Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees of The Humanist Community of Central Ohio (HCCO) are elected by the membership, to a two year term, to direct and program the day to day operation of the group. Also assisting the group and the Board is our part-time paid Coordinator. Feel free to meet them and ask questions at an HCCO sponsored event, through our contact page, our group Facebook page, or on Twitter.



Jamie Nichols - President

Jamie Nichols

After a slow transition from a Southern Baptist upbringing to a science-focused non-theistic humanist view in his teenage years, Jamie Nichols has been a member of HCCO since April 2012. He's also been involved in Columbus Skeptics since 2009. He hosts HCCO's Family Game Night and occasional science-related events through the Secular Parenting branch of HCCO. He has volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters for over 5 years. Though professionally a systems performance engineer, he is a science/engineering enthusiast in his spare time, making science videos for YouTube and building props for Halloween. Jamie's term on the Board ends in 2016.



Jeff Dubin - Vice President

Jeff Dubin

Like most Humanists, Jeff was one long before he knew what the word meant. Today, he understands it as incorporating human-based ethics, reason-based epistemology, politics, environmental concern, interest in the arts, and valuing community. Here's the concise "elevator speech" with which he's become pretty content: "Humanism = compassion + reason."

Jeff has a degree in Psychology from Earlham College, and a Master of Social Work from OSU. He works full time as a clinical social worker, mainly with clients who have severe mental illnesses. He likes to read books and news, critically discuss politics and philosophy, go to the gym, and spend time outdoors.

He has served on the HCCO board for numerous years, in addition to involvement in Students For Freethought and the Secular Student Alliance, and attends local Humanist and freethought events whenever his schedule allows. Jeff's term on the Board ends in 2016



Rita Messer - Secretary

Rita Messer

Rita discovered Humanism as a worldview shortly after her transition out of over 20 years as a Christian who had always been devoted to the principles of compassion and reason. She is a Licensed Independent Social Worker in private practice, avid reader, and loves to be outdoors. Having grown up in New Mexico, hiking, camping, rock climbing, and snowboarding are among her hobbies, as well as painting and Krav Maga. She is a regular volunteer with Camp Quest Ohio and co-hosts Columbus Rationality and Rational Mindfulness, two of HCCO's regular events. Her term on the board ends in 2017.




DJ Gregor - Treasurer

DJ Gregor, Treasurer

DJ is a self-described geeky nerd that enjoys helping to build and run the Humanist Community in his spare time. By day he's a computer geek and in his off hours he enjoys working on open source computer software, tending to a small but growing vegetable garden (when in season and Sharon lets him), and working on the endless stream of projects that comes with an old house. He holds a bachelors degree from The Ohio State University in economics. DJ's term on the Board ends in 2017



Annastacia Hackett

Annastacia Hackett

I was raised as an Army brat, moving around quite a bit as a kid, living in Iowa, Nebraska, Georgia, Panama, and Colorado. I graduated from Luther College (Deborah, Iowa) with a degree in Norwegian studies and went to library school in Seattle arriving just in time to ignore the grunge movement in favor of hanging out in musty libraries. Then I moved through several jobs in New York City, Alamogordo NM, Colorado Springs CO and Boise ID before arriving in Columbus in 2009 and am currently working in project management.

I began attending HCCO events starting with Heathen Chicks and Chocolate back in 2010. Gradually I realized that I wanted to do more than just attend meetings so I began hosting events. Eventually I decided to run for the board because I felt that I could bring an outsider's perspective to the group. I"m thrilled to be part of the HCCO community and look forward to increasing diversity in gender, race, thought, and opinion. Board terms in 2018




John Sterling

John Sterling

John has been a member of HCCO since 2001 and served on the HCCO board for a few years. He was treasurer for a year. He grew up in a fundamentalist church, The Church of Christ but was always interested in Science and spoke out against creationism even within the church. He left the church after college when a friend said something causing him to question his assumptions. Being used to a church community, he found the Unitarian Universalists Humanist group, then found this more secular HCCO group, which was a better fit for him.

John is a programmer by day. He has a degree in Engineering Physics from The Ohio State University and also discovered a liking for philosophy there, which has continued after college. He loves to jog – always outside (sometimes up mountains), loves nature, hiking and the outdoors. He's an amateur bird watcher. After college he has taken more interest in social issues and environmental conservation. John's term on the Board ends in 2015.



Derrick Strobl 

Derrick Strobl Board Photo

Derrick's background in teaching and law has given him experience both in critical thinking and in the thoughtful caring needed for effective community building. His interest in being “good without God” and ensuring human rights for LGBT people fit well with HCCO’s goals.

In his earlier work as a board member and president, Derrick helped expand our outreach, diversify our membership, organize operational systems, build our capital and welcome the contributions of other volunteers who have taken HCCO to a new level. Derrick is excited to be back on the board again to help HCCO take advantage of many the opportunities to expand our community  and  to plan ways to meet the our future needs. Derrick's term on the Board ends in 2015 



Paul Ventling

Paul Ventling

Hi, I'm Paul, your new HCCO board member. I was born and raised an Atheist in Columbus, thanks to my freethinking folks !

I moved to California to complete Radiologic and Cardiovascular Technology training. I have been back here working at Riverside Hosp. for 24 years. I've got three kids and live in Westerville.

As a kid I learned, sometimes the hard way, to keep my lack of belief in pretend gods or devils quiet. I didn't know of anyone outside of family who wasn't religious. That's why I feel strongly about the existence of a secular community like HCCO ! I only wish my parents could've known about it. It's so good to be with people who are sensible and not afraid to face reality !

As a member of HCCO,and several other secular groups, my greatest ambition is to spread the word. One thing I do believe is that people cling to myths out of fear. Fear of death and fear of being alone. I want the people to know they're not alone !



Nathan Weller

Nathan Weller

Nathan grew up in a non-denominational evangelical home. After graduating high school he went into full-time youth ministry as a writer and producer for one of the largest independent youth ministries in the United States.

Before too long however, the deeply problematic practices of Christian ministry and a critical analysis of the Bible began to erode his faith. Over the course of five years, starting in 2007, Nathan painstakingly de-converted from Christianity and began to build a new secular framework for his life.

In discovering Humanism and HCCO in particular, Nathan found a like-minded community interested in living and promoting the values of reason, compassion, and basic human dignity above any notion of the "sacred".

He hopes to help strengthen and expand the good work that HCCO does by volunteering his time, money, and talents. Nathan term ends in 2016.



Rose Hagalaz, Coordinator


Rose discovered HCCO through a Columbus Rationality event in 2013 dealing with issues of rational relationships and polyamory. She is very active within the local polyamorous community. She currently serves on the board of directors for Open Hearts Central Ohio and formerly served on the board of directors of PolyColumbus. She graduated with honors from Ohio University in 2011, earning a degree in Sociology and Psychology.

Rose is an avid fan of craft beer, books, and television shows and is happy to have lengthy discussions about these and many other things. She greatly enjoys music and has performed with the Dublin Silver Band on and off throughout the past few years as a percussionist. She is always curious and eager to learn new things.



HCCO Board hard at Work
HCCO Board of Trustees hard at work