Staff & Volunteers
The Society currently operates with a fully volunteer staff. In addition to those listed here, there are many other people who make important contributions to the Society, from our Advisory Board, to our SNS Council, Contributing Writers, and Archive Contributors; not to mention our donors and members, without whom the Society would not exist. Please consider giving your unique voice to our community by joining or contacting us to volunteer!
Michelle L. LeBlanc (Community Facilitator) has been happily married to her husband/best friend (Roger) since 1999. She is a stay-at-home mom of 3 young boys. Her main hobby is gardening (flowers). Her background involves being a spirit-filled, born-again Christian for 33+ years (up until January 2011). She was a worship leader, soloist, and church leader for many of those years. Today Michelle considers herself a Spiritual Agnostic Humanist. Michelle has always had a great desire to inspire people towards finding truth, meaning, and purpose in this life, and says she is very proud to be a part of the Spiritual Naturalist Society. The Executive Assistant is responsible for record keeping, file maintenance, and assisting the Executive Director.
Thomas Schenk (Board of Directors) says he “has no credentials besides having lived for 50-plus years”. He calls himself a space-age Taoist, Black Sheep Catholic, Perennial Philosophy Pantheist, Dharma Bum, which suggests he is not inclined to commitment. Tom maintains a largely unread blog called the Golden Hive of the Invisible, which can be found at hiveoftheinvisible.blogspot.com. Directors at Large are available to work on special assignments and where most able and where needs are most crucial. Thomas is currently serving on the Board of Directors and the writing staff and helping to foster community by initiating discussions on the member forums.
Julie Strain (Special Projects Coordinator) is a lover of nature and animals. She volunteers her time in wildlife rehabilitation and has an interest in naturalistic forms of spiritual practice. She is owned by two cats, Cassie and General Zod. She loves Star Wars and is an avid reader. She has a degree in physics and works as a subsea engineer. As Special Projects Coordinator for the Spiritual Naturalist Society, Julie oversees and works on a variety of projects as needed.
Nicholas Johnson (I.T. Associate) graduated with a degree in Neuroscience from the Colorado College. He is currently pursuing a second degree in Computer Science from the UCCS. An atheist, he has incorporated his training in Neuroscience to conclude that we are merely machines. However, science teaches the importance of multiple models when trying to understand something, and Nicholas is finding just how important a spiritual model is to many humans’ ability to get the most out of life.
John Eric Klemesrud (Arts Director) is a video editor and musician in the Seattle area. As an avid mountain biker and nature enthusiast, he enjoys capturing wildlife videos with a motion-detector camera in the forest lands west of the Puget Sound (link to his videos). Being a song-writer, videographer, and graphic artist, John has always had a strong interest in the arts. However, in 2001, a renewed curiosity in science was evident by fact that he was watching every science related lecture series he could get his hands on. This was the final stretch on his path to Spiritual Naturalism. He also considers himself to be an Ethical Humanist, Deistic Agnostic, and a warm-hearted skeptic with ties to the Unitarian Universalist Association. John also loves to play tennis. The Arts Director is responsible for making sure the Society continues to recognize the important role of the arts in spirituality and one’s personal spiritual practice. They seek out inspirational visual art, music, poetry, dance, theater, and other art forms with messages meaningful to Spiritual Naturalists, and add them to our member archives. They also help to share these artistic expressions with the membership and the public.
Jean Schlisser (Volunteer Coordinator) is the longtime wife, companion, and occasional source of annoyance to our IT director, Tony Schlisser. As the mother of five almost adult children and a retired nurse, she is used to finding creative ways to help people handle themselves in the more challenging aspects of their life journeys. Jean sought the answers to life through many different religions, including Christianity, Paganism, Wicca, and Buddhism, before concluding that we are meant to find our own answers. Her beliefs can be summed up in one phrase, “We were all put on this earth to help one another”.
Timothy Heater (Local Chapter Organizer) is a graduate of San Diego State University with a Masters Degree in Social Work. For the last twenty years he has provided therapy as an LCSW to adults and children within the California Department of Mental Health State Hospital system. He also graduated from Starr King School for the Ministry (Unitarian Universalist) Masters of Divinity. During that time his studies focused on Unitarian Religious Humanism. Upon graduation he was employed as a Humanist Chaplain in the Hospice Department of the Kaiser Permanente Hospital, Vallejo California. He performed these duties, weddings and funerals as an AHA Chaplain. He also is a graduate of the Humanist Institute and holds membership in a variety of Humanist organizations.
Michelle & Roger LeBlanc (Local Chapter Organizers) are founders and facilitators of a group in Moncton, New Brunswick (Canada) that has become an SNS local chapter. They desire their group to be a warm and friendly community that is a secular alternative to faith-based communities, and they love what the Society stands for. Michelle is a stay-at-home mom, soloist & poetry writer. She enjoys nature, inspiring music, truth, and spirituality. Roger drives a school bus and is a huge football fan who also enjoys astronomy, nature and a variety of music . Both of their backgrounds involve being born-again Christians. Today Michelle considers herself a Spiritual Agnostic Humanist and Roger considers himself an Agnostic/Humanist.
Rick Heller (Local Chapter Organizer) facilitates the Humanist Mindfulness Group, which is sponsored by the Humanist Community at Harvard University. His writing has appeared in Buddhadharma, Free Inquiry, UUWorld, Tikkun, the Boston Globe, and Lowell Sun. He is the creator of Seeing the Roses, which presents videos showing how mindfulness can help us deal with behaviors that drive climate change.
We would also like to thank Christian Strain, who volunteered his time to create our original website:
Christian A. Strain (Web Developer) has over a decade of experience working with clients like Disney, U.S. Army, Haliburton, BP, Exxon, NASA, Rice University and Texas Children’s Hospital to name a few. Besides the Spiritual Naturalist Society, he also works with several non-profit organizations including the Medical Benevolence Foundation and Susie Bean. You may see more of his work at www.castrain.com. As a Society volunteer, Christian works in IT and web design for the Society.