RCC 2015 Convention

2015 Convention: Faith-Based Communications: Connecting Locally, Reaching Globally


April 9-11, 2015

The Westin AlexandriaWhere

The Westin Alexandria, 400 Courthouse Square, Alexandria, VA 22314-5700

The Westin has easy access to Washington, D.C. The hotel is a quick walk or shuttle ride to a Metro station and Old Town Alexandria. It is two Metro stops away from Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA).

RCC room rate: $139, plus 14.5% tax, plus $1, or $160 for single or double. Please make your own room reservations (deadline March 18, 2015).

RCC discount rate for overnight parking: $13 per night

Complimentary WIFI in guest rooms.


Full registration is $395 (includes workshops, meals, plenary sessions and tour of Newseum).

Register online – pay online or register online and mail check

Register by mail – download, print, and mail with check

Save the date flyer

Trio guiding 2015 convention

Cherilyn Crowe

Cherilyn Crowe – Director of Communications, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty

Bill Aiken

William (Bill) Aiken – Director of Public Affairs, Soka Gakkai International - USA

Jeanean Merkel

Jeanean Merkel – Director for Member Engagement, Lutheran Services in America

2015 Convention Schedule

Convention planning is on-going; schedule is subject to change.

Wednesday, April 8



7:00 p.m.

Registration Open

7:00 p.m.

Wednesday Night at the Movies

Movie Title: TBD

Optional Event


Thursday, April 9



9:00 a.m.

Registration Open

at the Westin Alexandria


Optional: Visit Newseum on your own

555 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20001

12:00 p.m.

Depart Westin for Newseum

Transportation provided

1:00 p.m.

Welcome and orientation

Welcome to the Newseum by Dr. Charles Haynes, Director of the Religious Freedom Center Education Project at the Newseum


Keynote: Religious Literacy

Highlighting the need to be aware of religious trends nationally and globally, how biases affect our messages and communications with Dr. Charles Haynes and Dr. Stephen Prothero.

Charles HaynesDr. Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Center Education Project at the Newseum

Dr. Stephen ProtheroDr. Stephen Prothero, professor in the Department of Religion at Boston University

3:45 p.m.

Tour Newseum

NewseumOne of the top attractions in Washington, D.C., the Newseum’s 250,000-square-foot news museum offers visitors a state-of-the-art experience that blends news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits. The Newseum Institute serves as a forum for First Amendment study, exploration and education. 

The mission of the Newseum is to champion the five freedoms of the First Amendment through education, information and entertainment.

Closes at 5:00 p.m.

5:30 p.m.

Reception / Mixer

Location: El-Hibri Foundation

Bud HeckmanHosted by Rev. Bud Heckman, Director of Outreach and the Mosaic Initiative at El-Hibri Foundation (Washington, DC) and Senior Advisor to Religions for Peace USA (New York City).

7:00 p.m.

Evening on your own

Buses return to Westin Alexandria or spend more time in DC on your own


Friday, April 10



8:00 a.m.

Business Meeting

Continental breakfast

9:15 a.m.


10:15 a.m.


11:30 a.m.

DeRose-Hinkhouse Award trophyDeRose-Hinkhouse Awards Lunch

Recognize active RCC members who demonstrate excellence in religious communications and public relations.

See entry forms on the DeRose-Hinkhouse page

2:30 p.m.

Media Panel


Adelle BanksAdelle Banks, production editor and a national correspondent at Religion News Service (RNS)


Michelle BoorsteinMichelle Boorstein, religion reporter for The Washington Post

Eric MarrapodiEric Marrapodi, Senior Washington producer and contributing editor to CNN's Belief Blog

Wajahat AliWajahat Ali, co-host of Al Jazeera America's The Stream

3:45 p.m.


5:00 p.m.

Evening on your own


Saturday, April 11



8:00 a.m.

Breakfast Networking Time

9:00 a.m.


Shaun CaseyThe Role of Religion in International Affairs

Shaun Casey is Special Representative to the Secretary of State for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

10:15 a.m.

Coffee Break

10:45 a.m.


12:30 p.m.

