Heidi Thompson

Heidi Thompson, Publisher and CEO

Heidi Thompson was named Publisher and CEO of Religion News Service in July 2014. She has spent most of her career with faith organizations in marketing, communications and fundraising. She served as the Chief Marketing Officer for Sojourners, managing all earned-revenue activities, including an award-winning magazine and website, advertising sales and e-commerce site. As an online marketing strategist, she’s worked with PICO National Network, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, and MoveOn.org. She received a B.S. in Journalism from Ohio University and an M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communication from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism.

Kevin Eckstrom, Editor-in-Chief

Kevin Eckstrom joined the RNS staff in February, 2000 and became editor in 2006. Prior to coming to RNS, he worked as religion editor at the Stuart/Port St. Lucie News in Florida. He was the winner of the 2000 Cassels Award for small newspapers from the Religion Newswriters Association. Under his leadership, RNS was named Best Wire Service by the Associated Church Press for both 2006 and 2007 – the only time RNS has won back-to-back years. Eckstrom holds a M.S. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a B.A. from The George Washington University.

In 2007, he was elected president of the Religion Newswriters Association. His work was featured in Changing Boundaries: The Best Religion News Writing of 2003.

Editorial Staff

Yonat Shimron

Yonat Shimron joined RNS in April, 2011 and became managing editor in 2013. She was the religion reporter for The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. from 1996 to 2011. During that time she won numerous awards. She is a past president of the Religion Newswriters Association.

David E. Anderson

David E. Anderson has been covering religion and social issues for more than 30 years. He began his career with United Press International in 1967 and shortly thereafter began covering the civil rights and antiwar movement. He was named religion reporter in 1972, and continued to cover the ethical and moral issues ranging from the decline of America’s urban areas to church-state issues at the Supreme Court. As part of UPI’s political coverage, he attended political conventions from 1972 on and wrote election night analysis pieces

He has covered half a dozen papal trips as well as meetings of most major denominations and such international organizations as the World Council of Churches. He joined RNS as its Washington correspondent in 1991 and was named editor in 1997. In 2004 Anderson moved to Montana, where he now serves as RNS’s senior editor. He is the author of three books and also serves as a senior consultant to the public television program “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.”

Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Sarah Pulliam Bailey is a national correspondent for RNS, covering how faith intersects with politics, culture and other news. She previously served as online editor for Christianity Today where she remains an editor-at-large.

Adelle M. Banks joined the Religion News Service staff in 1995. 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. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., she spearheaded an RNS project on the March on Washington that won a 2014 Wilbur Award from the Religion Communicators Council. Banks was a third-place winner in the Religion Newswriters Association’s Religion Reporter of the Year contest in 2011 and 1998. She also has been honored by Associated Church Press.

David Gibson

David Gibson is an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He writes for Religion News Service and until recently covered the religion beat for AOL’s Politics Daily. He blogs at Commonweal magazine, and has written two books on Catholic topics, the latest a biography of Pope Benedict XVI.

Mary Gladstone

Mary Gladstone joined Religion News Service as a copy editor in 2013. She also serves as assistant editor for ReligionLink, an online resource to help journalists cover religion-related stories for the secular media. Gladstone is a freelance writer and editor whose clients also include The Dallas Morning News, where she previously was an assistant metro editor. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and has worked for the Abilene Reporter-News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, as well.

Cathy Lynn Grossman

Award-winning journalist Cathy Lynn Grossman is a senior national correspondent for RNS, where she specializes in stories drawn from research and statistics on religion, spirituality, and social and biomedical ethics. She joined RNS in 2013 after 23 years with USA TODAY, where she created the religion and ethics beat for the national newspaper. Grossman also blogs for RNS at Faith & Reason.

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe covered government and features as a daily newspaper reporter for 15 years before joining the Religion News Service staff in 2011. She was Washington correspondent for The State (Columbia, S.C.), where she won a 2004 first prize for feature writing from the National Association of Black Journalists. She also covered government for the Charlotte Observer and the Massachusetts statehouse for the Patriot Ledger. Markoe holds B.A. in history from Yale University and an M.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.

