Welcome to USCIRF

Professional Staff

Erin D. Singshinsuk, Executive Director

Karen L. Banno, Travel Manager

Dwight Bashir, Director of Research and Policy

Elizabeth K. Cassidy, Director of International Law and Policy

Isaac Six, Director of Congressional Affairs and Communications 

Tina L. Mufford, Deputy Director of Research and Policy 

Thomas Kraemer, Director of Operations and Finance

Roy Haskins, Director of Finance and Administration

Ferdaouis Bagga, Policy Analyst

Waris Husain, Policy Analyst

Jason Morton, Policy Analyst

Dominic Nardi, Policy Analyst

Scott Weiner, Policy Analyst

Kurt Werthmuller, Policy Analyst

Keely Bakken, Researcher

Alex Iverson, Researcher

Patrick Greenwalt, Researcher

Zack Udin, Research Assistant

Kirsten Lavery, International Legal Specialist

Henry Young, Management and Program Analyst

Javier Peña, Communications Specialist

 

Erin D. Singshinsuk, Executive Director

Erin Singshinsuk has been affiliated with numerous organizations with an international focus including the U.S. Institute for Peace (USIP) where she served as the Vice President for Management and the Chief Financial Officer. She also has provided support for a variety of Federal Agencies including USCIRF, the Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF), the U.S-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).

 

 

Karen L. Banno, Travel Manager

Karen started at the Commission in February 2017 as the Office Manager. Now as the Travel Manager, Karen is responsible for transportation and hotel arrangements for Commissioners and staff. She has previously worked for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and in Chicago, Karen was the Operations Coordinator for Advanced Strategies at Mesirow Financial.

Karen graduated from Illinois State University with a B.S. in Social Sciences and History.

 

Dwight Bashir, Director of Research and Policy

Dwight Bashir is Director of Research and Policy at the Commission. For more than 20 years, he has worked in the areas of international human rights, freedom of religion or belief, and conflict resolution. While at USCIRF, Mr. Bashir has led or participated in numerous fact-finding missions internationally and has traveled widely throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. An expert on human rights and religious freedom in the Middle East and North Africa, Bashir provides periodic training for officials at the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security and is serving his second two-year term on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Holocaust Denial and State-Sponsored Antisemitism. Mr. Bashir has been interviewed and his articles featured in major media outlets, blogs, and academic journals, including BBC, CNN, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, PBS NewsHour, National Public Radio, Al Jazeera, the Yale Journal of International Affairs, and the Cairo Review of Global Affairs, among others, and he lectures in the United States and globally on various topics in international affairs, including countering violent extremism, ethnic and sectarian conflict, and global peace and security.

Before joining USCIRF, Mr. Bashir worked with the United Nations and the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy on conflict prevention; a U.S. Department of State advisory body on religious freedom, intolerance, and reconciliation; and other non-governmental organizations advocating international human rights. Mr. Bashir pursued his Bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations at the University of Richmond and his Master’s and Doctoral degrees in international conflict analysis and resolution at George Mason University.

Elizabeth K. CassidyDirector of International Law and Policy

Elizabeth K. Cassidy is Director of International Law and Policy at the Commission.  She joined the Commission staff in 2007.  She manages USCIRF’s annual report process, supervises policy and research staff, and is responsible for a substantive portfolio that includes United Nations issues, international and comparative law issues, and U.S. refugee and asylum policy.  Before USCIRF, Ms. Cassidy was Assistant Executive Director of UN Watch, a non-governmental organization in Geneva, Switzerland.  She also worked as a legal consultant to several human rights NGOs in Windhoek, Namibia.  Ms. Cassidy has taught courses at the University of Namibia, Princeton University, and Seton Hall University School of Law, and conducted training sessions for U.S. State Department and Department of Homeland Security officials.  She has authored and co-authored several book chapters and numerous journal and on-line articles, including in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, OnFaith, and Opinio Juris.  In 2014-2015, she served on the U.S. State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group.  Earlier in her career, Ms. Cassidy practiced law in the Washington, D.C. office of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld and was a judicial clerk to the Hon. Richard Nygaard of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Hon. William Bassler of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.  She holds a B.A. in international politics from Wesleyan University, a J.D. from American University's Washington College of Law, and a LL.M in comparative constitutional law from the University of Stellenbosch. 

