2023 Speakers

Samantha Power was sworn into office as the 19th Administrator of USAID on May 3, 2021.

In leading the world’s premier international development agency and its global staff of over 10,000 people, Power will focus on helping the United States respond to four interconnected challenges: the COVID-19 pandemic and the development gains it has imperiled; climate change; conflict and humanitarian crises; and democratic backsliding. Power will also ensure that USAID enhances its longstanding leadership in areas including food security, education, women’s empowerment, and global health. Additionally, Power is the first USAID Administrator to be a member of the National Security Council, where she will ensure that development plays a critical role in America’s responses to a range of economic, humanitarian, and geopolitical issues.

Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Power was the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and the William D. Zabel Professor of Practice in Human Rights at Harvard Law School. From 2013 to 2017, Power served in the Obama-Biden Administration as the 28th US Permanent Representative to the United Nations. During her time at the UN, Power rallied countries to combat the Ebola epidemic, ratify the Paris climate agreement, and develop new international law to cripple ISIS’s financial networks. She worked to negotiate and implement the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, helped catalyze bold international commitments to care for refugees, and advocated to secure the release of political prisoners, defend civil society from growing repression, and protect the rights of women and girls.

From 2009 to 2013, Power served on the National Security Council staff as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights. At the NSC, she advised the Obama-Biden Administration on issues such as democracy promotion, UN reform, LGBTQ+ and women’s rights, atrocity prevention, and the fights against human trafficking and global corruption.

An immigrant from Ireland, Power began her career as a war correspondent in Bosnia, and went on to report from places including Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. She was the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and has been recognized as one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People,” one of Foreign Policy’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers,” and by Forbes as one of the “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.” Power is an author and editor of multiple books, and the recipient of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.

Power earned a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Samantha Power

Administrator of USAID

As Executive Director of the World Food Programme, David Beasley continues his life’s work bridging political, religious and ethnic boundaries to champion economic development and education. At WFP, Mr. Beasley is putting to use four decades of leadership and communications skills to mobilise more financial support and public awareness for the global fight against hunger.

David Beasley

Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme

Fiona served on the International Development Select Committee for four years and chaired the Parliamentary sub-committee overseeing the Independent Commission on Aid Inspections. She sat on the Parliamentary Joint-Committee on Human Rights, which has instigated  many reports including into Freedom of Speech in Universities and the need for better care of Prisoners’  Children. She is also Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission (CPHRC), an appointment made by the then-Prime Minister. Recently Fiona launched the latest Report in her role as Chair of the CPHRC calling for the UK Government to change the law on Prostitution to both better support vulnerable victims of this international trade and help reduce human trafficking into the UK for this purpose ( full report on scribd.com); other Reports she has overseen by the CPHRC include on Forced Organ Harvesting and wider Human Rights  violations  in China, and in Russia.

Fiona Bruce MP

Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief

Si-kun You, was born 1948 in Yilan, Taiwan, majored in political science  from Tunghai University. He currently serves as the president of Taiwan Legislative Yuan and the chair of Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.

You began his democratic activism in his early years under the Chiang family’s martial law regime. He was elected as a member of Taiwan Provincial Assembly in 1981 and re-elected again in 1985. In 1986, he orchestrated the founding of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) at Grand Hotel Taipei, he presides over the event that broke through the Chiangs’ ban on political parties. The DPP’s establishment forced the Chiang government to lift martial law in the following years that ended the 38-year-long era of autocracy. The founding of DPP transformed Taiwan from an authoritarian state to a democratic country.

Aside from serving as a Taiwan Provincial Assembly member, You has also served as Yilan County Magistrate, Secretary-General to the President, Premier, and DPP Chair. He is the first person who served in key positions as Premier and Legislative Yuan President in democratic Taiwan. He is also an advocate for religious freedom.

You’s wide range of interests include reading, writing, performing poetry, biking, and hiking.

You Si-Kun

President of the Legislative Yuan of the Republic of China (Taiwan)

Ms. Nazila Ghanea assumed her mandate as Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. She is Professor of International Human Rights Law and Director of the MSc in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford. Her academic work has often connected with multilateral practice in international human rights law. She has contributed actively to networks interested in freedom of religion or belief and its interrelationship with other human rights and has advised states and other stakeholders. She has researched and published widely in international human rights law and served as consultant to numerous agencies.

Nazila Ghanea

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief

Congressman Michael T. McCaul is currently serving his ninth term representing Texas’ 10th District in the United States Congress. The 10th Congressional District of Texas stretches from the city of Austin to the Houston suburbs and includes Austin, Bastrop, Colorado, Fayette, Harris, Lee, Travis, Washington and Waller Counties.

Republican Leader of the Foreign Affairs Committee

At the start of the 116th Congress, Congressman McCaul became the Republican Leader of the Foreign Affairs Committee. This committee considers legislation that impacts the diplomatic community, which includes the Department of State, the Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, the United Nations, and the enforcement of the Arms Export Control Act.

In his capacity as the committee’s Republican Leader, McCaul is committed to ensuring we promote America’s leadership on the global stage. In his view, it is essential the United States bolsters international engagement with our allies, counters the aggressive policies of our adversaries, and advances the common interests of nations in defense of stability and democracy around the globe. He will continue to use his national security expertise to work to counter threats facing the United States, especially the increasing threat we face from nation state actors such as China, Iran, Russia, North Korea, among others.

Mike McCaul

Congressman for the Texas 10th District, Honorary House Congressional Co-Chair

From public housing to the nation’s Capital, Gregory Weldon Meeks has lived a true American success story. Known for his compassionate and tenacious representation of his constituents, and his coalition-building skills, Meeks proudly serves the constituents of New York’s Fifth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congressman Meeks is Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the first black Member of Congress to serve as Chair of that committee. Meeks is a multilateralist with decades of experience in foreign policy. He believes that the United States should build coalitions around our interests and work with other countries to build a stable and prosperous future.

Gregory Meeks

Congressman New York 5th District, Honorary House Congressional Co-Chair

Roger F. Wicker has represented Mississippi in the United States Senate since December 2007. During his time in the Senate, Wicker has championed pro-growth policies to create jobs, limit federal overreach, protect life, and maintain a strong national defense.

Wicker is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for the 117th Congress. He served as chairman of the full committee during the 116th Congress after previously serving as the chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet.

Wicker is the second-highest ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. His other committee assignments include the Environment and Public Works Committee; and the Rules and Administration Committee.

Wicker is the co-chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission and Vice President of the OSCE’s Parliamentary Assembly. Wicker also serves as a member of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Congressional Board of Visitors.

Roger Wicker

Senator from Mississippi, Honorary Senate Co-Chair

United States Senator Jacky Rosen is committed to working with both parties to deliver for Nevada’s hardworking families. She is fighting for all Nevadans by being an independent voice who brings people together to find commonsense, bipartisan solutions for our state.

Jacky has been ranked by independent experts as one of the most bipartisan Senators in the chamber. More than 90% of the legislation she has introduced in the Senate is bipartisan, and her commitment to building relationships and working across the aisle has earned her a reputation for making “Republican friends as a way to get things done.”

In 2021, Jacky helped write and pass the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as part of the bipartisan group of Senators who negotiated the final landmark package. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is now delivering thousands of good-paying jobs to our state while fixing Nevada’s roads and highways, modernizing our airports, and making high-speed internet faster and more affordable.

Jacky Rosen

Senator from Nevada, Honorary Senate Co-Chair

His Beatitude Theophilos III is the current Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem (known as the “Patriarch of Jerusalem”). His Beatitude heads the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem. As the 141st Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III traces his position’s lineage to James, the
Brother of Jesus. Born in Greece, he attended school in Jerusalem until he became a monk in 1970. After his ordination as a priest in 1975 he pursued higher education in Athens, Greece and Durham,
England. Theophilos III served in Jordan, Qatar, Russia, and Israel before being unanimously elected as Patriarch of the ancient Patriarchate of Jerusalem by the Holy and Sacred Synod in 2005.
After His enthronement, His Beatitude has been actively involved in enhancing the functions of the Patriarchate as well as the Council of Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem.
What is more, He made sure to further develop the participation of the Church of Jerusalem in inter-Orthodox and inter-faith dialogue. His Beatitude frequently appears in the press and frequently receives and visits senior academics, officials and political leaders from around the world to promote the Christian presence in the region.

His Beatitude Theophilos III

Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem

Sam Brownback served as Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom from February 2018 to January 2021. He served as Governor of Kansas from 2011 to 2018. Prior to that he represented his home state in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives. While a member of the Senate, he worked actively on the issue of religious freedom in multiple countries and was a key sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. Prior to his public service, Ambassador Brownback practiced law and taught agricultural law at Kansas State University. He earned a B.S. from Kansas State University and a J.D. from the University of Kansas. Ambassador Brownback currently serves as co-chair for the International Religious Freedom Summit and as a Senior Fellow at Open Doors USA. He and his wife Mary have five children and six grandchildren.

