RCC 2016 Convention

RCC 2016 Schedule and Speakers

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Convention planning is ongoing; schedule is subject to change.

Wednesday, March 30




Optional: Group get togethers

Thursday, March 31

Location: Upper West Side



12:00 p.m.

Interchurch Center

Photo of The Interchurch Center by Americasroof, CC BY 3.0.

Lunch on your own

Lunch is available at Interchurch Center cafeteria, 475 Riverside Drive.

1:00 p.m.

Check in / Mingle

At the Interchurch Center

1:30 p.m.

Opening remarks and introductions

Casey Tom

Casey Tom

RCC President Casey Tom with welcome from Rev. Dr. James A Forbes

2:00 p.m.

Interfaith Panel: Many Paths and Even More Intersections: Navigating Multi-religious Activism

Our diverse world rapidly is becoming more interconnected. The intersections of religions are regular front page news – and fodder for "water cooler" conversations.

Four pioneering and dynamic voices share their "vehicles" for interfaith cooperation, the roadblocks and detours they have encountered, the workarounds they have created, and the new bridges and roadways they have built.

Award-winning veteran journalist Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times interviews an engaging mix of academics, activists and CEOs who represent four distinct religious viewpoints. Buckle up and hold on, our journey together begins.

Panel members:

Laurie Goodstein

Laurie Goodstein, moderator

3:30 p.m.


Refreshment break sponsored by Odyssey Networks

4:00 p.m.

Plenary Panel: Election Year and Beyond: Social and Political Activism in the City’s Black Churches

Panelists discuss the tradition, the importance and the present day expressions of activism around issues of social justice.

Panel members:

5:30 p.m.


6:00 p.m.

DeRose-Hinkhouse Award trophyDeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards Banquet

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

The DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards will be held at the Interchurch Center, 475 Riverside Drive.


Friday, April 1

Location: Lincoln Center area



8:00 a.m.

Photo of LDS Temple in Manhattan by David Steele, CC BY 2.0.

Light breakfast and RCC business meeting at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints center

Breakfast sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

9:30 a.m.

Media Panel: Re-Imagining the Religion Beat

A panel of journalists will discuss the ongoing evolution of media coverage of religion – from new technologies, to changing economics, to emerging issues. Moderated by Debra Mason, director of the Religion Newswriters Foundation.

Panel members:

Debra Mason

Debra Mason, moderator

10:45 a.m.


11:00 a.m.


Workshop — Bridges

Red Light, Green Light: Coverage of Women in Media

Has progress in news media portrayal and participation of women ground to a halt? Glory Damaraj, U.S. coordinator for the fifth and largest study of the Global Media Monitoring Project, discusses the latest results released in November 2015. That report of data from 114 countries provides analysis and case studies at global, regional and national levels, including trends detected since the first GMMP was conducted in 1995. The project is coordinated by the World Association for Christian Communication.


Workshop — Avenues

When "Like" is Not Enough: Getting the Most From Social Media

Ryan KochThis workshop will take you beyond the basic ingredients of social media and into a smörgåsbord of social media management, metrics, and strategy. Depending on the interests and background of the participants, topics may include online social media management tools, metrics to consider beyond "likes" and "favorites," the social media clearance process, ghostwriting for principals, social media campaigns, crisis response and developing an editorial calendar. Note: Participants should already be familiar with the major social media platforms.

Led by Ryan John Koch

Workshop — Intersections

Why Business Leaders are Making Peacemaking Their Business

Brian GrimWhy should business leaders care about freedom of religion or belief? How can we engage them in the cause of building innovative, sustainable economies where diversity is respected?

Facilitator Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation, will draw on a massive body of global research on how religious and economic freedoms are connected. The Religious Freedom and Business Foundation accomplishes its work through research, the Empowerment+ initiative, global awards, world forums, and education.

12:20 p.m.


12:30 p.m.

Lunch: Religion and the Arts Panel

Panel members:

2:00 p.m.


2:15 p.m.

