2018 Convention: April 5-7 in Atlanta, Georgia

2018 Convention: Realizing the Dream: Peace and Justice Through Communication

April 5-7, 2018, Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta Convention Program Highlights

Sheraton Atlanta Hotel

Venue: Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, 165 Courtland Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30303; Phone: 404-659-6500

  • Please make your own hotel reservations online (or call 800-833-8624); use block code Religion Communicators Council.
  • Special RCC group rates are $129 plus 17% tax and $5/night state hotel assessment fee (approximate total: $156/night), single/double occupancy.
  • The first night’s deposit along with the $5 hotel/motel fee is due upon booking your reservation. There is a 72hr prior to arrival cancellation policy.
  • Group rate deadline is March 13, 2018


Attendees at the 2018 national convention will tour and visit the Center for Civil and Human Rights on Saturday, April 7. Ticket price is included in your registration.

  • Full Convention Registration
    • Includes all presentations, workshops, scheduled meals, DeRose-Hinkhouse and Wilbur Awards banquets.
      • Early Bird Full Registration: $395 (until March 13)
      • Full Registration: $425 (after March 13)
      • Full Registration for a spouse or partner: $295
      • Full Registration for Students: $200 (Student ID required)
  • Thursday Only, $200
    • Program and DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards
  • Friday Only, $200
    • Program includes lunch
  • Saturday Only, $200
    • Program and Wilbur Awards
  • Awards Banquets
    • DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards Banquet, $65
    • Wilbur Awards Banquet, $80
  • Online registration


We invite you to highlight your organization's services with faith-based communicators from around the country. The 2018 convention is a multi-faith forum intended to enrich, engage, educate and empower professional communicators of religion and faith-based issues.

Convention Coordinators

Amelia Tucker-ShawAmelia Tucker-Shaw

Amelia is founder of Diversified Communication Services, LLC, Public Relations, Training and Program Management. She is a retired staff member from United Methodist Communications in Nashville and holds a Master’s Degree from Atlanta’s Clark Atlanta University.

Cherilyn WilliamsCherilyn Williams, APR

Cherilyn is Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Office of General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Convention Arrangements

Angelyn CurrentAngelyn Current

Angie is an Atlanta based Client Relations Professional excelling in project management and a graduate of Clark Atlanta University with a B.A. in Mass Media.

Program Chairs

Doug CannonDouglas Cannon, APR+M, Fellow PRSA

Doug is Professor of Practice, Department of Communication, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia.

Jeff HuettJeff Huett, APR

Jeff is Associate Coordinator of Communications and Advancement, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Georgia.

Convention Registrar

Susan Gottshall Susan Gottshall

Susan is Associate Executive Director of Communications, American Baptist Home Mission Societies, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Atlanta Convention Program Highlights – Workshops and Plenaries

A very full conference is planned. Workshop and plenary sessions and speakers are added here as they are confirmed.

Workshop Tracks

Management/APR track

These workshops cover topics related to public relations as a management function. Individual sessions address knowledge, skills, and abilities tested on the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations.


Communication techniques track

These workshops are designed to help religion communicators improve their storytelling skills and better engage key publics through various media.

Interfaith issues track

These workshops consider varying roles communicators play in promoting religious literacy, fostering understand of various faith traditions, and cultivating relations between people of different faiths.

Plenary panel

Connecting with people, sharing our message: How faith communities use public relations

Religious movements throughout history have used public relations practices. The Apostle Paul's New Testament letters to early Christians have been likened to a modern public relations campaign. Arab public relations scholars have described the Prophet Mohammed as the first public relations practitioner in their culture. He used divine pronouncements to shape social action. In 1622 Pope Gregory XV established the Congregation for Propagating the Faith to counter the Protestant Reformation. The congregation generated writings (“propaganda”) to persuade people to accept the Christian faith and Roman Catholic doctrines.

Since the late 19th century, Christian churches in the United States have used advertising and public relations to reach key populations, deliver organizational messages and promote causes. In fact, public relations practices have become more integrated into faith sharing than many people recognize.

Three public relations scholars will discuss specifically how evangelical Christians, Roman Catholics and Scientologists have intentionally used public relations methods to accomplish ministry objectives. Panel participants are:

Margot LammeMargot Lamme, Ph.D., APR (@molamme), is a professor of public relations at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.

She is the author of Public Relations and Religion in American History: Evangelism, Temperance, and Business (Routledge, 2014).

Cylor SpauldingCylor Spaulding, Ph.D. (@CylorS), is the faculty director and an assistant professor of the practice for the Public Relations and Corporate Communication program at Georgetown University.

He is author of “Building a religious brand: Exploring the foundations of the Church of Scientology through public relations” in the Journal of Public Relations Research (Vol. 29, Issue 1, 2017).

Donn TilsonDonn Tilson, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA is an Associate Professor at University of Miami School of Communication (and former RCC board member).

He is the author of The Promotion of Devotion: Saints, Celebrities, and Shrines (Common Ground Publishing, 2011).

Workshop | Management/APR track

APRCrisis Communications: Not "If," But "When"

Every organization experiences crises. How serious they are, how much attention they get outside your organization and how your agency's leaders respond can determine the future well-being of your organization. Faith-based agencies are held to a higher standard than secular organizations, and the spotlight is especially bright when a crisis happens in the religious realm. This presentation will provide the outline of a plan for your organization, prompt you to think about how to protect the future of your organization's reputation and operations, and include an interactive exercise to get you thinking about how to respond when, not if, a crisis happens.

