CEO and Publisher
Tom Gallagher was appointed to the positions of CEO of the Religion News Foundation and CEO & Publisher of the foundation’s subsidiary, Religion News Service, in November 2016.
Tom worked on Wall Street as a securities and corporate lawyer and later on the equity trading floor and in the wealth management group at Goldman, Sachs & Co. He has been involved in technology start-ups and has served on a number of boards of directors.
Tom spent two years as a full-time volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Saint Teresa of Calcutta, better known as Mother Teresa, where he helped create, and then administer, the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Center, a New York State nonprofit organization that serves as a centralized and authoritative source of information on Mother Teresa. He also assisted with her cause of canonization.
Tom has written about domestic and foreign affairs for the National Catholic Reporter since 2009. In April 2016, he traveled to Iraqi Kurdistan to cover New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s pastoral visit to displaced Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities living in overcrowded displacement camps after being driven out of their homes in Mosul, Qaraqosh and surrounding villages by ISIS militants.
In 2017, the Connecticut Press Club awarded Tom First Place for Religion for two stories he filed from Iraqi Kurdistan. His work also has appeared in the Huffington Post and the Greenwich Time.
Tom received is B.A. in Philosophy and J.D. from The Catholic University of America. He is licensed to practice law in New York and New Jersey, and secured a Masters Professional Certification in American College of Corporate Directors.
Bob Smietana, Editor-in-Chief
Smietana is an award-winning religion reporter and editor who has spent two decades producing breaking news, data journalism, investigative reporting, profiles and features for magazines, newspapers, trade publications and websites. Most notably, he has served as a senior writer for Facts & Trends, senior editor of Christianity Today, religion writer at The Tennessean, correspondent for RNS and contributor to OnFaith, USA Today and The Washington Post. He is best known for his coverage of Islam and Islamophobia, including his comprehensive reporting on the Murfreesboro mosque conflict, and of evangelical Christianity, including the emotional journey of Pearl Joy Brown’s family as well as the ongoing Willow Creek Community Church scandal.
Paul O’Donnell, Managing Editor
O’Donnell has served as editor for a variety of news organizations, including Newsweek, Condé Nast, CNBC, and Washingtonian magazine. He has also reported on politics, religion, and culture for national publications such as Huffington Post, Slate, Wired, Commonweal magazine, and others. In 2000, O’Donnell helped found the award-winning religion news and opinion website, Beliefnet.com, serving as one of the original channel editors. During his tenure, O’Donnell created the annual “Beliefnet at the Oscars” and “Beliefnet Book of the Year” franchises, as well as a virtual roundtable series. O’Donnell was later hired to reinvent and revive front-of-book at House & Garden and relaunched the magazine website, quadrupling the website’s traffic in six months. As an editor at CNBC, O’Donnell launched or relaunched multiple channels of the financial news organization’s website and oversaw daily news coverage for those sections.
Based in Annapolis, Maryland, O’Donnell is the author of Man Up! 367 Classic Skills for the Modern Guy. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Chicago.
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.
Banks spearheaded an RNS project on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington that won a 2014 Wilbur Award from the Religion Communicators Council. She also spearheaded RNS’ coverage of the life and legacy of Billy Graham that resulted in a comprehensive package of stories, commentaries, photos and video.
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 received first-place Associated Church Press awards in news, convention, photography and multimedia categories.
Her writing has been featured in The Washington Post, USA Today, Christian Century, Christianity Today, Jet, BlackVoices.com, Sojourners, Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly, Nieman Reports and the 2006 book “Good News: The Best Religion Writing in North America.”
Banks is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass. A former board member of the Religion News Foundation, she is a public speaker on religion reporting at gatherings of students, scholars, journalists and other communicators.
Kit Doyle, Photo/Multimedia Editor
Kit Doyle joined Religion News Service in August 2016. He enjoys figuring out the best ways to visually tell stories. Kit earned a B.J. in Photojournalism and a B.A. in Spanish from Mizzou, and holds a Masters of Education from UMSL. Kit has worked as a photojournalist, photo editor and Director of Photography at the Southeast Missourian newspaper and the Columbia Daily Tribune newspaper. In addition to photography, Kit taught high school science and photography classes in Kansas City. Kit’s editorial and freelance photography has appeared in various publications and professional websites.
Mary Gladstone, Copy Editor
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.
Jack Jenkins, National Reporter
Jack Jenkins was most recently the Senior Religion Reporter at Washington-based ThinkProgress. Jenkins was an RNS reporting intern in 2011 and later blogged for RNS.
His work has appeared or been referenced in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, MSNBC and elsewhere. After graduating from Presbyterian College with a Bachelor of Arts in history and religion/philosophy, Jack received his Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University with a focus on Christianity, Islam and the media.
Jenkins is based in Washington, D.C.
Aysha Khan, Social Media Manager
Aysha Khan coordinates social media projects and contributes reporting on Muslim American issues for RNS. She holds a degree in multi-platform journalism with a concentration in Middle Eastern studies from the University of Maryland. In 2016, she was a reporting intern in Washington, D.C. with RNS and ThinkProgress. Her work has also been published by NBC News, USA Today, American Journalism Review, Reorient Magazine, the Journalism Center on Children and Families, and The Tempest, where she spent nearly two years editing culture stories and launching the tech vertical.
Khan is based in Denver, Colorado.
Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS based in Chicago. She covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity. Before joining RNS in 2016, she won awards for her work as education reporter at The Courier-News in Elgin, Illinois, and digital editor for social media and engagement at the Chicago Sun-Times. Her writing also has appeared in the Washington Post, USA Today, Relevant Magazine, Christianity Today’s CT Women website, Crux and more. She graduated with honors from the journalism department at New York University and is working toward a master’s in intercultural studies from the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS) and Portland Seminary.
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.
Jacob Lupfer is a frequent commentator on religion in American politics and culture. In addition to his work as a writer, Lupfer consults for political candidates and faith-based organizations. His past work includes parish ministry and teaching at the middle school, high school, community college, and university levels. Lupfer holds masters degrees in theology (Boston University) and government (Georgetown University). His website is www.jacoblupfer.com. Lupfer lives near Baltimore with his wife and their three young children.
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.
Column: Flunking Sainthood
Jana Riess, a senior columnist at Religion News Service, has been an editor in the publishing industry since 2008, primarily focusing in the areas of religion, history, popular culture, ethics, and biblical studies. (Learn more about her freelance editorial business and rates here.) 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, Newsweek, People, the Boston Globe, USA 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 Mormonism and American Politics; 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 Neighbor; What Would Buffy Do? The Vampire Slayer as a Spiritual Guide; Mormonism for Dummies; and The Writer’s Market Guide to Getting Published. She blogged for Beliefnet before coming to RNS in 2012.
Column: Spiritual Politics
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.
Marketing and Technology
Natalie Feibish, Web and Project Manager
A member of the RNS staff since 2015, Natalie Feibish (rhymes with “pie dish”) has been working in graphic design and web development since 1994 when a friend introduced her to hyper-text at the University of Illinois. She has since earned her M.Ed. in Educational Technology from the University of Missouri and has been fortunate to work in in many areas of design including print, web, multimedia, education, journalism and online course development. Natalie lives and works in Columbia, Missouri.
Ron Ribiat, Marketing Assistant
Ron joined the RNS staff in 2012, 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.