Students for Church/State Separation, a program of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, is a place for youth activists to become involved in the work of maintaining religious freedom and ensuring that people are not discriminated against by someone who believes differently than they do. Americans United is one of the oldest organizations working to protect these fundamental values. We are a unique multi-faith community that includes those who profess faith as well as those who do not.
The Youth Advisory Council assists Americans United for Separation of Church and State in promotion of the organization’s mission and goals to young people. Youth Advisory Council members:
Noah Fitzgerel is a student at Brown University where he studies political science and religious studies. Noah has worked and written for various advocacy and political groups in Washington, D.C., and remains a contributing writer for The Huffington Post. Noah helped establish and lead Americans United's Youth Advisory Council, where he currently serves as a member.
Pete went to the University of Colorado at Boulder with a BA in Philosophy of Law, influenced by his passion for Church/State separation. He then went on to become the Vice President of the Secular Students and Skeptics Society and also the Volunteer Network Coordinator for the Colorado Regional Secular Student Alliance. He worked as an intern for Americans United for Separation of Church and State before moving to Columbus, OH to work for the Secular Student Alliance as a Campus Organizer.
Amanda Scott is a government major at Georgetown University, where she is a recipient of the 1789 Scholarship and member of the Georgetown Scholarship Program. She graduated summa cum laude from Faulkner State Community College with an A.A.S. in paralegal studies and the Paralegal Award for outstanding scholarship. She aspires to become a public interest lawyer specializing in constitutional and civil rights law. Before joining Americans United's Youth Advisory Council, Amanda founded her own nonprofit organization, Mobile Equality, and served on the Board of Directors of the ACLU of Alabama.
Matt De Staiso was the 2014 spring intern at Americans United. Since that time he has worked as a grant evaluator for a humanist nonprofit and as a paralegal for child abuse attorneys before taking on law school at the University of Pennsylvania. Raised Unitarian Universalist, a dedication to religious liberty and a pluralistic society has been and will continue to be a common thread in his professional career. As a student, he spends his free time volunteering for the Reproductive Justice Project, reading science fiction, and exploring Philadelphia.
Harshini Abbaraju is a high school student from Johnston, Iowa. She enjoys learning about American politics, social issues, intersectional feminism, constitutional law, etc. At school, Harshini is involved with Mock Trial, Debate and Speech, and various essay contests. She previously served as a summer intern for a federal magistrate judge and is currently a National Staff Member for the High School Democrats of America. She aims to study Political Science and Public Policy in college, and ultimately, to pursue a career in civil rights advocacy.
Claire is a recent graduate of The American University in Washington, D.C. earning a Bachelors in Religious Studies and History from the College of Arts and Sciences. While an undergraduate, Claire served as the President of the Episcopal Campus Ministries, and was a member of the university’s Interfaith Council, the United Methodist Student Association, and the Orthodox Christian Fellowship. After graduating she decided to stay in D.C. and took up an internship with Americans United.
Sarah Shulman is an Attorney Fellow in the Office of the General Counsel for the United States Trade Representative. She earned her J.D. from American University Washington College of Law and her B.A. from the George Washington University. Sarah first became involved with Americans United as an intern in 2010 and was delighted to be given the opportunity to help establish the Youth Advisory Council in 2013.
Thomas Sheedy is a secular activist from East Setauket, New York, who focuses on secularism and the acceptance of Atheists in America. He is a Senior at Ward Melville High School where he started a Secular Student Alliance on campus. He gained attention from his local secular community as well as secular students across the country. After graduating, he plans to continue his secular activism while pursuing a degree in Political Science.
Delaney Gold-Diamond is a student at the University of Chicago where she is pursuing degrees in Political Science and Romance Languages and Literatures. Before interning at Americans United in the summer of 2016, Delaney worked for her congressman, an immigration attorney, and several other positions in the legal, political, and nonprofit fields. As a competitor on the Moot Court and the Mock Trial teams at UChicago, Delaney hopes that her interests in church-state separation, politics, and justice will propel her into a legal career.
The Americans United Activist Award is awarded at the Americans United for Separation of Church and State Annual Meeting. The award recognizes young people who have worked to protect and promote church-state separation in their communities.
Douglas Ciampi , with the help of Americans United, persuaded officials at his high school to replace the baccalaureate with an “evening of reflection.” The new event turned out to be less expensive and more popular than the religious service.
Magdalene Bedi sued her school, Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, Miss., after the school held Christian assemblies sponsored by Pinelake Baptist Church.
Kace Echo found out that his school began and ended its graduation ceremonies with prayers. He opposed the invocations, and brought his complaint to Americans United. The school agreed to end the practice.
Jessica Ahlquist garnered national attention when she successfully challenged the display of a large prayer banner at her public high school in West Cranston, R.I.
Corwyn Schultz served as a plaintiff in an Americans United-sponsored lawsuit challenging school-sponsored prayers during graduation ceremonies.