Daniel SiebergPlenary: Introducing Google News Lab, Examining the Future of News, and Taking Virtual Reality Seriously

Ever wanted to learn some of the secrets of Google’s magic? We have brought one of their best experts to you. Think of this keynote as a 3-for-1 special. First, you get to learn cool new digital tools that will help you visually enhance your story telling. Second, you will get a sneak peek at what shape news storytelling may take as new technologies come online. Third, you will have your thinking challenged about the relevance and value of virtual reality for communications. Take aspirin in advance, because this keynote is going to stretch your brain.

Speaker: Daniel Sieberg

3:15 p.m.


Sponsored by General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church

3:30 p.m.


Workshop — Bridges

Building a Better Blog

You have a blog and you put blood, sweat and tears into getting it out but you feel like you’re missing something. You don’t quite know what it is but there is something nagging you about how you are handling your blog.

Come to this workshop and learn how to build a better blog. There will be sharing from several bloggers who have been building their blogs for years now, honing the way they craft and promote them.

Moderated by Mat Tombers [“A Letter From New York”] and including Jenni Crumpton [“Femmevangelical”] and Patrick Heery.

Workshop leaders:

Mat Tombers

Mat Tombers, moderator

Workshop — Avenues

Writing with a Purpose: A strategic approach to telling your stories

Doug CannonEffective writing in both corporate and religion communication is strategic. The emphasis on storytelling with a specific purpose distinguishes public relations writing from other forms of communication. Writers for both corporations and faith communities must think about the objective for their message, their intended reader, the delivery medium and the communication context before they type their first word.

Strategic writers work for a specific response: a change in awareness, opinion, understanding or behavior. Therefore, strategic communicators must match information, vocabulary and readability to the public they want to reach. They must align message packaging with the delivery medium. They must pick approaches most likely to reach the communication goals.

Bring your computer or tablet to practice some techniques to make your writing more strategic.

Led by Doug Cannon

Slides from Doug Cannon's workshop

Workshop — Intersections

Religious ‘Nones’ and Religious ‘Somes’: Intersections Between the Affiliated and the Unaffiliated

Tom BeaudoinA growing share of the U.S. adult population identifies with no particular organized religion. The Pew Research Center says the “Nones” may be most prominent among young adults, but their numbers include Americans of all ages and cultural backgrounds. How do religion communicators contemplate this growing, complex segment of the American religious and cultural landscape? Who are the “Nones,” and where do they share common cause with people of traditional faith communities?

Workshop leader Tom Beaudoin, Ph.D., is associate professor of religion in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University in New York City, where he teaches courses in philosophy of religion and theology. He currently serves as the president of the Association of Practical Theology.

5:30 p.m.

Free night to enjoy New York City


Saturday, April 2

Location: United Nations area



9:00 a.m.

Photo of The Church Center for the United Nations by Steven E. Lawson.

Coffee, bagels, and welcome to Church Center for the United Nations

A place for human rights: the Church Center of the United Nations – article on RNS site for Human Rights Day; includes video about the Church Center for the United Nations by United Methodist Women

9:30 a.m.


Workshop —

Humanitarian and faith-based organizations link arms to protect vulnerable women and children

Doing good in the world takes good will and strong partnerships. Faith-based organizations are working together with international humanitarian and development institutions to promote a world where the rights of all, especially the most vulnerable, are respected and promoted.

Last fall, UNICEF and the World Council of Churches signed a global partnership to protect children’s rights. Also last fall, the Global Health unit of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries committed to support with its local partners the implementation of $20 million worth of programs within the framework of the United Nations’ Every Woman Every Child movement between 2016 and 2020. The U.N. movement addresses major health issues of women and children around the world.

In this workshop, you’ll engage with representatives of UNICEF, WCC, and the UMC’s Global Health program about the practical value of these kinds of collaborations to promote the health, safety, and well-being of children and women, and how you can cover this story.

Workshop leaders:

Workshop —

Oh, Go Fund Yourself! Raising Resources for Your Work

Bud HeckmanWith agency budgets tightening, helping to fund your work as a communicator is becoming a career survival technique. This workshop will look at where nonprofit resources come from and how to keep them coming to you.

