Meet the New AHA Staffer: Anne Ruwe

Please welcome the AHA’s new Member Services Assistant, Anne Ruwe! What is your educational and work background?

I graduated in 2018 from the University of Tennessee. I am a Phi Beta Kappa member with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. I’ve always been fascinated by the mind and why people think the way they do. This curiosity led me to the lab where I worked as a research assistant studying emotion regulation and intergroup dialogue. Since graduation, I have held positions in recruiting and animal rescue. How did you first learn about humanism?

I’m new to humanism. I learned the term my freshman year of college in a sociology class. The ideals of humanism fit with views I have held since middle school and for which I had often felt ostracized. It was comforting to learn that there are other people like me, and that there is an organization and community that represents and cherishes my beliefs. Did you grow up in a traditional religious faith? How did it impact you?

During my childhood my family casually, and mostly in name, practiced the Christian faith. My brother and I went to pre-school at church, and we attended the occasional Sunday service. Often, my mom would take us hiking or volunteering at a local horse rescue instead.

My parents supported my right to be skeptical. The demographic section on an end-of-year test in sixth grade was the first time I checked the box marked “no religious affiliation.” I consider myself lucky to have grown up in a household with two open-minded parents who have supported my love of learning. I’ve always found more social pressure to conform to traditional religious values outside my home than in it. What interested you most about working for the American Humanist Association?

As an atheist and an empath, I strongly believe in the American Humanist Association’s mission. AHA’s focus on separation of church and state is what most appeals to me.

I attended public school in the South, where it is normal to walk by a table and see free Bibles sitting out or to hear Christian prayer on the morning announcements. These experiences made me feel isolated, and I know other non-Christian students felt the same way. That’s why I’m excited to be part of an organization that’s taking on separation of church and state so adamantly. I believe my younger self would be glad too! What book has influenced you the most?

I have to go with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It’s a classic. I’ve reread it countless times over the years, and each time the book excites me more. It was one of the first novels I read with a strong female protagonist. This book helped inform my views of strong women encountering classic patriarchal experiences and helped pave the way to me becoming a feminist.

Incidentally, I have also read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (it’s really good too). If you could have dinner with any three people in the world (living or dead), who would they be and why?

I would have dinner with Jane Goodall, Michelle Obama, and Mindy Kaling. Dr. Goodall’s dedication to animal welfare and humanitarianism is incredible, and I’d love to hear more details about her time in Africa.

Michelle Obama is a hugely inspirational woman and an incredible advocate for education and health. She’s a great moral leader, and learning about her experiences would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Mindy Kaling is not only a hilarious comedian but also a proud feminist who fights for inclusion and diversity. I would be thrilled to attend that dinner party!