Meet the New AHA Staff Member: Kristin Wintermute

Meet the American Humanist Association’s new Director of Education, Kristin Wintermute! What is your educational and work background?

I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Montana in pre-professional psychology with a minor in art studio and later acquired a master’s degree in social work from the University of Maine. My early career was working as a mental health practitioner in a variety of settings, including private practice, public schools, non-profit clinics, and for a major healthcare company over an eight-year period. In 1998 I made the decision to leave the field of social work to become a stay-at-home mother. Pursuing part-time work from home, I was hired by the North American Committee for Humanism (NACH) to be their executive director. In 1999 NACH and it’s subsidiary, The Humanist Institute (THI), became one organization. I initially served as THI’s business manager, but later became its executive director. I worked for THI for nineteen years. How did you first learn about humanism?

I was born and raised as a humanist. My family attended the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis (FUS, the largest humanist congregation in the world) throughout my childhood. I attended religious humanist education programs there from an early age through high school, and in my senior year I taught three- and four-year-olds within FUS’s Sunday school program. In college I volunteered at the Unitarian Fellowship of Missoula, Montana, creating a humanist-oriented children’s program for attending families. After college I returned to FUS where I started a group for young adults interested in learning more about humanism and being with like-minded individuals. What interested you most about working for the American Humanist Association?

It is important for me that the legacy of The Humanist Institute continues well into the future. I strongly believe education is the avenue for growing humanism across the nation as a viable alternative to religious life. The American Humanist Association’s growth over the years into a strong humanist organization made it an obvious choice for the educational programs built by The Humanist Institute. What book has influenced you the most?

Stephen King’s The Long Walk, which was published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, really affected me.  It’s a horrific display of the worst of what humans are capable of, what they can endure, and how one survives despites the odds. It represents for me the fragility of life and the delicate balance of being human. If you could have dinner with any three people in the world (living or dead), who would they be and why?

#1: I would love one more time to have dinner with my mom. As a founder of The Humanist Institute and dedicated humanist leader, her wisdom and knowledge was key to shaping me into the leader I am today.

#2: Barack Obama, because he is such a cool guy, and I’m curious what he thinks of the current state of the Union.

#3: Sigmund Freud, because I have a lot of questions about strange reoccurring dreams I’ve had for years.