Tiffany McCallen

Tiffany McCallen rejoins the RNS team in 2014 as the interactive and engagement editor. McCallen has 14 years of experience in religion and media, having worked most recently as the national community manager for the three-year Faith & Values (FAVS) project. Prior to that McCallen was associate director of the Religion Newswriters Association and handled sales and marketing for RNS. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Otterbein University.

Josephine McKenna

Josephine McKenna has more than 30 years' experience in print, broadcast and interactive media. Based in Rome since 2007, she covered the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and election of Pope Francis and canonizations of their predecessors. Now she covers all things Vatican for RNS.

Sally Morrow

Sally Morrow joined Religion News Service in March 2012. Sally’s interest in photography began in her high school’s dark room. She has since attended film school at the College of Santa Fe, holds a B.A. in Communications and Spanish from UMKC, and holds an M.A. in Photojournalism from the University of Missouri. Her graduate thesis project “Picturing Immigration” was published in News Photographer Magazine.

Sally has worked as a photographer, videographer and photo/multimedia editor at the Des Moines Register, the South Florida Sun Sentinel and Newsday. Her editorial and freelance photography has appeared in various publications and professional websites.

Brian Pellot

Brian Pellot is director of global strategy at Religion News Service. Before joining RNS, Brian was digital policy advisor at Index on Censorship in London and online editor at Free Speech Debate in Oxford, U.K. He speaks regularly about religious freedom, freedom of expression and internet rights. Brian is currently based in London.

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, USA Today, The Washington Post, The San Jose Mercury News and Newsweek. Since 2011, she has covered atheism and other forms of freethought for Religion News Service. In 2014, she received a Wilbur Award for best online news story from the Religion Communicators Council and in 2005 she was the recipient of the American Academy of Religion’s award for best in-depth religion reporting. She is the author of three books, including Bead One, Pray Too: A Guide to Making and Using Prayer Beads (Morehouse, 2008). She is a 1994 graduate of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Contributing Editors

Dale Hanson Bourke

Dale Hanson Bourke is the author of 11 books, including "The Skeptic’s Guide" series with IVPress on topics such as HIV/AIDS, global poverty,  immigration and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Formerly publisher of RNS and SVP at World Relief, she has also served as editor and publisher of several magazines. Bourke has traveled extensively in the developing world and served on the boards of World Vision (US & International), IJM, Sojourners, Opportunity International, ECFA and MAP International. Bourke has written for Christianity Today, The Huffington Post, Sojourners, Relevant and The Washington Post. She has been a syndicated newspaper columnist and has hosted her own radio show. She holds a B.A. from Wheaton College and an M.B.A. from the University of Maryland.

Jacob Lupfer

Jacob Lupfer is a frequent commentator on religion in American politics and culture. Lupfer has worked in parish ministry and has taught at the middle school, high school, community college, and university levels. His doctoral dissertation at Georgetown University focuses on religious elites in American politics. Lupfer holds a B.A. in biblical studies from Oklahoma Baptist University and a Master of Theological Studies from Boston University School of Theology. His website is www.jacoblupfer.com.

Correspondents

Elizabeth Bryant

(Paris)

Elizabeth Bryant worked as a freelance reporter in Cairo for two years before moving to Paris in October 2000. Besides Religion News Service, she has reported on a freelance basis for Voice of America, United Press International, Newsweek, the Houston Chronicle and the San Francisco Chronicle. Previously, she worked for several newspapers and wire services in Florida, New York and Washington, D.C. Bryant was raised in Africa and Europe and worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia. She has a master’s degree in agricultural economics from Michigan State University and master’s degrees in international affairs and journalism from Columbia University.

Michele Chabin

(Jerusalem)

RNS Middle East correspondent Michele Chabin has covered events in the region for 18 years. In addition to her work at RNS, Chabin writes regularly for the New York Jewish Week and National Catholic Register and is a contributor to USA Today and numerous other publications. She has won several awards from the American Jewish Press Association for Jewish journalism (including one for a first-hand account of the evacuation of Jewish, Muslim and Christian residents from war-torn Sarajevo) as well as first-place honors from the Catholic Press Association. A graduate of Brandeis University, Chabin was awarded a British Chevening Scholarship and Press Fellowship at Cambridge University, England. The home she shared during the fellowship contained a Hindu, a Sikh, two Muslims, a Jew, an Orthodox Christian and a Catholic, “a harmony that deepened my love for religion-based reporting,” she says.

Fredrick Nzwili

(Nairobi, Kenya)

Fredrick Nzwili is a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. For more than 15 years, he has written about religion, politics, peace and conflict, development, security, environment and wildlife. His articles have appeared in international media organizations among others; The Tablet, The Christian Science Monitor, The National Geographic and Kenyan local newspapers; The Standard and the People Daily. He holds two degrees from the University of Nairobi – a bachelor's degree in sociology and literature and a post-graduate diploma in mass communication. He is married and has two daughters.

Bloggers

Tobin Grant

@TobinGrant blogs for Religion News Service at Corner of Church and State, a data-driven conversation on religion and politics. He is a political science professor at Southern Illinois University and associate editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Jonathan Merritt

Jonathan is senior columnist for Religion News Service and a regular contributor to The Week. He has published more than 1000 articles in respected outlets such as USA Today, The Atlantic, National Journal, Christianity TodayThe Washington Post, and CNN.com. Jonathan is author of Jesus is Better Than You Imagined and A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars. His first book, Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet, was  called "a must-read for churchgoers" by Publisher's Weekly.

As a respected Christian voice, Jonathan regularly contributes commentary to television, print, and radio news outlets. Jonathan has been interviewed by ABC World NewsNPR, CNN, PBS, Fox News, Slate, Politico, and The New York Times. He serves on the advisory board for Religion News Service, America's largest provider of news about religion and spirituality.

Jonathan first entered the public eye when a classroom epiphany prompted him to organize a national coalition of Christian leaders who care about the creation. Since then, he's been on the front lines of pressing cultural conversations from poverty to orphan care. He is a member of the national board of directors for Bethany Christian Services, America's largest adoption agency. Outreach magazine recently named Jonathan one of 30 influencers reshaping Christian leadership.

Jonathan has become a sought after speaker by colleges, seminaries, churches and conferences on cultural and religious issues. He holds a Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master of Theology from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology.

He resides in Brooklyn, NY.

Jana Riess

Since 2008, Jana Riess has been an acquisitions editor in the publishing industry, primarily acquiring in the areas of religion, history, popular culture, ethics, and biblical studies. From 1999 to 2008, she was the Religion Book Review Editor for Publishers Weekly, and continues to write freelance articles and reviews for PW as well as other publications.

She holds degrees in religion from Wellesley College and Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in American religious history from Columbia University. She speaks often to media about issues pertaining to religion in America, and has been interviewed by the Associated Press, Time, NewsweekPeople, the Boston GlobeUSA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and Newsday, among other print publications, as well as “Voice of America,” the "Today" show, MSNBC, and NPR’s “All Things Considered,” “Tell Me More,” and “Talk of the Nation.”

She is the author, co-author, or editor of books including The Twible: All the Chapters of the Bible in 140 Characters or Less . . . Now with 68% More Humor!Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My NeighborWhat Would Buffy Do? The Vampire Slayer as a Spiritual GuideMormonism for Dummies; and The Writer’s Market Guide to Getting Published. She blogged for Beliefnet before coming to RNS in 2012.

Mark Silk

Mark Silk graduated from Harvard College in 1972 and earned his Ph.D. in medieval history from Harvard University in 1982. After teaching at Harvard in the Department of History and Literature for three years, he became editor of the Boston Review.

In 1987 he joined the staff of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he worked variously as a reporter, editorial writer and columnist.

In 1996 he became the founding director of the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and in 1998 founding editor of Religion in the News, a magazine published by the Center that examines how the news media handle religious subject matter. In 2005, he was named director of the Trinity College Program on Public Values, comprising both the Greenberg Center and a new Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture directed by Barry Kosmin. In 2007, he became Professor of Religion in Public Life at the College.

