Richard Flory has been appointed as the executive director of the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture by Amber Miller, dean of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences. He will assume leadership of CRCC on July 1, 2021.
A highly respected scholar in the field of sociology of religion, Flory has led CRCC’s research and evaluation work since 2010. As executive director, he will continue to foster rigorous research on the role of religion in society while integrating the center’s scholarship into its community engagement initiatives.
“I am honored to lead the Center for Religion and Civic Culture into its next chapter,” Flory said. “CRCC pioneered bringing innovative social research into partnership with faith and civic leaders in the service of community uplift and improvement. Over the last few years, local, national and global events have demonstrated that our work—and the work of faith communities—is far from over. CRCC will continue to provide support to faith and community leaders, and to work with public officials as they seek to include faith communities in their efforts.”
Flory will be the third executive director in CRCC’s 25-year history. His appointment comes at the recommendations of his predecessors, Donald E. Miller, who co-founded CRCC, and Brie Loskota.
Flory first met Miller in 1993, when he invited Miller to share his work on reinventing American Protestantism with his students. Their initial conversation led to three projects and ultimately books together. GenX Religion and Finding Faith both focused on the changing religious views of younger generations. Spirit and Power: The Growth and Global Impact of Pentecostalism (also with Kimon H. Sergeant) came out of CRCC’s global projects on Pentecostalism.
Since joining CRCC’s team in 2007, Flory has authored or edited an additional four books. Most recently, he and CRCC Fellow Diane Winston co-edited Religion in Los Angeles: Religious Activism, Innovation, and Diversity in the Global City (Routledge, 2021).
At CRCC, Flory has led a $2.6 million research project on Religious Competition and Creative Innovation (funded by the John Templeton Foundation), the evaluation of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s Catholic Sisters Initiative strategy, and a Lilly Endowment-funded training program to help Southern Californian congregations thrive in a time of religious flux. He also served as a researcher on the decade-long National Study of Youth and Religion. With Melinda Lundquist Denton, he co-authored its capstone book: Back Pocket God: Religion and Spirituality in Lives of Emerging Adults (Oxford University Press, 2020).
“Richard has the perfect blend of entrepreneurial spirit, deep methodological rigor and care for communities to lead CRCC into the future,” Brie Loskota said.
After 17 years with CRCC, Loskota will become executive director at the Marty Martin Center for the Public Understanding of Religion at the University of Chicago. “One of the insights from CRCC’s research has been that the way to make change is through collaboration. The work to advance the public understanding of religion needs a chorus of voices and efforts,” Loskota said. “I am excited to watch CRCC build upon its 25 years of excellence and to find ways to collaboratively advance our shared goals.”
“We are grateful for Brie’s leadership and wish her all the best in Chicago,” said Flory, who studied with Martin Marty while earning his Ph.D. at University of Chicago. “With a solid foundation built by Don Miller and Brie Loskota, CRCC will remain at the forefront of the integration of research and community engagement work.”