Who We Are

On Being

On Being is a social enterprise with a radio show at its heart.

On Being is a Peabody Award-winning public radio conversation and podcast, a Webby Award-winning website and online exploration, a publisher and public event convener. On Being opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live? We explore these questions in their richness and complexity in 21st-century lives and endeavors. We pursue wisdom and moral imagination as much as knowledge; we esteem nuance and poetry as much as fact.

On Being is the home of the Civil Conversations Project, an emergent approach to new conversation and relationship across the differences of our age. On Being’s listeners, readers, and online communities cross boundaries that separate them in the culture at large: generational, socioeconomic, political, religious. They report that On Being equips them to relate in fresh, new ways to different others, and emboldens them to engage in new kinds of service.

Krista first created the show — originally called Speaking of Faith — at Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media. It launched on weekly, public radio stations across the U.S. in 2003. In 2013, On Being transitioned to an independent production (Krista Tippett Public Productions) on Loring Park in Minneapolis.

On Being airs on more than 400 public radio stations across the U.S., and is distributed by Public Radio Exchange (PRX). Our podcast reaches a global audience via SoundCloud. We keep finding new ways to listen to our listeners and online communities, and they keep pointing new ways forward for this adventure.

Krista Tippett
Host/Executive Producer

Krista Tippett is a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and New York Times best-selling author. In 2014, she received the National Humanities Medal at the White House for “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence. On the air and in print, Ms. Tippett avoids easy answers, embracing complexity and inviting people of ​every background to join her conversation about faith, ethics, and moral wisdom.”

Krista grew up in Oklahoma, the granddaughter of a Southern Baptist preacher. She studied history at Brown University and went to Bonn, West Germany in 1983 on a Fulbright Scholarship to study politics in Cold War Europe. In her 20s, she ended up in divided Berlin for most of the 1980s, first as The New York Times stringer and a freelance correspondent for Newsweek, The International Herald Tribune, the BBC, and Die Zeit. She later became a special assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to West Germany.

Krista left Berlin in 1988, the year before the Wall fell. She lived in Spain, England, and Scotland for a time, then pursued a M.Div. from Yale. When she graduated in 1994, she saw a black hole where intelligent coverage of religion should be. As she conducted a far-flung oral history project for the Benedictines of St. John’s Abbey (pdf) in Collegeville, Minnesota, she began to imagine radio conversations about the spiritual and intellectual content of faith that could open imaginations and enrich public life.

In 2007, Krista published her first book, Speaking of Faith. It is a memoir of religion in our time, including her move from geopolitical engagement to theology and the cumulative wisdom of her interviews these past years. In 2010, she published Einstein’s God, drawn from her interviews at the intersection of science, medicine, and spiritual inquiry. And now, Krista’s New York Times best-seller Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living opens into the questions and challenges of this century. Maria Popova calls it “a tremendously vitalizing read — a wellspring of nuance and dimension amid our Flatland of artificial polarities, touching on every significant aspect of human life with great gentleness and a firm grasp of human goodness.”

Krista’s two children are at the center of her life. She also loves cooking for her children and their friends, radio plays, beautiful writing, great science fiction, cross country skiing, and hot yoga.

Production Staff

Trent T Gilliss
Co-founder, Publisher &
Editor-in-Chief

A driving editorial and creative force at On Being, Trent co-founded Krista Tippett Public Productions in 2013. He’s received a Peabody Award for “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and several Webby Awards for his radio and digital journalism. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

Trent grew up in North Dakota and studied English Language & Literature at the University of Mary. He’s a blue-collar cat who has tarred asphalt cracks, waited tables, and even driven a Zamboni. He spent several instructional years in state government, rode the dot-com wave, and worked at several Fortune 500 companies. He’s now a family man who longs for subtle glimpses of beauty in the ordinary.

Lily Percy
Executive Producer

Born in Cali, Colombia, Lily immigrated to Miami with her family at the age of four. Like many public radio listeners, she fell in love with the medium while sitting in a car, listening to Click and Clack in the backseat of her father’s Honda Accord.

Lily studied English Literature and Film Studies at Florida International University. She has worked as an associate editor at MovieMaker magazine, and as a producer for StoryCorps and NPR’s “All Things Considered” on the weekends, where she produced the series “Movies I’ve Seen A Million Times.”