Luncheon / Presentation

Faithful Responses to Local / Global Needs

Presenters include:

Karin AchtelstetterDr. Karin Achtelstetter, General Secretary of World Association for Christian Communications (WACC) based in Toronto, Canada and an RCC member.

2:30 p.m.


4:15 p.m.


6:00 p.m.

Wilbur Awards Meet & Greet Winners

7:00 p.m.

Wilbur Award trophyWilbur Awards Dinner and Presentations

Recognize excellence in the communication of religious issues, values and themes in secular media.

Speakers and Workshop Leaders

Listed in alphabetical order.

Dr. Karin AchtelstetterDr. Karin Achtelstetter


Dr. Karin Achtelstetter, General Secretary of World Association for Christian Communications (WACC) based in Toronto, Canada and an RCC member.

She is former Director and Editor-in-Chief of the Lutheran World Federation, and former Coordinator of the Public Information Team & Media Relations Officer of the World Council of Churches, both based in Geneva.

Jonathan AikenJonathan Aiken

Workshop leader

A veteran of 40 years in the news and video fields, Jonathan is currently head of ActualityMedia, which specializes in media training, video production and support to non-profit organizations, government agencies and the private sector.

Prior to launching ActualityMedia, Aiken spent 9 years with the American National Red Cross, working from its National headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he developed an intensive media training program that has been used for the past 8 years on more than 1,500 staff, volunteers, and management.

Before joining Red Cross in 2005, Jonathan spent 11 years at CNN in both Washington and Atlanta, beginning as a freelance writer and ending his career in 2005 as a Correspondent with CNN Headline News (now HLN) and CNN International, where he anchored global broadcasts.

Wajahat AliWajahat Ali


Wajahat Ali is co-host of Al Jazeera America's The Stream, a daily news show that extends the conversation to social media and beyond. He is a lawyer, a consultant for the U.S. State Department and was also the lead author and researcher of "Fear Inc., Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America," the seminal report from the Center for American Progress.

Ali is also the author of The Domestic Crusaders, the first major play about Muslim Americans, post-9/11. Witty and emphatic, he speaks on the multifaceted Muslim American experience, and an emergent generation of millennials poised for social change.

Adelle BanksAdelle Banks

Media Panel Moderator

Adelle Banks is production editor and a national correspondent at Religion News Service (RNS).

She previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton. She is a 2014 Wilbur Award winner.

Beth BeckerBeth Becker

Workshop leader

Beth Becker brings 20+ years of communication and marketing background to her work in political digital strategy. In addition to her work with progressive clients Beth often can be found conducting trainings about digital strategy for the New Organizing Institute, clients and conferences like PA Progressive Summit and Netroots Nation. As a contributing blogger at epolitics.com and avid activist, Beth shares her knowledge to help the progressive movement use digital with offline to win. In her spare time Beth contributes to Progressive Congress News, shops for shoes, and tweets from @spedwybabs.

Michelle BoorsteinMichelle Boorstein


Michelle Boorstein is religion reporter for The Washington Post where she reports on the busy marketplace of American religion.

The Religion Newswriters Association awarded her its "Religion Reporter of the Year" award for religion writing in large news organizations in 2011 and 2013.

Prior to joining The Washington Post, she reported on stories around the world for The Associated Press. She has a Master's degree in Near Eastern Studies.

Shaun CaseyShaun Casey

Keynote speaker

Shaun Casey is Special Representative to the Secretary of State for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. He is currently on leave of absence from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, where he is Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the National Capital Semester for Seminarians (NCSS). His research interests include ethics and international affairs, the public implications of religious belief, and the intersection of religion and politics.

He has written on the ethics of the war in Iraq as well the role of religion in American presidential politics and he is writing a book on ethics and international politics tentatively titled Niebuhr's Children.

