We have a great lineup of speakers for the 2014 FAIR Conference. Below you will find an overview of each speaker’s credentials and the title of their presentation.
Dana Kimmell Anderson
Dana Kimmell Anderson is a professional actress who starred in many of the television shows and movies in the 80’s. Dana joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 19 after starring in an NBC movie of the week titled “The Stranger at Jefferson High,” which was produced by a member of the church. Dana continued acting until after the birth of her third child.
Dana and her husband, John, are the parents of four children. Dana homeschooled her children and incorporated college classes into their high school curriculum. Three are BYU graduates and all live in Utah.
Dana is currently a California Real Estate Broker and has a property management company in southern California.
Dana has served as Young Women’s President, Primary President and currently serves in the Relief Society Presidency. Her husband serves as Branch President.
Panel: Family Members Who Left
Barry Bickmore is Professor of Geological Sciences at Brigham Young University, and is co-Chair of the Arts and Sciences editorial board at BYU Studies. He has written a number of articles for both FairMormon and the FARMS Review. While Barry was still in graduate school, FairMormon published his book, Restoring the Ancient Church: Joseph Smith and Early Christianity, which explores the links between early Christian doctrines and practices, and those taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. FairMormon recently published a revised and expanded edition of the book.
Presentation: Joseph Smith Among the Early Christians
Ann Edwards (“A. E.”) Cannon, writes books for young readers. She also wrote for the Deseret News, and currently has a column in the Salt Lake Tribune. She also leads discussions sponsored by the Utah Humanities Council’s Public Square program. Occasionally she is fortunate enough to teach creative writing and work as a bookseller at the muy famosa King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City. She and her husband, Ken, and have five sons, three daughters-in-law, two charming granddaughters, three parakeets, one parrot, two cats, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and a Newfoundland dog that weighs 180 pounds. Living with a Newfoundland that size is like living with a donkey in your house. A small donkey. But still.
Presentation: Why, yes! I am a Mormon, thank you very much.
Sharon was born in Redding, California, to Mark and Jean Eubank. She received a bachelor’s degree in English from Brigham Young University and served as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Finland Helsinki mission. Her career includes working as a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate for 4 years and owning a retail education store in Provo, Utah, for 7 years.
Since 1998, she has been employed by the Church in the Welfare Department. She helped to establish 17 international LDS employment offices Africa and Europe. For five years she directed the humanitarian wheelchair program expanding its scope to 50,000 individual donations each year and implementing World Health Organization training standards.
In 2008 Sharon became regional director of the LDS Charities for the Middle East Africa North area where she oversaw humanitarian work with active country offices in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Jordan, and Morocco. She also served on the Relief Society general board during Sister Julie B. Beck’s administration until April 2012.
Currently, Sharon is the director of LDS Charities, the humanitarian organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Presentation: “This is a Woman’s Church”
Paul J. Fields
Paul J. Fields, PhD, is a consultant specializing in research methods and statistical analysis. He has worked with the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship on stylometric and authorship attribution studies of the Book of Mormon and other documents related to the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He received his doctorate from Pennsylvania State University. During his academic career he was on the faculty of the United States Naval Postgraduate School and Brigham Young University.
Presentation: Scriptural Style in Early Nineteenth Century American Literature
Matthew C. Godfrey
Matthew C. Godfrey is managing historian of The Joseph Smith Papers and coeditor of volumes in the Documents series. He holds a PhD in American and public history from Washington State University. Before joining the project, he worked for eight years at Historical Research Associates, a historical and archeological consulting firm headquartered in Missoula, Montana, serving as president of the company from 2008 to 2010. He is the author of Religion, Politics, and Sugar: The Mormon Church, the Federal Government, and the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, 1907-1921 (2007), which was a co-winner of the Mormon History Association’s Smith-Petit Award for Best First Book. He has also published articles in Agricultural History and Pacific Northwest Quarterly and has presented papers at conferences of the Mormon History Association, the National Council on Public History, the American Society for Environmental History, and the Western History Association, among other organizations.
Presentation (with Matt Grow): The Story Behind the Revelations: Using the Joseph Smith Papers to Better Understand the Doctrine and Covenants
Matthew J. Grow
Matthew J. Grow is Director of Publications at the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a general editor of the Joseph Smith Papers. He was previously an assistant professor of history and director of the Center for Communal Studies at the University of Southern Indiana. Along with Terryl Givens, Grow is the author of Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism (Oxford University Press, 2011), which received the Best Book Award in 2012 from the Mormon History Association. His earlier book, “Liberty to the Downtrodden”: Thomas L. Kane, Romantic Reformer (Yale University Press, 2009), also received the Best Book Award from the Mormon History Association as well as the Evans Biography Award from the Mountain West Center at Utah State University. Grow has published articles in the Journal of the Early Republic, Church History, American Nineteenth-Century History, Journal of Mormon History, BYU Studies, and Utah Historical Quarterly on topics ranging from the mutual perceptions of Catholics and Mormons to the cultural of honor to the memory of the Civil War. He received his BA from Brigham Young University in 2001 and his PhD in American history from the University of Notre Dame in 2006. He and his wife Alyssa live with their four children in Sandy, Utah.
