Sept. 3, 2013 – Elizabeth Tenety (C’07), who now edits The Washington Post’s On Faith, started contributing to the newspaper’s forum on religion and politics as a senior at Georgetown.
The government and theology major became a research assistant in her senior year for government professor Thomas Banchoff, who founded the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Tenety garnered a blogging spot that year with On Faith, when it partnered with the Berkley Center.
Georgetown/On Faith continues to feature articles by scholars at the university.
“Liz was a student of mine and one of the first research assistants for the initiative that became the Berkley Center,” says Banchoff, who recently became Georgetown’s first vice president for global engagement. “Her creativity and writing skills – and fascination with the intersection between religion and culture – set her apart then and have served her well in her leadership role at On Faith.”
Home for Conversation
Tenety also interned for journalist and author George Will during her time at Georgetown.
After graduation, she completed a master’s degree at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. In 2010, Tenety became editor of On Faith, where she writes stories, manages the website and social media, and solicits and edits articles from contributing writers.
“The goal [of On Faith] every day is to be a home for the conversation happening around religion,” she explains. “I think of religion, as broadly defined, how people make moral decisions about their lives, politics and culture.”
Career in Religion
Growing up in a Catholic home, Tenety was captivated by the discussions on values and religion she had with her family.
“The fact that people have radically different views about the world [when seen] through the lens of their own values became really fascinating to me,” she says.
But it wasn’t until she enrolled in a Religion in America course with Lauve Steenhuisen, a visiting assistant professor of theology at Georgetown, that she thought about how her academic interests might turn into her life’s work.
“She was the first person to tell me I could have a career in religion and that had never crossed my mind,” Tenety explains, “that you could have a job in this field in some way.”
I wrote for free for years before I had a paid journalism job. Unfortunately that’s just the reality. You have to be willing to put a lot in without an obvious reward sometimes.”
—Elizabaeth Tenety (C'07), On Faith editor
Tenety notes that today’s job market is difficult for writers and journalists, but that current students with such aspirations shouldn’t despair.
“I wrote for free for years before I had a paid journalism job,” she says. “Unfortunately that’s just the reality. You have to be willing to put a lot in without an obvious reward sometimes.”
She encourages students and young alumni to gain whatever experience they can.
“I think students really should take as full advantage of all the working and interning experience they can get in this city,” Tenety adds. “Between George Will and the Berkley Center, I actually worked two part-time jobs during most of my time at Georgetown. Throw in a double major and my life was crazy, but it really helped propel me professionally and I'm so grateful for Washington in that regard.”
She says she transferred to Georgetown from Boston College to pursue the kinds of internship opportunities available in Washington.
Tradition and Modernity
Tenety is busier than ever these days.
She and her Naval Academy graduate husband, Colin Galle, met at a party a Georgetown in 2005, and now have a 13-month-old son, Henry. The baby was born at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital and the couple now have another child on the way.
“I definitely want to stay in religious journalism,” Tenety says. “For me, the topics I’m interested in are not just topics about marriage, sexuality, and children. I’m very interested in how tradition is meeting the modern world and how much and how quickly it’s changing.”