Council of management
Keith Porteous Wood
Keith Porteous Wood was executive director of the NSS from 1996 - 2017. After retiring he was elected president.
Previously a finance director of several major companies, his professional background in finance and law also equipped him to build the NSS's financial security and parliamentary work.
He has promoted the NSS's agenda in Whitehall, the Westminster parliament and the Scottish and European Parliaments as well as extensively in the media. As well as remaining close to current campaigning, strategy and governance, he is active at the UN, promoting human rights, including those of victims of clerical abuse.
Josephine Macintosh works as a lawyer in London. She has represented the National Secular Society, as well as Humanists International and Center for Inquiry, at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva since 2012. Recently, her work at the UN has involved collaborating with Keith Porteous Wood on submissions focused on clerical child abuse to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Josephine also sits on the jury of the Fondation Veillon European Essay Prize awarded from Lausanne, Switzerland.
Richard Scorer works as a lawyer, specialising in representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse. In his work over the last 25 years he has represented hundreds of victims of clerical sex abuse and has also written extensively about abuse in religious settings - his book Betrayed: The English Catholic Church and the Sex Abuse Crisis was published by Biteback Books in 2014. He has been heavily involved in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA). Based in Manchester, he works nationwide. He has also been politically active in the past, serving as a local councillor and board member of various campaigning organisations.
Mike was born, raised and educated in Scotland, and now lives near the beautiful city of Bath. An economics graduate of the University of Dundee, he became a management accountant and plied that trade for almost 40 years in industry and the public sector. Laterally he ran a small consultancy practice specialising in schools' funding issues in the maintained sector.
When he retired, he 'ran away' to join the theatre – attended an adult theatre school and has since operated, sporadically, as a professional actor and voice artist.
He has long been interested in the secularist agenda and looks to bring his professional expertise to assist the continued success of the Society.
Judy Audaer was born in York, brought up in Harrogate and currently lives in the Yorkshire Pennines.
A social worker by profession, she has worked mostly in Child Protection & Safeguarding. She was 10 years in Bradford during the Rushdie fatwa and aftermath. She did Voluntary Service Overseas in Mongolia for 2 years where she assisted governmental compliance with the UNCRC.
Having worked with abusers & victims of child abuse, Judy feels very strongly the need to expose the criminality and cover up of clerical abuse. As an atheist she has faced discrimination, some of which she vividly recalls from childhood. These and other things drive her to actively help the NSS keep religious belief where it belongs, in equality with any other form of belief.
Bob Forder is a very long term NSS member and retired teacher with a lifelong interest in secularist, radical and freethought history. He now acts as NSS historian and in that capacity, it is his aim to ensure future generations are aware of the courage, foresight and commitment of those who went before us and the great causes they espoused.
Catriona Low is originally from Edinburgh and now based in London. She has previously worked with Humanists International at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. This experience strengthened her strong commitment to contribute to the safeguarding and equal treatment of all, irrespective of belief.
Now in Hertfordshire but originally from Birmingham Ed is married with three children and the founder of a software company based in Brighton. He was treasurer from 2015-2020 and is a long term NSS member with a particular interest in the financial support of religion by governments and abuses of privilege enabled by the Church of England's position as part the establishment.
Aleksandra Myslek is a pianist and a music teacher. Having graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in London, she went on to focus on collaborative music making while advocating the importance of universally available, high quality music education for the benefit of the whole of society. She is also proud to work with the Live Music Now charity, which provides live performance and workshops to a range of community settings, such as care homes and schools. Her main interests within the NSS are matters concerning children's rights and freedom of expression.
Sadikur is a Local Authority Solicitor. He has a particular interest in how the law and secularism interact. He is keen to ensure that equality laws are applied in a way which treat all beliefs equally but does not give religious ideas extra protection. He is co-chair of the Secular Legal Forum and also sits on the scholarship committee.
He believes the most important upcoming campaigns will surround issues of free speech and blasphemy and will campaign to ensure that legal protections for free speech are not diluted in favour of speech deemed blasphemous or simply offensive.
Dorothy Smith is a physics graduate. She subsequently worked for the Inland Revenue /HMRC for most of her career in Manchester, Cheshire, Hertfordshire and London. In the latter locations she ran tax offices as district inspector. For the final 15 years she concentrated on international matters and for some time ran a transfer pricing team, investigating multi nationals. Her experience has proved useful when addressing the wide range of issues that come before the NSS Council.
Dorothy has been on Council since 2015 and would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in a truly fair society. Within the NSS she is also on the staff sub-committee, acting as a bridge between the office team and Council.
Chief Executive Officer
Stephen is our chief executive, responsible for day-to-day management of the organisation, and management of the staff team.
Stephen assumed the role of CEO in 2018 after spending ten years at the NSS in which oversaw much of the NSS's campaigning and public affairs work. Prior to joining the NSS Stephen held managerial roles in the retail and charitable sector. Stephen is a regular media commentator on the role of religion in politics and public life. He is also a keen marathon runner.
Head of Education
Alastair's interest in secularism comes through his commitment to social justice and liberal political activism. His master's thesis focussed on victimhood narratives by privileged groups including the American religious right. Following campaigns and policy work in the voluntary sector, Alastair joined the National Secular Society in 2014, working on a variety of campaigns before focusing on education. He currently coordinates the No More Faith Schools campaign. Besides secularism, Alastair's passions include science fiction, football and politics.
Head of Policy and Research
Megan Manson is head of policy and research at the NSS. She previously worked for the Japanese government promoting cultural exchange and language learning. She has long been active in local interfaith initiatives.
Head of Operations
Helen Nicholls is a law graduate. Whilst studying for her law degree she gained an interest in law and religion. She has previously worked for a human rights organisation and in business. She was an NSS member and volunteer before she joined the staff in 2017. In her spare time, she runs a monthly group for fans of the author Terry Pratchett.
Buddha Halder joined as Engagement Officer in 2021. He oversees and delivers the membership and supporter journey to engage and retain our existing member and supporter base and grow our movement by driving the acquisition of new members. He has previously volunteered and worked for the International Secretariat of Amnesty International. He has also worked with higher education institutions and charities in the UK and abroad.
Ella Sen is a campaigns officer on the education team. Ella is a graduate in International Relations from the University of Manchester and is interested in how secularism and religion interplays in education nationally and worldwide. She has previously volunteered for the European Union of Women, in which she discovered her interest in campaigns, social justice and human rights. In her spare time, Ella volunteers as a group leader for the charity Refugee Women Connect.