He is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School with a Master of Divinity Degree and a Doctor of Theology in Religion and Society. He also earned a Master of Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Douglas F. CannonDouglas F. Cannon, Ph.D., APR+M, Fellow PRSA

Workshop leader

Douglas F. Cannon, Ph.D., APR+M, Fellow PRSA, is assistant professor of communication, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He worked as a United Methodist communicator for nearly 25 years and was RCC president for three years (2008-10 and 2012-13). He now teaches public relations at Virginia Tech and researches how faith groups practice public relations. In addition to work in religion communication, he's been a daily newspaper reporter, weekly newspaper publisher, TV newsmagazine producer and Army public affairs officer.

Mike DuBoseMike DuBose

Workshop leader

Mike DuBose has spent most of his 30+ years as a photojournalist carefully avoiding work by making pictures of other people working.

He has been the staff photographer for United Methodist News Service since 1995. Assignments have taken him to some three dozen countries and most of our 50 states.

He spent 10 years as a daily newspaper photographer in Nashville and Knoxville and served as a staff photographer for the 1982 World’s Fair.

A native of Oak Ridge, Tenn., Mike has a journalism degree from the University of Tennessee and a master’s in photographic communication from Ohio University.

Charles HaynesCharles Haynes

Plenary speaker

Dr. Charles Haynes is the Director of the Religious Freedom Center Education Project at the Newseum and a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center. He writes and speaks extensively on religious liberty and religion in American public life.

Haynes is the author or co-author of six books, including First Freedoms: A Documentary History of First Amendment Rights in America (2006) and Religion in American Public Life.

He holds a master's degree from Harvard Divinity School and a doctorate from Emory University.

Bud HeckmanBud Heckman

Reception / Mixer Host

Rev. Bud Heckman is an interfaith relations, fundraising, and communications specialist. He currently serves as the Director of Outreach and the Mosaic Initiative at El-Hibri Foundation (Washington, DC) and as Senior Advisor to Religions for Peace USA (New York City).

Rev. Heckman served on the Interreligious Cooperation Task Force for President Obama through the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

An ordained Christian minister from the West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church, he has also consulted for many global interfaith organizations.

Rev. Heckman is editor of an award winning reference book for the field called InterActive Faith: The Essential Interreligious Community-Building Handbook (SkyLight Paths, 2008). He lives in Manhattan and DC.

Eric MarrapodiEric Marrapodi


Eric Marrapodi is Senior Washington producer and contributing editor to CNN's Belief Blog. As an award-winning journalist based in Washington, DC, he covers everything from natural disasters, to politics, to religion.

He is the founding co-editor of CNN's Belief Blog. The site has won many awards for digital journalism, including a 2013 RCC Wilbur Award and a Webby, an Online Journalism Award, and multiple awards from the Religion Newswriters Association, including site of the year in 2012. He regularly appears on CNN to report on religion.

Eric has an undergraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism from Quinnipiac University and a Masters degree in Religious Studies from Georgetown University.

Stephen ProtheroDr. Stephen Prothero

Plenary speaker

Dr. Prothero is a professor in the Department of Religion at Boston University and the author of numerous books, most recently The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation (HarperOne 2012), God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World--and Why Their Differences Matter (HarperOne, 2010) and the New York Times bestseller Religious Literacy: What Americans Need to Know (HarperOne, 2007).

He has commented on religion on dozens of National Public Radio programs, and on television on CNN, NBC, MSNBC, FOX, and PBS. He was also a guest on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart, "The Colbert Report," and "The Oprah Winfrey Show." He was also the chief editorial consultant for the six-hour WGBH/PBS television series "God in America" (2010).

A regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, he has also written for the New York Times, Slate, Salon, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe.

In 2010 he was invited to speak about religious literacy at the White House. During 2012-13 he was a fellow at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History.

Prothero received his BA from Yale in American Studies and his PhD in the Study of Religion from Harvard. He lives on Cape Cod, and he tweets @sprothero.

Jan SniderJan Snider

Workshop leader

Jan Snider is an award-winning multi-media producer for United Methodist Communications. She began her career as a news reporter and later, anchor at a local television station in Georgia. She has also been an anchor and feature reporter in entertainment news, produced and written spots for the Armed Forces Radio and Television Network, co-hosted a national magazine program, served as producer and assignment editor for an all-live television station, and done freelance writing and reporting.

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