Sam Brownback

IRF Summit 2023 Co-Chair

Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett serves as President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, established in 2008 to continue the legacy of her father, the late Congressman Tom Lantos. Under her leadership, The Lantos Foundation has rapidly become a distinguished and respected voice on key human rights concerns. Dr. Lantos Swett is the former Chair and Vice-Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and teaches Human Rights and American Foreign Policy at Tufts University. She currently serves as Co-Chair of the Board of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) and the Budapest based Tom Lantos Institute. Dr. Lantos Swett also serves on the Advisory Board of UN Watch, the annual Anne Frank Award and Lecture, and The Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership, and Public Policy. Lantos Swett earned a Political Science degree from Yale University at the age of 18, a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and a PhD in History from The University of Southern Denmark.

Katrina Lantos Swett

IRF Summit 2023 Co-Chair

Penn Badgley has been acting in film and television for over two decades, most notably in series such as Netflix’s “You” and “Gossip Girl”. As a writer & producer, he is most interested in the way media shapes attitudes and reflects our beliefs about human nature, especially in young people. In 2019, Penn co-founded Ninth Mode, a production company with a mission towards exploring themes of social significance.

Penn Badgley

Actor and Activist

David Curry is the President and CEO of Global Christian Relief, an international ministry that advocates on behalf of those who are persecuted for their Christian faith. GCR works to support Christians in the most oppressive countries in the world. Curry has traveled to several continents to encourage those living under persecution and raise awareness of this issue. Curry also serves as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent, bipartisan, federal government entity established by Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. He has appeared on CNN, Fox News, and the Christian Broadcasting Network, among others. He is a contributor to Christianity Today, The Christian Post, Religion News Service and Huffington Post. David is a popular speaker on ethical leadership and life transformation. He holds an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Faith Evangelical College and Seminary and received a B.A. from Northwest University.

David Curry

President and CEO of Global Christian Relief

Hussain serves as principal advisor to the Secretary and advisor to the President on religious freedom conditions and policy. He leads the Department’s efforts to monitor religious freedom abuses, persecution, and discrimination worldwide. He also oversees policies and programs to address these concerns and works to build diverse and dynamic partnerships with the broadest range of civil society, with equitable and meaningful inclusion of faith actors globally. Prior to this appointment, Hussain was Director at the National Security Council’s Partnerships and Global Engagement Directorate. From 2015 to 2021, he served as Senior Counsel at the Department of Justice’s National Security Division. President Obama appointed Hussain to serve as his Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), U.S. Special Envoy for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, and Deputy Associate White House Counsel. In his roles as envoy, Hussain advised on foreign policy issues and worked with multilateral organizations to expand partnerships in education, entrepreneurship, health, international security, science and technology, and other areas. He also spearheaded efforts on countering antisemitism and protecting Christians and other religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries.

Rashad Hussain

Advisor to The President on Religious Freedom Conditions and Policy

Tina Ramirez serves as the President/Executive Director and brings to Hardwired 20 years of experience as a teacher, foreign policy expert and authority on international human rights law and religious freedom. Previously, she served as a policy advisor for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a foreign policy advisor for the U.S. Congress, where she founded the bi-partisan International Religious Freedom Caucus, and former Director of Government Relations and International Programs at Becket Law.

Tina has published extensively and is the author of Iraq: Hope in the Midst of Darkness (2017), a contributing author, and editor of Human Rights in the United States: A Dictionary and Documents (2010 and 2017) and author/editor of Human Rights: Great Events From History (2019). She holds a certificate from the International Institute for Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, a MA in Education from Vanguard University, and a MA in International Human Rights from the University of Essex, UK.

Tina Ramirez

Hardwired Global Founder and President

Simran Jeet Singh, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the Religion & Society Program at the Aspen Institute and the author of the national bestseller The Light We Give: How Sikh Wisdom Can Transform Your Life (Riverhead, Penguin Random House).

Simran’s thought leadership on bias, empathy, and justice extends across corporate, university, and government settings. He is an Atlantic Fellow for Racial Equity with Columbia University and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, a Soros Equality Fellow with the Open Society Foundations, a Visiting Lecturer at Union Seminary, and a Senior Advisor on Equity and Inclusion for YSC Consulting, part of Accenture.

Simran Singh

Executive Director of the Religion & Society Program at the Aspen Institute

Captain Daniel L. Mode earned his undergraduate degree in Philosophy in 1988 at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. He then attended Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and graduated in 1992 with Master’s Degrees in History and Theology. His History Master’s thesis on the life and heroics of Navy Chaplain Father Vincent Capodanno was eventually transformed into a popular biography, known as The Grunt Padre. It became the catalyst for his many public speaking engagements regarding the life of Father Capodanno and the Navy Chaplain Corps.

Father Mode was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in May 1992 for service in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. His subsequent pastoral assignments included: Associate Pastor of a 12,000 member parish in Fairfax Station (1992-1996), Vice-Principal of Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington (1996-2001), and Pastor of Queen of Apostle’s Parish in Alexandria (2001-2005).

Chaplain Mode began his military service in September 1988 as a Chaplain Candidate Program Officer, with the rank of Ensign. Concurrent with his seminary training in preparation for ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood, he served at a variety of on-the-job Navy training assignments.

Promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade in 1998, Chaplain Mode accepted a superseding appointment to the Reserve Component of the United States Navy. During his nine years of reserve time he drilled at Bethesda Naval Hospital (1998-1999) and at the Office of the Chief of Navy Chaplains (2000-2003). In January 2004, Chaplain Mode began drilling with MEFREL 106, in direct support to Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA. From May 2005 to March 2007, he was mobilized for service in Operation Enduring Freedom, attached to the Commander, Joint Task Force 76 in Bagram, Afghanistan. As a supervisory chaplain there, he coordinated the ministry of seventeen US and coalition chaplains in providing pastoral care to more than 30,000 soldiers in over 50 forward operating bases.

In June of 2007, CAPT Mode was assessed to the Active Component of the United States Navy and was assigned to USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75). He completed a seven-month deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and maritime security operations. From June 2009 to June 2012, CAPT Mode was assigned to the United States Coast Guard Academy, New London, Connecticut to serve the staff and the corps of cadets. From July 2012 to October 2014, he was assigned as the Command Chaplain of the USS WASHINGTON Strike Group in Japan completing two six month deployments in the Seventh Fleet. From November 2014 to May 2016, he was the Command Chaplain of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In June 2016, he assumed the duties as the Division Director of Plans and Operations for the Chaplain Corps and completed a seven month fellowship at the Religious Freedom Institute in Washington, D.C. From June of 2019 to March of 2022, he served as the 7th Fleet Chaplain in Yokosuka, Japan.  He currently serves as the 12th Chaplain of the Coast Guard.

CAPT Mode is a 2015 Naval War College Distance Education graduate of Joint Professional Military Education Phase I. His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (3 stars), Navy Commendation Medal (2 stars), Joint Service Achievement Medal, and Combat Action Ribbon.

Captain Daniel L. Mode

Chaplain of the U.S. Coast Guard

Tony Perkins is Family Research Council’s fourth and longest-serving president, joining the organization in August of 2003. Described as a legislative pioneer by the national media, Tony has established himself as an innovative pro-life and pro-family policy and political leader since first being elected to office in 1996. During his tenure as FRC’s president, Tony has substantially deepened the organization’s influence on Capitol Hill and throughout the country through his frequent attendance at state and regional political and policy events. Tony has also expanded the organization’s reach across the nation by building a major network of pastors and churches, encouraging them to impact the culture by thinking nationally, but acting locally. In May 2018, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appointed Tony to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and in May 2020, Leader McConnell reappointed him to a second term. During his time on the independent, bipartisan commission, he served as both Chair and Vice Chair.

Tony Perkins

Family Research Council President

Nury A. Turkel is an attorney, author, foreign policy expert, and advocate with nearly two decades of experience working in the intersection of law, business, government, and the human rights community.

He specializes in corporate governance and regulatory compliance, national security, foreign policy, digital authoritarianism, and forced labor and supply chain risk issues.

He is currently serving as Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom after being appointed as a Commissioner by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in May 2020. He has testified before the US Congress, speaking about Uyghur internment camps and advocating a legislative response to China’s atrocities. His policy recommendations have been incorporated into US law and pending bills relating to Uyghurs and China.

As a rights advocate, he has led efforts to raise the profile of the Uyghur cause, previously as the president of the Uyghur American Association and now Chair of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, which he co-founded in 2003. He also advised past and present leadership of the World Uyghur Congress.

He is a senior fellow at Washington think tank, the Hudson Institute, where he works on US foreign policy and national security issues. He is also a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Nury Turkel

USCIRF Commission Chairman

Speaker Newt Gingrich is Chairman of Gingrich 360, a multimedia production and consulting company based in Arlington, Virginia.  As former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gingrich is well known as the architect of the “Contract with America” that led the Republican Party to victory in 1994, creating the first conservative majority in the House in 40 years.  He was a Republican candidate for President of the United States in 2012.