Facilitator Bud Heckman will discuss data, trends and techniques for fundraising. Communications and development efforts must be closely aligned, he says. And communications must be seen as an integral part of the agency’s mission, not just a dispensable tool serving it.

Slides from Bud Heckmans' workshop

11:00 a.m.


11:15 a.m.

United Nations Panel

What's Faith Got To Do With It?: Faith Organizations, the UN, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

After 15 years of ground-breaking effort on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the United Nations is now working on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But what does that mean? And how are people of faith making a contribution to the SDGs? This session invites RCC members into conversation with a seasoned UN coordinator for the efforts and leading representatives of the three major working groups – advocacy, evidence, and collaboration. What are they each doing to advance joint initiatives from faith-based communities that will benefit the accomplishment of the SDGs?

Panel members:

Azza Karam

Dr. Azza Karam, moderator

12:30 p.m.

Lunch and Keynote: Intersections: Faith and the Global Community

How can faith be communicated effectively in a “non-religious” space? What is the best way to work with like-minded organizations to support peace, justice and human rights? Our closing presentation/discussion will focus on the intersection of religion and the secular world, especially in the U.N. setting, and the importance of protecting both freedom of religion and a free expression of religion.


Jim Winkler

Jim Winkler, moderator

2:30 p.m.

Tour of Grand Central in NYC (optional)

Grand Central Tour led by Maddy Levi, a licensed, freelance tour guide who specializes in walking tours of historic New York City districts and neighborhoods.

The 90 minute tour of Grand Central Terminal and the surrounding neighborhood will focus on the history and architecture of significant buildings in the area and will cover many points of interest within Grand Central Terminal itself. 

Some of the areas that will be viewed and discussed include:

  • Grand Central Facade
  • The Chrysler Building
  • The Gray Bar Building
  • Clock and Information Booth
  • Ceiling Mural
  • Whispering Gallery
  • Vanderbilt Hall
  • Biltmore Room (Kissing Gallery)
  • Met Life Building (Originally the Pan Am Building)
  • Vanderbilt Avenue
  • New York Central Building
  • The Campbell Apartment
  • And more

6:00 p.m.

Wilbur Award trophyWilbur Awards Meet & Greet Winners

7:00 p.m.

Photo of St. Vartan Cathedral by James Morse.

Wilbur Awards Banquet and Presentations

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

Special Wilbur Award to Rev. Joan Brown Campbell

Hosted by Fr. James Gardiner, SA

The Wilbur Awards will be held in the wonderful “630 Second Avenue” facility which is part of St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral.

Speakers and Workshop Leaders

Listed in alphabetical order; more to come!

Dr. Karin AchtelstetterRev. Dr. Karin Achtelstetter

United Nations Panel

Workshop leader: Red Light, Green Light: Coverage of Women in Media

Rev. Dr. Karin Achtelstetter (@KarinWaltraut), General Secretary of World Association for Christian Communications (WACC, @waccglobal) is 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.

Melanie BakerMelanie Baker

Religion and the Arts Panel Panelist

Violinist Melanie Baker has performed solo and with ensembles and orchestras in New York and beyond. She has played with the Queens Symphony, Bronx Arts Ensemble and American Symphony, to name a few, and in many Broadway shows.

A graduate of the Hartt School and the Manhattan School of Music, she is a member of the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew (UMC) in New York City.

Tom BeaudoinDr. Tom Beaudoin

Workshop leader

Tom Beaudoin, Ph.D., is associate professor of religion in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University in New York City, where he teaches courses in philosophy of religion and theology. He currently serves as the president of the Association of Practical Theology.

His research projects include Outside Religion in Practice, a philosophy of religious practice accounting for affiliated, marginally affiliated, nonaffiliated, and multiply affiliated persons and Somatica Divina: Body and Race in the Spiritual Significance of Music, an exploration of the role of the performing body in the spiritual significance of music, particularly as understood with reference to race in the United States.

Rudelmar Bueno de FariaRudelmar Bueno de Faria

United Nations Panel Panelist

Rudelmar Bueno de Faria is a Brazilian national with over 20 years of experience working with national and international church-related organizations in humanitarian, development and advocacy programs. He serves as the World Council of Churches (WCC, @Oikoumene) Representative to the United Nations and Coordinator of the UN Ecumenical Office in New York (@UN).

