Insights from new study on spirituality to be unveiled at Religion Communication Congress 2020

The Fetzer Institute, in partnership with Hattaway Communications, will unveil initial insights and findings from a groundbreaking survey on spirituality in America at the March 17-21, 2020, Religion Communication Congress 2020 (RCCongress 2020).

The survey brings people’s spiritual lives to light by reflecting how people experience and practice spirituality within and outside traditional religions. The survey will also show how Americans’ spirituality may inform their prosocial and civic behavior. The institute is also exploring how religious institutions are igniting meaningful conversation with this in mind.

“We hope by better understanding how people describe, nurture and practice their spirituality, that we can tell better stories about the many ways spirituality impacts our relationships to ourselves and others and connects us to our world,” said Gillian Gonda, program director of engagement at Fetzer. Gonda will be one of the presenters of the survey along with Veronica Selzler of Hattaway Communications. The Fetzer Institute partnered with Hattaway to conduct the study.

Veteran journalist and religious communicator Kevin Eckstrom joins the panel to talk about his work as chief communications officer for the Washington National Cathedral, where he uses diverse and engaging strategies to connect people across differences. Eckstrom has spent nearly two decades communicating about religion, including as the editor-in-chief of Religion News Service.

The Religion Communication Congress is a once-a-decade gathering of professional religion communicators from a wide range of faith traditions and has occurred since 1970. This year’s interfaith meeting has more than 100 cooperating organizations and will be held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. Each participant must complete a registration form.


Kevin Eckstrom
Kevin Eckstrom joined Washington National Cathedral in 2015 as its chief communications officer. His principal portfolio includes all internal and external Cathedral communications, including the award-winning Cathedral Age magazine, marketing and advertising, video, photography and media relations. As a member of the Cathedral senior staff, he works with the Dean and chief operating officer to develop programs that build audiences and awareness for the Cathedral. Eckstrom came to the Cathedral after 15 years at Religion News Service. During his nine years as editor-in-chief, RNS was named Best News Service by the Associated Church Press six times.

Gillian Gonda
Gillian Gonda is engagement program director of the Fetzer Institute, a philanthropic organization whose mission is to help build the spiritual foundation for a loving world. She guides Fetzer’s storytelling and public engagement efforts with strategies that support sacred relationship and connection. Gonda is a passionate advocate for restorative narratives and works to help media makers and storytellers of all kinds see the transformational potential of their work. Gonda has worked her entire career in the nonprofit sector, spending much of that time in public media and philanthropy leading communications, program strategy, community outreach, and public engagement.

Veronica Selzler
Veronica Selzler is a director at Hattaway Communications, a strategic communications firm that helps visionary leaders and organizations use strategy, science, and storytelling to achieve ambitious goals for people and the planet. She partners with foundations to get to know the values at the heart of their work, and uses qualitative and quantitative research to better understand the identities, motivations, and aspirations that inspire their audiences to take action. Before joining Hattaway, she managed communications and grants at Venture Philanthropy Partners and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.


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