Gingrich is a Fox News contributor, podcast host (Newt’s World), and syndicated columnist.  He is the author of 41 books, including 18 fiction and nonfiction New York Times bestsellers.  His latest books include Beyond Biden: Rebuilding the America We Love and Trump and the American Future: Solving the Great Problems of Our Time.

Speaker Newt Gingrich

Chairman of Gingrich 360

Dr. Beth Van Schaack was sworn in as the Department’s sixth Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice (GCJ) on March 17, 2022. In this role, she advises the Secretary of State and other Department leadership on issues related to the prevention of and response to atrocity crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Ambassador Van Schaack served as Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large in GCJ from 2012 to 2013. Prior to returning to public service in 2022, Ambassador Van Schaack was the Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor in Human Rights at Stanford Law School, where she taught international criminal law, human rights, human trafficking, and a policy lab on Legal & Policy Tools for Preventing Atrocities. In addition, she directed Stanford’s International Human Rights & Conflict Resolution Clinic. Ambassador Van Schaack began her academic career at Santa Clara University School of Law, where, in addition to teaching and writing on international human rights issues, she served as the Academic Adviser to the United States interagency delegation to the International Criminal Court Review Conference in Kampala, Uganda. Earlier in her career, she was a practicing lawyer at Morrison & Foerster, LLP; the Center for Justice & Accountability, a human rights law firm; and the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague. Ambassador Van Schaack has published numerous articles and papers on international human rights and justice issues, including her 2020 thesis, Imagining Justice for Syria (Oxford University Press). From 2014 to 2022, she served as Executive Editor for Just Security, an online forum for the analysis of national security, foreign policy, and rights. She is a graduate of Stanford (BA), Yale (JD) and Leiden (PhD) Universities.

Beth Van Schaak

Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice of the U.S. Department of State

Designated by Newsweek Magazine as the most influential rabbi in America and by the Washington Post as the “quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill,” for 40 years as Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, David Saperstein represented to Congress and the Administration, the Reform Jewish Movement, the largest segment of American Jewry. Under Rabbi Saperstein, writes J.J. Goldberg in his book Jewish Power, the Religious Action Center “has become one of the most powerful Jewish bodies in Washington, second only to AIPAC.”

During the second term of the Obama administration, Rabbi Saperstein served as the United States Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, carrying out his responsibilities as the country’s chief diplomat on religious freedom issues. In this capacity, he served as a principal advisor to Secretary Kerry and President Obama on issues of international religious freedom and travelled widely as America’s advocate for religious freedom across the globe.  In 2019-20, Rabbi Saperstein served as the President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, the international arm of the Reform Jewish Movement.

Also an attorney, he taught seminars on Church–State law and on comparative Jewish and American Law for 35 years at Georgetown University Law Center and continues his academic work as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Foreign Service School and Center for Jewish Civilization and as a Distinguished Fellow at the PM Glynn Institute at Australian Catholic University.

Rabbi David Saperstein

Religious Action Center Director Emeritus and Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy

Kola Alapinni is an International Human Rights Lawyer from Nigeria. He led the legal team that got Umar Farooq Bashir (The Minor) freed from a 10-year jail sentence for alleged blasphemy. They also got Yahaya Sharif-Aminu’s death sentence over blasphemy overturned. The case is currently before the Supreme Court of Nigeria where a further appeal on the constitutionality of the Sharia Law is being contested. And whether or not the Appellant’s case can be remitted to the Sharia Court for a retrial.

Kola Alapinni

International Human Rights Lawyer

HE Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah is recognised by Muslim scholars around the world as perhaps the greatest living authority on the Islamic legal methodology known as uṣūl al-fiqh (Principles of Jurisprudence). He is renowned for his scholarship which draws on scripture and traditional texts from across all of the major Sunni legal schools to address the crucial contemporary concerns of Muslim communities.
Born in Africa and based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, the Shaykh received a classical Islamic education under his father, developing an advanced understanding of the Arabic language and the Quranic sciences at an early age. He went on to become an official authority for issuing Islamic legal counsel, with his background enabling him to develop a universal framework in which Islamic jurisprudence can be adapted to local contexts while maintaining its essential principles. He served as Vice-President to the first President of Mauritania after independence. This background places him in a unique position of leadership, whereby his understanding and insight of the political world is synthesised with his erudition to draw upon his religious
and philosophical scholarship.
He is also an outspoken critic of terrorism, and has authored several articles and books exploring Islamic responses to the issue. He is of the conviction that ideas can only be defeated by ideas, and that issues such as Islamist extremism must be answered by sound reasoning drawn from orthodox, accepted sources of Islamic jurisprudence.
In 2014, the Shaykh founded the Abu Dhabi Forum For Peace, serving as President under the patronage of HH Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. He also holds the federal position as Chair of the UAE Jurisprudence Council. The vision of the ADFfP is to address the crises facing global Islam from a framework of Islamic tradition and legal theory. Over a thousand of the world’s leading Islamic scholars, religious leaders and actors from faith traditions, academics, civic society, youth,
women and thought leaders attend the yearly assembly.

Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah

President of the Abu Dhabi Peace Forum

Dr. Maksym Vasin is the Executive Director of the Institute for Religious Freedom (Ukraine). He has specialized in human rights activities since 2001. He leads the research and advocacy projects at the Institute for Religious Freedom (Ukraine).

He is a co-author of several dozen bills and amendments to laws aimed at protecting and developing religious freedom in Ukraine and the author of academic articles on the topic of church-state cooperation and interfaith dialogue.

In 2019, he was a fellow of the Religion and Rule of Law program by ICLRS at the University of Oxford. In 2021, he received the Juris Doctor degree (J.D.) in Kyiv. In 2022, as an editor and co-author, he published research about the Russian war crimes in Ukraine titled “Russian attacks on religious freedom in Ukraine.”

Dr. Vasin is an expert on religious legislation, inter-faith dialogue, and church-state cooperation.

Maksym Vasin

Executive Director of the Institute for Religious Freedom

Ms. Zubayra Shamseden is Chinese Outreach Coordinator at the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), a documentation and advocacy group based in Washington, DC. She has been campaigning for the human rights and political freedom of the Uyghur people since the late 1980s. She was elected as Vice President of the World Uyghur Congress for the 2021-2024 term and previously chaired its Human Rights Committee. Before joining UHRP, Ms. Shamseden was Information Officer, Researcher and Translator at the International Uyghur Human Rights and Democracy Foundation (IUHRDF). She has worked in multicultural education and community liaison for nonprofit, academic and government organizations in Australia and the U.S. for over two decades.

Ms. Shamseden was a 2016-2018 Fellow at the Center for Women, Faith & Leadership (CWFL) of the Institute for Global Engagement’s (IGE). She has a bachelor’s degree in Library and Information Science from East China Normal University (华东师范大学), in Shanghai; a certification in Chinese from the Industrial University of Xinjiang; a diploma in Russian language and literature from the State University of Eastern Kazakhstan (Восточно-Казахстанский Государственный Университет); and a graduate diploma in Information Studies and a master’s degree in International Studies, both from the University of South Australia, where she focused on the modern history of Uyghur human rights. She is fluent in English, Uyghur, Chinese, Uzbek and Russian, and has a working knowledge of Turkish.

Zubayra Shamseden

Vice President of the World Uyghur Congress

Dr Homira May Rezai is a board member of the World Hazara Council. She is also the Chair of Hazara Committee in the UK (HCUK), a non-profit organisation working freedom of religious or belief Afghanistan and Pakistan. May is passionate about women’s and minority’s right and has been a vocal advocate in the past years. Through her work at HCUK, she has written several reports and parliamentary briefs on the Hazaras providing accurate information what is really happening on the ground. May was one of the organisers who co-led the #StopHazaraGenocide campaign which increased the conversation on the persecution of Hazaras in Afghanistan around the world.

May holds a PhD in medical research and is the Executive Operations Officer at MirZyme Therapeutics, an innovative pharmaceutical company developing diagnostics and therapeutics for pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia.

Homira May Rezai

Board Member of the World Hazara Council

Abid Shamdeen is the Executive Director of Nadia’s Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rebuilding communities in crisis and advocating globally for survivors of sexual violence. Shamdeen, who was born and raised in Sinjar, Iraq, is a global development specialist who has dedicated his career to improving the lives of and preventing violence against marginalized communities. In his current role at Nadia’s Initiative, he advocates for victims of the Yazidi Genocide and manages rebuilding and redevelopment projects that have brought aid and assistance to the Sinjar region. He was also a member of the Sinjar Crisis Management Team, where he provides context and feedback to US officials regarding the status of Yazidis in Iraq. Prior to these roles, Abid worked for the United States Army in Iraq as a cultural advisor and translator. He holds a master’s degree in political science from the School of International Service at American University and a bachelor’s degree from Nebraska University, where he also served as an Administrative Assistant at the Nebraska State Legislature.

