Board of Directors

Chair

Douglas Todd, religion and migration writer, The Vancouver Sun, Canada

Douglas Todd writes on religion and migration mainly for The Vancouver Sun and Postmedia News, which is Canada’s largest newspaper chain. He has also been a long-time correspondent for Religion News Service, which is based in New York. He has received 33 national and international journalism prizes. He is a two-time winner of the Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year Award, winner of a Canadian National Newspaper Award and has been given the top prizes for commentary from the American Academy of Religion. His blog garners more than two million page views a year (www.vancouversun.com/douglastodd). He is the author of two books and editor of Cascadia: The Elusive Utopia – Exploring the Spirit of the Pacific Northwest. In 2015 he was elected chair of the International Association of Religion Journalists.

Vice chair

Rachael Kohn, religion broadcaster for ABC Radio National, Australia

Rachael Kohn is an Australian author and broadcaster who has presented and produced programs on Religion and Spirituality for ABC Radio National, beginning with Religion Report, Religion Today, and since 1997, The Spirit of Things. Kohn also produced the television documentaries The Dead Sea Scrolls (2000) and Buddhism East and West (2001). Kohn is a frequent speaker on Religion and Spirituality in Australia. She has published two books, The New Believers: Re-imagining God (HarperCollins 2003) and Curious Obsessions in the History of Science and Spirituality (HarperCollins 2007).

Co-founder and senior advisor

David Briggs

Since receiving his master’s degree from Yale Divinity School in 1985, David Briggs has devoted his professional life to religion journalism, including a decade from 1988 to 2008 when he was the chief religion writer for The Associated Press, He has been nominated seven times for the Pulitzer Prize by the world’s largest news service and metropolitan newspapers and his religion writing has won numerous national and regional awards for investigative reporting, explanatory journalism, feature writing and coverage of children’s issues. He has spoken at the national meetings of the American Political Science Association, and several of the leading scholarly societies devoted to the study of religion. A former president of the Religion Newswriters Association, he had the initial idea and helped lay the groundwork for the IARJ with a series of course-dialogues and exploratory visits with colleagues around the world encompassing some 300 journalists from 90 nations. He served as its first executive director. Today, he also writes a column on new developments in religion research, edits a collection of overviews on contemporary issues in global religion written by leading international scholars and journalists and works with a group of prominent scholars exploring the role general and intellectual humility can play in a polarized world.

Directors

Endy Bayuni, senior editor at The Jakarta Post, Indonesia

Endy Bayuni, executive director of the IARJ, was editor-in-chief of The Jakarta Post from 2004-2018. Earlier in his career, he had stints with Reuters and Agence France Presse as their Indonesian correspondent. His work is widely published in op-eds and analytical articles in publications around the world, including Foreign Policy and The New York Times and Washington Post. He is a recipient of the East West Center senior fellowship in Washington DC in 2010, the Jefferson Fellowhip at the East West Center in Honolulu in 1999, and the Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University in 2004.

Pedro Brieger, religion journalist, broadcaster and sociologist, Argentina

Pedro Rubén Brieger is an Argentine journalist and sociologist who holds the Chair of Sociology in Middle East in the University of Buenos Aires. He is the director of the Latin American News Service Nodal, and has worked in different newspapers like Clarín, El Cronista, La Nación, Página/12, Perfil and Miami Herald; and magazines like Noticias, Tres Puntos, Revista Veintitrés and Le Monde diplomatique. He has twice won the Martin Fierro Award as Argentina’s best male TV journalist. He is one of the most recognizable and influential journalists in the Americas, with more than 250,000 followers on Facebook.

Waqar Gillani, special correspondent for The News on Sunday, Pakistan

Waqar Gillani is Special Correspondent with The News International, one of the leading English dailies of Pakistan. For The News, he reports with a focus of human rights, development, governance, security, politics and marginalized sections of society. Particularly, he has focused human rights (child, women and transgender), minorities and religious persecution. Over two decades, he has reported for local media and also has contributed to many foreign publications including The New York Times, Agency France Press, The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Wall Street Journal. He has also assisted The Economist and The New Yorker in producing features about Pakistan. He also has worked in the development sector with organizations including Aurat Foundation, South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA); Bargad, a youth development organisation; Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP); Labour Education Foundation (LEF); Media Foundation 360; and coordinated with international trainers of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). He became part of International Visitors Leadership Programme of United States of America in 2006; and World Press Institute Fellow (USA) in 2011.