Presentation (with Matt Godfrey): The Story Behind the Revelations: Using the Joseph Smith Papers to Better Understand the Doctrine and Covenants
Karen Lyons is a lifelong member of the LDS church. She and her husband were married in 1982 and had eight children. In 2006, her husband asked the church to remove his name from the records. Because of questions he brought up, Karen became acquainted with FairMormon. He was rebaptized a few years later, and is semi-active now. They divorced in 2010. Karen continues to be active in the church.
Panel: Family Members Who Left
Ty Mansfield is a marriage and family therapist currently living in Provo, Utah, with his wife and their two (almost three) kids. He chronicled his own spiritual journey with same-sex attraction as co-author of In Quiet Desperation: Understanding the Challenge of Same-Gender Attraction (Deseret Book, 2004) and later compiled Voices of Hope: Latter-day Saint Perspectives on Same-Gender Attraction—An Anthology of Gospel Teachings and Personal Essays (Deseret Book, 2011). He also co-directs the Voices of Hope Project, a website extension of the book, and has been featured in the May/June 2012 issue of LDS Living magazine and on the Church website mormonsandgays.org. Ty is a co-founder and the current president of the nonprofit organization North Star, a faith-affirming support organization for LDS individuals and families addressing issues of sexual or gender identity and who desire to live within the framework of the doctrines and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Presentation: “Mormons can BE gay, they just can’t DO gay”?: Deconstructing Sexuality and Identity From an LDS Perspective
Kerry Muhlestein received his B.S. from BYU in Psychology with a Hebrew minor. As an undergraduate he spent time at the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies in the intensive Hebrew program. He received an M.A. in Ancient Near Eastern Studies from BYU and his Ph.D. from UCLA in Egyptology. He taught courses in Hebrew and Religion part time at BYU and the UVSC extension center, as well as in history at Cal Poly Pomona and UCLA. He also taught early morning seminary and at the Westwood (UCLA) Institute of Religion. His first full time appointment was a joint position in Religion and History at BYU-Hawaii. He is the director of the BYU Egypt Excavation Project. He was selected by the Princeton Review in 2012 as one of the best 300 professors in the nation (the top .02% of those considered). He and his wife, Julianne, are the parents of six children, and together they have lived in Jerusalem while Kerry has taught there. He has served as the chairman of a national committee for the American Research Center in Egypt and serves on their Research Supporting Member Council, as well as on a committee for the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities. He is involved with the International Association of Egyptologists, and has worked with Educational Testing Services on their AP World History exam.
Presentation: The Book of Abraham and Unnoticed Assumptions
Roger is a native of the San Francisco Bay area. He currently works as the Software Quality Assurance Manager for a high-tech semiconductor equipment company based in northern California. He received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Brigham Young University in 1985 and a Master of Science in Computer Engineering from Santa Clara University in 1993. Roger is married, has five children and is currently serving on the high council in the Hayward California Stake.
Roger became involved with FAIR in April 2008 when he became an editor and administrator on the FAIR Wiki after spending several years editing LDS-related Wikipedia articles. Since that time he has worked to restructure and expand the FAIR Wiki in order to make it as comprehensive and easy to navigate as possible. He received FAIR’s “John Taylor Defender of the Faith Award” at the 2009 FAIR conference in recognition of these efforts, and his Wikipedia experience was featured in the Deseret News article “Wiki Wars: In battle to define beliefs, Mormons and foes wage battle on Wikipedia,” in January 2011.
Panel: Family Members Who Left
Marvin Perkins, of Los Angeles, CA, has been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for over 26 years. Born and raised in Niagara Falls, NY, just 90 miles west of Palmyra, Marvin is a highly sought after public speaker, speaking on the topic of Blacks in the Scriptures and the LDS Church and race, throughout the US and around the world. He is also an accomplished vocal recording artist.
He currently serves as First Assistant in the High Priest Group Leadership in his congregation, is a Temple Worker in the Los Angeles, CA Temple and has represented the LDS Church in numerous news articles, internet, television and radio programs. Past service includes: Director of African American Relations on the Southern California Public Affairs Council, Gospel Doctrine and Seminary instructor, and Co-Chair for Genesis Public Affairs, his second calling out of Salt Lake City, though having never lived there. He is married to the former Ani Crespo. They have three children and Marvin is a successful Recruiting & Talent Management Software sales director.
Brother Perkins is also the recipient of the 2004 Humanitarian award by the National Council of Community and Justice, and in October 2007, he co-authored with Darius Gray and produced the groundbreaking DVD series entitled Blacks in the Scriptures, which details the biblical and LDS scripture on people of color, skin color, curses and the priesthood. He’s appeared on CNN as part of the Black in America series and has launched along with Bishop Fred Bethel of FL in 2009, a national African American Outreach program (AAOP) that is helping many over the obstacle created by the restriction on priesthood.