Abid Shamdeen

Executive Director of Nadia’s Initiative

Nadine Maenza is the President of the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Secretariat, which is focused on building religious freedom globally, including coordinating the IRF Roundtable in Washington, DC and in over 20 countries globally, and hosting a global series of summits. At the annual IRF Summit in Washington, D.C. in June 2022, Nadine was awarded the IRF Impact Award for Current or Former Government Leaders. In May, Nadine finished her second two-year term as a White House appointee on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), where she had served as Chair since June of 2021. Because of her advocacy for religious freedom in China, last December she was personally sanctioned by the Chinese government. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), the Sinjar Academy, and Freedom Research Foundation.

Nadine Maenza

President of the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Secretariat

Wade Kusack has twelve years of experience in religious studies on government, academic, and civil society platforms, as well as developing educational networks for religious, civil society, and government leaders in Eurasia and Central Asia on cross-cultural religious literacy as well as international and domestic religious laws and policies. Wade held various positions in non-governmental organizations and think tanks developing religious freedom and, as well as professional fluency in English and Russian.

Wade Kusack

President of LYN Community

Brett G. Scharffs is Rex E. Lee Chair and Professor of Law and Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University Law School. He received a BSBA in international business and an MA in philosophy at Georgetown University and, as a Rhodes Scholar, earned a BPhil in philosophy at Oxford. He received his JD from Yale Law School, where he was senior editor of the Yale Law Journal. He is a recurring visiting professor at Central European University in Budapest and at the University of Adelaide Law School. He has for several years helped organize certificate training programs in religion and the rule of law in China and in Vietnam and has taught and helped organize programs at several Indonesian universities on sharia and human rights. Author of more than 100 articles and book chapters, he has made more than 300 scholarly presentations in 30 countries. His casebook, Law and Religion: National, International and Comparative Perspectives (with Cole Durham, 2nd English edition forthcoming 2017), has been translated into Chinese and Vietnamese, with Turkish, Burmese, and Arabic in process. He is author with Elizabeth Clark of Religion and Law in the USA, a 2016 contribution to Wolters Kluwer’s International Encyclopedia of Laws.

Brett Scharffs

Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University Law School

Salah Ali is the General Coordinator of the Iraq Religious Freedom and Anti-discrimination Roundtable and a Fellow with the Middle East Action Team of the Religious Freedom Institute. He has extensive experience in peacebuilding, social cohesion, and protection projects. He holds a BA in International Studies, a MA in Peace and Development Studies (Leeds Beckett University), and a political certificate (University of Oxford). He is a PhD researcher in Politics and International Relations at Leeds Beckett University. He has been actively participating in many international events promoting religious freedom.

Salah Ali

General Coordinator of the Iraq Religious Freedom and Anti-discrimination Roundtable

Jeremy P. Barker serves as Director of the Middle East Action Team for the Religious Freedom Institute.

He has worked in rights-based relief, development, and advocacy across the Middle East. His work has focused on the convergence of religion and international affairs, with a particular focus on combatting drivers of religious persecution and engaging with religious inequality in humanitarian and development assistance in fragile and post-conflict contexts.

He holds a B.A. in History and M.A. degrees in Cross-Cultural Studies and International Relations. Barker is also a Ph.D. researcher at the Institute of Development Studies and the University of Sussex.

Jeremy Barker

Director of the Middle East Action Team for the Religious Freedom Institute

Ambassador Callista L. Gingrich is President and Chief Executive Officer of Gingrich 360, a multimedia production and consulting company based in Arlington, Virginia.

She is a former United States Ambassador to the Holy See, confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 16, 2017, sworn in by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on October 24, 2017, and credentialed by Pope Francis on December 22, 2017.  Gingrich served in Rome as ambassador until January 20, 2021.

During her tenure, Ambassador Gingrich worked to advance and defend international religious freedom, combat human trafficking, provide humanitarian assistance, and support the role of women religious around the world.

Ambassador Callista Gingrich

U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See (2017-2021) and President and CEO of Gingrich 360

Hafza Girdap is the executive director and the spokesperson for AST (Advocates of Silenced Turkey) and the founding member of Set Them Free platform who works for the women’s rights violated particularly in Turkey. Girdap is also a Ph.D. candidate in Women’s and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University, New York. Girdap has a B.A. and M.A. in English Language and Literature. Her research areas are human rights and women’s status in Muslim contexts, specifically the integration and adaptation of Muslim immigrant women while redefining their cultural identities. Girdap is interested in analyzing the lives of Muslim women regarding the challenges they face within their own cultures, before, during, and after conflicts. Her doctoral research focuses on self-identification and the gendered representation and reshaping of Muslim women who grew up in Islamic cultures but resettled to Western cultures. Her research takes an intersectional framework. In addition to her professional human rights work and academic studies, Girdap conducts researches at ECPS’s gender program (European Center for Populism Studies as a nonresident research associate. While carrying out her research, Girdap includes the voices of female survivors of conflict by examining the coping mechanisms used by these women to manage new and existing challenges, including social discrimination, oppression, violations of basic rights, etc. She studies how they manage when facing these challenges within different contexts, i.e. their own countries, refugee camps, and new settlements. Girdap has been living in the US since July 2016 as a result of political persecution she faced in her native Turkey. Since settling in the States, her research interests expanded and she has become much more involved in women’s rights movements. Accordingly, she has participated in many programs and delivered speeches about the status of women in Muslim societies. Girdap has been organizing and speaking at UNGA and UN CSW panels for three years, with a focus on women’s matters and experiences. She also mentors youth in the hope that they will become involved in these events as researchers and speakers. As having a personal motto in her life which is “Let Dreams Lead You!”, Girdap is running online global bookclubs on Instagram where she also makes live interviews concerning women and youth empowerment. Hafza, with her two daughters (19 and 14 years) and her husband, is living on Long Island, New York.

Hafza Girdap

Executive Director of The Advocates of Silenced Turkey

Emily Prey is the Director of the Gender Policy Program at The New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy in DC. She served as an advisor and contributed to New Lines’ groundbreaking independent expert reports: The Uyghur Genocide: An Examination of China’s Breaches of the Genocide Convention and An Independent Legal Analysis of the Russian Federation’s Breaches of the Genocide Convention in Ukraine and the Duty to Prevent. She has been interviewed by international media including CNN, Radio France International, ilGiornale, and Radio Free Asia for her expertise on gender, conflict-related sexual violence, and genocide, and has briefed Members of Congress and their staff these topics. She is the founder of ‘Gendering Geopolitics’, a popular Twitter Live series where she uses a gendered lens to interview prominent female diplomats, journalist, activists and more around the world.

Emily Prey

Director of the Gender Policy Program at The New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy

Haleemah Oladamade Ahmad is the Gender and Peacebuilding Advisor for the Development Initiative of West Africa (DIWA) where she works to integrate the understanding of gender dynamics into the organization’s peacebuilding research, advocacy, and programming. She is also a Senior Research Associate and Facilitator with the Da’wah Institute (DIN) working at the intersection of building resilience against violent extremism, promoting inter-religious harmony as well as gender justice and human rights. Over the last ten years, she and her team at DIN have researched and analyzed over 200 religious arguments used in recruitment into violent extremist groups, developed alternative and counter-narratives to these arguments, and have trained over 1000 Imams, women religious leaders, and youth leaders in using these counter-narratives to strengthen resilience against violent extremism in their communities. She also works on promoting interreligious harmony and advocates for Freedom of Religion or Belief for all. She has attended several local and international conferences and was a speaker at the 2022 International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FORB) hosted by the United Kingdom and a 2022 recipient of the Rick Love Young Innovators in Peacebuilding Award. She is currently a Graduate Student at the University of Notre Dame, USA, specializing in International Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Her organization DIWA is an implementing partner for the Joint Initiative for Strategic Religious Action (JISRA) which works within religious communities to challenge discrimination, extremist tendencies, and hate towards others in the intra and inter-religious spheres. JISRA is currently being implemented in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Uganda, Mali, and Indonesia.

Haleemah Oladamade Ahmad

Gender and Peacebuilding Advisor for the Development Initiative of West Africa

Charmaine Hedding is the President of Shai Fund and has worked for two decades as an international consultant in development management for the non-profit sector, with a particular focus on the protection of and durable solutions for persecuted minorities, while advocating for religious freedom. 

Charmaine has served on the ground responding to multiple humanitarian disasters, designed and implemented emergency relief & development programs, and built capacity-building programs for diverse groups responsible for the protection of people at risk in complex emergencies, war, and conflict. 

Coming originally from the business sector she focuses on help that builds a resilient future through sustainable programming. This has included economic revitalization projects to create jobs with genocide and trafficked survivors, to combat poverty, promote economic self-reliance, and strengthen these communities to rebuild their future with dignity.