Katherine KerrKatherine Kerr, APR (@katherinekerr01), is co-founder of Polaris Non-Profit Solutions, LLC, and 2017-18 RCC treasurer. Her company in Georgetown, Texas, offers communication, marketing and fundraising consulting services to nonprofits. Katherine is a recovering journalist who has covered numerous crises and disasters as a daily newspaper reporter for 11 years. In the nonprofit sector, she has dealt with client, volunteer and staff deaths and inappropriate behavior; layoffs, sales and shutdowns of services; and hurricanes, tornadoes and fires. Having worked on both sides of the reporter's pad, she knows what works and doesn't work.

Workshop | Communication techniques track

Visualizing Your 15 Minutes of Fame

Your mission is to make your faith community the talk of the town by putting it into the public spotlight. Your roadblock is that you have either a limited budget or no funding at all to achieve this goal. Find out how to use the 24-hour broadcast news cycle and online services such as YouTube to earn public attention. This workshop will share resources, tips, and tricks of the trade to help you succeed in the world of video story pitching.

Jacqueline FullerJacqueline Fuller (@IFCTVShow, @LadyJamerican) is the executive producer and host of the Interfaith Connections TV show in Fairfax County, Virginia, and 2017-18 vice president of the RCC Board of Governors. Her program focuses on religion, spiritual and secular issues involved in the interfaith movement in metropolitan Washington, D.C. She has worked for various small businesses and nonprofit organizations including the American Heart Association and 9/11 Unity Walk.

Workshop | Communication techniques track

Tools for Working Smarter on Social Media

You have an editorial calendar, a media plan and good content to share but not enough time to post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google Plus. A variety of social media tools can help with the workflow of planning and posting. This workshop will focus on Buffer and provide reviews of similar products. Buffer may cut your social media workload in half in a few weeks.

Kurt GwartneyKurt Gwartney (@kgwartney), senior director of seminary relations at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a member of the RCC Board of Governors. He has served as the owner of a video training company, minister of communications at a large United Methodist congregation, public radio news director, and regional communications director for the American Red Cross.

Workshop | Management/APR track

APRReframe Diversity and Inclusion: It’s More Than Race

For decades, diversity and inclusion have been associated with the human resources function in business. For many public relations professionals today, including those serving faith-based organizations, diversity represents an area to explore, expand and embrace. But how can you address diversity and inclusion in today’s world without being criticized or attacked? How do you manage implicit bias to help your community of faith feel inclusive? Get inspired and motivated to take new steps into diversity and inclusion, and start reframing your thinking with this interactive presentation and workshop.

Ana ToroAna Toro, APR, Fellow PRSA (@anatoro), is the 2017 chair of the Public Relations Society of America Diversity and Inclusion Committee and project director for ICF in Atlanta. A former president of the Puerto Rico Public Relations Association (1999-2000), she has spent the last 12 years supporting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health programs. Her former clients include Anheuser-Busch, AT&T, BMW, Chrysler, Coors, Royal Caribbean, Shell and Volvo Car Corporation.

Workshop | Management/APR track

APRReputation Management in Our Modern Age

This session offers religion communicators a look into the unique challenges and opportunities of reputation management today. We’ll talk about trends, the current state of public opinion, and, of course, best practices as we review a couple high-profile case studies.

Katherine Morales

Katherine Morales, APR (@ktmason) is founder of InFlection Point Communications in Atlanta and a member of the Universal Accreditation Board. She specializes in brand building, reputation management, and strategic communications planning and has provided public relations counsel to Chick-fil-A, Hewlett-Packard, and Bayer CropScience. She now partners with many entrepreneurial companies to help manage their reputations, discover their inflection point, and create positive change for future growth.

Workshop | Management/APR track

M. Cayce MyersAPRThat law doesn't apply to me, does it?

A review of copyright, trademark and privacy laws that affect religion communication.

M. Cayce Myers, Ph.D., J.D., APR (@CayceMyers) is legal research editor for the Institute for Public Relations, member of the Georgia Bar Association, and assistant professor of communication at Virginia Tech.

Workshop | Interfaith issues track

Interfaith and Peace through Media Monitoring

Glory DharmarajDr. Glory Dharmaraj is U.S. coordinator for the Global Media Monitoring Project (@whomakesthenews) of the World Association for Christian Communication (@waccglobal). Since the project’s inception in 1995, she had led media monitoring on the role and image of women in the United States. She also participated in WACC’s peace journalism project, coordinating peace monitoring for the United States.

Dr. Dhamaraj has spoken and written widely on the themes of Christian mission, interfaith relations and media literacy.

June O. NicholsonDr. June Nicholson is professor of journalism and director of graduate studies in the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. She has been a leader in the Society of Professional Journalists, the nation’s largest organization for print and broadcast journalists, for two decades.

In 2008, Nicholson was named recipient of the Robert P. Knight Multicultural Award, given by AEJMC for her contributions to promoting diversity in America’s newsrooms. In 2007, Nicholson was selected as recipient of the College of Humanities and Sciences Distinguished Service Award, for outstanding service to the profession of journalism and to VCU.

Karri WhippleKarri Whipple (@karriwhipple) is a media specialist, writer, and activist promoting intimate justice and building transformative communities. Her work focuses on the intersection of trauma, identity politics, and religion. She is particularly interested in the ways in which gender and race shape responses to violence and trauma.

Karri is adjunct faculty at Rutgers University and Drew University and the communications specialist for membership and new media at Religion Communicators Council (RCC). She is a board member of the RCC and World Association of Christian Communicators - North American region. Karri also serves as the chair of the Domestic Violence Awareness Task Force for the Metro-New York Synod of the ELCA.

RCC 2018 Convention Logos

Use these logos on your own web site and in your publications.

Other Conventions

Previous RCC Conventions

powered by MemberClicks