In Ethical Culture, clergy are referred to as Leaders. They fulfill traditional functions of clergy, including performing marriages and other ceremonies and providing pastoral counseling. In addition, our leaders deliver Sunday addresses, preside over gatherings, lead programs and educational series, and serve as the public voice of our community.
Dr. Joseph Chuman
(212) 874-5210 x1145
Joe is Leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture along with the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County, NJ, and has been so since 1974. Before that he was Leader of the Essex Ethical Society, and Leader-in-Training at the Bergen and New York Societies. He served on the Leadership Committee of the AEU for over 20 years, and was president of the National Leaders Council for six years. Joe is a representative from the AEU to the International Humanist and Ethical Union, and was co-mentor of the sixth class of Humanist Institute – also serving on the Institute’s Board.
Joe has a Ph.D. in religion from Columbia University. He teaches seminars in human rights, and human rights and religion to graduate students at Columbia University, advises them in the development of their dissertations, and helps them advance their studies through internships in the international community. He also teaches human rights to undergraduates at the Honors College at Hunter College. Formerly, he taught at the United Nation University for Peace in Costa Rica and Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.
Joe is the former chairman of Amnesty International USA’s Committee Against the Death Penalty and was the chairperson of NJ’s Committee Against the Death Penalty. He recently served on the advisory board of New Jerseyans for a Death Penalty Alternative, which helped abolish capital punishment there last year. He is a member of the Teaneck Clergy Council, which he chaired for three years in the ’90s. He helped organize interracial dialogues after a civil disturbance in the city in 1990, and serves on the Ethics Committee at Holy Name Hospital.
Joe has testified before legislative committees in New Jersey on such issues as the death penalty, moment of silence legislation, and religious cults. He has been amicus curiae in Lewis v. Harris, supporting the legalization of gay marriage in New Jersey, and Alberto R. Gonzalez v. State of Oregon, upholding physician assisted dying in the State of Oregon, which was litigated before the US Supreme Court. In 1983, he was a defendant in a landmark case that established free speech rights in New Jersey shopping malls.
Joe founded and is president of the Bergen County Sanctuary Committee for Political Asylum Seekers. The Committee provides a range of services and advocacy for political asylum seekers. In addition to direct activism, Joe spreads the word on Ethical Culture and related themes through extensive writing and publishing in newspapers, journals of opinion and academic texts. He is a former freelance opinion writer for the Bergen Record. He published a collection of his essays in a book entitled “Speaking of Ethics: Living a Humanist Life.
Dr. Richard Koral
Richard Koral is Leader at the New York Society for Ethical Culture and the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island. He attended The Humanist Institute and holds a Doctor of Ministry in Interfaith Pastoral Counseling as well as a J.D. degree. Richard is a long-time member of the Ethical Culture Society of Westchester and served as president of the American Ethical Union, the national federation of Ethical Societies, from 2012 to 2015. He is also currently a part-time counselor with the Scarsdale Family Counseling Service.
Dr. Anne Klaeysen, Leader Emerita
Anne Klaeysen is Leader Emerita of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, where she served as Leader from 2008 until her retirement in 2019. She holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in pastoral counseling from Hebrew Union College, as well as Masters degrees in German from the State University of NY at Albany and business administration from New York University (NYU). Dr. Klaeysen is the Ethical Humanist Religious Life Adviser at Columbia University and Humanist Chaplain at NYU. She is also co-dean of Center for Education of the American Humanist Association and serves on the board of Sunday Assembly NYC. Dr. Klaeysen participates in several interfaith social justice coalitions.