Charmaine has a Master of Social Science in Development Management.

Charmaine Hedding

President of the Shai Fund

Sareta Ashraph is a barrister specialized in international criminal law, with expertise in the gendered commission and impact of international crimes. She serves as a Senior Legal Adviser to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, where she supports their intersectional analytical approaches to determinations of genocide and other core international crimes in situations around the world. 

Sareta has served as the Director of Field Investigations at the UN Investigative Team to promote Accountability for the crimes committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) (2020-2022), as the Chief Legal Analyst to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria (2012-2016) and the Commission of Inquiry on Libya (2012-2012). Prior to this, Sareta was a Legal Adviser to the Defence Office of the International Criminal Court (2010-2011), Human Rights Officer in the 2009 UN Gaza Fact-Finding Mission (2009), and as Defence Co-Counsel before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (2003-2009). 

Over the past decade, Sareta has maintained a focus on investigations and intersectional analyses of ISIL crimes against the Yazidis, including drafting the United Nations 2016 report, “They Came To Destroy”, which determined that ISIL committed genocide and crimes against humanity. She headed the UNITAD investigation which reached similar findings, presented to the UN Security Council in May 2021. 

In 2018, Sareta wrote the Global Justice Center’s landmark report “Beyond Killing: Gender, Genocide and Obligations under International Law”. Recent contributions to discussions within the international criminal justice field included the 2021 Research Paper “Advancing Justice for Children: innovations to strengthen accountability for violations and crimes affecting children in conflict”, and the 2022 report, “Anchoring Accountability for Mass Atrocities: The Permanent Support needed to fulfil the UN Investigative Mandates”. She is a co-editor of “The Syrian War: Between Justice and Political Reality”, published by Cambridge University Press in 2020.

Sareta has lectured at Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program during her time as a Wasserstein Fellow (2015), at Stanford as their first Global Practitioner-in-Residence (2017), at London School of Economics’ Middle East Centre (2019), and was a Visiting Fellow at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford between 2020 and 2022. She currently lectures at the Geneva Academy on the subject of Gender and International Crimes.

Sareta Ashraph

Senior Legal Consultant to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide

James Chen is the Vice President of Global Operations at the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE). Prior to joining IGE, James was a Research Associate and Academic Resources Coordinator at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Near East South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies. James also worked in Taiwan for over seven years at Overseas Radio & Television, a Christian media organization based in Taipei. James has a Master’s degree in International Relations and Security from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a Bachelor’s degree in Information Systems from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

James Chen

Vice President of Global Operations at the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE)

Ms. Pari Ibrahim, is the Founder and Executive Director of the Free Yezidi Foundation (FYF). Ms. Ibrahim is Yezidi and originally from Iraq. She fled Iraq as a child with her family in 1991 during the Saddam Hussein regime, eventually settling in the Netherlands. Ms. Ibrahim created the Free Yezidi Foundation to provide support for Yezidi survivors in the aftermath of the Yezidi Genocide perpetrated by ISIS. The Foundation’s fundamental values include women’s rights, justice for gender-based violence and sexual violence, and the rights of ethno-religious minorities. Ms. Ibrahim and FYF have tackled some of the most difficult cases, particularly in defense of Yezidi women. Ms. Ibrahim seeks an Iraqi society where Yezidis are considered equal and enjoy equal access to opportunity and rights. Similarly, she advocates for women’s empowerment and equal rights for women and girls in Iraq. Ms. Ibrahim is an advocate of heightened attention to and appreciation of gender issues in the Yezidi community and seeks respect and acknowledgment of women’s rights in the broadest sense. Ms. Ibrahim established FYF in August 2014 in the Netherlands. The Foundation has implemented programs funded by the United Nations, the United States Government, European governments, and various foundations and international organizations. On behalf of the Foundation, Ms. Ibrahim has spoken at the United Nations Security Council, British Parliament, US Holocaust Museum, BBC, Al-Jazeera, and at countless universities, media outlets, and thinktanks. After the ISIS attacks on Sinjar and the Yezidi population in August 2014, Ms. Ibrahim founded the Free Yezidi Foundation to help Yezidi civilians in need and raise awareness of their plight. She has been active in organising protests and outlining the challenges facing Yezidis, with articles appearing in the Washington Post, Telegraaf, Al-Monitor, the Guardian, the Sunday Times (UK), Middle East Eye, and others. Ms. Ibrahim and her team established the FYF women’s and children’s centers, the FYF justice project, FYF’s Enterprise & Training Center, the combating GBV office, and various other projects, also conducting general advocacy to promote greater humanitarian and human rights support to Yezidi civilians. Ms Ibrahim studied law at the University of Amsterdam. She speaks Kurmanji, Dutch, English, and German. FYF is a registered charity in the Netherlands and the United States, implementing projects in Iraq.

Pari Ibrahim

Founder and Executive Director of the Free Yezidi Foundation (FYF)

Nuri Kino, the founder and leader of ADFA is a well known Swedish investigative journalist, author, film maker, and human rights advocate who has won numerous Swedish and international awards for his work, spanning decades.

Born in Midyat in Turabdin, Turkey, his life exemplifies the ultimate immigrant success story. Although his parents never had the opportunity go to school and learn to read and write in their native country, he has authored several nonfiction books, novels, and hundreds of stories and reports from the Middle East, Western and Eastern Europe as well as Africa over the past two decades. He has also produced and co-produced several well-received and award-winning documentaries. A major focus of his work in recent years is the human rights of Middle Eastern minorities and the impact of faith-based persecution including genocide. His work has been translated into several languages, published on three continents, and awarded both Swedish and European journalism honors. He was a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, Swedish Svenska Dagbladet, Newsweek and other such publications. He speaks several languages, and lectures all over the world about his work, which has led to the rewriting of national laws, international police investigations into corruption and crime, and the retrieval of children lost in war and natural disasters. In his home country, Sweden, he is well known for his media debates on corruption, crime, segregation and social injustice. Nuri Kino founded ADFA as a non-profit organization that seeks to support and raise awareness about persecuted Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac, Armenians, other Christians, Yazidi and other minorities in Iraq and Syria. From its origins in 2014 as a social media campaign to raise awareness of the ongoing genocide of Middle Eastern minorities, ADFA has been transformed into a global advocacy and refugee-support organization, and its operations have expanded to other countries. From his home town of Södertälje, Sweden, Nuri Kino has led and guided the development of ADFA into a network of human rights experts and activists who serve as a global resource on persecuted minorities in the Middle East, frequently sought out by national and international lawmakers and media. It has influenced laws and policies of national governments and multinational organizations such as the UN and European Union. ADFA also provides support and protection for IDP’s and refugees from Iraq, Syria and Armenia. A team of dedicated volunteers deliver more than100 tons food every year to refugees who had fled was and terror. The volunteers also help with surgeries, housing and social support. Nuri Kino himself is involved in every aspect of ADFA’s charity and advocacy work from speaking at international conferences to planning and organizing fundraising events and assisting with food distribution and other relief efforts. One of his most recent initiatives, Tellcorona.com is the multi-lingual information campaign he launched to convey critical covid-19 messages to refugees and other marginalized groups who do not have an adequate grasp of the official language of their country of residence. It has garnered international media coverage, and was featured on the European Union’s migrant integration website as one of the “best practices”. The Swedish NGO, A Demand for Action ( ADFA) has relocated from March 2nd to June 2nd, 2022, more than 3000 Ukrainian refugees (mainly women and their children and disabled adults) and hundreds of pets to Sweden and also other countries. ADFA has also shipped more than 500 tons of medical equipment and food to Ukraine. It has helped to organize Polish NGOs operations for Ukrainian refugees.

Nuri Kino

Founder and President of A Demand For Action

Bob Roberts Jr.

Co-Founder of Multi-Faith Neighbors Network

Imam Mohamed Magid

Co-Founder Multi-Faith Neighbors Network and Executive Imam, All Dulles Area Muslim Society

Edward F. Clancy is the Director of Outreach for Aid to the Church in Need (ACNUSA), an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. Based in New York, ACNUSA is one of 18 international offices that annually contribute more than $100M in funding earmarked to support the Catholic Church around the world in its pastoral mission to serve the faithful in their suffering. Edward has been with ACNUSA for the past 15 years and is responsible for developing and maintaining the relationship between ACNUSA and the U.S. Catholic hierarchy as well as the network of 18,000-plus parishes in the country. A key aspect of his role is keeping ACNUSA constituents informed about the most urgent needs and strategic priorities — which currently are focused on the persecuted and suffering Christian communities in Iraq and Syria. Edward has travelled extensively in the Middle East, Latin America as well as Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union on fact-finding missions. He and his wife Racell are expecting their second child in July of 2016

Edward Clancy

Director of Outreach at Aid to the Church in Need USA

Mia is a human rights activist based in London who has dedicated the last 20 years to promoting human rights and social justice. As the Executive Director or René Cassin, the Jewish voice for human rights, she is committed to mobilising and empowering the Jewish community on human rights issues drawing on our Jewish history and values. 

