard has been a member of the Fayette County School Board since December 2011 and is a former Chair of the Fayette Democratic Committee.
Leonard graduated with a BA from Oberlin College and a JD, magna cum laude, from University of Richmond. He is a former preschool teacher and currently serves as the CFO for Women’s Medical Center.
Leonard has served as a coach and volunteer in various non profits. Currently, Leonard serves on the Boards of the Red Clay Storytelling Festival and Fayette Votes!
Leonard and his wife Elizabeth have three children.
“Almost half of today’s young voters identify as “nones.” For too long the non-religious have been excluded from being open about their constitutional right to be non-religious. As the need for science-based policy is paramount, we have a vocal minority pushing for special rights for their religious beliefs. Now, more than ever, we need to support and educate our non-theistic elected colleagues as they work to make our country and their community better for everyone, regardless of their religious or non-religous beliefs. That’s why I’m calling on my elected and appointed colleagues to join me to share support and resources as a member of the Association of Secular Elected Officials.”
Charlene Komar Storey
Charlene is a former council member, councilwoman at large and council president in Roselle Park, N.J. A native New Yorker who also has lived in California, she spent most of her life in the Garden State.
Charlene holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from New Jersey’s Thomas Edison State University. She is a veteran business-press editor and writer. She also has written on a variety of topics for general-interest publications that include The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Examiner, Irish America magazine, and many more.
A long-time board member of the North Jersey Humanists, Charlene also has volunteered for organizations ranging from the Jewish Braille Institute to the Roselle Park Friends of the Library. She and her husband, Gregory, served as international observers at the Orange Parades in Northern Ireland in 1999, including the major one at Portadown. They both are Humanist Celebrants and have married hundreds of couples.
Charlene has been interested in politics since 1964, when she read a 10-part comic in Treasure Chest, a Roman Catholic children’s comic magazine, about two kids involved in a presidential campaign. (She attended 12 years of Roman Catholic schools.)
Charlene is a staunch believer in the separation of church and state.
“In a time when science is critically important yet inexplicably under assault, it’s vital that we provide support for political candidates who understand the importance of facts. While everyone has the right to follow a religion if they so choose, no religion can interfere with the community’s safety or the government’s policies. Non-theistic officials need the support that churches and their organizations often provide for those who are members of their congregations. This is a time of great turmoil. We can’t stop change, but we can make sure that we deal with it as intelligently and carefully as possible. The Association of Secular Elected Officials can help that happen.”
Born and raised in Montana, Danny Choriki moved to New York City in his twenties to figure out how people cope with rapid social and technical changes and how to encourage humans to pay more attention to long-term dangers such as climate change. An environmental social scientist, Choriki has been a humanist all of his life and a non-theist since high school, He has been involved in politics and culture, and social change all of his life.
Choriki is currently a member of the Billings City Council in Montana. He has been the President of the Billings Association of Humanists since 2013 and has worked to advance public policy driven by science and data.
“We live in a time of intense economic and social change driven by technological, cultural, and market forces. Our daily lives will continue to change. We must face these changes with hope in the future, faith in each other, and public policies that are driven by outcomes and not by ideology. We have the abilities and the knowledge to create a better future for everyone. We need to act with courage and purpose. We need to be the solution.”
Sherry grew up in a working-class suburb of Detroit. She earned her BA in Sociology & Social Welfare at California State University – Long Beach and has a Master of Social Work degree from Boston University. She worked in the field for 8 years before earning an MBA at Northeastern.
Her work took her to many countries, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region, where she was introduced to many religions and cultures. One memorable moment was when she stood in a 2nd floor office in Ho Chi Min City, as the city was preparing for the 30th anniversary celebration of the Fall of Saigon, looking across the street at a schoolyard of children at a Catholic school playing. Halfway around the world, in a country that was devastated by a war engaged in by the US, and this scene could have been anywhere in the world. We are all one!
After leaving the Catholic Church in her late teens, Sherry went back a few times to see if a religious message would resonate with her. It never did. She now views religion (as opposed to faith) as one of the first scams perpetrated by man on man.
In semi-retirement, Sherry wanted to give back to her community and was appointed to the Nashua Conservation Commission which she now chairs. Co-existence, conservation, stewardship are words that she lives by.
After the 2016 Presidential debacle, Sherry and a friend decided to get involved in politics. They ran and won seats in their ward as Selectmen, which is actually an elected poll worker. As she loves to say, “it was the least we could do” with the emphasis on ‘least”. In 2018 Sherry ran and won her seat as a State Representative. Dutzy is now serving her 2nd term in the NH House representing Hillsborough 30, Nashua Ward 3. A firm believer that “democracy is not a spectator sport,” Dutzy works to increase civic engagement and build closer relationships between constituents and their representatives. In the legislature, she has supported increased funding for public education, increasing the minimum wage, reducing drug prices, and supporting reproductive rights. As a member of the Environment and Agriculture Committee, she works on solid waste management issues, animal protection, and farming and conservation practices.
Dutzy is a passionate supporter of democracy and is an advocate of transparency and responsive government that fully answers to its constituents. One of her favorite sayings, to paraphrase, is “For evil to triumph it is only necessary for good people to remain silent.” She identifies as a nonbeliever, secular/humanist.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof