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Religion News Service announces Advisory Council

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Religion News Service (RNS) announced today the launch of its 2018-2019 Journalism Advisory Council. This diverse group of 19 national leaders in journalism and academia will be available to advise the RNS Board of Managers, CEO and editor-in-chief as they implement a series of major grants and partnerships that significantly increase the […]

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Religion News Service (RNS) announced today the launch of its 2018-2019 Journalism Advisory Council. This diverse group of 19 national leaders in journalism and academia will be available to advise the RNS Board of Managers, CEO and editor-in-chief as they implement a series of major grants and partnerships that significantly increase the news agency’s audience, staffing and content.

“We are excited to reestablish the Journalism Advisory Council, which will serve as an outstanding resource for RNS, and we are grateful to this group of distinguished journalists for joining us,” said Tom Gallagher, RNS CEO and publisher. Council members will not have any fiduciary obligations, he added.

RNS Journalism Advisory Council Members

Dilshad D. Ali
Richmond, VA
Dilshad D. Ali is the Editor-in-Chief at Altmuslim and was previously Managing Editor for the Muslim portal at She has spent the past two decades covering and coordinating coverage of American Muslim communities for a variety of media outlets, including Beliefnet and Islam Online, and was a 2015 White House Champion of Change honoree for her autism reporting/writing and advocacy work.

Ruby Bailey
Columbia, MO
Ruby Bailey is the executive editor of the Columbia Missourian and holds the Missouri School of Journalism’s Missouri Community Newspaper Management chair, working with community newspapers across the state to help improve their coverage and operations. She previously served as news editor at the Sacramento Bee and assistant metro editor at the Detroit Free Press.

Vikas Bajaj
New York, NY
Vikas Bajaj has been a member of the editorial board of The New York Times since 2012. Earlier, he was a correspondent in Mumbai and covered the financial crisis based in New York. He previously worked as a business, metro and religion reporter at The Dallas Morning News.

Patton Dodd
San Antonio, TX
Patton Dodd is the executive director of media and communications at the H. E. Butt Foundation. He previously served as editor-in-chief of OnFaith and executive editor for Patheos.

Samuel Freedman
New York, NY
Samuel Freedman is a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he runs a rigorous book-writing seminar. He is the author of eight nonfiction books, including Jew vs. Jew, and wrote the “On Religion” column for The New York Times from 2006 to 2016.

David Gibson
New York, NY
David Gibson is the director of the Center on Religion and Culture at Fordham University. He is an award-winning journalist and author with extensive experience covering religion and the Catholic Church in the United States and internationally, including six years at Religion News Service.

Ari Goldman
New York, NY
Ari L. Goldman is the director of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism’s Scripps Howard Program in Religion, Journalism and the Spiritual Life. He is the author of four books, including The Search for God at Harvard, and previously covered religion for The New York Times.

Sharon Grigsby
Dallas, TX
Sharon Grigsby is a Metro columnist for The Dallas Morning News. She was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing for her work on sexual assault at Baylor University. She was the founding editor of The Dallas Morning News Religion section, serving in that position from 1994 to 1998.

Caitlin Hendel
Kansas City, MO
Caitlin Hendel recently served as CEO and publisher of National Catholic Reporter. Previously, she worked as an editor at CQ Roll Call in Washington, D.C., and directed coverage of the U.S. economy for Bloomberg News.

David Kurpius
Columbia, MO
David Kurpius is the dean of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He previously served as a professor and administrator at Louisiana State University for almost 20 years, where he also served as director of the Office of Student Media.

Ju-Don Marshall
Charlotte, NC
Ju-Don Marshall is the chief content officer of WFAE 90.7, the NPR station in Charlotte, North Carolina. Previously, she was executive editor and senior vice president at News Corporation, overseeing Beliefnet, and spent 17 years at The Washington Post.

Bob Mong
Dallas, TX
Bob Mong is the president of the University of North Texas at Dallas. Previously, he served as managing editor and editor-in-chief of The Dallas Morning News. He is a former chair of the Religion Newswriters Foundation.

Paul Raushenbush
New York, NY
The Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush is the senior vice president and editor of Voices on Auburn Seminary. He previously served as executive editor of global spirituality and religion for The Huffington Post Religion section and as an editor at Beliefnet.

Robert Rosenthal
San Francisco, CA
Robert J. Rosenthal’s career started at The New York Times, where he was an editorial assistant and part of the secret team that published The Pentagon Papers in June 1971. Later he joined The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he ultimately rose to become editor-in-chief in 1998. He joined The San Francisco Chronicle as managing editor in 2002, then became Executive Director of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting in 2008. Today he sits on the CIR board and several other nonprofit boards and is active in espousing the role of journalism in democracy and his belief that the nonprofit model can and does work.

Amy Sullivan
Chicago, IL
Amy Sullivan has covered the intersection of religion, politics and culture as an editor for TIME, Yahoo, and The Washington Monthly. She co-hosts the “Impolite Company” religion and politics podcast, and contributes opinion and news analysis to NPR, The New York Times and The Washington Post. She is the author of The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap.

Robyn Tomlin
Raleigh, NC
Robyn Tomlin is the executive editor of The News & Observer and The Herald Sun in North Carolina, and the Carolinas Regional Editor for the McClatchy company. Previously, she served as vice president and managing editor of The Dallas Morning News.

Steven Waldman
New York, NY
Steven Waldman is co-founder and president of Report for America, a national service program that places talented emerging journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered communities and issues. He was the co-founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of Beliefnet. He also served as senior advisor to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and worked as Washington correspondent for Newsweek. He’s the author of Founding Faith, a book about religion and America’s Founding Fathers.

Diane Winston
Los Angeles, CA
Diane Winston is an associate professor and Knight Center Chair in Media & Religion at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She is the author of four books, including The Oxford Handbook on Religion and the American News Media.

Michael Wolfe
San Rafael, CA
Michael Wolf is president and co-executive producer of Unity Productions Foundation, the makers of numerous PBS documentaries on Muslim themes. A convert to Islam, Wolfe has written two books for Grove Press on the pilgrimage to Mecca and translated a collection of ancient Greek epitaphs for Johns Hopkins University Press. His journalism has been awarded by the Society for American Travel Writers and won the Wilbur Prize for Best Book on a Religious Theme.

“It’s a testament to the dynamic mission and vision of Religion News Service that these incredible thought leaders have come together to share their expertise,” said Nicole Neroulias Gupte, chair, RNS Board of Managers. “We welcome their insights in the months ahead.”

The Journalism Advisory Council is invited to join the RNS staff and managing board at the 69th Annual Religion News Association (RNA) conference, Sept. 13-15 in Columbus, Ohio. The gathering will include a welcome reception for the news agency’s editor-in-chief, who will be announced in August, and an award ceremony honoring journalism excellence at RNS and other secular news media.


About Religion News Service
Religion News Service, LLC, is an independent, nonprofit and award-winning source of global news on religion, spirituality, culture and ethics, reported by a staff of professional journalists. Founded in 1934, RNS seeks to inform readers with objective reporting and insightful commentary and is relied upon by secular and faith-based news organizations. RNS is a subsidiary of the Religion News Foundation and affiliated with the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. For more information, visit

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