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Khandra Sears, Ph.D.



Khandra’s Motivation as President

“I want to make space for real and genuine change rather than continuing to paper over existing issues. The transformation the Ethical Culture movement needs won’t rest on the ideas of one person. We need to be willing to engage deeply in self-reflection as individuals and societies, and commit to unlearning ways that have harmed us and learning new ways of being in community.” 

Khandra’s Background 

Khandra was born on the island of New Providence in The Bahamas and spent most of her childhood there. She was deeply interested in science, particularly biology, and studied at the University of West lndies, Cave Hill Campus in Barbados. Both The Bahamas and Barbados are majority Christian nations, and during her undergraduate studies, she began to question what faith and the stories of the Bible really meant to her. 

Much of the Bible was hard to reconcile with what she was learning in the classroom, the laboratory, and how she saw herself in the world. She found herself fascinated by how microorganisms had shaped human development and history, which set the course for her academic career. Khandra now serves on a research team developing live oral vaccines against bacteria that cause gastrointestinal infections, which are still a leading cause of illness and death in children worldwide. She sees this type of work as one small way she can contribute to improving human lives.

Khandra & Ethical Culture

While studying and living in Baltimore, she sought a community that could help her understand and grow as she moved further away from the faith she was raised in. She connected with the Baltimore Ethical Society through the African American Humanist Society on Meetup (later renamed the Frederick Douglas Humanist Society). After a few years of occasionally attending platforms, she became a member of BES in 2019. She served as a director at large on the BES Board from 2020 to 2022 and secretary from 2022 to 2023. One of her goals is to make her society a more welcoming and inviting space, particularly for younger people and people of color, and help us reimagine ways of building community as we reconnect amid a pandemic. 

Khandra’s Board & Officer Experience

Khandra has served on the American Ethical Union Board for the past year, on the BES Board for the past three years, and has other non-profit board experience from serving on the board of her neighborhood association in Southwest Baltimore as secretary and vice president for several years. 

She also served on the board of the Southwest Partnership (SWP) – a coalition of neighborhood institutions and anchor institutions – which has a vision of improving the lives of residents in Southwest Baltimore. Serving as president of the SWP board showed her the challenges of community development, particularly when stakeholders have drastically different ideas of what it means for a neighborhood to be diverse, vibrant, and healthy for everyone. It was also an opportunity to learn from and work with the talented staff who brought their expertise to physical/plant development, education, and innovative ways of rebuilding our neglected neighborhoods.