Deborah Jacobs, Executive Director
Deborah Jacobs first encountered Becker as a student of Sheldon Solomon at Skidmore College. Becker’s synthesis resonated with Deborah, giving structure to and affirmation of many things she already thought or observed. His work has provided a framework to guide Deborah’s understanding of human behavior ever since. Deborah joined the EBF board in 2006 and assumed leadership of the organization in 2015. She serves as the EBF’s executive director in a volunteer capacity.
Deborah brings more than 20 years as a successful non-profit executive, including leadership roles in the ACLU and the Ms. Foundation for Women. She has extensive experience in organizational management as well as expertise in police practices and criminal justice reform, government transparency, voting rights, free speech, privacy, immigrant rights and women’s equality.
Deborah holds a B.A. in English Literature and an M.A. in Liberal Studies from Skidmore College. In 1990, she served as a Fulbright Scholar in Helsinki, Finland conducting a project related to Finnish Jewish identity.
Christa Masson, Communications Manager
Christa’s interest in Ernest Becker developed after experiencing a profound change in her religious beliefs, leaving her with an insatiable need to learn more about the construction of ideologies and the curation of a meaningful life.
She has a diverse background in non-profit administration, classical voice performance, and restaurant management along with a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of British Columbia. When she wasn’t sailing or skiing, she studied sociology, psychology, and the creative and performing arts.
A self-described “idea geek & change manager”, Christa brings an entrepreneurial mindset and an enthusiasm for the practical legacies of Becker’s work to EBF outreach projects and communications.
Bryn Bandt-Law, Communications Coordinator
J.K Rowling’s treatment of death in Harry Potter provoked Bryn’s interest in the influence death exerts on human social behavior. This led to a fruitful exploration of Ernest Becker and Terror Management Theory. Bryn graduated from Claremont McKenna College with B.A in psychology in 2016. She conducts social psychological research that is primarily focused on how humans’ awareness of their own death influences legal decision-making and health-related behavior.
Bryn is the Communications Coordinator at The Ernest Becker Foundation. Her background in research and social justice initiatives have granted her a passion for the real-world application of Becker’s work and legacy.
Cory Foster, Admin. Assistant/Graphic Designer
Cory has been with the EBF since 2009, having first become aware of Ernest Becker through Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. As a devout hypochondriac and neurotic, Cory found much to identify with Allen’s character in the film—and more to gain from a growing familiarity with Becker’s work.
As the graphic designer for the EBF, Cory provides sharp, clean work with an eye toward strong visual recognition. He also works to keep the EBF running behind the scenes, performing a wide variety of tasks.
Cory has a deep passion for the arts, particularly music and film. He is a musician and songwriter, and spends his spare time writing and recording his compositions. He holds an AAS in Design from Seattle Central Creative Academy.
Board of Trustees
Neil J. Elgee, M.D., President
Neil Elgee founded the EBF in 1993. After medical school, residency, research fellowship training and military service, he then from 1957 to 1993 practiced Internal Medicine with a subspecialty in Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases and served on the clinical faculty of the University of Washington. Dr. Elgee is a Master of the American College of Physicians and a Member of the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1977 he read The Denial of Death and this organizing principle grew on him so much that he was inspired to start the EBF. A bit of an essay writer, his pieces include “Laughing at Death: The Evolution of Humor to Disarm Fundamentalism.”
Daniel Liechty, Ph.D., Vice President
Dan Liechty is a Professor in the School of Social Work at Illinois State University, where he teaches courses on Human Development in the Social Environment. He keeps his fingers in a number of pies, and has been referred to good naturedly as the Dean of Ernest Becker Studies. Liechty is the author and editor of a number of books and articles pertaining to Ernest Becker’s ideas, including Transference and Transcendence (1995), Reflecting on Faith in a Post-Christian Time (2003), Death and Denial (2002), and The Ernest Becker Reader (2005). In addition to serving as Vice-President of The Ernest Becker Foundation, Liechty regularly reviews books for the EBF Newsletter and hosts EBF listserv.
Dan Dunn, M.B.A., Treasurer
Dan Dunn joined the EBF board in 2007. After working in management consulting and investment banking early in his career, Dan spent 15 years as a partner investing in growth businesses at a large San Francisco-based hedge fund. He currently teaches economics and history at the high school level. Dan has an AB in Economics and an MBA from Stanford University. He enjoys coaching, travelling, and fly fishing.
Michael Baumgardner, Ph.D.
Michael Baumgardner studied under Anthony Greenwald, developer of the Implicit-association test at Ohio State University where he received his doctorate in Social Psychology in 1978. He has since held academic positions at Ohio State University and Ohio Dominican University, government positions such as Research Scientist with the FDA, and business positions including a 30-year career at Burke, an internationally renowned marketing research firm where he began as a researcher but retired as CEO and Chairman of the Board in 2010. An avid student of philosophy and existential issues, he read Becker’s The Denial of Death in the early 90’s and was profoundly moved by the multidisciplinary synthesis and coherent presentation of man’s existential dilemma. He has served on the board since January 2008.
John Wynn, M.D.
John Wynn is a Seattle psychiatrist working in the areas of oncology, organizational consultation, and physician health. Dr. Wynn received his BA Philosophy from Yale and MD from the University of Illinois, and trained in both Psychiatry and Internal Medicine. He is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Medical Director for Cancer Psychiatry at the Swedish Cancer Institute. He has received local, regional and national accolades as a “Best Doctor.” Widely recognized as a leader in the care and education of physicians, he has been a resource to several organizations promoting the well-being of physicians. Dr. Wynn been designated a Master Clinical Educator and a Distinguished Fellow by the American Psychiatric Association.
Herbert Anderson, Ph.D.
Co-Producer, Flight From Death
Prof. James W. Green, Ph.D.
University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Prof. Glenn Hughes, Ph.D.
St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, TX
Sam Keen, Ph.D.
Carrie Kramlich, J.D.
Jean Lipman-Blumen, Ph.D.
Drucker Graduate School of Management
David R. Loy, Ph.D.
Xavier University, OH
Jane McCormmach, J.D.
Mercer Island, WA
Merlyn Mowrey, Ph.D.
Central Michigan University, MI
Sheldon Solomon, Ph.D.
Terror Management Theory
Skidmore College, NY