Our non-profit organization is governed by a Board of Directors.
Board of Directors
Michelle Shimberg has been a school policy activist for nearly twenty years, helping to shape policy and programs for the 8th largest school district in the country. During this time she has built effective relationships with elected officials as well as administrators and parents that led to important changes. In addition to her work on education, Ms. Shimberg serves on the Board of Starting Right, an organization dedicated to ending homelessness through multiple strategies. She also serves as an officer of Men of Vision, a group that provides support to at-risk males. She is twice the past president of Delta Delta Delta Fraternity, an organization of more than 200,000 women.
David F. Bjorklund is a Professor of Psychology at Florida Atlantic University where teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in developmental and evolutionary psychology. He served as Associate Editor of Child Development (1997-2001) and is currently serving as Editor of the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology (since 2007). His books include The Origins of Human Nature: Evolutionary Developmental Psychology (with Anthony Pellegrini); Origins of the Social Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and Child Development (edited with Bruce Ellis); Why Youth is Not Wasted on the Young; How Children Invented Humanity; and Children's Thinking: Cognitive Development and Individual Differences, now in its sixth edition. His current research interests include children's cognitive development and evolutionary developmental psychology.
Jerry is the co-founder and secretary/treasurer of the Evolution Institute. Prior to the establishment of EI as a non-profit in 2010, he served as president of the Humanists of Florida Association, which is affiliated with the American Humanist Association and was EI’s initial umbrella organization in 2008. Jerry presently serves on the boards of the Secular Student Alliance, Florida Consumer Action Network (FCAN) Foundation, and Project Now Inter-generational Outreach. The lattermost is a neighborhood-based organization in East Tampa, FL with one of the state’s lowest income populations. EI collaborates closely with Project Now – providing technical assistance and organizational capacity building. Jerry concluded his formal education in 1973 when he was awarded his PhD from New York University. Prior to his retirement in 2002, he was founder and director of the Florida Community Partnership Center at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The center harnesses the massive human and technical resources within a large, comprehensive state university to improve the quality of life in impoverished neighborhoods in the Tampa Bay region. Before his retirement, he successfully created an endowment for his center, and it is now named the Jim Walter Partnership Center – as a result of a large donation from a family well known for affordable housing development. Before Jerry moved to Florida in 1989, he was a professor of political science in New Jersey for 25 years at Essex County College in Newark and at William Paterson University in Wayne. While at the former institution, he founded the Urban Institute and served as a dean. Governors of the state appointed him to serve on several boards that impacted NJ higher education as well as its electoral process. His background also includes extensive political campaign experience in the Democratic Party and experience as a professional consultant (including for the Meadowland Chamber of Commerce) and as a principal in an investment bank and import export company. In addition to teaching, research, and deep community engagement, he has been active in fundraising for organizations and political candidates that share his progressive values.
David Sloan Wilson is SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University. He applies evolutionary theory to all aspects of humanity in addition to the rest of life, both in his own research and as director of EvoS, a unique campus-wide evolutionary studies program that recently received NSF funding to expand into a nationwide consortium. His books include Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society, Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives, and The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time and Does Altruism Exist? Culture, Genes, and the Welfare of Others.
Peter Turchin is an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Connecticut who works in the field of historical social science that he and his colleagues call Cliodynamics. His research interests lie at the intersection of social and cultural evolution, historical macrosociology, economic history and cliometrics, mathematical modeling of long-term social processes, and the construction and analysis of historical databases. Currently he investigates a set of broad and interrelated questions. How do human societies evolve? In particular, what processes explain the evolution of ultrasociality—our capacity to cooperate in huge anonymous societies of millions? Why do we see such a staggering degree of inequality in economic performance and effectiveness of governance among nations? Turchin uses the theoretical framework of cultural multilevel selection to address these questions. Currently his main research effort is directed at coordinating the Seshat Databank project, which builds a massive historical database of cultural evolution that will enable us to empirically test theoretical predictions coming from various social evolution theories. Turchin has published 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including a dozen in Nature, Science, and PNAS. His publications are frequently cited and in 2004 he was designated as “Highly cited researcher” by ISIHighlyCited.com. Turchin has authored seven books. His most recent book is Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth (Beresta Books, 2016).