Her work has also been featured on NPR’s Latino USA, WNYC’s Soundcheck, and Esquire. In 2012, she received the Religion Newswriters Association Radio/Podcast Religion Report of the Year Award for her profile of four Roman Catholic Womenpriests.

Chris Heagle
Producer / Technical Director

Chris has been a voracious consumer of all things public radio for as long as he can remember. He worked as a technical director for Performance Today, and contributed to several other national programs. He is thrilled to have landed at On Being.

Chris spent the better part of 15 years working in theater as a sound designer and production manager. Though he occasionally pines for the immediacy of live performance, he also believes that in the vast media landscape of our world, radio is still best at stimulating the imagination.

Chris holds a B.A. from Hamline University and an M.F.A. from the University of Illinois. When not in front of a computer screen, he loves the outdoors (regardless of the weather), just about every kind of music, and watching his daughters discover the world.

Mariah Helgeson
Editor

Mariah grew up in a Minnesota family of artists and musicians, where she first heard On Being over the airwaves at age 11. She’s been a proud listener ever since.

She collected stories of human resilience and kindness in the classrooms of George Washington University — earning a degree in International Affairs with concentrations in the Middle East and Conflict Resolution — and over many cups of coffee in community movements, from nuclear nonproliferation, to interfaith dialogue, to compassionate communication.

Mariah worked as a program associate at the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network and lived in southern India for a spell as a documentary curator. When she’s not submerged in a good book she might be found laughing with her teenage sisters or playing chamber music as a member of the Markado trio.

Maia Tarrell
Producer

Originally from Aberdeen, Scotland, Maia and her family shipped out to Western Australia when she was 6. Back then, she liked to make fun of her Dad for listening to ABC’s Radio National because it sounded like “old dudes going on about castles and stuff.” As she grew older (and marginally wiser) she had to eat her words when she, too, became obsessed with radio, especially the shows about castles and stuff.

Her first career incarnation was as a documentary filmmaker, which managed to give her an excuse to live in Melbourne, Sydney, London, and the Bay Area. She has since completed a postgraduate degree in decision neuroscience because she is also very curious about brains.

Maia loves to walk & talk, binge-listen to podcasts, freestyle dance, eat cookies, and drink tea. She is currently training to become a Certified Tea Master.

Marie Sambilay
Digital Producer

Marie grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and studied at New York University — where she picked up a degree in Media, Culture, and Communications, and a passion for media in the public service, in exchange for her ability to walk slowly. A voracious consumer of podcasts, she joined the team at On Being to fulfill her dream of contributing to the kind of enlightening programming that has captivated her as a listener during so many long city strolls.

Previously, Marie explored various avenues of media production — including television and documentary production, newspaper editing, and even a bit of pharmaceutical advertising.

Her other obsessions include language, British comedy, large-breed dogs, documenting poignant and humorous moments that she encounters from day to day, and winning huge amounts of imaginary money while playing Jeopardy! over dinner.

Bethanie Mann
Project Manager

Bethanie is a project manager, event planner, and list maker. She’s built her career on supporting innovative good in its many manifestations — fundraising for nonprofits, community organizing for local food systems, and growing from seed academic programs, recurring events, and community art projects. Not to mention, the start of her career slinging pizza slices which is, in her opinion, one of the most innovative goods there is.

She grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she attended public art schools for seven years. She moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota to attend and graduate from the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, with a Bachelor of Science in Urban Studies, Sustainability Studies, and Geography. She credits her education and her love of reading novels for her appreciation of the “big picture” as delivered by the beautiful details.

Malka Fenyvesi
Director of Outreach / Religious Communities and Civil Conversations Project

Malka was born in Washington D.C., first-generation daughter of Jewish Hungarian immigrants. She grew up falling asleep to the steady tapping of her journalist father’s typewriter (and eventual computer) keyboard. Malka is fascinated by how we weave practical skills, the making of meaning, the finding of meaning, and social/cultural healing. She earned her B.A. at the Evergreen State College and has an M.S. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University. In 2006, she moved to Los Angeles to co-found and co-direct NewGround: A Muslim Jewish Partnership for Change. She is proud to have been a guest on On Being in 2009.

Malka has worked with The Angell Foundation, The Avi Schaefer Fund, Progressive Jewish Alliance (now Bend the Arc), and Search for Common Ground. She loves taking long walks with dear friends, listening to podcasts, cooking, and knitting. She lives on the East Side of Los Angeles with her husband and daughter and two rowdy sweet dogs.