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

Workshop leader: Writing with a Purpose

Douglas F. Cannon, Ph.D., APR+M, Fellow PRSA (@dcannon), is professor of practice, 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.

George CareyLord George Carey

Intersections: Faith and the Global Community Panelist

Lord George Carey served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002, a time period of significant social change for the Anglican Church worldwide. During his tenure the first women priests were ordained and significant initiatives were made towards dialogue with Muslims. Today, among other things, he works to advance education, development, interfaith cooperation and religious freedom, as well as advocates on behalf of the plight of Christians in challenging conditions.

Lord Carey is Chair and co-Founder with Jim Wolfensohn, former President of the World Bank, of the World Faiths Development Dialogue which is now situated at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University. He serves on the Board of many organizations, including the International Shinto Foundation and Worldwide Support for Development, both related to Dr. Haruhisa Handa, patron of RCC's new Handa Fellows in Interreligious Communication.

Jennifer CrumptonRev. Jennifer D. Crumpton

Workshop leader: Building a Better Blog

Rev. Jennifer D. Crumpton (@JenniDCrumpton) is an author, media commentator, columnist for Patheos and Huffington Post, and public speaker on topics at the intersection of women, religion, politics, social justice, and popular culture.

After more than a decade as an advertising executive for Fortune 500 companies, she reconsidered her calling and went on to earn a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary, where she studied feminist theology, inter-faith social justice, and social/structural ethics. Jennifer is active in various organizations and publications around women's equality, multi-religious peace and security movements, and LGBTQ equality. She lives in New York City with her husband, Dave Ross, and is affiliated with Park Avenue Christian Church.

Jacques Andre DeGraffRev. Jacques Andre DeGraff

Election Year and Beyond Panel Panelist

The Rev. Jacques Andre DeGraff (@EagleRev) has served on the pastoral staff at Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem since 1998.

He was the 1st Vice President of the One Hundred Black Men, New York, where he has been a founding member of two public high schools; is the chair of the New York School Construction Diversity Council and the NYC Department of Education Diversity Council and acts as a champion for the State of Israel.

Glory DharmarajDr. Glory Dharmaraj

Workshop leader: Red Light, Green Light: Coverage of Women in Media

Dr. Glory Dharmaraj is U.S. Coordinator for the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP, #GMMP2015 @whomakesthenews) of the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC, @waccglobal). Since the project’s inception in1995, 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.

Ganoune DiopDr. Ganoune Diop

Intersections: Faith and the Global Community Panelist

Dr. Ganoune Diop, PhD, is the Director of the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department (PARL) at the Seventh-day Adventist Church world headquarters. He is the Secretary General of the International Religious Liberty Association (@IRLA_USA).

Dr. Diop was the Permanent Representative of the SDA Church at the United Nations in New York and Geneva. He is currently secretary of the Conference of Secretaries of the Christian World Communions.

Dr. Diop extensively works to foster mutual understanding between Christian faith traditions and other world religions and philosophies. He regularly trains leaders in capacity building in reference to peace, justice, and human rights: the pillars of the United Nations.

He was granted a doctorate Honoris Causa for his work in helping promote a culture of human rights grounded on human dignity. He is executive editor of Religious Freedom World Report and executive editor of Fides et Libertas.

Joyce DubenskyJoyce Dubensky

Interfaith Panel

Joyce Dubensky is the CEO of Tanenbaum (@TanenbaumCenter), a secular, non-sectarian nonprofit working to dismantle religious violence and hatred. Its flagship program supports Peacemakers in situations of armed conflict.

Tanenbaum also tackles religious bullying of students, harassment in workplaces and disparate health treatment based on people’s beliefs.

As an attorney, Ms. Dubensky created the Legal Department at the United Jewish Appeal - Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York and served as its first general counsel for more than 10 years.