Presentation: Blacks in the Scriptures
A native of southern California, Daniel C. Peterson received a bachelor’s degree in Greek and philosophy from Brigham Young University (BYU) and, after several years of study in Jerusalem and Cairo, earned his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Peterson is a professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic at BYU, where he has taught Arabic language and literature at all levels, Islamic philosophy, Islamic culture and civilization, Islamic religion, the Qur’an, the introductory and senior “capstone” courses for Middle Eastern Studies majors, and various other occasional specialized classes. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on Islamic and Latter-day Saint topics–including a biography entitled Muhammad: Prophet of God (Eerdmans, 2007)—and has lectured across the United States, in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, and at various Islamic universities in the Near East and Asia. He served in the Switzerland Zürich Mission (1972-1974), and, for approximately eight years, on the Gospel Doctrine writing committee for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also presided for a time as the bishop of a singles ward adjacent to Utah Valley University. Dr. Peterson is married to the former Deborah Stephens, of Lakewood, Colorado, and they are the parents of three sons.
Presentation: Some Reflections on That Letter to a CES Director
Robert A. Rees
Robert A. Rees (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin) is an educator, scholar, and poet. He has taught at a number of universities, including the University of Wisconsin; the University of California at Los Angeles, or UCLA (for twenty-five years); the University of California at Santa Cruz; (as a Fulbright professor) at Vytautaus Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania; and the California State Universities at Northridge and Los Angeles. He has lectured at universities in China, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Kaliningrad, and has been a visiting scholar at the Centers for Arts and Humanities at Claremont Graduate University. Currently, he teaches religion at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.
Professor Rees has extensive experience in international education. He established and was the Director of Studies for three UCLA Extension programs in England—with Cambridge University and with the Royal Colleges of Art and Music. He was also involved in education initiatives in London, Paris, and the former Soviet Union, and led two delegations of distinguished American writers to China.
Dr. Rees has served as bishop of the Los Angeles 1st Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he and his wife Ruth served as education, humanitarian, and service missionaries in the Saint Petersburg Russia and Baltic States missions of the LDS Church. In October 1992, Dr. Rees and his wife became the first LDS Church missionaries to work in Lithuania after the fall of the Soviet Union.
From 1971 to 1976, he was the second editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. He is the editor of the 2011 book, Why I Stay: The Challenges of Discipleship for Contemporary Mormons.
Presentation: Earl Wunderli’s Imperfect Book
Matthew Roper is currently a Research Scholar at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University. He received a B.A. in History and a M.A. in Sociology from Brigham Young University. He has published numerous articles and review essays on issues relating to Latter-day Saint history and Scripture. He is the husband of Julie Roper. They are the parents of five children.
Presentation: Scriptural Style in Early Nineteenth Century American Literature
Hannah C. Smith
Hannah C. Smith graduated from Princeton University where she majored in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She graduated with honors from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University where she was inducted into the Order of the Coif. Following two clerkships at the U.S. Supreme Court for Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Hannah joined the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a public interest law firm based in Washington, D.C. She does legal projects part-time from her Washington D.C. home where she and her husband John M. Smith are raising their four beautiful children.
Hannah was a member of the Becket Fund’s legal team that successfully defended the First Amendment’s “ministerial exception,” which protects a church’s right to choose its own ministers, resulting in a unanimous victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, 132 S.Ct. 694 (2012). She is also active in the litigation challenging the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring employers to pay for certain drugs and devices against their religious convictions, including the U.S. Supreme Court case Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby.
In her advocacy of religious liberty cases at the trial, appellate, and U.S. Supreme Court levels, Hannah has been featured on Fox News, “The O’Reilly Factor,” “The Sean Hannity Show,” C-Span, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, U.S. News and World Report, the Associated Press, National Review Online, the Laura Ingraham Show, the Rush Limbaugh Show, National Public Radio, and many other publications and radio shows. Prior to joining the Becket Fund, she litigated trial and appellate level cases at large law firms in Washington, D.C.
Presentation: Religious Liberty: What Latter-day Saints Need to Know to Preserve Our First Freedom
Robert F. Smith
Robert F. Smith is an alumnus of BYU and has had advanced training in archeology and Near Eastern languages at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, UCLA, and CalState University, Long Beach. He was the first editor of the FARMS Book of Mormon Critical Text Project (1979–1987), and most recently presented a paper on “Book of Mormon Theologies: A Thumbnail Sketch” at the 2012 annual meeting of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology (SMPT). He is currently a member of the Grandview Stake and a veil worker at the Provo Temple.
Presentation: The Preposterous Book of Mormon: A Singular Advantage
Russell W. Stevenson
Russell Stevenson is an independent historian and author. In addition to several articles published in Journal of Mormon History, Dialogue, and American National Biography, he has also written Black Mormon: The Story of Elijah Ables, a full cultural biography of Mormonism’s first black priesthood holder. He currently lives in Star Valley, Wyoming.
Presentation: Shouldering the Cross, or How to Condemn Racism and Still Call Brigham Young a Prophet