Welcome to USCIRF

Professional Staff

Erin D. Singshinsuk, Executive Director

Dwight Bashir, Director of Research and Policy

Elizabeth K. Cassidy, Director of International Law and Policy

Thomas Kraemer, Director of Operations and Finance

Tina L. Mufford, Deputy Director of Research and Policy 

Lindsey Eilon, Senior Congressional Relations Specialist

Jamie Staley, Senior Congressional Relations Specialist

Ferdaouis Bagga, Policy Analyst

Keely Bakken, Researcher

Patrick Greenwalt, Researcher

Harrison Akins, Policy Analyst

Alex Iverson, Researcher

Kirsten Lavery, International Legal Specialist

Jason Morton, Policy Analyst

Dominic Nardi, Policy Analyst

Javier Peña, Communications Specialist

Scott Weiner, Policy Analyst

Kurt Werthmuller, Policy Analyst

Zack Udin, Research Assistant

Henry Young, Management and Program Analyst

 

Erin D. Singshinsuk, Executive Director

Ms. Singshinsuk currently serves as the Executive Director of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. As the Executive Director, she is responsible for directing the day-to-day operations of the Commission and managing its staff. Through her years of leadership, Ms. Singshinsuk brings to the Commission foreign policy expertise and awareness and familiarity of international issues. Ms. Singshinsuk has been affiliated with numerous organizations with an international focus, including the U.S. Institute of 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 Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF), the U.S-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).  

 

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 work on prisoners of conscience and legal and thematic issues, including international organizations, international and comparative law, and refugee and asylum policy.  Ms. Cassidy lectures regularly in the United States and abroad on religious freedom and related human rights and has authored and co-authored book chapters and articles on these topics, including in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, the Review of Faith and International Affairs, OnFaith, and Opinio Juris.  She conducts periodic training sessions for U.S. State Department and Department of Homeland Security officials and served on the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group in 2014-2015.

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 human rights NGOs in Windhoek, Namibia and taught courses at the University of Namibia, Princeton University, and Seton Hall University School of Law.  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.
 

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 for several years in the nonprofit world 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. He received management certificates from the Harvard Kennedy School on strategic management in government in 2017 and business analysis from Duke University in conjunction with Corporate Education Group in 2019.

 

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.
 

Lindsey Eilon, Senior Congressional Relations Specialist

Lindsey Eilon is a Senior Congressional Affairs Specialist at USCIRF. She brings fifteen years of experience in public policy and politics. Prior to joining USCIRF, Lindsey worked for Senator Ben Sasse and on political campaigns at every level from state assembly to the presidency. In addition, Lindsey spent six years working for the Department of Defense in various roles including as a Legislative Liaison and as a Program and Budget Analyst working to put together the Air Force Program Objective Memorandum. Prior to that, Lindsey spent several years working for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Lindsey has a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University in Policy, Analysis, and Management and a Master of Arts from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University in International Relations.
 

Jamie Staley,Senior Congressional Relations Specialist

Jamie Staley is a Senior Congressional Relations Specialist at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Before joining USCIRF, Jamie was a Senior Professional Staff Member at the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the U.S. House of Representatives. In this role he organized hearings and briefings on international human rights issues for Republican Co-Chair Representative Randy Hultgren, and helped Members incorporate human rights into their foreign policy objectives. Prior to that, he worked with Arab youth at an Arabic church in Boston, and on legal reform programs in Uganda for International Justice Mission.

Jamie holds an M.A. in Social Ethics from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and an M.A. in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

 

 

Harrison Akins, Policy Analyst

Harrison Akins is a Policy Analyst for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom focusing on South Asia. Prior to joining USCIRF, he served as a Global Security Research Fellow at the University of Tennessee’s Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy and previously as an Ibn Khaldun Chair Research Fellow at American University’s School of International Service. Dr. Akins received his PhD in Political Science, with concentrations in International Relations and Public Policy, from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He also holds an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics, an MA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, and a BA in History from American University. His academic work has primarily focused on minority discrimination, terrorism, U.S. foreign policy, and South Asian politics, for which he has conducted fieldwork in both India and Pakistan. Dr. Akins’ research, relying on both quantitative and qualitative methods, has been published in a number of academic journals, and his essays have been featured in The Atlantic, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Foreign Policy Magazine, BBC, The Washington Post, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, and the Christian Science Monitor, among other outlets.

 

Ferdaouis Bagga, Policy Analyst

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

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.
 

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.

 

 

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.

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.  

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.

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, 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.

 

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.

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 global anti-Semitism as well as religious freedom issues in Latin America. 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 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 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.

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.