Conference Participants

Rosemary Avance is a doctoral candidate and Fontaine fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. Her research focuses on the intersection of media, religion, and modernity, and she is specifically interested in personal and institutional religious narratives, the public performance of religious identity, and  processes of institutional meaning-making viewed through an interpretive cultural studies framework. Ms. Avance has focused her academic attention on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, publishing an article on Mormon conceptions of modesty and cosmology in the Journal of Religion and Society.

Buddy Blankenfeld is a media manager in the Public Affairs Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and managing editor of the LDS Newsroom website. He was a television anchor/reporter for 12 years, working at ABC4 News/KTVX in Utah before joining the Church’s Public Affairs Department in 2009. He earned a BA degree in Communications with an emphasis in broadcast journalism at Brigham Young University.

Joanna Brooks is a national voice on Mormon life and politics and an award-winning scholar of religion and American culture. She covers Mormonism, faith, and politics for and has been named one of “50 Politicos to Watch” by  She attended Brigham Young University and received her Ph.D from the University of California, Los Angeles.  Her first book American Lazarus: Religion and the Rise of African American and Native American Literatures (Oxford University Press, 2003) was awarded the Modern Language Association William Sanders Scarborough Prize.  Brooks has also received awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the American Philosophical Society for her scholarship on religion and American culture.  

Gideon Burton is Assistant Professor of English at Brigham Young University where he specializes in Renaissance literature, the history of rhetoric, and Mormon literature and criticism. An advocate of online media, he considers himself a "digital evangelist." Gideon graduated from Brigham Young University in 1989.  At the University of Southern California he received an M.A. in English in 1992, a Master of Professional Writing (MPW) degree in 1995, and his Ph.D in Rhetoric, Linguistics, and Literature in 1994.  He joined the BYU English Department faculty in 1994.

David Charles is the Vice President of Content at, where he has led content and design strategy since the site's launch in 2009. With over 6 million monthly page views, Patheos is the largest independent website for religion and spirituality. David holds an honors B.A. in comparative literature from BYU, master's degrees in religion and anthropology from Oxford, and is currently completing doctoral studies in religion at Harvard, with a dissertation on language and belief in contemporary Mormonism. He has published in academic journals and national media, includingThe Christian Science Monitor and The Washington Post.

Alan Cooperman is the Associate Director of Research at  The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life,  a Pew Research Center project. Alan came to PEW after a 27-year career in journalism, the last 10 years of which were at  Washington Post, where he was a national staff writer covering religion and politics. He served as foreign editor of U.S. News & World Report, as a foreign correspondent in Moscow for the Associated Press (1990-1994), and as bureau chief for  U.S. News & World Report  (1994-1996).  

John Dehlin is a Ph.D. student in Clinical and Counseling Psychology at Utah State University.  John's research interests center around the nexus of religion and mental health, including the following active projects: understanding the causes and psychological impact of leaving LDS church, assessing the effectiveness of sexual orientation change efforts within the LDS population, and evaluating Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as a treatment for religious OCD.  John is the Executive Director of the Open Stories Foundation, and the founder of Mormon Stories podcast.

Greg Droubay is the Director of Media at the Missionary Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He is the former Manager of Proselyting and Infield Training for the LDS Church, as well as the Director of Training for the Missionary Training Center.  Greg is a certified professional in learning and performance and a certified performance technologist.  He is a graduate of Brigham Young University.  

James Faulconer is a professor of philosophy and Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding at Brigham Young University. He blogs at Feast upon the Word and writes a column for the Mormon portal at Patheos.  He received his BA in English from BYU, and his MA and Ph.D in philosophy from Pennsylvania State University.  He is the author of Transcendence in Philosophy and Religion, and editor (with Mark Wrathall) of Appropriating Heidegger. Faulconer is currently working on a collection of essays by various authors dealing with religious devotional practices from a philosophical point of view and a book that will give an overview on Mormon theology.  

Scott Gordon is President of the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR), a non-profit corporation staffed by volunteers dedicated to helping members deal with issues raised by critics of the LDS faith. He has an MBA and a BA in Organizational Communications from Brigham Young University. He is currently an instructor of business and technology at Shasta College in Redding, California   

Kristine Haglund is the editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. A frequent commentator on Mormon blogs, she is currently a contributor to By Common Consent. An “early adopter” of blogging, Kristine joined Times and Seasons in 2004, before the Bloggernacle was even named. She received her A.B. from Harvard in German Studies and an M.A. from the University of Michigan in German Literature.  

Patrick Mason is Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies and Associate Professor of North American Religion at Claremont Graduate University. His primary training is as an American religious historian, but he also received an MA in international peace studies, with an emphasis in religion, violence, and peacebuilding. He is the author of The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South (Oxford University Press, 2011).

Ardis E. Parshall is a historian, freelance researcher specializing in Mormon history, a blogger and a columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune. She runs the highly popular LDS history blog Keepapitchinin. Parshall co-edited with Paul Reeve Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia, published in 2010 by ABC-CLIO.

Jana Riess is the acquisitions editor with Westminster John Knox Press, as well as a freelance writer and editor. She holds degrees in religion from Wellesley College and Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in American religious history from Columbia University. She is the author or co-author of six books, and a regular contributor to, Beliefnet, and is now blogging at Religion News Service.

David W. Scott is chair of the Department of Communication at Utah Valley University specializing in religion and media. He is co-author of "Religious Community on the Internet: An Analysis of Mormon Websites” and of “Constructing Sacred History: Multi-media Narratives and the Discourse of ‘Museumness’ at Mormon Temple Square,” both in the Journal of Media and Religion.  

For more information, contact Boyd Petersen at