My Goals as President: Increase Awareness of Humanism, Attract More Young People

By Ellie Haylund

Hey there, humanists!

I’m honored to be writing my first column as president of HumanistsMN. I first want to thank my predecessor, Harlan Garbell, for his steadfast leadership. It’s been an honor to serve as his vice president and observe his dedication to our organization, encouragement of new ideas, and commitment to the mission of growing the humanist community. I’m inspired by how he has empowered people to grow, get involved, and help us reach new heights. I aim to carry the momentum maintained by presidents past with enthusiasm, creativity, and a profound belief in the tenets of humanism.

During my seven years with HMN so far, I have held two key goals. One: to generate increased awareness of humanism. Do I expect our message to resonate with everyone who comes across it? I do not. But when humanism becomes a household term, it will organically reach the ears of those who never knew there was a name for what describes them. I support trying innovative ways for us to be seen and heard.

As co-chair of HMN’s Marketing Team, I was excited this past year to work on a plan to do just that.  It included billboards, radio spots, a greater social-media presence, a redesigned website, and new meeting venues (i.e., brewpubs!). Most exciting, we launched our first-ever membership campaign and brought in more than 30 new members.

My second goal: bring in the youths! For the organization to thrive, we need to prioritize connecting with young adults—whether they are seeking a community, looking for volunteer opportunities, or simply want to support our mission. 

We have healthy financial reserves and will continue to thoughtfully and strategically plan how best to apply them to these goals. Please let me know if you have any ideas, or want to help.

Okay, a bit about me. I love crafting, reading, video games, and music. I live with my husband and fellow board member, Nick, in our beloved Northeast Minneapolis with our rescue dogs Wally and Tater Tot. 

As a progressive millennial, I am part of the generation (along with the up-and-coming Gen Zers) that has higher rates of “nones” (people with no religious affiliation) than any generation before us. I give high priority to separation of religion and government, which is critical to issues I care about including LGBTQIA+ rights, reproductive freedom, social justice, and environmental protection. Humanists know that many people of all ages have held secular views since… a really long time ago.  Fortunately, it has become more acceptable to openly advocate for our principles as time ticks on.

In spite of the disturbing trend we’ve seen toward bigotry and fascism in our country, the natural trajectory of the majority of Americans is toward equality, compassion, reason, and logic — even if we sometimes waver between feelings of nihilism and optimism. This makes a community like ours more important than ever, as both a home for like-minded individuals and a champion for our values. We will not allow religion and intolerance to undo the critical progression of our society toward widespread human flourishing.

Here’s to a bit more of that elusive optimism. Onward and upward!


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