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An Interview with Kevin Bolling — Executive Director, Secular Student Alliance — Session 2

2022-12-13

Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/02/10

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How did you find the Secular Student Alliance?

Kevin Bolling: I was called by a recruiter. So one, I had worked with them before. Joe called me or sent me an email and said, “Hey, I have a job you might be interested in. Take a look at it.” That started it off.

So, I worked in college. I was involved in student activities. I was on the program board. I was an orientation leader for summers. I was an RA in housing. So I did a lot. I did a lot of student activities, student affairs stuff in college.

Then when I realized that I could do this as a job. I thought that it was fun. So, I went to grad school at the University of South Carolina. My masters desgree is in education in student personnel services; so, specifically to work in colleges and universities where student activities, student organizations, student leadership, I worked in higher education for 15 years. I absolutely loved it.

College is a pivotal time where human developments take place during that time for students, working with students is fantastic. Part of that is a gift. The chance to be able to work with college students again was clearly an interest of mine.

Going back to one of my passions, something that I truly enjoy. Then a mission of the organization is to provide an open and welcoming place for secular students to be able to be themselves, find a community, and then put their values into action to make the world a better place, especially nowadays looking at our political situation.

What I call the “blurred line” between religion and politics, that strong, white, far-right influence into our society right now. For many students, it is a great place for them to have a conversation about religion and to figure out where they may be if they’re having questions about that.

So, our conversation could be that they decide religion is enjoyable and right for them while others may decide that it is not. I believe that SSA has provided that ground, where people can have that dialogue and other areas, may not be safe places to do that.

Jacobsen: Now, you are the executive director of the Secular Student Alliance. Arguably, it is one of the biggest if not the biggest secular student organization. So, what tasks and responsibilities come with the position?

Bolling: You’re asking big questions. Yes, I have been the executive director in nonprofit management for about 20 years. So, I have had a lot of experience with nonprofits. Being in a nonprofit world has always been important to me, it is important to me that what I do and what I work every day makes a difference in someone else’s life.

I have a professional past, but that’s the one condition of every job I have taken. I was in the corporate world for three months and decided that was enough for me. It wasn’t that feel good when you went home; that you did something good.

But for SSA, being the executive director of this organization is different than any other; so, the tasks and responsibilities are clearly administrative and board related. Those are two things. But the heart of this organization is the mission and programmatic value of working with the various student organizations across the country and making sure they have the resources and support.

That they’re making the jewel that impacts on their own campuses. So for SSA, depending what region you’re in the United States, those are going to be different things that the organization needs and their different impacts on the campuses.

So, our organization needs to be supportive and agile enough to be able to work with different student organizations is important.

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.in-sightpublishing.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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