Americans United Youth Advisory Council

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:

  • Are familiar with and actively promote the cause of religious freedom and the separation of church and state
  • Keep the organization appraised of trends in outreach to youth
  • Work to increase membership and participation of young people in Americans United

2018 Youth Advisory Council

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Harshini Abbaraju is a high school student from Central Iowa who currently lives in Greenville, South Carolina. She is passionate about progressive politics, civil rights issues, and intersectional feminism. She serves as the Executive Vice Chair of the High School Democrats of America and aims to pursue a career in the legal field.

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Danyal Ansari is a student at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and is studying biomedical engineering with a focus in pre-dentistry. He is an immigrant from Pakistan and has lived in multiple states and countries. He believes in equality in all aspects of living and hopes to bring better smiles (literally and figuratively) to as many people as he can.

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Luqmaan Bokhary is a Muslim-American student from San Diego, CA at Brown University studying International Relations with a focus in the Middle East. His passions for Muslim advancement, intersectional activism, and progressive politics have caused him to get involved with High School Democrats, Muslim Students Association, and local community organizing groups. Luqmaan eventually hopes to be able to pursue a legal or policy-making career, or perhaps a combination of the two!



Claire is a 2015 graduate of The American University in Washington, D.C. where she earned her Bachelors in Comparative Religious Studies and a minor in History. While studying as an undergraduate, she focused her studies on the Abrahamic faiths, Buddhist religious practice, and philosophy. She also holds extensive interest in early Church, Holocaust, and World War II resistance history. During her time as a student at American University Claire served as the President of the Episcopal Campus Ministries (ECM) and was an active member of American University’s Interfaith Council, United Methodist Student Association (UMSA) and Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF). After earning her degree, she started at Americans United for Separation of Church and State as the Advocacy Intern from fall 2015 through spring 2016. Claire is currently working as a youth minister with the Edge ministry program at St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Fayetteville, GA and is currently in charge of starting the young adult ministry program there.


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.

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Evan Farrar is currently an undergraduate at the University of California, Los Angeles where he is an Alumni Scholar studying Political Science and Civic Engagement. He is a secular activist focused on Establishment Clause jurisprudence and the destigmatization of atheism in America. He is also passionate about LGBTQ rights and progressive politics. Evan hopes to pursue a career as an academic or public interest lawyer and eventually end up in politics.


Noah Fitzgerel graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a degree in political science and religious studies with honors, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. At Brown, Noah served as student president of Brown RISD Hillel and as content director of the Brown Political Review. He follows politics closely, having worked for MSNBC and ABC News, and is particularly passionate about religious freedom and the separation of church and state—causes for which he has worked and written in Washington. Noah serves as a founding member of the youth advisory council of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and is an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.



Gerardo Rivera is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. He founded and was the President of Secular Humanist Association UPRM, which is the only secular student group on his campus and in all of the public university system in Puerto Rico. He serves on the Board of Directors of Secular Humanists of Puerto Rico, on the National Leadership Council of the Secular Student Alliance and as one of the representatives for Puerto Rico to the International Humanist & Ethical Union. His work focuses on promoting secular humanism as a progressive philosophy and educating the public on diverse topics, mainly the importance of Separation between Church & State, and fighting the social stigma faced by the secular community in Puerto Rico. Gerardo hopes to serve as an example for other Hispanic student activists & to voice Puerto Rico's contribution as part of the global secular movement.


Thomas Sheedy is a secular activist from East Setauket, New York, who focuses on secularism and the acceptance of Atheists in America. When he was a Senior at Ward Melville High School, he started the first Secular Student Alliance on campus, gaining attention from his local secular community as well as secular students across the country.


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 Youth Advisory Council, Amanda founded her own nonprofit organization, Mobile Equality, and served on the Board of Directors of the ACLU of Alabama.


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.