Professor Silk is the author of "Spiritual Politics: Religion and America Since World War II" and "Unsecular Media: Making News of Religion in America." He is co-editor of "Religion by Region," an eight-volume series on religion and public life in the United States, and co-author of "The American Establishment," "Making Capitalism Work," and "One Nation Divisible: How Regional Religious Differences Shape American Politics." He inaugurated "Spiritual Politics" in 2007. In 2014 he became Religion News Service Contributing Editor.

Chris Stedman

Chris Stedman is Executive Director of the Yale Humanist Community, Founding Emeritus Managing Director of State of Formation at the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue, a former Harvard University chaplain, and an alum of Interfaith Youth Core. He is the author of Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious http://faitheistbook.com, which Booklist described in a starred review as "an intimate and deeply affecting portrait... [that] proves [he is] an activist in the truest sense and one to watch." Chris was named one of "five next-gen gurus who are disrupting religion's status quo" by Details magazine in 2013, and he has written for publications including Salon, CNN, msnbc, The Advocate, USA Today, The Rumpus, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post On Faith, Religion Dispatches, and Relevant.

Laura Turner

Laura Turner is a writer and editor living in San Francisco. In addition to being a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s “Her.meneutics” blog, she has also written for publications such as Books & Culture and The Bold Italic. She is interested in the intersection of church and culture.

Boz Tchividjian

Professor Basyle "Boz" Tchividjian is a former child abuse prosecutor who currently teaches Child Abuse and the Law and several other courses at Liberty University School of Law.  As a prosecutor for over eight years, Professor Tchividjian created the first “Crimes Against Children”division at the Office of the State Attorney of the 7th Judicial Circuit in Florida.  As division chief, Professor Tchividjian was personally responsible for prosecuting hundreds of cases of child sexual abuse.  Professor Tchividjian has spent over 17 years using what he learned as a prosecutor to train and equip prosecutors, investigators, social workers, and medical personnel in handling various aspects of child sexual abuse prosecutions.

Professor Tchividjian is also the founder and executive director of GRACE. The purpose of GRACE is to educate and equip the faith community to correctly respond to sexual abuse disclosures, while also providing practical guidance to the Christian community on how to protect children.  GRACE provides confidential consultations to churches, schools, & other organizations that are struggling with abuse related issues.  GRACE also assists institutions and abuse survivors by providing independent investigation services.

Professor Tchividjian speaks extensively on this subject at various conference, schools, and denominational gatherings.  He has also appeared numerous times on radio and television to discuss the mission and work of GRACE.

Professor Tchividjian is a member of the Florida Bar Association and is admitted to practice in the State of Florida.  He is the 3rd eldest grandchild of Reverend Billy Graham and recently published a book entitled Invitation – Billy Graham and the Lives God Touched (2008 Multnomah Press).  Professor Tchividjian has also authored numerous journal articles related to the issue of child sexual abuse and is also the author of a new Mini Book released in October entitled, Protecting Children from Abuse at Church: Steps to Prevent and Respond (2013 New Growth Press)

 

Business Staff

Wendy Gustofson

Wendy Gustofson is the Director of Marketing for Religion News LLC. She has 28 years of experience in broadcast sales and management, most recently as VP of Sales with the Barrington Broadcasting Group. She has served on several boards, and is an active member of Rotary.

Sheila Holder

Sheila Holder joined the RNS team full-time as business manager in 2013. She has more than six years fiscal experience at the University of Missouri. Prior to that, Sheila had more than 20 years experience in office management in the construction industry. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Northeast Missouri State University, now Truman State University. In her spare time, Sheila enjoys spending time with her grandson and is actively involved in pet therapy volunteering.

Ron joined the RNS staff in 2012 as the editorial assistant, taking over story and press release distribution, comment moderation and other behind-the-scenes Web tasks. He's also a hero of the Columbia office, having successfully once captured and released a mouse that had taken up residence uninvited.