WASHINGTON (BP) — Shannon Royce, a former leader at the Family Research Council and Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has been appointed as the Trump administration’s director of the Center for Faith-Based and Community Partnerships.
Part of the Department of Health and Human Services, the center seeks to forge government partnerships with faith-based and community organizations to address community needs. During Royce’s tenure, the center’s focus will include combatting opioid addiction, childhood obesity and mental illness as well as fostering health reform, she told Baptist Press.
“I am eager to work with our faith and community partners in their service and stewardship to bring help and healing in their communities,” Royce said in written comments. “In doing so, I believe our work can help HHS fulfill its mission to enhance and protect the health and wellbeing of all Americans. The faith-based and neighborhood partners are instrumental in addressing community needs and concerns in the work they do every day, serving their members and neighbors and meeting the needs of our most vulnerable citizens.”
Royce, who began her work at the center this month, served as FRC chief of staff and chief operating officer from 2015-17 and as ERLC director of government relations and legislative counsel from 1999-2003. In her work at the ERLC, she directed the commission’s Washington office.
Additionally, Royce has served as counsel to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and as executive director of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.
The mother of a child with special needs, Royce has worked to raise awareness of mental health issues within the Southern Baptist Convention and beyond, including service on SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page’s Mental Health Advisory Council.
Page told BP he was “excited to hear of the appointment of Shannon Royce to” her new role at the Center for Faith-Based and Community Partnerships.
“She will do a wonderful job,” Page said in written comments. “She has served Southern Baptists in numerous ways in the past. She was the prime motivator for our mental health advisory group. Her competency and compassion will be used by God in this service to our country.”
When the Center for Faith-Based and Community Partnerships was founded in 2001, some evangelicals — including the ERLC — expressed concern that partnering with government could restrict the religious liberty of faith-based organizations. Since then, however, Southern Baptists and other evangelicals have forged successful partnerships with government in such areas as disaster-relief and responding to humanitarian crises. A key facet of those partnerships has been working with government on projects that are not exclusively faith-centered while funding evangelism and discipleship through private means.
Royce said HHS Secretary Tom Price “is eager to eliminate barriers to full and active engagement by faith-based partners, and I will work with him to accomplish this goal.”
Royce received her law degree from George Washington University. She and her husband Bill have two adult sons.