Mia has a BA in international relations and an MA in international law from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She is a graduate fellow of the Minerva Centre for Human Rights at the Hebrew University and graduate fellow of Wizo’s Women’s Empowerment and Leadership Programme. Mia is also an alumnus of the first Dangoor Senior Leadership Programme for lay and professional leaders in the UK Jewish community, 2018-2019.

Mia is a trustee of the Coalition for Genocide Response, founding trustee of Stop Uyghur Genocide UK and is on the Advisory Council of the World Uyghur Congress UK.

Mia is the proud mother of Lyri, Yuval and Daniel and has lived in the UK since 2004 with her partner Amir. 

Mia Hasenson-Gross

Executive Director of René Cassin

Rushan Abbas is the founder of Campaign for Uyghurs, a non profit organization with a mission to counter the Uyghur genocide by exposing the Chinese Communist Party, activating global grassroots organizations and civil societies, building solidarity with other persecuted communities, and enabling the Uyghur women and youth to construct productive campaigns to raise awareness and impact policy.  In 2022, Campaign for Uyghurs was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for its work in Uyghur advocacy.

Rushan is also the protagonist of the film “In Search of My Sister”, a documentary that exposes the Chinese government’s genocidal atrocities along with weak counterarguments, false narratives, and so-called testimonies from Uyghurs subject to duress. The scope of the issue and the pain the Uyghur diaspora experiences is highlighted through her personal narrative. When Rushan Abbas spoke on a panel in 2018 about the known atrocities committed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), her sister suddenly went missing. The film follows Abbas and her quest to find out if her sister has become one of the millions of Uyghurs that have disappeared into concentration camps. Rushan rallies thousands of Uyghurs, government officials and experts from around the world and draws global media attention to the plight of Uyghurs.

A large part of CFU’s mission is to counter disinformation through documenting stories of survivors, activists and the diaspora. We would like to request Rushan to speak on the Documenting IRF track about the importance of countering disinformation and free press in response to the Chinese Communist Party’s genocide of the Uyghur people, most especially the erasure and targeting of Muslim women.

Rushan Abbas

Executive Director of Campaign for Uyghurs

Dr. Gregory H. Stanton is the Founding President of Genocide Watch and the Chair of the Alliance Against Genocide. He was a Research Professor in Genocide Studies at George Mason​ ​ University and was the James Farmer Professor in Human Rights at the University of Mary Washington. He was a Berkeley fellow at the Indian Law Institute in 1978 – 79. He directed the relief program in Phnom Penh, Cambodia following the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge regime. He founded the Cambodian Genocide Project in 1982. While in the State Department, he drafted the UN Security Council Resolutions that established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He was a driving force in the establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge Tribuna​​l. He holds degrees from Oberlin College, Harvard Divinity School, Yale Law School, and a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Chicago.

Gregory H. Stanton

Founding President of Genocide Watch and the Chair of the Alliance Against Genocide

Marco Respinti is an Italian professional journalist, member of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), essayist, translator, and lecturer. He has contributed and contributes to several journals and magazines both in print and online, both in Italy and abroad. Author of books and chapter in books, he has translated and/or edited works by, among others, Edmund Burke, Charles Dickens, T.S. Eliot, Russell Kirk, J.R.R. Tolkien, Régine Pernoud and Gustave Thibon. A Senior fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal (a non-partisan, non-profit U.S. educational organization based in Mecosta, Michigan), he is also a founding member as well as a member of the Advisory Council of the Center for European Renewal (a non-profit, non-partisan pan-European educational organization based in The Hague, The Netherlands). A member of the Advisory Council of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief, in December 2022, the Universal Peace Federation bestowed on him, among others, the title of Ambassador of Peace. From February 2018 to December 2022, he has been the Editor-in-Chief of International Family News. He serves as Director-in-Charge of the academic publication The Journal of CESNUR and Bitter Winter: A Magazine on Religious Liberty and Human Rights.

Marco Respinti

Director-in-Charge of the Human Rights Magazine: Bitter Winter

Paul Coyer serves as Research Fellow and as Vice President of International Coalitions and Development at the Common Sense Society in Washington, D.C. He has previously served as an Associate Professor at l’Ecole Speciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr, the French Army’s military academy, as a Research Professor at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C., and an Adjunct Professor at the Rennes School of Business (France), lecturing in the Department of Business and Geopolitics.

He has been a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, and has worked on Capitol Hill as a staff member for a Senate Committee. He has been a guest lecturer at the University of Florence, Italy, and was a CS Lewis Scholar, living in CS Lewis’s home in Oxford, England.

Dr. Coyer’s research interests include Russia, China, Latin America, nationalism and national identity, and the role of religion in global affairs. He has been a contributor to Forbes, and is a co-founder and contributing editor of Providence: A Journal of Christianity and American Foreign Policy. He has been published in leading publications in the United States and around the world including Forbes, Azeri Today (Azerbaijan), and the Kyiv Post (Ukraine), as well as policy-oriented journals including Revue Conflits: Histoire, Géopolitique et Relations Internationales (France), and by academic publishers such as National Defense University Press and Oxford University Press. He is a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies.

Dr. Coyer lives in northern Virginia with his wife, a classical violinist from Venezuela.

Dr. Paul Coyer

Vice President of International Coalitions and Development at the Common Sense Society in Washington, D.C

When Maryum “May May” Ali was a child, her father Muhammad Ali would often ask her, “What is your purpose?”  Maryum would give the same response, “I want to help people.” Maryum’s efforts to fulfill her purpose has manifested in a myriad of ways throughout her life.

As a creative spirit, she performed as a stand-up comedian for over ten years and released a rap album in her early 20’s titled, “The Introduction” on Scottie Bros, Records. Most of her entertainment content included insightful observations, addressed social issues and promoted high moral values. When the rap music industry began focusing on violence and female exploitation, Maryum left the music business to embark upon a more direct way of helping young people. So, back to school she went.

Maryum graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. Degree in Social Work. She has over fifteen years of experience in the area of juvenile delinquency prevention and youth development and has worked as a Case Manager, Program Director and Regional Manager for the Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction & Youth Development in the City of Los Angeles. In 2016, the A&E Network heard about her work in high crime communities and invited her to participate in their ground-breaking docuseries, “60 Days In,” where she spent time in a real jail as an undercover inmate in order to make recommendations for jail reform.

For the past twenty years, Maryum has been a spokesperson for The Parkinson Alliance; helping to bring Parkinson’s disease (PD) awareness and the importance of research to the forefront. Every year, you’ll find her at The Parkinson Unity Walk in New York’s Central Park, encouraging participants to stay hopeful and proactive. Maryum also gives presentations about her father’s journey with PD for patients, caregivers and the pharmaceutical industry.

Maryum is the Author of the children’s book, “I Shook Up the World: The Incredible Life of Muhammad Ali” published by Beyond Words and Simon & Schuster.

Maryum Ali

Comedian and Activist

Rabbi Eli Freedman has proudly served Congregation Rodeph Shalom for the past 13 years. His major areas of work include: social justice initiatives, multi faith dialogue, and building community among young adults and young families.

Prior to joining the clergy team at Rodeph Shalom, Rabbi Freedman studied at Leo Baeck College in London, was ordained at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, and interned at NYU Hillel and Columbia/Barnard Hillel.

Rabbi Freedman, his wife, Laurel, and their daughters, Josephine and Nora, live in Philadelphia, where they enjoy dining out, live music, and creating community.

Eli Friedman

Rabbi at Congregation Rodeph Shalom

Responsible for relations of the U.S. Baha’i community with the federal government and national organizations of civil society.  Oversee an office which focuses on human rights, especially in relation to Iran, the advancement of women, sustainable development, race relations, and economic justice.

Anthony Vance

Responsible for relations of the U.S. Baha’i community with the federal government and national organizations of civil society

Yoe Suarez (Havana, 1990) Writer, producer and journalist, exiled from Cuba due to his investigative reporting about themes like torture, political prisoners, government black lists, cybersurveillance, and freedom of expression and conscience. He is the author of the books “El Soplo del Demonio. Violence and Gangsterism in Havana” and “Leviatan. Political Police and Socialist Terror”. 

Yoe Suarez

Writer, producer and journalist

Marcela Szymanski lives in Brussels, Belgium, where she has been a public affairs consultant and an EU+NATO news correspondent (CNN en Español). She holds a BA in Communications, an MA in Economics and a PhD (abd) in International Politics from Georgia State University. She is the Research Director of the Center of Studies on Religious Freedom, and an affiliate researcher with the University of the Americas in Puebla (UDLAP) writing on political change and democratization. Marcela is a member of the Council of Experts of the UN-based International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance (IRFBA) and a member of the Center for Shared Civilizational Values, the entity in charge of organizing the new G20 engagement group on Religion (first meeting in Bali on 2nd November 2022). She is listed among the 250 most influential Catholics of the United States in 2022, by the “Catholic Herald”. Her public affairs clients have included not only industrial and financial concerns, but also political prisoners, non-Western countries where substantial human rights violations take place, and Catholic Church foundations supporting the work of the Churches in regions suffering of war or natural disasters. Since 2015 she is the Editor-in-chief of the report “Religious Freedom in the World” for the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (her academic publications can be found online). 