Que EnglishRev. Que “Q” English

Election Year and Beyond Panel Panelist

Rev. Que (Q) English, senior pastor at Bronx Christian Fellowship Church (@bcfcathedral), is a trailblazer on criminal justice, sex trafficking and domestic violence issues. Rev. Que chairs the New York City Faith-based Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence and is the co-founder of the New York City Clergy Roundtable and Bronx Clergy Roundtable. Rev. Que has also been involved in numerous NYC campaigns concerning workers’ rights and gun violence.

James A. Forbes, Jr.Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr.

Opening & Welcome

The Rev. Dr. James Alexander Forbes, Jr., is The Harry Emerson Fosdick Distinguished Professor at Union Theological Seminary (@UnionSeminary), Senior Minister Emeritus of The Riverside Church (@riversidenyc), President of the Healing of the Nations Foundation, and National Minister of the Drum Major Institute, all in New York City.

He is a nationally and internationally acclaimed author, scholar and speaker, often is called “the preacher’s preacher” because of his extensive preaching career and his charismatic style. Dr. Forbes also is a passionate community and human rights activist and interfaith leader.

James GardinerFr. James Gardiner, SA

Wilbur Awards Host

Fr. James Gardiner, SA, is a Bronx-born Franciscan Friar of the Atonement (Graymoor) currently serving on the staff at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, DC (@FranciscanMon).

Laurie GoodsteinLaurie Goodstein

Interfaith Panel Moderator

Laurie Goodstein (@lauriegnyt) is the national religion correspondent for The New York Times (@nytimes). She joined the Times in 1997 after working as a correspondent for The Washington Post.

Ms. Goodstein has received many top awards from the Religion Newswriters Association and other journalism organizations, and from the American Academy of Religion, the association of scholars who study religion. She was an associate producer on the documentary Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God by the filmmaker Alex Gibney.

Brian J. GrimDr. Brian J. Grim

Workshop leader

Dr. Brian J. Grim (@brianjgrim) is President of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation. He is a leading expert on international religious demography and the socio-economic impact of restrictions on religious freedom.

At St. Mary’s University in London, he is developing his foundation’s Empowerment+ initiative to increase religious freedom by fostering self-reliance among people experiencing displacement, unemployment, isolation, crime, addiction and extremism. He regularly presents to high-level audiences around the world including the White House, State Department, European Parliament and United Nations.

Claus GrueClaus Grue

Workshop leader

Claus Grue is a senior communications professional with extensive experience from leading positions in both the public and private sector. As a long-time advocate of communicative leadership, he has supported and trained managers and executives in all aspects of strategic communications for a number of years. His background includes middle management positions at Scandinavian Airlines and Falck/G4S, as well as experience in journalism and public relations.

Currently, Claus serves as communication consultant at the World Council of Churches (@Oikoumene) in Geneva, following a nine-year assignment as communication director at the Diocese of Lund, Church of Sweden. Since 2012, he is also the regional coordinator in Sweden for the European Association of Communication Directors.

Fredrick HarrisDr. Fredrick Harris

Election Year and Beyond Panel Moderator

Dr. Fredrick Harris is Professor of Political Science and directs the Center on African-American Politics and Society.

His publications include Something Within: Religion in African-American Political Activism, which was awarded the V.O. Key Award by the Southern Political Science Association, the Best Book Award by the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and the Best Book Award by the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.

He is also the co-author of Countervailing Forces in African-American Civic Activism, 1973-1994 with Valeria Sinclair-Chapman and Brian McKenzie, which received the W.E.B. DuBois Book Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and the Ralph Bunche Award from the American Political Science Association for the best book on ethnic and cultural pluralism.

Bud HeckmanRev. Bud Heckman

Workshop leader

RCC Vice President Bud Heckman (@BudHeckman) is a specialist in interfaith relations, philanthropy and communications. A United Methodist minister, he currently serves as Executive Director of the International Shinto Foundation (@IntlShintoFdn in New York) and Communications Director of Worldwide Support for Development (Tokyo), two global foundations. In addition, he is the co-founder and convener of the Interfaith Funders Group.

Previous positions include Development Officer at Hartford Seminary and member of the Interreligious Cooperation Task Force for President Obama.

