28 Young Journalists, Communicators Named as Handa Fellows in Interreligious Communication

COLUMBIA, MO. — More than two dozen young professionals and students were named this week to the 2015-16 class of Handa Fellows in Interreligious Communication, among a strong field of 60 applicants.

This marks the inaugural year for the joint program between the Religion Communicators Council (RCC) and the Religion Newswriters Association (RNA). The fellowships are funded by a grant to RNA’s Foundation from the New York-based International Shinto Foundation. The program seeks to foster greater religious literacy in faith-based communication and mainstream religion reporting.

“These recipients show that the future of the religion beat and religious communication is in good hands,” said Debra L. Mason, executive director of RNA’s nonprofit foundation. “Never has the world had a bigger need for knowledgeable professionals who can tell engaging and accurate stories about faith.”

Over the next year, fellows will be divided into RCC and RNA cohorts for immersive programming tracks and mentoring in their field, as well as joint training sessions from industry experts and leaders.

“Interfaith understanding and engagement is crucial in today’s world,” said Shirley Struchen, executive director of the Religion Communicators Council. “We are thrilled with the 12 RCC Handa Fellows who bring a fresh and diverse perspective to our continued work in religious literacy.”

RCC Handa Fellows and Mentors

Jonathan Ammons

Handa Fellow: Jonathan Ammons, LDS Church Public Affairs

Paul Black

RCC Mentor: Paul Black, Director of Communications, Illinois Great Rivers Conference, United Methodist Church

Adriana Cansino

Handa Fellow: Adriana Cansino, University of Edinburgh

Nick Stuart

RCC Mentor: Nick Stuart, President and CEO, Odyssey Networks

Jacqueline Fuller

Handa Fellow: Jacqueline Fuller, Executive Producer, Interfaith Connections

Selby Ewing

RCC Mentor: Selby Ewing, Project Director, On Scripture: The Bible, Odyssey Networks

Esteban Garcia

Handa Fellow: Esteban Garcia, Media Relations Specialist, Bread for the World

Steven Martin

RCC Mentor: Steven Martin, Director of Communications and Development, National Council of Churches

Sean Hennigan

Handa Fellow:Sean Hennigan, Texas Impact

Kelly Fanning

RCC Mentor: Kelly Fanning, Communications Director and Webmaster, Christ the King Catholic Church

Margaret Krueger

Handa Fellow: Margaret Krueger, The Pluralism Project at Harvard University

Douglas Cannon

RCC Mentor: Dr. Douglas Cannon, APR+M, Fellow PRSA, Professor of Practice in the Department of Communication, Virginia Tech

Sarah Mangum

Handa Fellow: Sarah Mangum, Deily

Katherine Kerr

RCC Mentor: Katherine Kerr, APR, President, Polaris Non-Profit Solutions

Tom Morse

Handa Fellow: Tom Morse, Global Ministries, Disciples of Christ

Jim Cullumber

RCC Mentor: Jim Cullumber, Vice President of Communications, Christian Church Foundation

Tasha Sargent

Handa Fellow: Tasha Sargent, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Joyce Litoff

RCC Mentor: Joyce Litoff, Communications Assistant, Bahá’ís of the United States

Simran Jeet Singh

Handa Fellow: Simran Jeet Singh, Trinity University, The Sikh Coalition

Bud Heckman

RCC Mentor: Bud Heckman, Executive Director, International Shinto Foundation

Emma Snyder

Handa Fellow: Emma Snyder, Episcopal Diocese of California

Larry Hygh, Jr.

RCC Mentor: Dr. Larry Hygh, Jr., Director of Communications, California-Nevada Conference, United Methodist Church

RNA Handa Fellows

  • Dawn Araujo-Hawkins, Global Sisters Report
  • Melissa Binder, The Oregonian
  • Sarah Breger, Moment Magazine
  • Darcy Coulter, Columbia University
  • Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News
  • Carol Kuruvilla, The Huffington Post
  • Jacob Lupfer, Georgetown University
  • Holly Meyer, The Tennessean
  • Corrie Mitchell, OnFaith/FaithStreet
  • Michael Schulson, Freelance Writer
  • Betsy Shirley, Sojourners
  • Adela Suliman, Columbia University
  • Sara Weissman, University of California at Berkeley
  • Johanna Willett, Arizona Daily Star
  • Katie Zavadski, The Daily Beast
  • Dina Zingaro, CBS News

About the program partners

Religion Communicators Council is an interfaith association of religion communicators at work in print and electronic communication, marketing and in public relations. It promotes excellence in the communication of faith and values in the public arena and encourages understanding among religious and faith groups.

Religion Newswriters Association is the world’s oldest and largest association for professional journalists writing about religion, faith and values. It encourages coverage of religion that is accurate, balanced, civil and fair through its repository of reporting tools and resources, trainings, contests and annual conference.

The fellowships are named after the global humanitarian Dr. Haruhisa Handa.

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