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Capital District Humanist Society

The Capital District Humanist Society provides a supportive community for exchanging ideas, heightening our knowledge of the world and ourselves, fostering moral and ethical growth, and promoting the principles of secular humanism.

CDHS is a member organization for individuals who share humanist values and who reside in the Capital District region of New York State and neighboring areas. Our values include commitment to free inquiry, rational thought, life-long education, democracy, social concern, and fellowship.

The Society provides various activities including monthly speakers, socials, book discussions, and a newsletter.

The Capital District Humanist Society presents:



Photo: Starr

Jonathan Starr:

Building An American School In Somaliland

Jonathan Starr's presentation will be about the Abaarso School's unprecedented success in Somaliland education, with over 100 students going on to study internationally, including at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Brown, and MIT. Abaarso's achievements have been covered by the global media, including in an Anderson Cooper 60 Minutes piece. We will look at how this success was achieved, which the presenter will argue was neither due to extreme talent nor extreme luck. There will be clear implications for career choices and education.

Jonathan Starr authored the book "It Takes A School", published by Macmillan Henry Holt in February 2017. It tells the story of Jonathan’s founding and heading the Abaarso School of Science and Technology, a non-profit educational organization in Somaliland. Abaarso School has broken a decades long drought in Somali education with unprecedented success, including placing students at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Brown, and MIT. In total the school has sent over 100 students to continue their education globally. Abaarso’s success has been covered by CBS’s 60 Minutes, MSBNC’s Morning Joe, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, CBC’s The Current, and BBC. In 2017 Jonathan co-founded Barwaaqo University in Somaliland, the first all-female boarding university in the country. Jonathan has spoken at The World Bank, The Nantucket Project, Pitcairn, and several school campuses. From 2004 – 2008, Jonathan founded and led Flagg Street Capital, a private investment firm that managed $170 million of investor assets. Prior to Flagg Street, Jonathan worked as an Analyst at SAB Capital and at Blavin and Company, both well-respected private investment firms. His career started as a Research Associate within the Taxable Bond Division at Fidelity Investments. In addition to his full-time professional responsibilities, Jonathan sat on the Board of Directors of Pomeroy IT Solutions, a publicly traded US information technology company. Jonathan graduated from Emory University, where he received a B.A. Summa Cum Laude in Economics and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.


Sunday, February 10th, 2019


  • Refreshments 12:30; Program 1:15 p.m.
  • Room 224, Campus Center, Sage Colleges Albany Campus
  • New Scotland Ave. at Academy Road, Albany
  • Admission: Free.

  • The Public is Cordially Invited to Attend!

Presented by The Capital District Humanist Society

Details and directions: 518.533.2666, or our directions page

Monthly meetings

CDHS meets on the second Sunday of each month in Room 224 of the Campus Center at the Albany campus of the Sage Colleges, at New Scotland Avenue and Academy Road.

We gather at 12:30 pm. Program starts at 1:15. Light refreshments are provided.

Click here for directions.

Click here for the upcoming meeting.


Other Activities

In addition to monthly speaker presentations, we hold monthly social events, and sponsor a reading group, and a discussion group.


CDHS is affiliated with the three major humanist organizations:



Members and subscribers receive our publication, The Humanist Monthly. If you are interested in more information about CDHS, give us your name and email address, and we will send a sample copy or two with no obligation.

Contact us for further information at:

webmaster (at) humanistsociety (dot) org

Also send website comments to: webmaster (at) humanistsociety (dot) org