Religion News Service (RNS) and Interfaith America (IA) are pleased to announce that we have selected four journalists for the 2023-2024 RNS/IA Religion Journalism Fellowship.
They are: Rebekah Barber, Ambar Castillo, Yun Park, and Hanna Vioque.
The fellowship, returning for its third year, will span from September 2023 to May 2024. This fellowship program serves to develop future religion news journalists by deepening their understanding of religious expression in individual lives and diverse communities. It also aims to develop skills specific to covering religion, belief, faith, and spirituality.
“The community of inquiry and learning that we have built through RNS/IA Fellowship has been every bit as exciting and rewarding as the excellent journalism that has come out of it,” says Paul O’Donnell, editor-in-chief at Religion News Service. “As we hoped, the fellows have improved their religious literacy and brought their own concerns and deepened everyone’s understanding of how faith fits into the issues that they care about.”
Meet the Fellows:
Rebekah Barber is a writer based in Durham, North Carolina. Her work largely focuses on the intersections of race, class, and gender. She has written for Facing South, the online magazine for the Institute for Southern Studies. In 2022, she was selected to be an inaugural Frances Ellen Watkins Harper fellow for The 19th News. Her work has also been featured in The Nation, Truthout, The Appeal and other outlets. She has degrees in English and history from North Carolina Central University and a Master of Public Policy degree from Duke University.
Ambar Castillo is a community reporter with Epicenter-NYC, a local media outlet that focuses on BIPOC and other underserved communities. She was most recently a Sharon Begley Science Reporting Fellow at STAT, where her reporting focused on community health and health equity, and part of the Knight-Science Journalism fellowship at MIT. Ambar has won fellowships with the Metcalf Institute, Poynter, AltaVoz Lab, American Press Institute, Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, and others to help bridge gaps in coverage of underrepresented folks, including across diverse faiths. She most identifies with flying squirrels.
Yun Park is a graduate student from New York University’s Business and Economic Reporting Program. Yun most recently interned at Bloomberg Law and CNN as a reporter. She is most interested in covering the global economy, financial markets and corporate affairs. Previously, Yun worked as a New York City local reporter at Korea Daily and City Limits, writing articles on immigration, politics, business and culture. Her passion for Journalism developed from her experience at Samsung Electronics America where she was a Global Reporter. She also worked at the Korea Society, a nonprofit organization that promotes a strong relationship between the people of Korea and the United States. In her role as Associate Director of Development, she organized high-profile special events including the Annual Dinner, Golf Tournament and President Interview Series. Yun graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A in Communication and Journalism from the University at Albany, SUNY. She also enjoys traveling, eating delicious food and running marathons.
Hanna Nebiyu Vioque is a multimedia journalist based in London. She was raised in Ethiopia, Spain and Kenya, developing a passion for human rights and foreign affairs. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Law from the University of Nottingham, and a M.S. in journalism from Columbia University. She was previously an intern at The Economist where she covered current affairs for print and digital, and has also reported pieces for Atmos and New Lines as part of a reporting trip to Israel and Palestine with Columbia University’s Covering Religion course. Hanna is interested in covering the intersections of law, religion, culture, and the environment.
The 2023-24 fellowship builds on the success of the past two years’ cohorts, in which more than two dozen stories by eight fellows appeared on RNS and in RNS subscriber publications. Some were republished by the Washington Post online and in print.
Over seven months, fellows will have the chance to speak with some of the nation’s leading religion journalists. Previous years the program has invited speakers like Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Wajahat Ali, and Luis Andres Henao and RNS’ Jack Jenkins, among others.
This year, fellows will again dive deeply into the world of religion news through a series of mentorships with senior journalists, workshops, journalist panels, editorial meetings, tutoring on critical religion resources, and two fully paid trips to the Religion News Association Conference and a writing workshop in Chicago. The fellows, who are awarded a $4,000 stipend, are expected to report and write at least one feature religion story per month, to be published on the RNS website and the Interfaith America Magazine and will receive a fellowship certificate upon completion.
About Interfaith America
Interfaith America (formerly known as Interfaith Youth Core) is a national nonprofit that equips the next generation of citizens and professionals with the knowledge and skills needed for leadership in a religiously diverse world. Partnering with civic groups, higher education institutions, public health and business, Interfaith America is dedicated to making interfaith cooperation the norm and building Interfaith America in the 21st century.
Religion News Service (RNS) 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 in a number of countries. DEI Statement Interfaith America and Religion News Service are committed to supporting work at the intersection of racial equity and interfaith cooperation. We believe in the essential contributions of countless religious and secular traditions that affirm dignity and justice for every human being. We recognize and celebrate that movements for a better world—including the anti-Apartheid movement, and Civil Rights movement—have been fueled by interfaith cooperation. All of our programs and projects incorporate a lens of equity and inclusion.