Meet the Inaugural Cohort of

National Religious Literacy Fellows

The Foundation for Religious Literacy is honored to announce the inaugural cohort of national Religious Literacy Fellows. Grantees were nominated by the foundation’s advisors and selected for their extraordinary contributions to the field. Each fellow was awarded a grant of $12,000, plus a travel stipend and collegial support to advance their religious literacy projects. These grants serve as an investment in emerging leaders because of the recipients’ intellectual honesty, collaborative nature, and potential.

“Our fellows are setting an impressive agenda for religious literacy education in innovative and meaningful ways,” says H. Bruce McEver, President and Cofounder of The Foundation for Religious Literacy.

“This inaugural cohort includes the most exciting emerging leaders in the field. Each has already had a profound impact on the way that Americans talk about religion—online, in schools, in the halls of government, and in houses of worship,” said Benjamin P. Marcus, special advisor to the foundation.

The Inaugural Cohort of Fellows include:

  • Katie Gordon, the national organizer of Nuns & Nones, which teaches that non-religious millennials are spiritually diverse and socially engaged;
  • Usra Ghazi, a leader at the America Indivisible who counters anti-Muslim bigotry by strengthening neighbor-to-neighbor ties in local communities;
  • Dr. Andrew M. Henry who uses an entrepreneurial approach to advance the public’s understanding of religion through his YouTube channel, Religion For Breakfast, which has seen over 6 million views; 
  • Dr. Kate E. Soules, whose outstanding scholarship on religious literacy education is paving the road for equipping pre- and in-service teachers to learn constitutional friendly ways to teach about religion in public schools; and
  • Eleesha Tucker, the founder of the revised Utah 3Rs project designed to promote civil literacy and religious literacy in Utah public schools.

For more details about these fellows see their full biographies below.

