Outreach & Events - Freedom From Religion Foundation


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Hyatt Regency San Francisco
Five Embarcadero Center
San Francisco, California 94111

Room rates at the Hyatt are $235 (single/double/triple/quadruple occupancy). A $1 room assessment and state and local taxes of 16.25% also apply.

Register for a room online or call Central Reservations toll-free at 1-888-421-1442 or non toll free at 402-592-6464. If calling, the room block is under the group name, "Freedom From Religion Foundation."

Transportation from Airport
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) connects San Francisco Airport to Downtown San Francisco for $8.65 each way. The Hyatt is located steps away from the Embarcadero BART Station.

The Hyatt will provide parking to overnights guests at $67 per day, including in and out privileges. Alternate parking is available on Clay Street at $34.00 per day.



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Download the schedule here! 

Note: Schedule is subject to change.

Friday, September 15

Pre-convention events

Morning Open House

9:30 AM to Noon - Open House, Freethought Hall in Downtown Madison

(Complimentary, but reservations required!)

Early registration opens 
Pastries, juice, hot beverages, Champagne, OJ, Mimosas. 

10:45 AM - 1:00 PM - Betty Lou Lake Cruise (Sold out!)

Boats dock on Monona Bay and Tenney Locks. FFRF will provide bus transportation: Pick up at FFRF at 10:15 and Hilton at 10:30; return from docks to Hilton after cruise. Participants will receive separate instructions. 

Afternoon Formal Opening  

Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center 
Madison Ballroom

2:00 PM - Registration re-opens, continues throughout convention  

Monona Terrace, 1 John Nolen Dr. 
Sales tables open in the Madison Ballroom

3:00 PM - Short Welcome 

    Kelly Helton, student activist 

3:15 PM - Freethought Heroine Award, Cara Santa Maria, "She Atheist"

4:00 PM Forward Award,  Katha Pollitt 
Booksigning for Pollitt follows

5:00 PM - 6:45 PM - DINNER, "Forward" Tailgate Dinner (Ticketed) Rooftop Gardens, Monona Terrace 
Forward Marching Band performance    

Evening Program 

Madison Ballroom

7:00 PM Evening Welcome, Music 
                FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker & Annie Laurie Gaylor
                Year in Review

7:30 - Henry H. Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism Award
         Maryam Namazie 

8:30 - Paula Poundstone 

9:30 Poundstone Meet and Greet

          Complimentary gourmet cupcakes and hot beverages - Grand Terrace

Saturday, September 16

All Saturday events held in Madison Ballroom, unless otherwise noted.

8:00 AM - Nonprayer Breakfast (optional for ticket holders) - Exhibit Hall A
                Nothing Fails Like Prayer Awardee

9:00 AM - Madison Ballroom, sales tables re-open

9:30 AM Welcome, Lisa Strand
                 Music, Dan Barker

9:40 AM “The Evolution of the Clarence Darrow Sculpture” by Zenos Frudakis

10:00 AM Battle of Church & State: Legal Accomplishments
                  FFRF Legal Staff

11:15 AM Freethinkers of the Year 
                  Jesse Castillo, Jerry Bloom, Marie Schaub 

Noon - 2:00 PM LUNCH BREAK
                           Optional Grab & Go Lunch, sightseeing

2:00 PM - Kimberly Veal

2:30 PM Brent Michael Davids
"Do you know an American Indian atheist?" 

3:00 PM - Michelle Goldberg
"Donald Trump and Christian Nationalism" 

4:00 PM - Steven Pinker, FFRF Honorary President
Booksigning for Goldberg & Pinker follows   

6:30 PM SATURDAY NIGHT DINNER (Ticketed) - Exhibit Hall A

Evening program in Madison Ballroom

8:00 PM "Clean Money Drawing"

8:30 PM - MusicRoy Zimmerman

9:00 PM - Julia Sweeney

               Book, DVD and CD signings for Sweeney & Zimmerman to follow

Sunday, September 17

Annual Membership Meeting

Hall of Ideas FG

8:30 AM - Complimentary pastries and hot beverages

9:00 AM Annual Membership Meeting
                Open to current FFRF members

                Annual State Representatives Meeting
Adjourn by Noon

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Madison Guide

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Madison Guide

So, you find yourself in Madison ... what do you do next?
The answer is simple: everything!

