Moving back to Minnesota

I’ve been told that Minnesota is the U.S. state with the highest percentage of people who move away only to move back later. I left Minnesota in 2008, and though my moves since have taken me further and further away from home, I always knew I wanted to end up back there. Now, as I approach a decade since leaving my home state, I have exciting but bittersweet news:

Later this year I will be stepping down as Yale Humanist Community’s executive director and moving back to Minnesota to work with a number of Humanist organizations to establish a Humanist Center.

The Humanist Center of Minnesota is a new project being supported and incubated by First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, a historically Humanist Unitarian Universalist congregation, the Humanist Institute, a Humanist educational organization, and the Humanists of Minnesota, a community building and educational group. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to work with these organizations, and particularly grateful for the vision and support of Kristin Wintermute of the Humanist Institute, David Breeden of First Unitarian Society, and Audrey Kingstrom of the Humanists of Minnesota. I’m really looking forward to our work together.

As a part of my work as the Humanist Center of Minnesota’s director, I will also serve as a fellow at Augsburg College’s Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, where I will explore nonreligious civic engagement. I am thrilled about returning to my alma mater, which is doing amazing work, and I’m eager to be in conversation with their Sabo Center, Campus Ministry, the Religion Department, and other campus partners. My sincere thanks to Elaine Eschenbacher at the Sabo Center, Augsburg College president Paul Pribbenow, and others for their support. Click here to read more from Augsburg about my fellowship, if you’re interested.

After taking a bit of a break from public writing, I’m also very happy to share that I plan to write another book when I’m back in Minnesota. I’ve already started some initial work on it and I’m feeling really positive about how it’s going so far.

Finally, I’m in early discussions with other colleges, universities, organizations, and communities in Minnesota about collaborating with the Humanist Center. If you know of anyone I should be in conversation with — including you! — please reach out.

While I am delighted to be going home and very excited about these new projects, this was a profoundly difficult decision. Building and directing the Yale Humanist Community has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life since I was brought on in 2013, and I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished together. I’m excited about what the future holds for the Yale Humanist Community and looking forward to the energy and vision a new director will bring, and I hope for your understanding and support as I transition out of this role.

I will be staying on in a part-time capacity for the rest of the academic year to fulfill our remaining 2016–17 programs and work with our board to identify a new director, while I also begin some work on the Humanist Center of Minnesota remotely. I’m deeply committed to ensuring that the Yale Humanist Community finds an amazing new executive director, and my board and I are already working hard to set that person up for success. I hope anyone who is interested will apply, because this is a great opportunity to do meaningful Humanist community work. Please click here for more information about the position and how to submit a letter of interest.

I want to thank everyone in New Haven, at Yale, and at the Yale Humanist Community — especially our incredible community members, students, partners at Yale and in New Haven, and board members, interns, volunteers, and staff (past and present) — who has made my experience here so profoundly rich.

I also want to thank my collaborators at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, the Humanist Institute, the Humanists of Minnesota, Augsburg College, and others for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to work with them on building a center for Humanist life in my home state.

Finally, I want to extend my gratitude to everyone who has supported me and the communities I’ve served over the years for all of your encouragement and inspiration. I’m looking forward to continuing to learn with and from you.

Onward,

Chris

P.S. Click here for Yale Humanist Community’s official announcement.