Marcela Szymanski

Editor in Chief of Aid to the Church in Need International

Katherine Marshall, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, leads the center’s work on religion and global development,. She is also professor of the practice of development, conflict, and religion in the Walsh School of Foreign Service, teaching diverse courses notably on the ethics of development work and mentoring students at many levels. She helped to create and serves as the executive director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue, an NGO that works to enhance bridges among different sectors and institutions. Marshall has some five decades of experience on wide ranging development issues in Africa, Latin America, East Asia, and the Middle East, particularly those facing the world’s poorest countries. She was a World Bank officer from 1971 to 2006, and led the World Bank’s faith and ethics initiative between 2000 and 2006.

Katherine Marshall has written, spoken, and published extensively, including for RSiS, on wide-ranging topics that include inclusive societies and human rights. Her most recent book, co-edited with Susan Hayward, is Women, Religion, and Peacebuilding: Illuminating the Unseen (United States Institute of Peace, 2015). Her book Global Institutions of Religion: Ancient Movers, Modern Shakers (Routledge, 2013) explores relationships between religious institutions and current world affairs. She writes on many facets of international development, including The World Bank: from Reconstruction to Development to Equity (Routledge, 2008); Development and Faith: Where Mind, Heart and Soul Work Together, co-authored with Marisa Van Saanen (World Bank, 2007); and Mind, Heart and Soul in the Fight against Poverty, co-authored with Lucy Keough (World Bank, 2004). 

As vice president of the G20 Interfaith Association, Katherine Marshall devotes much attention to supporting positive religious engagement on global agendas. She serves on the boards of several NGOs, on advisory groups, and prize selection committees, including AVINA Americas, the International Shinto Foundation, and the International Anti-Corruption Conference. She spent several years as a core group member of the Council of 100, a World Economic Forum initiative to advance understanding between the Islamic world and the West. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a previous trustee of Princeton University. She served as co-moderator of the Fes Forum, part of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music since its inception. Marshall has a B.A. from Wellesley College, an MPA from Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Cambodia.

Katherine Marshall

Professor at Georgetown University

Charles M. Ramsey (PhD, Birmingham) teaches history of South Asia at Baylor University, where he is also a Resident Scholar in the Institute for Studies of Religion, and a Teaching Fellow at the Keston Center for Religion, Society, and Politics. As a Senior Fellow at Religious Freedom Institute, Ramsey’s work has drawn attention to the challenges confronting the region, particularly Afghanistan. He has authored several books and been awarded grants from the British Library, United States Institute of Peace, and the American Institute for Pakistan Studies. 

Charles Ramsey

Resident Scholar in the Institute for Studies of Religion and Senior Fellow at Religious Freedom Institute

Outreach Director and a board member of Assyrian Aid Society of America

I was born and raised in a Christian Assyrian family in Iran in the Kurdistan region. They were healthcare workers so my career was in the healthcare industry for 31 years.

As a Christian, I would like to follow Jesus Christ’s teachings and follow his footsteps.  The verse that always stayed with me and is my golden rule is Matthew 25:35-37. 

As a humanitarian at heart, I have always focused on the people that have been in need of help specially the voiceless and powerless.

In the 80’s I was active in Iranian woman’s organization addressing the women’s rights in Iran and also helping the El Salvadoreans during their civil war.

Now the Assyrians (AKA Chaldeans and Syriacs), are the powerless and voiceless. The attention to this ancient community is burden on my heart and have been active with Assyrian Aid Society for the last 8 years.

I am very active in my church and have been invited to several churches to speak of the situation in Iraq regarding the Assyrians/Christians and also created relationships at a level that the voice of the powerless Assyrians can be heard.

Karmella Borashan

Outreach Director and a board member of Assyrian Aid Society of America

Paul Marshall is Wilson Professor of Religious Freedom at Baylor University and Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and the Religious Freedom Institute, both in Washington DC. He has authored or edited over twenty books on religion and politics, including Persecuted (Thomas Nelson, 2013), Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes Choke Freedom Worldwide (Oxford University Press, 2011), Blind Spot: When Journalists Don’t Get Religion (Oxford University Press, 2009), Religious Freedom in the World (Rowman and Littlefield, 2008).

His work has been translated into Albanian, Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Ukrainian. He has been interviewed on ABC; CNN; PBS; Fox; Al Jazeera, the British, Australian, Canadian, South African, and Japanese Broadcasting Corporations. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall St. Journal, Washington Post, Economist, Times, New Republic, Weekly Standard and many other media.

Paul Marshall

Wilson Professor of Religious Freedom at Baylor University and Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and the Religious Freedom Institute

Eugene Yapp is a Senior Fellow with the Religious Freedom Institute of the South East Asia team and the director for RFL Partnership, an organisation for the promotion of religious freedom and inter-religious harmony in Malaysia. He is also the Vice-Chairman and the National Unity Programme Director for the NGO, UID Sejahtera Malaysia, where he directs harmony initiatives including issues on interfaith and religious diversity. Regionally, he is a member of the Steering Committee for the Southeast Asia Network for Freedom of Religion and Belief (SEAFORB) and has been involved in consultations with the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights and the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights. He is a member of the International Council of Experts on Religious Freedom, which advises the Alliance of States on International Religious Freedom. He was formerly the Secretary-General of the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship Malaysia (the evangelical alliance of Malaysia). His work in Malaysia focusses on the promotion of national unity, conflict resolutions, religious freedom and inter-religious diversity working within the local grassroots majority Muslim community of the poorer Bottom 40%. The work is through various partnership with other groups and NGOs in the implementation of the UN Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). His main focus is to enhance religious freedom and diversity through consensus making for a “national narrative” that promotes national unity for all Malaysians and the prevention of hateful extremism pursuant to SDG16. Much of his work involves adopting a more contextual approach and solution-making to the socio-politicalreligious challenges in Malaysia. He writes a number of articles for the St Charles Institute and the Religious Freedom Institute on issues and challenges concerning religious freedom and inter-religious diversity in Malaysia. He co-authored the Religious Freedom Institute’s Landscape Report on Malaysia

Eugene Yapp

Senior Fellow with the Religious Freedom Institute of the South East Asia team and the director for RFL Partnership

Adam Nicholas Phillips is the Executive Director of the Local, Faith and Transformative Partnerships Hub within the Development, Democracy and Innovation Bureau, overseeing the Agency’s core office that catalyzes new, non-traditional and local partnerships. This includes Locally Led Development Initiatives, the New Partnerships Initiative, Faith-based partnerships, Diaspora engagement, and American Schools and Hospitals Abroad. In this role, he serves as a co-senior leader for the Agency’s Localization Agenda, along with leaders from the Policy, Planning, and Learning (PPL) Bureau, the Management (M) Bureau, and the Agency’s Front Office. Adam is also the Biden-Harris Administration appointee to lead USAID’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The Partnerships Center at USAID is part of the White House’s Interagency Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership efforts, and serves as a critical partner with civil society around international development, humanitarian work, and diplomacy. The Partnerships Center at USAID is working to strengthen democracy and stand with others on the path toward self-reliance and resilience, in addition to addressing the global COVID-19, climate, and human rights crises. For two decades Adam has served as a pastor, movement organizer, and strategist, working at the intersection of faith and public life. Leading inclusive and multi-faith mobilization efforts for NGOs like The ONE Campaign, Bread For The World, World Vision, as well as electoral campaigns, he has a proven track record in national organizing to center local voices to bring about broad-based transformation. A TEDx speaker, his work has also been featured in The Atlantic, CNN, Washington Post, NPR, Huffington Post, Relevant Magazine and the Christian Broadcasting Network’s 700 Club. Before moving back to Washington, Adam co-founded and led Christ Church: Portland, the first of its kind inclusive faith community in Oregon.

Adam Phillips

Executive Director of the Local, Faith and Transformative Partnerships Hub within the Development, Democracy and Innovation Bureau

Founder & Chairman of Voice for Justice and advocacy officer for Jubilee Campaign.

Joseph Jansen was born in Pakistan and moved to the Netherlands in his 


As the brother of Shagufta Kausar, he experienced firsthand the results of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan. It took more than 8 years to lobby for the release of his sister and brother-in-law from death row. 

Joseph vowed to help others in similar situations as well as advocate for religious freedom in Pakistan and around the world.

Joseph has helped create reports and conduct meetings to call attention to particular situations of persecution. He for example helped create the report regarding child brides, forced conversions and forced marriages.