Download the map here


Enjoy our tangle of one-way roads and triangle intersections as you make your way around the downtown isthmus between Lake Monona and Lake Mendota. Take in the lake view from Monona Terrace convention center's rooftop terrace. Did you know that Otis Redding (singer of "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay") died in a tragic plane crash on Lake Monona? Now you do!

Wisconsin State Capitol — Celebrate the centennial of our beautiful beaux arts Capitol building. It's open to the public but guided tours offered many times a day are free and worth the time. The sixth-floor museum and observation deck are also open during summer months.

UW Memorial Union — Not just for students and alumni, the Memorial Union is a Madison staple! Visit Der Rathskeller (or Der Rath as it is affectionately called), a German beer hall-style watering hole for students, staff and community members. After you've filled your stein (plastic cup, actually) head out to the Terrace at Memorial Union, pull up one of the iconic chairs and soak up the sun or take in the entertainment. Enjoy food and beverages from diverse vendors. DO NOT pass up the ice cream from Babcock Hall Dairy, made right here at the university with extra generous "single dip" helping. Warning — it is not vegan. Stay late for Terrace After Dark music and films, or take advantage of the many events and activities! Don't miss Isthmus Jazz Fest on the Terrace June 16-17.

State Street — It's only two blocks from Freethought Hall! Go there for lunch, breakfast, dinner, drinks, eclectic shops and the very best people watching around.

Here are some other FFRF staff favorites:

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and the Overture Center — Don't miss the "dome illusion," especially at night! While you're there you can nosh on delicious treats at Fresco, the rooftop restaurant overlooking all of State Street and the MMoCA's sculpture garden. (Pro tip: It's part of the Food Fight Restaurant Group, so ask your loved ones for Food Fight gift cards that you can redeem at one of its 20 local bars and eateries).

Fromagination on the Square — Try the turkey sandwich with apple and cheese. A bit pricey but fresh, ready-made sandwiches.

Candinas on the Square — A great place if you're looking for a local gift to take home to Mom or Dad. (We think the caramel and the hazelnut are best.)

A Room of One's Own Feminist Bookstore — Notable for good reads and special orders. 315 W. Gorham Street off State Street.


Olbrich Botanical Gardens — Not to be missed! It's free to walk around or read in the beautiful outdoor gardens. Stroll through the tropics in the Bolz Conservatory, filled with tropical plants, flowers, orchids, birds, and a waterfall that feeds into a koi pond. $2 admission for the conservatory, but it's free to all on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.


Bikes that are an improvement over Madison's BCycle bike share stations can be rented from Machinery Row Bicycles, a short walk from the Capitol at the top of Williamson Street. It's located on the 12-mile bike path loop that goes around Lake Monona (and is also accessible via the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center), which is a lovely ride (or run, for the more ambitious). There is another bike path that runs along Lake Mendota, starting at the Memorial Union, called the Howard Temin Lakeshore Path. It's shorter, but provides access to Picnic Point, which is a nice walking path with a lake view. Bikes and motorized vehicles are prohibited, but the view is spectacular. The UW Arboretum is a nice 6-mile loop for running or biking. 


Ella's Deli and Ice Cream Parlor, 2902 East Washington Ave., is a memorable spectacle and has been voted Best Deli in Madison 20 years in a row! Try the famous Reuben sandwich, and save room for one of their signature desserts! Don't forget to take a ride on the Original Parker Carousel built in 1927!

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Union Cab - 608-242-2000
taxis can be scheduled by phone or on-line

Badger Cab - 608-256-5566 - Zone pricing
608-256-0106 - Direct pricing

Green Cab - 608-255-1234
taxis can be scheduled by phone or on-line

Madison Taxi - 608-255-8294
taxis can be scheduled by phone or on-line

Rideshare Services:

Uber - rideshare is a available

Lyft - rideshare is available

Alternative Transportation:

Madison Metro Bus Service - There is a convenient trip planner on their website that generates step by step bus travel routes.

Madison Bcycle - Rental bicycles available at many locations around town

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Online registration form coming soon.

Print out a downloadable form to return in the mail here.

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Friday, september 15 

Bucky's Tailgate Buffet - $31
Traditional Wisconsin tailgate party! Wisconsin Waldorf Salad, Home-style potato salad, fresh vegetable and relish tray, beer-boiled Johnsonville bratwurst with Wisconsin sauerkraut and chopped fresh onion, grilled boneless chicken breast, fresh-sliced tomato and crisp lettuce, Wisconsin calico baked beans, condiments and buns, coffee, tea or milk. Cash bar.