Isaac Six, Director of Congressional Affairs and Communications

Isaac Six is the Director of Congressional Affairs & Communications at the Commission. Before joining USCIRF, Isaac served for nearly six years with International Christian Concern (ICC) as Regional Manager for Southeast Asia and Advocacy Director. At ICC, Mr. Six worked on a wide-range of religious freedom issues around the globe, visiting and interviewing victims of religious freedom violations throughout Asia and the Middle East, while instituting new projects to assist and advocate for those victims.  Mr. Six has facilitated hundreds of meetings and events on Capitol Hill on behalf of religious communities and has been featured as a panelist for Congressional briefings on human rights issues in Burma, Iraq, Mexico, and Pakistan. He has been invited to write or speak on international religious freedom by the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, the Religious Freedom Institute, the U.S. State Department Foreign Service Institute and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

In addition, Mr. Six has written for or been interviewed on religious freedom and human rights issues by a range of media outlets, including Foreign Policy, Fox News, Radio Free Asia, World Magazine, and the Christian Post.

In 2016, Mr. Six served as a Fellow with the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the U.S. Congress and had earlier interned with a Senate office.  Mr. Six holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Oral Roberts University. 

Tina L. Mufford, Deputy Director of Research and Policy

Tina L. Mufford is the Deputy Director of Research and Policy at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) where she manages the East Asia-Pacific portfolio, including Burma, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, North Korea, and Vietnam.  Ms. Mufford first joined USCIRF in 2014 and has worked on and studied international human rights and democracy for more than a decade.  Previously, she served as deputy director for Asia at the non-profit, non-partisan International Republican Institute (IRI), overseeing freedom and democracy programs and staff throughout 12 countries regionally.  Ms. Mufford originally joined IRI in 2007 as a program officer working on governance programs for Iraq, building the capacity of members of parliament and their staff.  Her global experience includes serving as a rapporteur at The Sixth Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy held in Jakarta, Indonesia in April 2010 and as an international election observer in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.  Before joining IRI, Ms. Mufford spent eight years working in the U.S. House of Representatives, primarily for former Representative Thomas M. Reynolds (New York) as his legislative director and rules associate, managing a portfolio that included international relations, health care, trade, financial services, and parliamentary procedure.  Ms. Mufford holds a Master of Science in Comparative Politics (Democracy) from the London School of Economics and Political Science and has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Binghamton University.

Thomas Kraemer, Director of Operations and Finance

Thomas Kraemer serves as Director of Operations and Finance at the Commission.  He is responsible for the agency’s general operations, financial management, human resources, procurement, and budget activities. Previously, he served as the Director of Finance and Accounting at the Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF), a U.S. federal agency with the mission of strengthening the U.S.-Vietnam bilateral relationship through educational exchanges in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM).  Prior to VEF, he worked at USCIRF in similar areas of management and finance as the Manager of Finance and Administration. Before joining USCIRF for the first time, he worked several years at The Federalist Society in various fundraising, operations, and managerial capacities. 

Mr. Kraemer graduated with honors from Emory University with a Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.), concentrating in Finance and Organization & Management. He completed a summer program at the Bryce Harlow Institute for Business and Government Affairs at Georgetown University in 2006.  He was later awarded a scholarship through Emory University’s Institute for Developing Nations where he conducted an independent research project at the University of Cape Town in South Africa that focused on urban forms of microfinance. In 2017, he received a management certificate from the Harvard Kennedy School on strategic management in government.

Roy Haskins, Director of Finance and Administration

Roy Haskins joined the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in December of 2015 as the Manager of Finance and Administration. He is responsible for the agency’s Financial Management, HR, Security, Procurement and general operational needs. He also has provided contractor support for various other federal agencies, including the US China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) and the Department of Defense (DoD). Mr. Haskins worked several years for the D.C. Department of Corrections as a Lead Corrections Officer. Mr. Haskins is a veteran of the U.S. Army, serving in the 3rd U.S. Infantry, The Old Guard.

Mr. Haskins earned his MS in Accounting from the University of Phoenix as a working adult while also raising three children.

Ferdaouis Bagga, Policy Analyst

Ferdaouis Bagga is a Policy Analyst for Africa with the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. Prior to joining USCIRF, Ferdaouis worked with the US Department of State conducting conflict analysis and research on Libya. Earlier, she worked with the US Institute of Peace for four years, where she supported grants programming in Africa and Latin America, rule of law work in Libya, and the Justice and Security Dialogue Program for the Sahel and Maghreb. She has several years of experience designing and facilitating intergroup dialogues as well coaching in dialogue facilitation in the US.

