Press Release: Religious Freedom Institute Announces Executive Vice President and Additional Staff Changes

July 11, 2019, Washington, D.C. — The Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) continues to grow and make important organizational changes to become even more well-positioned to advance religious freedom for everyone, everywhere. 

Dr. Eric Patterson recently joined RFI as its Executive Vice President. He comes to RFI from the Robertson School of Government at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he was dean and tenured full professor. Prior to his time at Regent, Patterson served as Associate Director of Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, & World Affairs. His government experience includes two stints at the U.S. Department of State, a year as a White House Fellow, and two decades as an officer in the Air National Guard.

“I am delighted that Eric is now officially on board. The organization will soar to even greater heights with him leading its operations!” said RFI President Thomas Farr. 

Dr. Kent Hill has stepped away from his position as RFI’s Executive Director in order to focus his efforts on the Middle East. Hill remains with RFI as a Senior Fellow for Eurasia, Middle East, and Islam. “Kent’s leadership in helping to launch RFI and manage its transformation since that time has been vital to the organization’s success,” Patterson said, “and we are deeply grateful that he remains with us as a senior fellow.”

Additionally, other members of RFI leadership and staff have assumed new titles.  

Dr. Timothy Shah, Director of the South and Southeast Asia Action Team, is now also the Vice President for Strategy and International Research. Farr commented on Shah’s new appointment saying, “This is a title that befits his enormous contributions to this organization.”

Dr. Bryon Johnson, previously the Director of the North America Action Team, will continue as RFI Senior Fellow. The new Director of the North America Action Team, Fr. Deacon Andrew Bennett, has served the organization as a Senior Fellow for years and is the former International Religious Freedom Ambassador of Canada.

Lastly, Jeremy Barker, who has long served as RFI’s Senior Program Officer, has assumed the role of Director of the Middle East Action Team, previously held by Hill. In 2020, RFI intends to open an office in the Middle East, which Barker will lead. 

The Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) works to secure religious freedom for everyone, everywhere. RFI is a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, D.C.

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Media Contact: Nathan Berkeley