Katie Gordon is a bridge-builder across traditions and generations. She is a national organizer of Nuns & Nones, an alliance of spiritually diverse millennials, women religious, and key partners working to create a more just, equitable and loving world. In this, Katie helps build, support, and resource their growing network of collaborators, while also writing and speaking on the larger trends at work in religious and spiritual life today.
As a millennial “None” herself, she is deeply committed to telling a different story of who Nones really are – not as apathetic young people who simply “leave behind” or “lack” religion, but spiritually diverse, socially engaged young people who are seeking meaning and community in new and innovative ways.
For the past two years, Katie was at Harvard Divinity School studying and exploring traditional and emergent forms of communal and spiritual life for unaffiliated millennials. Additionally, she focused on translating wisdom traditions and current trends in accessible, engaging ways, particularly with creative storytelling and podcast programs.
Katie studied closely with Dr. Diane Moore, director of the Religious Literacy Project, analyzing the intersection of religion, politics, and identity in contemporary society. In one of her final courses on “Religious Literacy, Journalism, and Media,” Katie wrote on the how the high consumption of media is affecting millennial nones’ spiritual lives, as well as the challenges and possibilities that arise as a result.
After graduating from Harvard Divinity School with a Master of Theological Studies, Katie moved into a Benedictine Monastery in Erie, PA to work with Sister Joan Chittister and her team on projects like Monasteries of the Heart, which seek to translate monastic wisdom for contemporary seekers.
Today, in many places and with many projects, Katie’s passion is driven by the hungers and needs of the religiously unaffiliated and spiritually diverse seekers whose stories can help create communities of greater understanding and belonging.
Previous to her current calling, Katie spent several years organizing interfaith community programs, campus initiatives, and leadership programs with the Kaufman Interfaith Institute at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She also spoke to and trained hundreds of college students across the country as an alum, trainer, and public speaker for the organization Interfaith Youth Core.
Katie has always been committed to media and particularly radio as a tool for meaningful conversation and community growth, as general manager for her college radio station, as newsroom intern for a public radio station, and as host of a public affairs community radio program called Catalyst Radio.
Katie holds a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, a Master of Interfaith Action from Claremont Lincoln University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and Political Science from Alma College.
Usra Ghazi is Director of Policy and Programs at America Indivisible, a nonprofit coalition addressing anti-Muslim bigotry by strengthening neighbor-to-neighbor ties in local communities across the United States.
She is a Senior Fellow for Religious Freedom at the Freedom Forum Institute and a commissioner on D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Interfaith Council.
She has worked as an interfaith leader and organizer in various capacities over the past decade including work with Interfaith Youth Core, Kids4Peace, and the Pluralism Project at Harvard University.
She previously worked at the U.S. Department of State as a policy advisor and Franklin Fellow at the Office of Religion and Global Affairs and as a Strategic Designer in the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau’s Collaboratory.
She has also served as a policy fellow for the City of Boston in the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement.
She holds a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School in Religion and Politics and a bachelor’s in Religious Studies from DePaul University.
Andrew Henry bridges the academy and the media industry as a PhD candidate in religious studies at Boston University and the YouTube Channel Manager at The Atlantic.
Over the past five years, he has worked on the forefront of online religious literacy education as the host and founder of Religion for Breakfast, the largest religious studies YouTube channel on the platform. Andrew launched Religion for Breakfast in 2014 during his studies at Boston University when he realized that religious studies content was completely lacking on YouTube. Religion for Breakfast aimed to remedy this by publishing video-lectures aimed at capturing a high school and college-aged audience with introductory videos such as a 15-minute introduction to Islam as well as pop-culture topics such as a video titled “How Has Japanese Religion Influenced Pokémon?”
By 2018, Religion for Breakfast grew to 50,000 subscribers, and by mid-2019, it grew to 90,000 subscribers, with over 6 million views.
The channel receives over 250,000 views per month and his videos are used by high school and college instructors around the world.
In his capacity as the founder of Religion for Breakfast, Andrew has partnered with academic, non-profit, and government organizations to further the mission of producing freely-available religious literacy content.
In 2017, he produced introductory videos for online, graduate-level classes for the Religious Freedom Center. In 2019, he partnered with Sacred Writes, an initiative based at Northeastern University dedicated to public scholarship about religion, to produce three videos on topics such as racial segregation in US religious communities, the rise of humanist gatherings on Sundays, and an introduction to indigenous religion.
He also has partnered with the U.S. State Department in Jerusalem to design a lecture series for Israeli high school teachers on teaching about religion from an academic perspective.
As a member of the Applied Religious Studies Committee at the American Academy of Religion, Andrew has organized and lead workshops for scholars to learn how to better reach a broader public at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion.
Andrew currently works at The Atlantic on their YouTube team. He joined The Atlantic in 2018 to pilot a religion journalism initiative funded by the Henry Luce Foundation called “The Atlantic Global Religion Forum,” an online community of religion journalists and scholars that analyzed religion news on a weekly basis. Andrew moderated the forum until the end of the grant. In 2019, he transitioned to Atlantic Studios as the manager of The Atlantic’s YouTube channel.
Andrew’s academic background spans ancient history, archaeology, and religious studies. He specializes in the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world, focusing specifically on early Christianity in late antique Asia Minor and the Levant.
He worked at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology in Philadelphia before moving to Boston. He has excavated in Athens with the American School of Classical Studies, and he is a former Educational and Cultural Affairs research fellow at the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem.