Ferdaouis has a M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University, and a B.A. in Political Science and English from the University of Florida.

Waris Husain, Policy Analyst

Dr. Waris Husain is a Policy Analyst at the Commission, focusing on South Asia countries.  He received his SJD degree from American University Washington College of Law in 2017, specializing in constitutional and comparative law. His dissertation focused on the development of judicial review in the Supreme Courts of Pakistan, India, and the United States, specifically examining the role of the Supreme Court in presidential and prime ministerial disqualifications.

Dr. Husain served as a comparative constitutional law lecturer for the United States Embassy of Nepal, expanding person-to-person connections between constitutional academics and practitioners of law in Nepal‎. He co-founded the South Asia Jurist, an online publication focused on legal developments across South Asia. Dr. Husain also served as a legal affairs writer for Dawn Newsgroup and Express Tribune in Pakistan.

Dr. Husain received his J.D. from the Howard University School of Law in 2011 and his LL.M. at American University Washington College of Law, specializing in international human rights and international business in 2013.  As a former member of the GTB International Moot Court team, Dr. Husain won Second Best Oralist at the 2010 Susan J. Ferrell Moot Intracultural Human Rights Moot Court Competition. He went on to win the Best Oralist Award at the 2011 D.M. Harish Moot Court Competition in Mumbai, India.

Jason Morton, Policy Analyst

Jason Morton is a Policy Analyst at the US Commission for International Religious Freedom focusing on the countries of the Former Soviet Union. Prior to joining USCIRF in 2018, Dr. Morton was a Visiting Professor in Russian, Soviet, and East European History at the University of California, Berkeley. He has extensive experience living and conducting academic research in the region, as well as participating in humanitarian outreach to religious minorities and refugees in places like the North Caucasus, Kosovo, Ukraine, and Hungary.

Dr. Morton earned a Ph.D. in History and a B.A. in History and Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of California, Berkeley. He is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including the Fulbright Student Award, the UC Berkeley Regents’ Intern Fellowship, and the UC Berkeley Regents’ and Chancellor’s Fellowship. His dissertation analyzes the intersection between popular sentiment and official prerogatives in the production of official culture and propaganda.

In addition to his academic and humanitarian work, Dr. Morton has engaged extensively with the general public, delivering lectures on the history of Russia, the Caucasus, Ukraine, and Soviet culture in museums, libraries, and nursing homes across Northern California.

Dominic Nardi, Policy Analyst

Dominic Nardi is a Policy Analyst at the US Commission for International Religious Freedom focusing on China, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Prior to joining USCIRF in 2018, Dr. Nardi was finishing his dissertation research on the Indonesian Constitutional Court. He has extensive experience living and conducting academic research in Asia, as well as working as a consultant for USAID-funded projects in Indonesia and Burma.

Dr. Nardi earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Michigan. He has a B.S. in International Relations from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. He is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including the Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship, the U.S.-Indonesia Society Sumitro Fellowship, and the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute Young Scholars in Southeast Asian Studies Award.

Scott Weiner, Policy Analyst

Scott Weiner is a policy analyst focusing on religious freedom in the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. His dissertation focused on kinship politics in the Gulf region with a special focus on Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar. In 2015 he was the recipient of a Doctoral Paper Award from the Association for the Study of Nationalities. Scott’s policy writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Lawfare, Small Wars Journal, and Diplomatic Courier. He has also published with the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Sada Blog. From 2013-14, Scott served as a Visiting Research Fellow at the American University of Kuwait. Prior to starting his doctorate he worked as a research analyst on Iraq for Strategic Social and a research assistant on the Iraq project at Institute for the Study of War. Scott is a member of the Middle East Studies Association and chairs the Middle East Discussion Group of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy. He holds a Ph.D and M.A. in political science from George Washington University and a B.A. in International Relations from Tufts University.

Kurt Werthmuller, Policy Analyst

Kurt Werthmuller is a policy analyst with a particular emphasis on religious freedom in Egypt, Iraq, and the Levant. Prior to joining USCIRF, he was an Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the American University in Dubai, where he taught medieval and modern Middle Eastern history as well as regional politics and culture. His academic work has focused on the historical relationships of regional non-Muslim communities to wider Muslim-majority state and society in Egypt and the Levant, which he examined in his book, Coptic Identity and Ayyubid Politics in Egypt, 1218-1250 (American University in Cairo Press, 2010). He is also the author of many short-form scholarly works on regional topics, including a series of historical entries for Oxford University’s Dictionary of African Biography (2011), and he received a Fulbright-Hays fellowship to conduct dissertation research in Cairo, Egypt in 2004-2005.