Saturday ‘Non-Prayer’ breakfast Wisconsin cheese and chive scrambled eggs, apple-smoked bacon, rosemary wedge potatoes, ketchup compote, chef’s assortment of petite muffins, orange juice, coffee, tea and milk.

Non-Prayer Breakfast - $20

Wisconsin cheese and chive scrambled eggs, apple-smoked bacon, rosemary wedge potatoes, ketchup compote, chef’s assortment of petite muffins, orange juice, coffee, tea and milk.

Saturday ‘Grab and Go’ box lunch - $20

Includes your choice of roasted chicken or grilled vegetables on Kaiser roll with tomato, lettuce with condiments on the side, chips and a can of soda.

Saturday Banquet Dinner - $40

Cash bar opens at 6 p.m. Dinner served at 6:30 p.m. 

Chicken Wellington: Delicate puff pastry filled with a boneless chicken breast, apple smoked bacon, shallots and mushrooms, served with mushroom-brown rice pilaf, fresh seasonal vegetable blend.

Portobello Wellington: Delicate puff pastry filled with fresh portabello mushrooms, herbs, shallots and risotto and served with grilled tomato.

Both entrees served with dinner rolls and butter, house salad with champagne-mustard vinaigrette, beverage (coffee, tea, or milk) and chocolate raspberry torte.

other dining options


The Capitol ChopHouse serves lunch and dinner, featuring the best steak and seafood in Madison. The award winning ChopHouse uses 28-day aged beef and line caught seafood to create a dining experience not to be forgotten. There is complimentary valet parking available from 5pm-10pm in the Hilton parking lot.

MONDAY 11:30 pm - 10:00 pm
TUESDAY 11:30 pm - 10:00 pm
WEDNESDAY 11:30 pm - 10:00 pm
THURSDAY 11:30 pm - 10:00 pm
FRIDAY 11:30 pm - 10:00 pm
SATURDAY 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm

A sunny place to enjoy breakfast in the mornings with the Breakfast by Hilton Buffet Breakfast and Starbuck Barista Station. Relaxing lounge after 2 pm to enjoy cocktails and a light menu the evenings. 


Refuel and recharge with coffee, pastries, sandwiches and snacks. Located in the Grand Terrace on Level 4, the GrandView Café is open when large events are in the building. Please click on the “Today @ MT” icon on the www.MononaTerrace.com home page, call 608–261–4000 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for current GrandView Café days and hours of operation. 

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Open House

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Freethought Hall 1                                                                                                   

Friday, September 15

9:30 a.m. - Noon

Download the convention map, here

Early birds are invited to tour the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s beautiful, newly-expanded office, Freethought Hall, in downtown Madison, prior to the formal convention opening. Complimentary refreshments (light pastries, coffee, tea, orange juice, plus Champagne/Mimosas) will be served in the elegant Charlie Brooks Auditorium.


Reflect on a bench in front of FFRF’s granite monument dedicated to Atheists in Foxholes “and other freethinkers who have served our country with valor and distinction,” in the Rose Zerwick Memorial Garden & Courtyard.Foxholes

Take a self-guided tour of FFRF's national headquarters (with its 5-floor addition) with the help of a souvenir brochure featuring highlights of the building and FFRF history. Socialize with staff and other FFRF members as you peek into the “Above Us Only Sky” Kenneth Proulx Cupola, the Stephen Uhl Friendly Atheist Studio, the Diane Uhl Legal Wing, the Harold Erickson Public Relations Wing, the Brian Bolton Executive Wing, the Patrick O’Reiley Editorial Wing and the “No Hell Below Us” Harry Lonsdale Lower Level.


Visit the Joel B. Landon and Wanda K. Beers Freethought Library for a photo op with “Mr. Darwin,” an amazingly life-like, silicone mannequin of Charles Darwin by artist Csam Wheatley.

Donors who helped with our building project may look for their paving stone in the patio, pretty tile in the vestibule or name in the Anne Nicol Gaylor Lobby featuring the Donor Wall and Wall of Honor. Every donor and donation is listed in alphabetical order in a Donor Book in the lobby. Freethought Hall is filled with fascinating artifacts from FFRF’s 39-year history!

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Lake Cruise

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sorry, we are sold out.

Friday, September 15, 10:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. 

Cancellations will not be refunded after September 5.

Download the convention map here. 