Katharine HendersonRev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson

Interfaith Panel

The Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson (@RevKHenderson) is president of Auburn Seminary (@AuburnSeminary), a multifaith leadership development and research center.

Henderson spearheads innovative initiatives, including Auburn Senior Fellows, Auburn Media, and Groundswell, a faith-rooted online activism platform.

She regularly engages pressing issues, including moral economy, climate change, immigration, gun violence, and LGBTQ equality and is the author of God’s Troublemakers: How Women of Faith are Changing the World (Continuum, 2006). Henderson is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Olusimbo IgeDr. Olusimbo Ige

Workshop leader

Dr. Olusimbo Ige is the executive director of the Global Health unit of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church (@umcmission). She provides strategic leadership, technical guidance, and implementation support to health programs in 25 countries.

Her experience spans more than 11 years of health services delivery, health programs management at national and international levels, health research and teaching of graduate students, and nonprofit program management consultancies for the World Health Organization, DFID, and USAID health programs.

Her expertise is in designing and supporting implementation of strategies to improve health systems from the community up. She is a public health physician, a fellow of the West African College of physicians in community medicine with a Masters of Science in epidemiology and a Masters of Public Health in Global Health Leadership.

Azza KaramDr. Azza Karam

United Nations Panel Moderator

Azza Karam, Ph.D. (@Mansoura1968), serves as a Senior Advisor on Culture and Social Development, at the United Nations Population Fund (@UNFPA). In this capacity, Dr. Karam supports Fund-wide culture outreach, is a Lead Facilitator for the United Nations Strategic Learning Exchanges on Religion, development and humanitarian issues, and she represents UNFPA as Coordinator/Chair of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Engaging Faith-Based Organizations for Development

Ryan KochRyan John Koch

Workshop leader

Ryan John Koch (@ryanjohnkoch) is Director of the New York Office of Public and International Affairs, LDS Church (@ldschurch).

A former trainer for the U.S. State Department, he has trained hundreds of diplomats and other embassy public affairs staff in both traditional and social media, covering the range of social media applications and skill levels. A native of nowhere, Ryan has lived in 10 U.S. states and has spent 10 years overseas. He also shamelessly uses training sessions to get more Twitter followers.

Kim LawtonKim Lawton

Media Panel Panelist

Kim Lawton (@KimLawtonRandE) is an award-winning reporter, producer, writer and editor covering religion, ethics and culture.  She is Managing Editor and Correspondent for the highly-acclaimed national public television program Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly (@ReligionEthics).

Lawton is a frequent commentator on issues of faith and spirituality for several major newspapers and television networks.

Jeanne LehmanJeanne Lehman

Religion and the Arts Panel Panelist

Jeanne Lehman, a Broadway veteran, has a career that spans theatre, television, concerts, cabaret, and recordings. She was the final “Mrs. Potts” in the Broadway production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and was also seen on Broadway as the “Mother Abbess” in The Sound of Music with Richard Chamberlain, Rebecca Luker, and Laura Benanti, continuing her role on tour. As a guest soloist, she has headlined numerous times at Carnegie Hall with Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops. She is an active member of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York.

Debra MasonDebra Mason

Media Panel Moderator

Debra Mason (@DebraMason) is among the leading scholars and trainers of how religion is portrayed in the media. She brings more than 30 years of professional and scholarly experience to her position as director of the Center on Religion and the Professions, an interdisciplinary center at the world-renown Missouri School of Journalism working to improve the religious literacy of professionals so they can better serve a multi-faith public.

She has produced the largest repository of religion resources for journalists, including ReligionStylebook.com and ReligionLink.com. Since 1997, she’s also directed Religion Newswriters Association, a professional association of journalists writing about religion in the mass media. She is publisher emeritus of Religion News Service (RNS), the world’s only non-sectarian wire service exclusively covering religion. She has received numerous grants, awards and other honors for her work.

Katherine MarshallKatherine Marshall

Interfaith Panel

Katherine Marshall (@patlakath) has worked for more than four decades on international development, focusing on the world’s poorest countries.

A senior fellow at Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and Professor of the Practice of Development, Religion, and Conflict in the School of Foreign Service, she is Executive Director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD, @WorldFaiths). A non-governmental organization born in the World Bank, its mission is to bridge gulfs that separate the worlds of development and religion.