He previously worked as a Senior Analyst with CyberPoint International (Abu Dhabi, UAE), as a Research Fellow with Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, as Associate Professor of History at Azusa Pacific University (CA), and as Assistant Professor of History at Geneva College (PA). He received a Ph.D. in Islamic & Middle Eastern History from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University.

Keely Bakken, Researcher
 

Keely Bakken is a Researcher at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom focusing on Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Turkey. Prior to joining USCIRF, Ms. Bakken was a Program Officer at American Councils for International Education. She also worked at Small Projects Istanbul, a Turkish NGO providing educational opportunities for refugees, where she taught Turkish.

Ms. Bakken holds a Master of Arts in Central Eurasian Studies and a Master of Public Affairs from Indiana University, Bloomington, where she also received her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Spanish. She was the recipient of a Fulbright U.S. Student Award to Russia and a Boren Fellowship to Turkey, where her research focused on minority issues and identity, nationalism, and foreign policy.

Alex Iverson, Researcher

Alex Iverson is an East Asia-Pacific researcher with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He has been with the Commission since March 2018. Prior to joining USCIRF he spent a year teaching in South Korea and later worked as an intelligence analyst for NC4 Safety and Security Solutions. He has traveled extensively throughout the Asia-Pacific region and interned at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore. Alex holds a Master of Arts degree in International Security from the University of Denver, where his research focused on the impact of religious identity on Southeast Asian insurgent movements. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Patrick Greenwalt, Researcher

Patrick Greenwalt is a Researcher for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom focusing primarily on the Prisoner of Conscience Project. He joined in February 2018. He has experience providing research and working for both the Department of State and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. After completing his BA in Global Affairs at George Mason University, he went on to obtain his Masters in International Relations/Political Science at the Graduate Institute of Geneva (IHEID), writing his dissertation on the advancement of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity rights within the UN Human Rights System.

Zack Udin, Research Assistant

Zack Udin joined the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in January 2017. As a Research Assistant, Zack is responsible for monitoring religious freedom issues in Mexico and for conducting a variety of other research for the Commission. He started his USCIRF work on the Government Affairs team, where he helped develop the Commission’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project which seeks to highlight the cases of religious prisoners around the world and the laws and policies that led to their imprisonment. This project is a multi-faceted initiative wherein USCIRF Commissioners “adopt” religious prisoners of conscience around the world and advocate for their release.

Mr. Udin graduated from George Washington University in 2017 with a B.A. in Political Science and minors in History and Judaic Studies.

Kirsten Lavery, International Legal Specialist

Kirsten Lavery is International Legal Specialist at the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.  Prior to joining USCIRF, Ms. Lavery worked at the Public International Law & Policy Group and provided legal and policy assistance to civil society representatives in conflict and post-conflict states.  Her work focused on transitional justice and human rights documentation, as well as legal and policy reforms to advance human rights protections.  Ms. Lavery has also worked on a range of international legal issues at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the UN Office of Human Resources Management, and the International Narcotics Control Board.  Ms. Lavery previously practiced law in the New York office of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, where she focused on international criminal investigations.  Through her pro bono practice and prior clinic work, she has experience representing clients in immigration proceedings, including in asylum cases based on religious persecution.  She holds a B.A. in Government and Spanish from Franklin & Marshall College and a J.D. with a specialization in International & Comparative Law from Tulane University Law School.  

Henry Young, Management and Program Analyst

Henry Young is a Management and Program Analyst for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Henry joined the commission in September 2017. Previously, he worked as a Sales and Membership Assistant for the Global Business Travel Association where he communicated daily with clients and coordinated with membership and sales teams to conduct market research to construct sales strategy. He has also worked with the Center Global to create programs aimed at providing support to Washington D.C.’s LGBT asylum seeker population.

Mr. Young has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the George Washington University.

Javier Peña, Communications Specialist

Javier Peña is a Communications Specialist at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Before joining USCIRF, Javier was a program associate in the Latin America and Caribbean division at the International Republican Institute (IRI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing freedom worldwide. In this position Javier assisted with anti-corruption and rule of law programs in Mexico. Before joining IRI, he served in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee chaired by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Florida), focusing on Latin America as well as international religious freedom and human trafficking.

Javier holds a Master of Arts degree in Democracy and Governance and a Bachelor of Science degree in International Affairs from Georgetown University.