Yazeed Kamaldien, journalist and photographer, South Africa

Yazeed Kamaldien is a freelance journalist, photographer and documentary filmmaker from Cape Town in South Africa. His work has appeared in publications including Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Weekend Argus, Dazed & Confused, Wanted magazine and others. He also presents a weekly news-related show Burning Issue on Voice of the Cape radio station in Cape Town. He has also done freelance TV reporting for eTV news channel in South Africa. He has covered issues ranging from human rights and social justice to culture. He has a special interest in interfaith work and remains committed to improving journalism about religion to foster understanding and peaceful co-existence.

Maria-Paz Lopez, senior feature writer for La Vanguardia, Spain

María-Paz López is the foreign correspondent in Berlin and religion columnist of La Vanguardia, a Spanish daily based in Barcelona. From 2003 to 2009 she was its Italy and Vatican correspondent, and has been writing about religion for almost 20 years. She was the IARJ’s first chair, and since 2016 she serves as its European Board director. She is the coordinator of the Piazza Grande Religion Journalism Award, a joint award of the IARJ and the Italian institute Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose Giovanni XXIII (FSCIRE), in the framework of the European Academy of Religion (EuARe). López holds a BA degree in Mass Communication from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and a MS in Journalism from Columbia University in New York City, earned in 1997 in a sabbatical year as a Fulbrighter. Besides her natives Spanish and Catalan, she speaks English, French, German and Italian. She is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars about journalism and religion, and has taught journalism at the master’s degree BCN-NY, a joint program in Spanish of Universitat de Barcelona (UB) and Columbia University based in Barcelona. López is the author of the e-book Al rescate. Crónica de los viajes de Benedicto XVI a España, a religious and political chronicle of the three travels of Pope Benedict to Spain. In her home country, she has been awarded the First National Journalism Prize Manuel Alcántara..

J.D. Vital, journalist and author, Brazil

Peggy Fletcher Stack, journalist, United States

Since 1991, Stack has worked full time as a religion writer for The Salt Lake Tribune, launching the newspaper’s award-winning Faith section. Stack has reported from Brazil, Chile, Ghana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Vietnam, China, Indonesia and somewhere in the North Sea. Stack also served on the executive board of the Religion Newswriters Association and has won the Cornell Award for the best religion reporting at midsized papers four times. In 2013, Stack collected the American Academy of Religion’s top award for religion writing. She also was a co-author of one of the stories in The Tribune’s recent Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of sexual assaults at Utah colleges.

Regional Representatives

IN the IARJ’s ongoing development of peer-to-peer resources and opportunities for journalists covering religious diversity, our board names Regional Representatives. In appointing these highly respected journalists to act on behalf of the IARJ in their parts of the world, the board …

  • Empowers these representatives to organize regional IARJ gatherings or training events in keeping with our core commitment to peer-to-peer collaboration and learning.
  • Invites IARJ members who are based in these regions to contact these regional representatives directly for news about our organization—or to suggest ideas for future projects or events.
  • Encourages regional circles of professionals to set up online discussion groups through email or social media apps for regular discussion and collaboration on issues of particular interest in these regions.

Our Regional Representatives are …

Elisa Di Benedetto is our IARJ Regional Representative for Europe. She also has become one of the best-known members of our IARJ core team—because she is our Co-Managing Director and Web Editor. She has been involved in all of our international conferences. New members interact with her online. In addition to her work with the IARJ, her Twitter home page describes her as a “freelance journalist covering religion and migration based in Italy.” Her Linked-in profile adds: “Over the past decade, I have covered a variety of topics, including cross-cultural and cross-religious issues, migration to Italy, civil-military cooperation and gender issues. My areas of focus include the migration and religion, the role of media in the peacekeeping process. I reported from Afghanistan, Lebanon and Kosovo.”

  • Larbi Megari for Middle East and North Africa

Larbi Megari is a London-educated Algerian print and television journalist with more than 25 years experience. He holds a Masters Degree in Mass Communications from London Metropolitan University in England, and now he is preparing a PhD on religion and online communication in Tours University in France. Larbi is one of the International Association of Religion journalists (IARJ) founding members and now is a co-managing director and editor of the IARJ website. He also has translated many books from English into Arabic such as “Law and Religion” (by Russell Sandberg) and Religion in Politics: Constitutional and Moral Perspectives (by Michael J. Perry).