FFRF convention attendeees are invited to take a boat cruise on Madison's Lake Monona or Lake Mendota on Friday, Sept. 15, prior to the start of the convention. The Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center, home to FFRF's convention, overlooks Lake Monona. Lake Mendota, on the other side of the isthmus, offers views of the UW-Madison Terrace and Maple Bluff. Both are beautiful!

For $50 per person, you'll be treated to a two-hour tour with a buffet, featuring clam chowder, chips and Cajun dip, vegetarian variety platter, seafood salad, chicken salad, pasta salad, fruit salad, sliced deli meats/cheeses, and assorted desserts. There is a cash bar for beverages. The tour begins at 10:45 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. We'll have bus service to take you from Freethought Hall or the Hilton to the boat launch and back to the hotel, or you can walk the route. Maps will be available. Unfortunately, the yachts are not wheelchair accessible, as the walkways are tight and there are narrow stairs to the banquet area. There are three yachts. If you are coming as part of a group FFRF will make sure your group is aboard the same boat.

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Venue (Monona Terrace)

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Monona Terrace
One John Nolen Drive
Madison, Wisconsin 53703
(608) 261-4000

Download map here

Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center was first designed by Wisconsin native and internationally-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1938 as a cultural, governmental and recreational building. While Wright´s design was used for the building´s exterior, the interior was redesigned by Wright apprentice and Taliesin architect Tony Puttnam to house state-of-the-art exhibition, meeting and public space. The space opened its doors after nearly 60 years of debate on July 18, 1997. 

Today, nearly 390,000 people say "see you at Monona Terrace" each year. From formal events like conventions and conferences to public events like Dane Dances, Monona Terrace has a wide geographic draw, attracting local, regional, state and international events each year.

Driving/directions. Use Google Maps for detailed driving directions from your point of origin. If using GPS please use these coordinates rather than One John Nolen Drive: 43.070249, -89.382499 You will arrive at the John Nolen Drive entrance to the Monona Terrace parking ramp. Or, Input 1 W. Wilson Street to enter the parking structure from Wilson St. or to use the drop-off lane.

Parking. Monona Terrace features a 600-space, automated parking structure. Parking entrances are accessible from the eastbound lanes of John Nolen Drive or via West Wilson Street. Acceptable forms of payment include MasterCard, Visa, or cash (no coin).

To use local bus transportation, see Madison Metro.


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Reserve rooms now! FFRF is offering convention blocks at three hotels this year to accommodate more registrants!

Best Western Premier Park Hotel, 22 S. Carroll Street, is right on the Capitol Square, newly remodeled, and just 0.3 miles from Monona Terrace – about a 6 minute walk. Rooms are $189 (one bed for 1-2 people), $209 for 2 beds (1-4 people), or $249 for suites. Call toll-free 800-279-8811 or local 608-285-8000 to reserve rooms in the “Freedom From Religion Foundation 2017 Block.” The group rate reservation cut-off has been extended to August 31, 2017. (Unless rooms sell out.)

Getting there

If you are arriving from the Madison Dane County Regional Airport, which is about 6 miles frm the hotel, head north on International Drive for 1.8 miles. Turn left onto Packers Avenue, which will turn into Pennsylvania Avenue and then into E. Johnson Street. Continue straight onto E. Gorham street for a mile before taking a slight left onto N. Hamilton Street for 0.2 miles. Turn right onto E. Dayton street, and then turn left at the 2nd cross street onto Wisconsin Avenue. Next, turn right at the 1st cross street onto W. Mifflin Street which will turn left and become N. Carroll Street. The hotel will be on the right-hand side. 

If you plan on taking a taxi, the typical minimum charge, including a 15% tip, will cost you $25.40. The estimated cost to take an Uber or Lyft is $12.59. 

Shuttle Services 

The Best Western offers complimentary shuttle service to and from Dane County Regional Airport. The shuttle service operates all hours of the day, everyday of the week. Guests may request the shuttle upon arrival, using the courtesy phone located in baggage claim. Travel time to and from the airport is 15-20 minutes.  Book your return shuttle with Best Western the night prior to the departure with the valet.


For overnight guests, the hotel has guaranteed parking for one vehicle for $10 per night, valet only. 


The Best Western includes fitness and leisure amenities such as a heated indoor swimming pool, a fitness center, B-cycle renatble bikes available across the street, and is close to the lakeshore biking and running path. For your comfort and convenience there is complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, a lobby and guest rooms equipped with outlets and USB ports, a business center, and an expansive pool deck with tables and chairs. 