Dr. Kate E. Soules is an education researcher and curriculum developer specializing in religious literacy and teacher education.
Dr. Soules recently completed a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction at the Boston College Lynch School of Education and Human Development.
Her  dissertation, “The Impact of Professional Development on Public School Teachers’ Understanding of Religious Diversity,” examined the experienced of 145 educators in professional development courses on religious literacy. This mixed-methods study found that educators working at all grade levels and in all subject areas benefited from learning about religious diversity and constitutional guidelines regarding religion in public schools.
In particular, classroom and experiential learning activities increased educators’ confidence and comfort with religion in a wide-range of school contexts, including students’ religious identities, the curriculum, and school policies. This research has also informed Dr. Soules’s framework of Pedagogical Content Knowledge about Religion.
Dr. Soules became interested in education about religion as a middle school teacher in Dorchester, MA. Teaching eighth grade World Religions, as well as Social Studies and Latin, she observed how eager students were to learn about religions and to engage with complex questions. The limited availability of constitutionally sound and age-appropriate curriculum resources and lack of support for teacher education led her to pursue graduate studies and her current work in this field. Today, she seeks to promote teacher education about religion and the creation of high quality curricula so that all students have opportunities to learn about religion as engaged and informed citizens in a religiously diverse, democratic society.
Dr. Soules is the co-founder and director of the Religion and Education Collaborative (REC), an interdisciplinary network of scholars and practitioners interested in questions related to religion and schooling. For the past three years, the REC has convened regular meetings for members to share works in progress, network, and report on research findings and outcomes of professional development programs.
As a faculty member and curriculum specialist with the Religious Freedom Center (RFC) of the Freedom Forum Institute, Dr. Soules developed and piloted graduate-level blended learning courses on religious liberty and religious literacy. She also designed and implemented an online professional learning platform, Constitution to Classroom, to provide training and resources on religious liberty and religious literacy for educators. She is currently working on an evaluation of the RFC’s Georgia 3Rs Project, an ongoing initiative to provide high-quality and unique professional development about religion and public schools for educators and administrators in several public school districts in Georgia.
Dr. Soules also works with the Kaur Foundation to create middle and high school curriculum materials about Sikhism as well as professional development workshops for educators and administrators. She has given presentations about religious literacy and religious liberty for educators for multiple organizations.
Currently, Dr. Soules is working on advancing her framework of Pedagogical Content Knowledge about Religion, additional research on the experiences and outcomes of professional development about religion, and research on the outcomes for high school students in religious studies courses. Her research interests also include the representation of religious diversity in multicultural education, educators’ conceptualization of religion, the impacts and possibilities of experiential learning in professional development about religion, and relationship between religious literacy and civic education.
Dr. Soules holds a Masters of Theological Study from the Boston University School of Theology and a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology from Wellesley College.
Eleesha Tucker is an American history and civics educator as well as curriculum developer specializing in the ideals of liberty articulated by the American Revolution and the inherent freedoms protected by the religion clauses of the First Amendment with an emphasis on the diversity of religious expression generated by the protections of religious freedom.
Ms. Tucker’s master’s thesis, Politicians and Petitions: Passing the Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia, explored the freedom of conscience claims of Revolutionary Virginia citizens, emboldened by the ideals of the American Revolution, made to their state legislature to protect their inherent right to worship. Ms. Tucker argued that the petitions of these ordinary people influenced the inclusion of the religion clauses of the First Amendment.
As a faculty member and curriculum specialist with the Religious Freedom Center (RFC) of the Freedom Forum Institute, Ms. Tucker taught the history of Religious Freedom in the United States to graduate students and developed and piloted graduate-level blended learning courses for K-12 teachers on religious liberty and religious literacy.
As a long time staff member of the oldest patriotic organization in the United States, the Society of the Cincinnati, Ms. Tucker taught teachers and students about the people, places and events of the American Revolution that articulated our ideals of liberty, equality, civil responsibility and natural and civil rights that have shaped our nation’s history and influenced freedom around the world. She created lesson plans and designed curriculum for teachers at the K-12 level, drawing on her original primary source research. She also designed simulation experiences for children to learn about the hardships, victories and daily life of ordinary people in the eighteenth century.
Prior to serving the Society of the Cincinnati, Ms. Tucker worked for the Constitutional Source Project (ConSource) in its start-up phase, promoting increased understanding about the historical context and interpretation of the U.S. Constitution by making digitally available historical documents from the period.
With these documents from the ConSource library, she crafted K-12 lesson plans for teachers and produced events promoting constitutional literacy. Ms. Tucker’s interest in the history of our American ideals and the protection of our constitutional rights was born from a place of faith.
She is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose history of persecution in the United States and failed constitutional protection leads her to be an advocate for the rights protection of diverse religious communities today, protections that come through public constitutional and religious literacy.
Ms. Tucker’s current role in her faith community is to foster interfaith relationships in the DC Metro region, including the faith communities of Baha’is, Quakers, Lutherans, Muslims, Baptists, Jews and others.
She has served as the women’s leader in her local congregation five various times and served a full-time mission in the Texas, Ft. Worth mission. Ms. Tucker holds a Masters of American Studies from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Art in History Teaching from Brigham Young University.