Our Instructors

Passionate + Authentic Leaders

Donna Forsythe

Program Founder and Director, Certified Humanist Celebrant, Owner of Lehigh Valley Celebrants

With 30 years of experience as an educator, Donna spent her career teaching in inner-city classrooms, as well as developing and implementing high-standards of curricula. Donna took a sabbatical in 2014 to earn her Masters in Leadership and Administration. That same year, Marriage Equality passed in her state of Pennsylvania. Within days of the lifting of the same-sex marriage ban, Donna officiated her first wedding, marrying two men in their 70’s. This prompted her to go through the Humanist Society to become endorsed as a Humanist Celebrant.

That decision proved to be a life-changing event, leading Donna to retire from education to pursue her Humanist Celebrant business full-time. Donna has since officiated hundreds of ceremonies and built a full-time Celebrant business, Lehigh Valley Celebrants. Under her leadership, the business has grown to include six other working, Humanist Celebrants. Through mentorship-style learning, Donna and her team have become highly sought-after Celebrants in the region and are hired to reside over numerous life celebrations each year.

Celebrant Academy allows Donna to share her dedication to continuous learning with the skills that have made her a marketable Celebrant, such as her background in theater, public speaking, storytelling, marketing and writing. Her goal is to help other Celebrants craft meaningful, couple-centered ceremonies and to guide them in creating an atmosphere where everyone feels like they are part of the celebration.

Earnest and innovative, Donna keeps her finger on the pulse of wedding industry trends and collaborates with important creatives and thought leaders. She currently is Vice President of the Board of the Humanist Society and takes an active role with providing training opportunities for Humanist Celebrants nationwide.

Lois Heckman

Certified Humanist Celebrant, Full-time Professional Wedding Officiant

Since 2005, she has officiated hundreds of unique ceremonies, and her diverse background in religious philosophy, music, and social justice directly informs her work.

From 1990 to 2006, Lois worked as an educator and advocate in the battered women/anti-rape movement; teaching and working for social change. In her earlier years, she was a hard-working musician and singer-songwriter; performing on stages from New York City to Europe. Her formal education was in religious philosophy at Temple University in Philadelphia. 

Lois is a graduate of the Celebrant Foundation and Institute and an endorsed Humanist Celebrant of the Humanist Society, as well as a member of other clergy and wedding associations. Her leadership in the field has lead to an active and highly popular wedding blog which she has written for the Pocono Record since 2006.

She is included in the publication, Life-Cycle Ceremonies: A Handbook for Your Whole Life, and is featured in the Marlo Thomas book, It Ain’t Over...Till It’s Over. In 2018, Lois was a contributor on the wedding podcast, Put a Ring on It.

 Lois lives in the Pocono area of Pennsylvania with her husband and adoring springer spaniels! On her beautiful wooded property, she has created Harmony Gardens – a highly sought-after elopement and micro-wedding venue.

Celysmar Santana

Certified Humanist Celebrant, Award Winning Educator

Celysmar Santana (“Cely” pronounced sell-ee) became a certified Humanist Celebrant through the Humanist Society in 2015. Prior to this personal milestone, Cely earned her undergraduate degree in Education from Kutztown University, and went on to obtain a Master’s in Social Work from The University of University of Pennsylvania in 2011. Since 2015, Cely has blended a meaningful career in School Social Work with a consistently expanding Celebrant business.

Cely recently won Educator of the Year from the Allentown Education Association in Pennsylvania. She is experienced in creating individualized learning plans that are focused and collaborative. Celebrant Academy learners will benefit from her innovative approach to education and experience in the field. Cely’s very first wedding celebration in 2015 resulted in rave reviews, and countless ceremonies later she is pleased to share the ingredients of her success with others.

Her passion for making genuine personal connections has been the cornerstone in Cely’s work as a Celebrant. Getting to know her engaged couples allows her to craft unique and touching personalized ceremonies that reflect who couples truly are. Being such an integral part of a couple’s most memorable day is an honor, and Cely has tailored her approach to reflect that from the very first contact to well beyond the wedding day. 

Cely performs bilingual celebrations and ceremonies in Spanish, a needed service she is proud to offer the community. She is a member of the LGBT community, a passionate lifelong learner, and has travelled to Puerto Rico, Spain, Brazil, Canada, Peru, Guatemala, Chile, Thailand and Mexico. Her knowledge and appreciation of other cultures makes her a tremendous resource for fellow Celebrants as their services become requested by a growing population of diverse religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. 

Beth Stokes

Endorsed Humanist Celebrant, Advocate & Educator for End of Life Planning

Beth Stokes is an endorsed Humanist Celebrant based in Cambridge, MA. She began conducting funerals in 2017, and is an advocate and educator for end of life planning, home funerals, and green burials. Last year she created a series of community ceremonies for ecological grief. And, already interested in the influence of technology on grief rituals, in March 2020 she quickly collaborated on and devised alternative ceremonies, such as online funerals and rituals for distanced grief, to better support funeral homes, families, and other celebrants during the pandemic.

Beth has an extensive grounding in philosophy, and has held professional roles in ethical leadership, creative and technical writing, technology, finance, and experience design. Prior to her work as a celebrant she was part of the leadership team of a Quaker organization, facilitating organizational conversations around racism, sexism, governance, money, education, and religion. She also freelanced as a fiction and memoir editor, helping authors shape compelling, satisfying, and “true enough” stories. In 2017 she took a step back to consolidate her focus and happened to read a deeply reported article in the New York Times about a living funeral. The role of celebrant appealed to her immediately as a natural fit. 

Beth is a graduate of the Celebrant Foundation & Institute and as a non-theist was strongly drawn to The Humanist Society when seeking celebrancy endorsement. In addition to being a member of The Humanist Society, she is also a member of the National Home Funeral Alliance, Funeral Consumers Alliance of Eastern Massachusetts, Green Burial Massachusetts, and the International Association of Professional Wedding Officiants.  

Having traveled extensively and lived outside of the U.S. a number of times, Beth is comfortable considering different points of view and alternate ways of doing things. Recent personal projects include learning Dutch, creating a portable solar set-up, and rock drumming. Beth’s formal education is in creative writing, poetry, psychology, and organizational communications. 


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