RCC elects new leaders at annual business meeting

By Deb Christian

The Rev. Bud Heckman, new president of RCC.

Photo by Andy Rawls.

Chicago (March 31, 2017) — The Rev. Bud Heckman, convener of the Interfaith Funders Group and a specialist in interfaith relations, philanthropy and communications from New York was elected president of the Religion Communicators Council during the organization’s annual business meeting on March 31.

He is joined on the RCC Executive Committee of the Board of Governors by Jackie Fuller, vice president, executive producer and host of Interfaith Connections TV Show from Washington, D.C.; Danny Hall, secretary, director of public affairs for Soka Gokkai International-USA, also based in Washington, D.C.; Katherine Kerr, APR, treasurer, president of Polaris Non-Profit Solutions of Georgetown, Texas; and Casey Tom, past president, general manager of Faith for Today of the Seventh Day Adventist Church from Riverside, California.

A number items relating to the business of RCC were presented. Minutes from the previous meeting were approved. Treasurer Katherine Kerr announced an approved budget for 2017 of $125,690 and reminded members that primary income sources are membership dues, convention profit, awards program entries and gifts to RCC.

Douglas Cannon, APR, who is RCC’s representative to the Universal Accreditation Board reported the organization’s involvement with the UAB and then presented results of the third survey of RCC members’ jobs. He gave trends for the last ten years about how members see their jobs and changing priorities for top tasks.

Chapter reports were received for the Nashville, Washington, D.C., Dallas-Ft. Worth, and New York City chapters.

Shirley Struchen, executive director of RCC.

Photo by George Conklin.

Shirley Struchen, executive director, gave her report specifically noting the diversity of members including job responsibilities, faith group and physical location. This information from each person present showed the strength of RCC as well as some of the challenges facing the group. She included a report of the deaths of RCC members in 2016. She presented an engraved desk clock to President Casey Tom to thank her for her two years as president. In turn, Tom offered a gift of appreciation to Struchen for her ongoing efforts with RCC.

In addition to the new president and executive committee the following slate of nominees was approved to serve on the board of governors, either for new three year terms or filling open positions:

  • Douglas Cannon, APR, professor of practice, Department of Communications, Virginia Tech University

  • Susan Gottshall, associate executive director of communications, American Baptist Home Mission Societies, Judson Press

  • Kurt Gwartney, APR, senior director of seminary relations, Phillips Theological Seminary

  • Ryan John Koch, director of New York Office of Public and International Affairs, The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

  • Karri Whipple, communications specialist, Religion Communicators Council

  • Cherilyn Williams, APR, vice president of marketing and communications, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

  • Skyler Nimmons, communications director, Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church

  • Eron Henry, associate director of communications, Baptist World Alliance

  • Joyce Littoff, communications assistant, Bahá’í National Center

  • Colleen Dorner, print publication specialist, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

  • Jeff Huett, associate coordinator of communications and advancement, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

  • Royya James, senior manager U.S. conference relations, United Methodist Communications

Casey Tom, past president of RCC.

Photo by Andy Rawls.

Appreciation was expressed to Pamela Burdine, Deb Christian, Brian Finnerty, Kelly Fanning and Stephan Padre, for their service as they leave the board.

In other business, Heckman discussed the board’s efforts put in place a strategic vision for RCC and enumerated some of the highlights. He encouraged any member with additional ideas to communicate those to the board and to indicate their interest in being part of the standing committees and task forces who work for RCC. Those are Membership/Leadership, Convention, Awards, Communications, Development/Fund-raising, and Professional Education/Resources.

Gifts and donations to RCC’s annual fund were encouraged and several attendees responded immediately. An updated Mission Statement, approved by the board of governors, was read.

RCC members also were invited to save the date and plan to attend next year’s convention, to be held April 5-7, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. Theme is “Peace and Justice Through Communication.”

One final item of business was advising members RCC that information-gathering and pre-planning had begun for a sixth, once-a-decade gathering for religion communicators had begun. Called Religion Communication Congress 2020, information about is available at www.rccongress2020.org.

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