Julie Seaman is an Associate Professor of Law at Emory University, where she teaches courses in evidence, constitutional law, and freedom of speech. After earning her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1989, she served for two years as a law clerk for federal district court Judge Robert J. Ward and then took ten years off from her professional career to stay home with her three young children. She began teaching at Emory Law School soon after moving to Atlanta in 1998. Her research interests include issues at the intersection of law and neuroscience and the application of social, cognitive, and evolutionary psychology to the problem of hate speech in various institutional contexts. Julie holds a B.A. (summa cum laude) in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. (magna cum laude) from Harvard University, where she was on the editorial board of the Harvard Law Review.
A union leader for more than eight years, Alphonso Mayfield is an emerging leader in the labor movement who, in a very short time, changed the direction of the labor movement in Florida by bridging the gap between communities and unions. Additionally Mr. Mayfield is an Executive Board member of SEIU International and Secretary Treasurer for SEIU Florida State Council. He is also an Executive Board member of Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy, and Hip Hop Congress. He is also a Board of Trustee of the Florida Democratic Party. Mr. Mayfield has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Alcorn State University and is an aspiring Master’s degree candidate in Public Relations from Jackson State University.
Guru Madhavan is the inaugural Norman R. Augustine Senior Scholar and director of programs of the National Academy of Engineering where he leads and oversees activities of broad scope and complexity focused on engineering practice, education, research, communication, and policies. His portfolio of work at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has included leading the analyses for making prescription medicines affordable and developing a national strategy for cancer control in the U.S., directing a global health forum on infectious diseases, and conducting the research, design, and development of a systems analysis platform for prioritizing new vaccines and related interventions. A systems engineer by background, he received his M.S. and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and an M.B.A. from the State University of New York. He has served as a technical adviser to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has worked in the medical device industry as a research scientist developing cardiac surgical catheters for ablation therapy, and has been a strategic consultant for technology startup firms and nonprofit organizations. He has served as a vice-president of IEEE-USA and was a founding member of the Global Young Academy. Among numerous honors, he has received the National Academies’ Innovator Award, National Academy of Medicine’s Cecil Medal, AAMI–Becton Dickinson Award for Professional Achievement, Washington Academy of Sciences’ Krupsaw Award for engineering sciences and education, Professional Achievement Award from the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, and has been named a distinguished young scientist by the World Economic Forum. His publications include the nonfiction ``Applied Minds: How Engineers Think`` (W.W. Norton) that has been translated into many languages. For his books and lectures, he has received the IEEE-USA Award for Distinguished Literary Contributions Furthering Public Understanding and the Advancement of the Engineering Profession
Professor Nina Witoszek is currently Research Director at the Centre for Development and the Environment at Oslo University. Prior to her work at SUM, she taught comparative cultural history at the National University of Ireland in Galway (1995-1997) and the European University in Florence (1997-1999). She held fellowships at the Swedish Collegium of the Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Uppsala (1993), Robinson College, Cambridge (1995) and Mansfield College, Oxford (2001) and visiting professorship at Stanford University (2010). Nina Witoszek is also a fiction writer (under the pen name Nina FitzPatrick). She is best known for the infamous collection of short stories, Fables of the Irish Intelligentsia (1991), which won the Irish Times-Aer Lingus Award for fiction in 1991. The prize was subsequently withdrawn when she couldn’t prove her Irish ancestry. Until 2001 her fictional work – including The Loves of Faustyna (1995) and Daimons (2003), as well as several well film scripts – was written together with her late husband Pat Sheeran. Witoszek is the recipient of the Norwegian Freedom of Expression Foundation (Fritt Ord) Award for “bringing Eastern European perspectives to the public debate in Scandinavia.” In 2006 she was chosen by the Norwegian daily Dagbladet as “one of the 10 most important intellectuals in Norway.”
Rafael Wittek is a professor of Theoretical Sociology at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands). His interests are in the fields of cooperation science, economic and organizational sociology and social network research. His work addresses a broad range of societal issues, like the performance of humanitarian organizations, community resilience, corruption of civil servants, conditions for successful reform implementation, employee voice, workplace solidarity, or health and compensation inequalities. He held teaching appointments at Cornell University, the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, and the Università della Svizzera Italiana. He is the principal investigator and Scientific Director and of the research and training center Sustainable Cooperation – Roadmaps to Resilient Societies (SCOOP), a trans-disciplinary inter-university consortium uniting sociologists, psychologists, historians and philosophers. In 2017 this initiative was awarded a ten-year 18M€ government grant to investigate the psychological and institutional foundations fostering or impeding sustainable cooperation in and between communities, families and organizations. Collaborating closely with societal stakeholders, SCOOP explores how alternative institutional arrangements can contribute to improving societal resilience, in particular in the policy domains of work, care and inclusion.
