Annual Awards Banquet
The Annual American Atheists Awards & Members Banquet began at 8 p.m. This event is a tradition at the National Conventions; we acknowledge the dedication, hard work and achievements of Atheists throughout the nation who have contributed in an extraordinary way to the growth of American Atheists and the separation of church and state. The banquet also includes recognition of the American Atheist of the Year. Other awards cite distinguished service, as well as recognition for the defense of the wall of separation and the First Amendment.
Ellen Johnson, President of the American Atheists, opened the post-dinner program by thanking the many people who had worked so hard to make this 25th National Convention such a success. Kudos to Ed Gauci, Wayne Aiken, Joe Zamecki, Dick Hogan, Frank and Ann Zindler, Ron Barrier, Charles Terrano, Dodie Gervais, Gil Amancio and Henry Morgan.
Ms. Johnson then began the long series of award presentations.
* Gil Lawrence Amancio, Northeast Regional Director, was presented with an award for his successful efforts in challenging a nativity display in his home town of Somerset, Mass. Mr. Lawrence was presented with the 1999 Wall of Separation Award.
* Neal Cary, the National Outreach Director for American Atheists was called to the dais, to present the State Director of the Year Award. This was the first year for this citation. Carletta Sims of Tennessee was awarded this recognition as State Director of the Year; among the many efforts she has made in the past year was protesting a released-time program in local public schools, and the display of the Ten Commandments in government buildings in her local community.
* Abortion rights activist Bill Baird was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for 1999 from American Atheists.
* Caroline Gilman was presented with a Life Time of Service Award for her many, many years of work on behalf of American Atheists.
* Ed Gauci, webmaster for American Atheists, was cited for his constant work “behind the scenes” in bringing the organization into cyberspace He received the American Atheists Outreach Award for 1999.
* Chris Prokop was presented with an American Atheist Certificate of Appreciation, especially for his work in helping to organize last year’s demonstration in Washington, D.C. in support of feminist-Atheist writer Taslima Nasrin. He received a Certificate of Appreciation for 1999.
* The American Atheist Civil Rights Award for 1999 was presented to Liz Burcin, State Director for Pennsylvania.
* David Silverman, State Director for New Jersey was presented with the American Atheists Activist of the Year Award for 1999. Dave was instrumental in helping to defeat the N.J. Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
* A Certificate of Appreciation was presented to Maryland State Director John Obst, especially for his participation in the Nasrin demonstration, and in working against the Md. Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
* Neal Cary, National Outreach Director for American Atheists was cited for his work in helping to organize and “grow” the State Director network. He received a Distinguished Service Award for 1999.
* Dick Hogan was presented with the 1999 Atheist of the Year Award.
* Randall Gorman, Texas State Director, was presented with the 1999 Volunteer of the Year Award.
* Carl Silverman received the 1999 Defending the Wall Award.
* Maryland State Director John Obst received a Certificate of Appreciation for his work in helping to stop that state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
* Charles Terrano, National Youth Outreach Director, received recognition for his work in helping to make the 25th National Convention such a success.
* Dave Silverman, New Jersey State Director, received the 1999 American Atheists Activist of the Year Award.
* Liz Burcin, Pennsylvania State Director, received the 1999 Civil Rights Award.
Finally, Ellen Johnson was presented with a plaque for her role in helping to guide the organization for the past four years, and helping to re-establish the American Atheists Center .
© 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 by American Atheists.