Welcome to USCIRF

Professional Staff

Erin D. Singshinsuk, Executive Director

Dwight Bashir, Director of Outreach and Policy

Elizabeth K. Cassidy, Director of Research and Policy

Roy Haskins, Director of Finance and Office Management

Thomas Kraemer, Senior Advisor for Strategic Outreach

Jamie Staley, Senior Congressional Relations Specialist

Nina Ullom, Congressional Relations Specialist

Danielle Saroyan Ashbahian, Senior Communications Specialist

Gabrielle Hasenstab, Communications Specialist

Keely Bakken, Policy Analyst

Patrick Greenwalt, Researcher

Kirsten Lavery, Supervisory Policy Analyst

Jason Morton, Policy Analyst

Dominic Nardi, Supervisory Policy Analyst

Mohyeldin Omer, Policy Analyst

Zack Udin, Researcher

Madeline Vellturo, Policy Analyst

Scott Weiner, Senior Policy Analyst

Kurt Werthmuller, Supervisory Policy 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 Outreach and Policy

Dwight Bashir is Director of Outreach and Policy at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He oversees USCIRF’s congressional, communications, and outreach efforts as well as advancement of USCIRF’s policy recommendations. While at USCIRF, Dr. Bashir has led or participated in numerous fact-finding missions internationally and has traveled widely throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe. For nearly 25 years, he has worked in the areas of international human rights, religious freedom, and conflict resolution. An expert on sectarian conflict and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa, Dr. Bashir provides periodic training for officials at the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security and serves on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Holocaust Denial and State-Sponsored Antisemitism. He has been interviewed and his articles featured in major media outlets and academic journals, including CNN, Fox News, The Washington PostForeign Policy, the Yale Journal of International AffairsThe John Marshall Law Review, and the Cairo Review of Global Affairs, among others, and he has lectured in the United States and globally on topics that include countering violent extremism, ethnic and religious conflict, global peace and security.

Before joining USCIRF, Dr. Bashir worked with the United Nations and the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy on conflict prevention; with the U.S. Department of State advisory body on religious freedom, intolerance, and reconciliation; and with the Baha’is of the United States and other non-governmental organizations advocating international human rights. He 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 Research and Policy

Elizabeth K. Cassidy is Director of Research and Policy at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. She oversees USCIRF’s research and publications and the development and promotion of USCIRF’s policy recommendations. Her substantive expertise includes the International Religious Freedom Act, international organization issues, international and comparative law issues, 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 officials from the U.S. Departments of State, Homeland Security, and Justice and served on the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group in 2014-2015.  She joined USCIRF’s staff in 2007.

Previously, 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.

 

Roy Haskins, Director of Finance and Office Management

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, procurement and general office administration needs. Mr. Haskins has assisted other federal government agencies with financial management needs such as the Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF) and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). He also has provided contractor support to various other federal agencies including USCIRF, the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission, the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, and the Department of Defense. Mr. Haskins previously dedicated several years to 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 Master of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Phoenix as a working adult while also raising three children.

 

Thomas Kraemer, Senior Advisor for Strategic Outreach

Thomas Kraemer serves as Senior Advisor for Strategic Outreach at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. 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. In May 2020, he completed the requirements for earning a Diploma in Strategy and Innovation from the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford.
 

Jamie Staley,Senior Congressional Relations Specialist

Jamie Staley is Senior Congressional Relations Specialist at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Before joining USCIRF, Mr. Staley 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.

Mr. Staley 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.

 

Nina Ullom, Congressional Relations Specialist

Nina Ullom is the Congressional Relations Specialist at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Prior to USCIRF, she interned at Refugees International for their Human Rights Program, where she monitored developments in Burma and South Sudan. Additionally, she interned at the Alliance for Peacebuilding, where she coordinated their Advocacy Day on the Hill, in conjunction with their annual Peace Conference. She also interned for the Office of Senator Tim Kaine and in the Office of Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy where she researched policies addressing racial and gender inequities in the state of Virginia.

Nina holds a Master of Public Policy from George Mason University and B.A. in Sociology from The College of William and Mary.

 

Danielle Saroyan Ashbahian, Senior Communications Specialist

Danielle Saroyan Ashbahian is the Senior Communications Specialist at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, overseeing the Communications Department. Before joining USCIRF, she was the Director of Communications at the Armenian Assembly of America. Prior to that, she was the Layout Editor at the Public Diplomacy Magazine and worked at the Los Angeles Consular Corps. She has had previous experience at the office of former U.S. Congresswoman Janice Hahn, the United Nations Department of Public Information in Armenia, the Lebanese Consulate in Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Ethics Commission.

She holds a Master of Public Diplomacy from the University of Southern California, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of San Francisco with an International Studies major, a Global Politics & Societies concentration, and French Studies, European Studies, and Legal Studies minors.

 
 
 
 Gabrielle Hasenstab, Communications Specialist
 

Gabrielle Hasenstab is a Communications Associate at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Originally from Charleston, SC, Gabrielle moved to Washington D.C. to attend American University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies. From there, she has gone on to work for the International Monetary Fund, then at the U.S. Department of State's Foreign Service Institute before joining USCIRF.

 

 

 

 

Keely Bakken, Policy Analyst

Keely Bakken is a Policy Analyst 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 U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom focusing on Southeast Asia, primarily Laos, Indonesia, and Malaysia. He joined in February 2018.

After completing his BA in Global Affairs at George Mason University, Mr. Greenwalt went on to obtain his Masters in International Relations/Political Science at the Graduate Institute of Geneva (IHEID).

 

 

Kirsten LaverySupervisory Policy Analyst

Kirsten Lavery is Supervisory Policy Analyst and Team Lead for International Law, Africa, and Latin America for 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 Legal Affairs, 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 U.S. Commission on 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.

 

Dominic Nardi, Supervisory Policy Analyst

Dominic Nardi is a Supervisory Policy Analyst at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He focuses on China, North Korea, and Vietnam while also supervising the Asia Team. 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.

 

Mohyeldin Omer, Policy Analyst

Mohyeldin (Mohy) Omer is a Policy Analyst at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom focusing on Eastern and Southern Africa. Previously, Mr. Omer worked for the National Democratic Institute (NDI) as a Program Officer on the Middle East and North Africa team. Prior to NDI, he worked for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) where he first focused on the Middle East and Africa team supporting the grant-making portfolio. He then transitioned to working on the Sudan and South Sudan programming, where he coordinated the Youth Leaders Program.

Before joining USIP, Mr. Omer worked for U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp in Fargo, ND as well as in the Washington DC office. While working for the Senator he concentrated on researching and writing on foreign affairs, national security and defense issues. He received his Bachelor’s degree from North Dakota State University and currently pursuing a Master’s degree in International Relations at Syracuse University.    

 

Madeline Vellturo, Policy Analyst

Madeline Vellturo is a Policy Analyst at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom focused on West and Central Africa. Prior to joining USCIRF, she served as a Research Analyst with the Stimson Center’s Protecting Civilians in Conflict program, where her research focused on atrocity prevention, African geopolitics, peace and stabilization operations, identity-based violence, and land conflict. She has lived and worked in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, and Uganda, and has conducted field research in Mali, Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Democratic Republic of Congo. Ms. Vellturo received her Bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College and holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, where she focused on International Security Policy and International Conflict Resolution.

 

 

Scott Weiner, Senior Policy Analyst

Scott Weiner is a Senior Policy Analyst focusing on religious freedom in the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, and Algeria. In 2015 Dr. Weiner was the recipient of a Doctoral Paper Award from the Association for the Study of Nationalities. His 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, Dr. Weiner 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. He 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, Supervisory Policy Analyst

Kurt Werthmuller is a Policy Analyst at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom 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.

Dr. Werthmuller 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, Researcher

Zack Udin joined the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in January 2017. As a Researcher, Mr. Udin is responsible for maintaining USCIRF’s Victims Database and 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. In addition, he is the Commission’s chief anti-Semitism analyst; he researches aspects of religious freedom issues in Latin America; and he assists in special projects.

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