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a few children
beautiful river with mountain in background
Asian classroom teacher at blackboard with students
Mahatma Gandhi
boy being rescued from flood waters
orangutan parent and child
dense rainforest with waterfall

The Team

Shelby Mertes
Founder and Executive Director

Shelby is Founder and Executive Director of The Human Survival

Project, which he started in early 2022.  He is also host of The

Human Survival Podcast (formerly the Joy of Saving the Human

Race), which he started in early 2021.  This work followed a few

years of intense study about the catastrophic risks humanity faces. 

That research made him incredibly alarmed about the state of the

human race, and convinced that most people don’t understand how

urgent our situation is.  He channeled his concern into what has become The Human Survival Project, a global grassroots organization aimed at transforming the United Nations into a body capable of managing humanity’s global existential threats.


Most of Shelby’s career has been influencing public policy to improve people’s lives.  He worked for 13 years at the Partnership for Strong Communities, a nonprofit organization in Connecticut (USA) that advocates for ending homelessness, building more affordable housing, and strengthening neighborhoods.  During that time, the organization enjoyed substantial growth, and affordable housing and homelessness went from ignored fringe issues to being squarely at the center of policymakers’ concerns.  Shelby was fortunate to contribute in a wide variety of ways, including: lobbying federal, state and local officials; research and writing; public speaking; hosting a radio show; creating educational videos; organizing events; and networking and building coalitions.  He helped build campaigns that brought together organizations and individuals from many policy areas to secure important legislation and funding.  His work contributed to many thousands of Connecticut residents having a decent, affordable home, which feels good.


Other work in Shelby’s life:  teacher, congressional intern, home improvement contractor, delivery driver, administrative assistant, grocery clerk, waiter, bartender, warehouse worker, and possibly more things he doesn’t remember.  They have all taught him a lot about the human experience.


Shelby earned a B.A. in Political Science and Psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  He also did graduate work to earn certification to teach high-school and middle-school social studies.


When he is not working to save humanity, he spends a lot of time in nature, enjoys rich relationships with loved ones and friends, and engages in helpful emotional and spiritual growth practices.  His obsession with music may be considered excessive by some.

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Michael Jordan

Michael has a BS in Physics from Virginia Commonwealth

University, 1980.  He minored in Spanish and studied music as

well, learning to play classical piano in a strong music department

at VCU.  He won two university faculty-awarded titles at graduation:

Best Student in Physics, and Best Student in Spanish Language. 

He then earned a Master’s Degree at SUNY Stony Brook, 1982,

specializing in low temperature physics.  In the laboratory, he worked

on Josephson junctions, now a key component in quantum computer

working models.  While at Stony Brook he was awarded Best Teaching Assistant by the undergraduate student body. 


He then worked for twenty years in design and administration at science-technology museums from Florida to Connecticut.  During that period, he led the design of exhibitions on diverse subjects including electromagnetism, information theory, climate change, and genetics.  He was Principal Investigator on three National Science Foundation grants. 


In 2000, his son was born.  He opted to become primary caregiver while his wife finished her law degree and developed her own career.  While caring for his child, he wrote three novels, and worked in paid positions with Connecticut Citizen Action Group based in Hartford, CT and led by long-time Director Tom Swan.  Michael’s duties included writing grants, fundraising, keeping a 20,000-strong membership informed through both the written word and direct contact, and lobbying the state Legislature during legislative sessions.  In that period, CCAG, a multi-issue group founded by Ralph Nader in 1971, spearheaded the legislative passage of major campaign finance reform.  Governor Jodi Rell signed their groundbreaking bill creating public funding for all statewide offices.  That system is intact today.

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India mother with young son
happy African children with hands raised
koala mother with baby on her back
Native American drum circle
kids on stage at an event advocating protection of Amazon rainforest
Cambodian parents and two children riding motor scooter
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