Amanda Tyler is executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. She leads the organization as it upholds the historic Baptist principle of religious liberty, defending the free exercise of religion and protecting against its establishment by government.
Tyler often speaks in churches, educational institutions and denominational gatherings, and she provides commentary on church-state issues to the media. Called a “powerful advocate” and “rising star in the sector” by The Nonprofit Times, she was named one of the nation’s top 50 nonprofit leaders in 2018. A member of the Texas and U.S. Supreme Court Bar, Tyler has experience working in Congress, in a private legal practice and serving as a law clerk for a federal judge.
A native of Austin, Texas, Tyler grew up hearing about the cherished Baptist principles of religious liberty and the separation of church and state as a member of Highland Park Baptist Church. Because she was committed to these principles, Tyler sought out the Baptist Joint Committee when she moved to Washington to attend Georgetown University, and she began volunteering in the office.
Tyler graduated from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown with a bachelor’s degree in foreign service, magna cum laude. She was hired by the BJC to serve as assistant to the general counsel, working closely with Brent Walker, James Dunn, Melissa Rogers and Holly Hollman. During this time, she wrote columns for Report from the Capital, drafted statements on religious liberty issues, presented educational programs and coordinated the broad coalition in support of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.
Tyler left the BJC to enroll in The University of Texas School of Law, where she received her J.D. with honors. Following law school, Tyler worked in private practice and served as a law clerk for a U.S. district court judge in Dallas, Texas. She later joined the staff of U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett in Austin and Washington, D.C.
In Austin, Tyler served as the congressman’s district director, leading the staff in the development and execution of an outreach agenda for a 7-county congressional district, as well as serving as a spokesperson for his office. She later served as Rep. Doggett’s counsel for the Ways and Means Committee.
Throughout her career, Tyler continued to stay connected to the BJC. She is a long-time monthly financial supporter and served on the Board from 2010-2016.
A member of First Baptist Church of Washington, D.C., she lives in the city with her husband, Robert Behrendt, and their son, Phelps. You can follow her on Twitter: @AmandaTylerBJC
Tyler began her tenure as executive director in January 2017 after the retirement of Brent Walker.
“I feel called by God to do this work. There are many challenges and opportunities surrounding our First Freedom, such as increasing religious pluralism and the unease it can bring. The Baptist Joint Committee, with its rich history and deep expertise, is uniquely positioned to be a voice for all people who want to defend and extend God-given religious liberty for generations to come. I truly believe that our entire world has never needed the BJC as much as it does right now, and there is no limit to what God can do through us to preserve religious liberty for all of God’s children.”
Amanda Tyler discusses the protections of the Johnson Amendment on NPR (Nov. 28, 2017)
On September 26, 2016, the BJC Board of Directors named Amanda Tyler as the organization’s next executive director.
Amanda is deeply committed to the mission of the Baptist Joint Committee. She is known and loved by Baptists of all ages. Amanda will help ensure that the BJC is fully embraced by younger generations. Given her Washington experience and positive relationships with a wide array of D.C. leaders, she will hit the ground running. I’m thrilled that the BJC has chosen such a talented leader to defend and extend religious liberty for all people.
Amanda’s experience includes leadership in demanding political settings and attention to legal complexities—both relevant gifts to the BJC for today’s religious liberty climate. I have confidence in Amanda’s capacity toward the future work of the BJC; I have seen her build working groups with sensitivity and knowledge to accomplish strategic objectives and solidify key relationships.
Amanda’s expertise and passion for religious liberty is palpable. Both her professional preparation and her call to ministry make her a great fit to lead the Baptist Joint Committee.
Amanda is an excellent communicator: measured and polished, but she also speaks well ‘off the cuff.’ In my district, I have seen her listen to and fight for the underserved and underrepresented. This makes her a natural to represent the cause of religious liberty and minority faiths.
Amanda Tyler brings deep Baptist roots and convictions to this leadership challenge. She is thoroughly familiar with and committed to the mission of the Baptist Joint Committee. Her strong, savvy advocacy for religious liberty and the separation of church and state will be acknowledged and appreciated by office-holders and issue activists on Capitol Hill, in state capitals and city halls, and by her fellow Baptists and our ecumenical allies in pulpits and pews throughout the world.
With Amanda’s keen mind and passion for justice, she has gone on to make a difference for others through a successful legal and legislative career. But her first love has always been the BJC and the cause of religious liberty. Truly, we have not yet seen what all that God will do through her.
Amanda knows well the history and work of the organization but she is also a visionary. She sees the great potential for the BJC’s expanded outreach in the coming days. For me personally, in this year of shattering glass ceilings, I am thankful that one more significant leadership role in Baptist life will be filled by a gifted young woman.