Board of Directors
Joe Kral, M.A., is the President and Founder of the Society of St. Sebastian. He also serves as the Editor in Chief for the Society’s publication, Bioethics in Law & Culture. Mr. Kral has been involved in the pro-life movement since he has been in college. He has served as the Legislative Director for Texas Right to Life, a lobbyist for the Department of Medical Ethics at the National Right to Life Committee, and as a bioethics consultant for the Texas Catholic Conference. In 2006 he was awarded the “Bishop’s Pro-Life Award for Civic Action” from the Respect Life Ministry in the Diocese of Dallas. Mr. Kral has testified on numerous pro-life issues before the Texas Legislature such as human cloning, abortion-related issues, and end-of-life issues. He was a regular contributor to the Truth and Charity Forum, an online publication for Human Life International where he primarily focused on the relationship between morality and pro-life legislative initiatives. He also serves as a voluntary legislative advisor to Texas Alliance for Life and is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. He has also taught as an adjunct at the University of St. Thomas. His MA in Theology was completed at the University of St. Thomas where he specialized in bioethics and is currently pursuing doctoral studies at Harrison Middleton University where he is specializing in the ethical and legal theory of St. Thomas Aquinas. He has been married to his wife, Melissa since 2004 and they have 2 children together.
J. David Franks, Ph.D., has served Massachusetts Citizens for Life as Chairman of the Board for almost a decade, where he also founded and directs the Lincoln Forum for Human Dignity, a project to reignite civic conversation through liberal arts and high culture. Dr. Franks is a 2020 Academic Fellow for the Society of St. Sebastian. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Abigail Adams Institute (Cambridge, Mass.), conducting its flagship program, The Great Conversation—a weekly discussion group pursuing the question “how should we live?” by working through exemplary texts. Dr. Franks received his doctorate in systematic theology from Boston College and was a professor of sacred theology for almost a decade at St. John’s Seminary (Boston), where he co-founded the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization. His entry into the pro-life movement came early in the course of his graduate studies when he interned in the State Organizational Development Department at the National Right to Life Committee, and he has since continued to integrate his scholarly and activist commitments. David is a devoted father of six wonderful children.
Michael New, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Social Research at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. Previously he was a Visiting Associate Professor of Economics at Ave Maria University in Florida, as well as an Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Additionally, he is a Fellow with the Witherspoon Institute, Princeton, New Jersey. Dr. New has both a Ph.D. in Political Science and a Master’s Degree in Statistics from Stanford University. He has served as a post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard-MIT data center and a lecturer at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. His articles have appeared in various peer-reviewed journals, three of which have examined the impact of state-level abortion legislation.
Deanna Fortin, J.D. is currently Assistant Attorney General for the Louisiana Attorney General's Office. Prior to this position, she worked for Americans United for Life legal team as Staff Counsel, working directly with legislators to assist their efforts to protect mothers and their unborn infants from abortion industry abuses. Deanna consulted with state and federal legislators, provides testimony in favor of life-affirming legislation, and creates strategic legal tools to advance life in the law. Deanna was also an editor for AUL’s premier publication Defending Life, often called “the pro-life playbook” and contributed to AUL’s December 2016 Report, Unsafe: How the Public Health Crisis in America’s Abortion Clinics Endangers Women. Prior to joining AUL’s team, Deanna was Legislative Director for Louisiana Right to Life, where she helped pass legislation establishing Louisiana as one of the most pro-life states in America, consulted with legislators and policy directors on the state level, and provided pro-bono legal assistance to the Attorney General’s office with litigation efforts to defend Louisiana’s life-affirming laws. Deanna has been published and interviewed by a variety of news sources including The Federalist, The Boston Globe, The Huffington Post, Fox News, CBN, AP, and NPR. Deanna earned her BA in Speech Communications from Louisiana State University- Shreveport. A member of the State Bar of Louisiana, she earned her Juris Doctor and a Graduate Diploma in Comparative Law from LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center.
Steven Meyer, S.T.D., holds a Sacred Theological Doctorate in Dogmatic Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, Italy. He has a Sacred Theological Licentiate (S.T.L.) from the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC. He also has a Master and Bachelor of Arts in Theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Dr. Meyer currently serves as an assistant professor in theology for the University of St. Thomas School of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary.