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Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett Elected USCIRF Chair

July 3, 2014 | USCIRF

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, was elected on July 1, 2014 as Chair of the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).  Dr. Swett was first appointed to the Commission in March 2012 by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and reappointed in April 2014. 

“I am honored to again serve as chair of USCIRF and work alongside my fellow commissioners in support of religious freedom and belief,” said Dr. Lantos Swett. “Much needs to be done to integrate this fundamental freedom more fully into the foreign policy of our nation because, by any measure, religious freedom is under serious attack across much of the globe.  Given its importance, religious freedom merits a seat at the table with economic and security concerns as the U.S. and other nations conduct their affairs.”

“I also want to thank USCIRF’s immediate past-Chairman, Dr. Robert P. George, and Vice-Chair, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, for their leadership and vision this past year and look forward to continuing our work together in support of the freedom of religion or belief,” concluded Dr. Lantos Swett, who had served as USCIRF Chair in 2012 and USCIRF Vice–Chair in 2013.

As the President of the Lantos Foundation, Dr. Lantos Swett works to carry on the human rights legacy of her father, the late Representative Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to Congress.  Dr. Lantos Swett also teaches human rights and American foreign policy at Tufts University, and has served as Deputy Counsel to the Criminal Justice Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee for then-Senator Joe Biden. 

Also on July 1, two USCIRF Commissioners were elected Vice-Chairs: Dr. Robert P. George and Dr. James J. Zogby.  Dr. George was appointed to the Commission by Speaker of the House John Boehner, and President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Zogby.  

Dr. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, and also is the Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at the University.  He has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, and is a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Dr. Zogby is the founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a Washington, D.C.-based organization which serves as the political and policy research arm of the Arab American community.  He is also Managing Director of Zogby Research Services, which specializes in public opinion polling across the Arab world.

Also serving on the Commission are Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, Mary Ann Glendon, Daniel I. Mark, Thomas J. Reese, Hannah Rosenthal and Eric P. Schwartz.

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and the leadership of both political parties in the Senate and House of Representatives.  USCIRF’s principal responsibilities are to review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and to make policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress.

To interview a USCIRF Commissioner, contact USCIRF at media@uscirf.gov or 202-786-0613.