James MartinFather James Martin, SJ

Religion and the Arts Panel Moderator

James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) is a Jesuit priest, editor at large of America magazine (@americamag) and author of several books on religion and spirituality, including the New York Times bestsellers Jesus: A Pilgrimage and The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything.

He has written for a variety of publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and is a frequent commentator in the national and international media.

Bill McGarveyBill McGarvey

Workshop leader: Building a Better Blog

Bill McGarvey (@billmcgarvey) is a writer, editor and musician. During his six-year tenure as editor-in-chief of Busted Halo (@BustedHalo), the online magazine won numerous awards for its provocative discussion of religion and culture.

He has written and commented on the intersection of culture and faith for NPR, BBC, Commonweal, America, The Tablet (London), Factual (Spain), Time Out New York, and Book magazine. He is also the owner/editor of CathNewsUSA.com (@CathNewsUSA), a popular, daily aggregator of Catholic news.

As a musician, McGarvey has released five albums and his music has also appeared on network television and in feature films.

Adhemar X MontagneAdhemar X Montagne

Media Panel Panelist

Adhemar X Montagne (@adhemarNY1) is one of the original anchors who helped launch the Spanish-language news program NY1 Noticias (@NY1noticias) for Time Warner Cable in 2003. He has extensive experience covering religion, including, most recently, the U.S. visit of Pope Francis.

Dean PallantLt. Colonel (Dr.) Dean Pallant

United Nations Panel

Lt. Colonel (Dr.) Dean Pallant (@Dean_Pallant), The Salvation Army, and his wife Eirwen were appointed to lead the International Social Justice Commission (@SalvArmyISJC) based in New York in In March 2015.

Dean is The Salvation Army principal advocate and advisor to the General of The Salvation Army on economic, social and political issues. Dean is also currently coordinating The Salvation Army’s accountability movement across 127 countries to strengthen capacity in impact measurement, finance systems, governance and safeguarding.

Hussein SaddiqueHussein Saddique

Media Panel Panelist

Hussein Saddique (@Hassouny) is a senior television news producer who has worked at CNN, CBS News and most recently, Al Jazeera America (@ajam). He covers politics, current affairs and business news. As a broadcast journalist, he has covered numerous stories in the Islamic world, as well as the Muslim experience in America.

Linda SarsourLinda Sarsour

Interfaith Panel

Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) is Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York (@ArabAmericanNY) and co-founder of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPOWER Change.

She has been at the forefront of major civil rights campaigns including calling for an end to unwarranted surveillance of New York’s Muslim communities and ending police policies like stop and frisk. In wake of the police murder of Mike Brown, she co-founded Muslims for Ferguson to build solidarity among American Muslim communities and encourage work against police brutality.

She is a member of the Justice League NYC, a leading New York City force of activists, formerly incarcerated individuals, and artists working to reform the New York Police Department and the criminal justice system.

Daniel SiebergDaniel Sieberg

Plenary speaker: Introducing Google News Lab, Examining the Future of News, and Taking Virtual Reality Seriously

Google News LabDaniel Sieberg (@siebergd) is the global head of media outreach with the Google News Lab (@GoogleNewsLab), which seeks to empower storytelling at the intersection of media and technology.

Prior to joining Google (@Google) in 2011, Sieberg was the technology correspondent at ABC News, CBS News and CNN as well as a contributor to BBC News, MSNBC and PBS. His first book, The Digital Diet, is about embracing a healthy approach to technology in our connected world.

Sieberg has a master's degree in journalism with a focus in technology from the University of British Columbia and lives in New York with his wife and two daughters.

Terrell Jermaine StarrTerrell Jermaine Starr

Election Year and Beyond Panel Panelist

Terrell Jermaine Starr (@Russian_Starr) is a freelance journalist in New York City. His reporting focuses on a wide range of issues that within the black diaspora, including politics, sex crimes against black women, and social justice movements.

A Fulbright Scholar and former Peace Corps Volunteer, Terrell has two master’s degrees from the University of Illinois and is a graduate of Philander.

