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An Interview with Kevin Bolling — Executive Director, Secular Student Alliance — Session 3


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/02/12

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Why is the Secular Student Alliance important for the advancement of secular values in campus life?

Kevin Bolling: I do think it is definitely important. August Brunsman was executive director for the last 16 years. The staff has done a great job in building the organization to where it is, so that it has that dominance and precedence. So with chapters across the country, for the secular movement, it is interesting.

The students that are coming in: one, it is finding a place for them to get involved in the secular movement. For a good number of people, this may be the first place where they had that direct involvement.

Hopefully, they’re developing leadership skills to be able to continue on with the movement. For being involved, my first event as the executive director, where the SSA was the Secular Coalition of America in their lobby days.

It was a real chance for me to meet many different people in the other organizations within the secular movement. Clearly, the SSA was the only student organization there. But with almost every organization I met, there was an SSA alum who was currently working in one of those organizations.

So for the rest of the organizations in the secular movement, we are providing some of those future leaders, but I also think we’re the second movement as a whole. We’re providing an experience where those students can develop leadership skills, where they become, my term, “activists” within the secular movement.

Then they can move on and become the future leaders of the secular movement and the future leaders of the country. If we can help instill some of those values and skills to help that be as successful as possible, that’s a great place for us to be.

Jacobsen: Taking one step back, you were the executive director for the California Thoroughbred Horseman’s Foundation. What was it? How did it help, looking back, with your current position?

Bolling: The California Thoroughbred Horseman’s Foundation, it is niche; it is a nonprofit in the thoroughbred horse racing industry. There are multiple nonprofits in that industry. So, it looks specifically at riding primarily medical and dental — so healthcare, some social services.

But for the backstretch workers, the individuals who were training and taking care of the horses; throughout there was thoroughbred racing in the state of California. So in California there are two, there is a northern and southern cycle, which run concurrently with each other.

So in northern and southern California, we were operating all year around depending on what race tracks or county fairs or training centers were in operation at the time. So first, there is the practical experience of working with a nonprofit and being an executive director, for 10 years.

It was a changing landscape because of the changes within the racing industry. So it is looking at what service we’re providing, how we provide the services, and the provider of those services. Then it is matching those with the needs of the community that we’re serving as the budgeting concerns of the organization.

So, lots of practical experience of running a nonprofit in California, which will clearly be important in this position with a large social mission. So, we were providing health care, which I know is extremely important.

You can call it a right, if you will, within our society. For largely low socioeconomic and largely immigrant Latino population, for many of the people who were our clients, this was one of the only ways that they were going to be able to get affordable healthcare, even in the state of California which is fairly progressive on its views on healthcare.

Also, we were saving the state a tremendous amount of money because we were doing a lot of preventative healthcare in commute. We were keeping people. There was 5,000 licensed workers as other family members were taken care of on an annual basis.

We were treating them as far as their primary care, such as preventative care, and also keeping them out of emergency rooms. Those are things which are one of the most expensive ways for the state and the taxpayers to pick up the bill.

We were also, of course, at that time at the racing industry, which is a tremendous moneymaker for the state. So, while that’s a monetary focus, there is a real reality there as what we were doing to save the taxpayer’s money too.


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


© 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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