Gin Lieberman has been involved with the Evolution Institute since its inception – assisting with the necessary paperwork for incorporation and non-profit status. Most recently, she have participated in Quality of Life workshops in Oslo and in Mondragon, Spain. Additionally, she has served as Project Resource Manager for EI and interim editor of TVOL. Before she retired, Gin was an educator: First teaching high school biology and chemistry and later university courses such as Public Speaking, Organizational Communication, and Writing for the Mass Media. The American Humanist Association has certified and endorsed her as a Humanist Celebrant, which enables her to officiate at weddings, celebrations of life, and other human rites of passage. Being active in the humanist community, Gin has served on the Florida Humanist Association and Tampa Humanist Association boards. Gin's undergraduate degree is in biology, with her master’s is in journalism studies, and doctorate in communication with a cognate in moral and political philosophy.
The Evolution Institute operates with both operational staff and project-based individuals working around the globe.
Ashle has worked in the non-profit sector both in the US and UK for over 10 years, in addition to her role as research assistant for the University of Oxford and Queen’s University Belfast. She holds an MA in Cognition and Culture and an MA in nonprofit Management, with an emphasis on cultural institutions.
Nadeska is a bilingual researcher and graduate of the Sustainable Development master’s program at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Her work has focused on using participatory methods and interdisciplinary systems thinking to understand social-ecological systems in the Global South. This has included assessing the impact of sustainable commodity certification on local groups in conflict areas of Colombia, and the impact of rural infrastructure development on adaptive capacity of farmers in Ethiopia. She has experience working directly with community leaders, activists, and policy makers to ensure that research has a real impact on improving lives and the human-nature relationship. She believes that data analysis and storytelling go hand in hand, and is committed to using science and communication as a key for agency that reinforces local knowledge and community-built power.
Daniel Hoyer is Senior Project Manager and Lead Researcher of Seshat: Global History Databank and Part-Time Professor at the Centre for Preparatory & Liberal Studies at George Brown College in Toronto. He holds a PhD in Classics from New York University, and has been with the Seshat project since 2014. His research employs comparative historical and social scientific methods to explore the causes and limiting factors to economic growth, societal development, and general well-being. In particular, he investigates the way that prosocial behaviour is produced and maintained among large, diverse populations and the forces that cause well-being to wax and wane among different segments of a society’s population. He recently co-edited with Jenny Reddish - The Seshat History of the Axial Age (Beresta Books, 2019) - a large volume exploring ideological and institutional change during the so-called Axial Age. He has recently been featured on several radio and podcast interviews, including the History Hit podcast with Dan Snow and Global News Radio Canada.
Jill Levine is a coordinator and research assistant at The Evolution Institute’s Seshat: Global History Databank project. She previously worked as a translator and editor in Beijing, and studied Chinese and Asian Studies at Vassar College. She has also spent time at Peking University, SOAS, and Qingdao University.
Eric Michael Johnson received his masters degree in evolutionary anthropology and he pursued his dissertation on bonobo (Pan paniscus) behavioral ecology before switching fields to work on the history of evolutionary biology in late-19th century England, Europe and Russia. In addition to publishing original research in such places as the Journal of Human Evolution and American Journal of Physical Anthropology, he has written on evolutionary topics for general audiences at Slate, Times Higher Education, Discover, Wired, Psychology Today and many others. He is a longtime advocate of science communication online and has spoken at academic as well as social media conferences on how important it is for scientists to reach out to the public by engaging readers with a compelling narrative. He can be found on Twitter at @ericmjohnson and his blog, The Primate Diaries, is currently hosted by Scientific American. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Rozelia Kennedy, Ph.D. graduated from the University of South Florida’s College of Education majoring in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Adult Education. She has a Master’s Degree in Education Administration from Harvard University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Florida Memorial University. Rozelia has 20 years of experience in financial budgeting and analysis with Verizon Communications. She spent the last 10 years at the University of South Florida in fiscal and budgeting positions in several different departments including as Payroll and Sponsored Research. She has spent much of her career teaching adults in a variety of subjects and settings including budgeting, analysis, forecasting, research, funding applications, financial management and education. In addition to her career choice she is certified in nonviolence conflict reconciliation based on the philosophy and strategies of Martin Luther King, Jr. Her goal has always been to make sure the students understand in simple terms what they need to learn from the class and how it applies to them. Her philosophy is to incorporate historical knowledge with current trends to help students broaden their critical thinking.