Please welcome the newest addition to the American Humanist Association staff, communications associate Merrill Miller! Learn more about her support for humanism below.
TheHumanist.com: What is your educational and work background?
Merrill Miller: I graduated with a B.A. in 2011 from Ohio Northern University, where I studied creative writing and sociology. As an undergraduate, I spent my summers interning with the National Organization for Women (NOW) and Foundation Beyond Belief. In 2012, I received my M.A. in literary and cultural studies from the English department at Carnegie Mellon University. Afterwards, I worked in nonprofit communications and development with an agency that focuses on women’s employment and economic issues in Pennsylvania.
TheHumanist.com: How did you first learn about humanism?
Miller: I can’t recall the first moment that I learned about humanism, but I know that I was exposed to it in college through my interest in feminism, as both feminism and humanism affirm the inherent dignity and value of all human beings.
TheHumanist.com: Did you grow up in religion? What was it like?
Miller: I grew up in a conservative, Christian community. I attended Christian schools until ninth grade, consistently went to church on Sunday mornings and dutifully read the Bible every night. However, I was always aware of the dissonance between the message of love that many Christian churches claim to teach and the prejudiced attitudes that they hold toward women, atheists and members of the LGBTQ community. When I went to college, where I was encouraged to think critically, I examined the beliefs I’d been taught as a child while exploring other worldviews. Finally, I decided that atheism best reflected my observations of the world around me and that humanism best matched my ideas about how to live an ethical, compassionate life.
TheHumanist.com: What interested you most about working for the American Humanist Association?
Miller: My career goal is to work in communications for an advocacy organization that promotes progressive values, so the American Humanist Association seemed like a perfect fit!
TheHumanist.com: Have you read any good books lately? What’s your favorite book?
Miller: I recently finished reading journalist Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America, which critiques the self-help industry and its pseudoscience. I would definitely recommend it.
TheHumanist.com: If you could have dinner with any three people (living or dead), who would they be and why?
Miller: I would love to have dinner with existentialist and feminist Simone de Beauvoir, children’s author and architect Norton Juster and activist and “grandmother of all agitators,” Mary Harris “Mother” Jones. I think that all of them would be very enlightening, though very different, dinner companions.