Selena Carlson
Administrative Associate

Raised on the lore of lutefisk and lefse, Selena is a Minnesota native with a Scandinavian heart. The airwaves of NPR were the soundtrack to her childhood, sparking a vocational passion for all things radio.

Selena recently tackled a double major in journalism and music business at Augsburg College in downtown Minneapolis. Rain, snow, or shine, she can often be spotted meandering the banks of the Mississippi River with a notebook and camera in tow.

Formerly a regular contributor for 89.3 the Current’s music blog, Selena is a self-proclaimed concert junkie and playlist mixologist. She spent a summer interning at Intelligence Squared headquarters in London, further fueling her lifelong tea addiction — one cream, two sugars.

Carolyn Friedhoff
Intern

Carolyn was born and raised in Miami, Florida. Upon realizing that she didn’t really get sports, Carolyn discovered classical ballet. She loved the discipline and independent flow that guided ballet technique — as a baby, some of her first words were “Me sola,” Spanglish for “Me, all by myself.”

Carolyn chose to attend Carleton College, as invested in academics as she was in dance. All the way up in Minnesota, she found true friendship in wonderfully nerdy people. Carolyn majored in philosophy and cognitive science. While she cultivated her love for sitting and thinking about thinking (about thinking…), her desire to dance persisted. In attempts to study both of her interests at once, she stumbled into the field of Embodied Cognitive Science (even Carolyn is still a bit confused about what it is), and hasn’t looked back.

Today, she enjoys being a college graduate, goat videos, dancing and reading, and walking through forests.

Katherine Kwong
Intern

Katherine grew up in the Bay Area where neighborhood water fights and backyard fantasy adventures fueled her curiosity. When she was 8, her family moved to Southern California. Her childhood dream of becoming a professional storyteller led her to pursue a B.A. in English Literature & Writing from Westmont College. Her polymathic interests have included studying literary pilgrimage in the U.K., working in a butterfly pavilion, contributing to the multimedia art project “Portraits of the Central Coast,” and acting in Westmont’s Fringe Festival.

Katherine loves writing in her notebook, watercoloring in her other notebook, and hearing people’s stories. Always a fan of the offbeat questions, she wants to explore public radio as a framework for dialogue and collaboration. She is delighted to be interning with On Being and hopes to learn more about how to create and curate meaningful content.

On Being Fellows

Casper ter Kuile
2016-2017

Casper is building a world of joyful belonging. He’s a Ministry Innovation Fellow at Harvard Divinity School where he supports innovative community leaders across the secular/sacred landscape. Together with his colleague Angie Thurston, he’s co-authored two — How We Gather and Something More — that map this emerging landscape.

Casper is training to be a minister for non-religious people and hosts a podcast, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, which engages a modern classic through traditional sacred reading practices.

He was previously the co-founder of Campaign Bootcamp and the UK Youth Climate Coalition. He lives in Cambridge, MA with his husband Sean.

Angie Thurston
2016-2017

Angie is an On Being fellow and a Ministry Innovation Fellow at Harvard Divinity School, supporting leaders who are deepening community amidst increasing religious disaffiliation. She is the co-author of How We Gather and Something More, two reports profiling new forms of meaningful community in America.

Angie studied playwriting at Brown University and put on arts events in New York City for six years. She began chairing semiannual spiritual gatherings for young adults in 2010. Her faith is grounded in a text called The Urantia Book, and she is an active leader in the international fellowship of Urantia Book readers. She received an MDiv from Harvard Divinity School in 2016. Read more about her work at www.angiethurston.com.

Aseel Zahran
2015-2016

A Jordanian of Palestinian origin, Aseel has always been interested in dialogue processes and creating safe spaces for difficult yet critical conversations. After spending a few years working with refugees in rural Jordan, she moved to Notre Dame to pursue an M.A. in International Peace Studies, with a focus on conflict analysis and transformation. During her time there, listening to On Being was a ritual that helped her reflect on her own work and engagement as an aspiring scholar/practitioner in her own field.

She is passionate about the role of the arts and literature in helping people grapple with their identities and blindspots. Last fall, she spent six months in Cape Town working with young community activists and thinking about the use of language as a way to unveil and reflect on history and social injustice in deeply divided South Africa.

In her free time, Aseel loves hiking, trying her hand at poetry and having long conversations on the complexity of being human, over a good cup of tea.