The Best Western Premier Park Hotel offers a gourmet dinning experience at the Post Restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and for late night dinning. The Post is open Sunday - Saturday from 5 a.m. to Midnight. It also serves brunch and the weekend from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sheraton Madison Hotel, 706 John Nolen Drive, is 2 miles away from Monona Terrace on a lakeside walking/biking path, with shuttle service available. Call 608-251-2300 or 866-716-8134 (toll-free) to reserve a room at $149 (single/double/triple/quad). The group rate reservation cut-off date is August 15, 2017. (Unless rooms sell out.) 

Getting there

Click here for directions to the hotel. If you are arriving from the Madison Dane County Regional Airport, which is 12 miles away from the hotel, head north on International Drive for 1.8 miles. Turn left onto Packers Avenue. In 0.4 miles take the ramp right and follow the signs for Aberg Avenue. Turn left onto Aberg Avenue. The road name will change to WI-30 E. In a mile, take the ramp right for US-51 South toward Stoughton. Stay on this for 0.8 miles before taking the ramp right for US-18 W / US-12 W / W Beltline Highway. Take Exit 263 (John Nolen Drive). The hotel is immediately on the right as you exit.

If you plan on taking a taxi, the typical minimum charge, including a 15% tip, will cost you $31.96. The estimated cost to take an Uber or Lyft is $17.86.

Shuttle Services 

The Sheraton Madison Hotel offers complimentary shuttle service to and from Dane County Regional Airport.  Hours of operation are 8:00 AM – 11 PM, 7 days a week. Guests may request the shuttle upon arrival, calling the hotel directly at 608-251-2300. Travel time to and from the airport is about 15-20 minutes.  Book your return shuttle with the Sheraton by going to the front desk and requesting a shuttle. Book your return shuttle with the Sheraton by going to the front desk and requesting a shuttle the night prior to your departure. 


The Sheraton includes complimentary self-parking. 


The Sheraton includes a fitness center, a business center, an indoor heated swimming pool, and complimentary high-speed internet access in all guest rooms and public areas.  


The Sheraton offers three hotel dining options


Hilton Madison Monona Terrace, 9 E. Wilson Street, is the official convention hotel and closest to Monona Terrace. Rooms are $183 (single/double/triple/quad). Call 608-255-5100 to make a reservation for the “Freedom From Religion Foundation” group rate. The group rate reservation cut-off date is August 14, 2017. (Unless rooms sell out.) Click here for the group rate link 

Getting there

The location of the hotel can be found here. If you are arriving from the Madison Dane County Regional Airport, which is 4 miles away from the hotel, travel International Drive for one mile, turn left on Packers Avenue. Packers becomes Pennsylvania, travel 1.5 miles to First St. turn left. Turn right onto E. Washington for one mile. Turn left on Blair, turn right onto Wilson. Continue 1/4 mile up, hotel will be on left-hand side. 

If you plan on taking a taxi, the typical minimum charge, including a 15% tip, will cost you $24.55.

Shuttle Services

The Hilton Madison offers complimentary shuttle service to and from Dane County Regional Airport.  Hours of operation are 6:30 AM – 10 PM, 7 days a week. Guests may request the shuttle upon arrival, using the courtesy phone located in baggage claim. Travel time to and from the airport is 15-20 minutes.  Book your return shuttle with the Hilton by going to the front desk and requesting a shuttle.


Self parking in the garage costs $17 and valet parking, which includes in and out access costs $20. 


The Hilton offers a wide range of amenities including a pool, fitness room, bar area, automated teller machine, and room service. 


The Hilton offers two onsite restaurants to choose from. 

The Capitol Chophouse, an award-winning restaurant, serves locally grown and organic foods including 28 day-aged beef and line-caught seafood. It is open for breakfast and lunch every day of the week, with a breakfast buffet on the weekends. Dinner is served Monday - Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.  

Olive, a cocktail lounge open Monday - Sunday from 2 p.m.to close, offers a relaxing atmosphere with drinks, appetizers and live music in the evenings.

The Heartland Grill is open Monday - Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday it is open from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. It is open daily for dinner from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. 

The Harvest Lounge offers signature cocktails and local beer selections Sunday through Saturday from 2:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. 

The Level 1 Coffee Bar, where you can satisfy your caffiene fix, is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. 


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