NAMEDavid Tereshchuk

Workshop leader: Building a Better Blog

David Tereshchuk (@dtereshchuk) is a print, broadcasting and internet journalist, originally from Britain and now based in New York. Currently, he is a contributing correspondent for PBS's Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly (@ReligionEthics).

He has written widely, including for The New York Times, The Guardian, The Observer and the New Statesman in London. He began his weekly column The Media Beat in the Tribune Newspaper Group's AM New York in 2004, before going entirely online in 2006.

Caterina TinoCaterina Tino

Workshop leader

Caterina Tino has worked as partnerships specialist for UNICEF Civil Society Partnerships (@unicef) in New York since 2011. In this capacity, she works to strengthen, expand, and monitor UNICEF work with religious communities to promote and protect children’s rights. In particular, she manages UNICEF global partnerships with Scholas, the World Council of Churches, and Religions for Peace.

Prior to her appointment with UNICEF, Ms. Tino served as civil affairs officer in the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Kosovo, as researcher at the Mediation Support Unit of the UN Department of Political Affairs, as adviser on disarmament and international security at the Spanish Mission to the UN during Spain’s EU presidency, and as the UN representative of the International Action Network on Small Arms.

Hemal TrivediHemal Trivedi

Religion and the Arts Panel Panelist

Hemal Trivedi is a Mumbai and New York City based documentary filmmaker. She grew up in Mumbai in a conservative Hindu Brahmin family.

She has edited films that have won three Emmys and one Oscar. She has won an Emmy in outstanding editing. Her co-director in her latest film, Among the Believers (#AmongTheBelievers @ATB_film), which addresses the roots of religious violence in Pakistan, is Mohammed Ncqui, a Pakistani Muslim filmmaker.

Credits: Among The Believers (Director/ Producer/ Editor, the film premiered at Tribeca film festival in 2015, screened at 21 film festivals in 11 countries and 5 continents, several nominations, won 6 awards including the prestigious CPH:DOX F:ACT winner, nominated for UNESCO FELLINI Award at IFFI-GOA, it is nominated for the Independent Spirits Award), Outlawed in Pakistan (Editor, Emmy 2014, PBS Frontline, Sundance), Saving Face (Editor, Oscar, two Emmys - including outstanding editing, HBO/Channel 4); Shabeena’s Quest (Director/Editor, Al-Jazeera); Flying on One Engine (Editor, SXSW, IDFA); Laughter (Editor, BBC); When the Drum is Beating (Editor, ITVS, Tribeca 2011); Beyond Mumbai (Director, Camera & Editor, OWN, 2011 Webby nomination). Produced / edited over 50 award winning shorts for Odyssey Networks’ web site.

Mat TombersMat Tombers

Workshop leader: Building a Better Blog

Mathew Tombers (@tombers) is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc. Since its launch in 1999, Mr. Tombers has led the company in a number of successful consulting engagements and Executive Produced a number of television programs. It has worked successfully with clients in both traditional and new media.

Courtney WeberCourtney Weber

Workshop leader: Building a Better Blog

Courtney Weber (@thecocowitch) is a priestess, author, Tarot adviser, activist and active blogger at thecocowitch.com, on Witches & Pagans and for Huffington Post. She also is the events and trainings manager for Auburn Media, including scheduling and supporting media and storytelling trainings, along with other program-related events for faith leaders. She is the author of Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess and the forthcoming Tarot for One: The Art of Reading for Yourself.

Jim WinklerJim Winkler

Intersections: Faith and the Global Community Moderator

Jim Winkler serves as general secretary and president of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (@ncccusa), based in Washington, DC. The Council is comprised of 38 denominations with more than 30 million members in over 100,000 local congregations.

He previously was the top executive for the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.

Rachel ZollRachel Zoll

Media Panel Panelist

Rachel Zoll (@rzollAP) has been covering national religion for the Associated Press (@AP) since 2001. Before joining the AP national reporting staff, Zoll worked for AP as a staff writer in the Boston bureau, as a Southeast regional correspondent based in Chattanooga, TN, and as the manager of the Rhode Island bureau.

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