The Partnership Center Staff
Shannon Royce, Esq. - Director
Shannon Royce brings a wealth of experience to her role as Director of the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The HHS Partnership Center was formed in 2001, under the George W. Bush administration, to ensure that faith partners and non-profits faced no barriers and were engaged as full partners in serving the poor and helping the vulnerable. This mission continues today.
Shannon’s professional background includes both government and private sector experience. In government, she worked for over seven years on Capitol Hill, including serving as Counsel to Senator Chuck Grassley (now Chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee).
In the private sector, Shannon worked in several faith-based non-profits. Early on, she led the D.C. office of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), a group focused on issues such as sex trafficking, global hunger, and protecting religious liberty. Most recently, Shannon served as Chief of Staff and C.O.O. at the Family Research Council (FRC), managing day to day operations for a team of 80 in fulfilling the FRC mission of promoting “a culture in which all human life is valued, families flourish, and religious liberty thrives.”
Shannon brings personal experiences that have shaped her perspective to the job as well. As a cancer survivor, Shannon knows what it is like to be a patient coping with an often confusing healthcare system. In addition, Shannon’s family has been challenged and strengthened through their experiences as a family with special needs. As a result of her experiences, Shannon has been an advocate in her community to ensure that families with special needs have the supports they need to thrive.
In leading the Center, Shannon sees her role as one of service and stewardship, carrying out the vision of the Administration. She received her Juris Doctor from the George Washington University School of Law. Shannon is married with two grown sons and enjoys running half-marathons for fun.
Heidi Christensen is the Public Affairs Specialist at the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Heidi’s efforts focus on strengthening the capacity of national faith and community organizations to respond to critical public health issues. During her tenure at the Partnership Center, Heidi has coordinated coalitions of multi-sector community-based partners to address childhood obesity, chronic disease, and the social and economic issues challenging the health of our nation’s communities. She also has coordinated partner-based social media events, educational and training web series, and communications that equip community-level health leadership.
Previously, at the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty (CIFA), she supported U.S. based faith leaders and their communities on collaborative efforts addressing malaria and other health issues affecting the developing world. She also managed communications and event production for the Cathedral College of Washington National Cathedral. Heidi holds a master’s degree in systematic theology from Virginia Theological Seminary.
Ben O’Dell is the Program Specialist at the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Ben is a recognized expert on facilitating partnerships between faith-based, philanthropic, and community organizations and government at all levels. Ben’s interest in strengthening local faith-based and community leaders and community engagement principles to religious, community, and government interest has led him to develop deep relationships, knowledge, and expertise on a broad range of issues from strengthening fathers and families to strategies for bringing groups together in collaborative networks. Throughout his fourteen year tenure in the Center, Ben served in many roles including as Designated Federal Officer to the President’s Advisory Council of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, a 25 member council of faith and community leaders making recommendations to the President and the White House.
Ben received his Master’s Degree in Organizational Development and Knowledge Management in 2007 from the School of Public Policy at George Mason University. Ben resides outside of Washington, D.C. with his wife, Kristin, and practices his own personal fatherhood initiatives with their two kids.