In his work, Joseph particularly does legal work and focusses on seeking justice through the political and judicial systems of countries. 

Joseph Anwar

Founder & Chairman of Voice for Justice and advocacy officer for Jubilee Campaign.

As a Bahá’í born in Iran, Shakib Nasrullah was not allowed to enter universities due to his religious beliefs. Nevertheless, he obtained his B.A. from Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education (BIHE)– an underground university that is run by Bahá’í community in Iran and serves the Bahá’í students. 

Shakib moved to Canada in 2007 to start his master’s in Counselling Psychology. In 2009, upon completing his master’s at McGill University, he returned to Iran to teach in BIHE and serve Iranians. Two years later, he was arrested by the Iranian regime because of being a Bahá’í and for his affiliation with BIHE. He left Iran in 2013 and started his Ph.D. at McGill University in Counselling Psychology. He finished his Ph.D. in March 2020. He resides in Québec and practices as a Psychologist. He is also an editorial board member of Aasoo magazine and an advisor to BIHE.

Shakib Nasrullah

Editorial Board Member of AASOO magazine and an advisor to BIHE

Rev. Joseph D’souza is an internationally renowned human rights advocate and Christian Bishop whose work in India and around the world has drawn the praise of countless civil and religious leaders.

He serves as the distinguished, founding and international president of the ecumenical All India Christian Council, one of the largest interdenominational coalitions of Christians in India. The Council proactively addresses the persecution and oppression of Christians and other minorities in India and is known for strong ties to Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and other faith community leaders.

As Moderator Bishop, he serves as the primate of the Good Shepherd Church of India and its associated educational, medical, economic, job development, theological and literature ministries.

Finally, Bishop D’souza is also the founder and International President of the Dignity Freedom Network an intercaste and interracial alliance that works on behalf of the Dalits (sometimes called ‘untouchables’) and other poor and marginalized groups. The Dignity Freedom Network now has offices in Canada, the UK, Switzerland, Brazil, and Sweden, as well as network partners in over 25 nations. As the word Dalit means “broken” the Dignity Freedom Network espouses the cause of “broken” people everywhere especially broken women.

Bishop D’Souza is an eloquent spokesperson for the need for Church movements to be transformative within societies, addressing both spiritual and social needs. He has stated “I love India and I love Jesus Christ and there is no contradiction between the two loves.”

He is best known internationally for his constant advocacy on behalf of religious freedom for all, as well as for his respect for coreligionists even as he maintains his own faith and allegiance to Jesus Christ. He is a tireless campaigner for the freedom of conscience in India, and an apologist for India which he believes is “as worthy of compliment as it has been for criticism given the extraordinary efforts being made to advance economic and religious freedom for all.” He is an activist for peace and is an enemy of all forms of religious extremism and violence of any kind.

Bishop D’Souza has a particular concern for the rights of “tribals,” “the dalits” and the socalled “backward castes” in India and abroad. In the tradition of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar  the principal architect of the Indian constitution – Bishop D’Souza imagines an India, and globe, where racism and castediscrimination have been eliminated. He has worked especially on the impact of caste discrimination on the trafficking of women and children, and he has worked with leading Dalit activists and prominent members of multiple faith communities to inaugurate a public debate in India and abroad about the need for eliminating caste within the Church.

Joseph D’souza

Internationally Renowned Human Rights Advocate and Christian Bishop

Simon Maghakyan is a Denver-based investigative writer and cultural heritage defender. He is a Visiting Scholar at Tufts University and a PhD student in heritage crime at Great Britain’s Cranfield University. Maghakyan serves on the Artsakh Heritage Committee of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church and on the board of Save Armenian Monuments. Maghakyan’s investigative exposés of Azerbaijan’s state-sponsored erasure of Armenian religious heritage have been cited at the International Court of Justice and praised as “rock solid” by The Guardian. His writing has appeared in numerous media outlets, including Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

Simon Maghakyan

Investigative Writer and Cultural Heritage Defender

David Campanale spent 30 years as a producer and reporter in BBC News in London, winning awards for his work in 2021 uncovering the rape and torture of Turkic-speaking Muslim women in China’s Xinjiang region. 

He began his journalism filming secretly during the Cold War in Romania under Ceausescu and in Ukraine, when it was still inside the Soviet Union. He has since reported the genocide of minorities by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the plight of the Rohingyas in Myanmar and assault on religious liberty in Pakistan, Nigeria and the Sahel.

David is a member of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance Council of Experts. In the 2019 General Election in Britain, he stood for Parliament for the Liberal Democrats. 

David Campanale

Producer and Reporter in BBC News in London

Hamza Yusuf Hanson currently serves as president of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California, the first accredited Muslim liberal arts college in the United States, with both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. He was ranked by The Muslim 500 as the twenty-third most-influential Muslim worldwide. A proponent of the traditional liberal arts and great books education in both the Western and Muslim traditions, he has translated, authored, and coauthored numerous publications, including scholarly books and articles as well as papers on major current areas of ethical concern. He serves under Shaykh Abdallah b. Bayyah as a member of the UAE’s highest fatwa council. He is co-president of Religions for Peace and served on the Ethics in Action for Sustainable and Integral Development initiative, a collaboration between Religions for Peace, the Vatican, the United Nations, and other organizations. He is a member of the Jordanian Royal Academy for Islamic Studies and has worked with Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad on key initiatives promoting peace between Muslims and Christians. Working closely with Shaykh Abdallah b. Bayyah, the architect of The Marrakesh Declaration, a groundbreaking document in defense of the rights of people of other faiths in Muslim-majority societies, Hanson translated this important declaration into English and helps promote it globally. He has authored several books, including Purification of the Heart, which has been translated into Turkish, Spanish, Persian, Indonesian, and Malay. He holds traditional advanced degrees (ijazat) in the Islamic sciences, as well as a BA in Religious Studies (San Jose State University) and a PhD in African History from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.

Hamza Yusuf Hanson

president of Zaytuna College in Berkeley

Idris Abdul-Zahir, a Philadelphia native, currently serves as the Resident Imam of Masjidullah: The Center for Human Excellence located in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia, PA. Masjidullah is one of the largest and most civically engaged Muslim congregations in the city. He was recently appointed by Governor Tom Wolf to serve on the Governor’s Advisory Commission for African American Affairs (GACAAA). As a Commissioner and co-chair of the Economic Development Committee, Idris works to ensure that state government is accessible and accountable by advising the governor on policies, procedures, legislation, and regulations. GACAAA also works to expand and enhance the civic, social, educational, cultural, and economic status of the African American Community. Idris is currently an IT Director for the City of Philadelphia. In this role, he serves as a chief technology advisor. Under his leadership and direction, IT teams have provided creative technical solutions to enhance business operations to better serve the citizens and businesses of Philadelphia. Through automation, these enhancements have directly resulted in recurring increases in revenue and savings of tens of millions of dollars for the City of Philadelphia. He also serves on the Board of CeaseFire PA, whose mission is to end the epidemic of gun violence across the Commonwealth and country through education, coalition building and advocacy. He is also a member of the Multi-Faith Neighbors Network, facilitating and participating in interfaith dialogue aimed at increasing understanding and cooperation to address the common challenges of faith-based communities. Idris is an avid filmmaker. He directed and produced “Ask A Muslim”, a web series that addressed the stereotypes and misconceptions of Muslims in America from a Black American perspective. He also worked with Scribe Video on their public television release of “Muslim Voices of Philadelphia”, a community history project exploring the long history of a diverse array of Muslim communities in the region. In his free time, Idris enjoys spending quality time with family and friends. He lives with his wife and their two daughters in the East Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.

Idris Abdul-Zahir

Resident Imam of Masjidullah: The Center for Human Excellence

Niki Roberts has used her background in education to serve a diverse range of populations both locally and abroad.  In conjunction with her career in public schools, Niki developed her ministry to women through involvement at Northwood Church in Keller, Texas.  Niki has had the opportunity for 18 years to facilitate conferences in Vietnam to train Vietnamese teachers.  Her understanding and love for the world have led her to become a bridge for women of different faiths to find common ground through building relationships.  Along with her multifaith initiatives, Niki has also formed a group of volunteers who love refugees in her city.  Niki’s unique experiences and engagement all over the world have reflected her God-given gift of courage.  Niki is married to Bob. Bob and Niki have two children and three grandchildren.

Niki Roberts

Multi-Faith Neighbors Network

 Hurunnessa Fariad is the Director of Outreach for Multi-Faith Neighbor’s Network where she works to build mutual trust and respect among clerics through civic engagement, authentic relationships, and honest dialogue. Ms. Fariad is intentional in making sure women’s voices are heard and amplified. 

Ms. Fariad serves as the Secretary of the Board of Directors at Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, Member of the Board of Directors of Lutheran Social Services National Capital Area, Secretary of the Board of Directors for Women for Afghan Women, Member of the Fairfax County Faith and Equity Committee, and is involved with many other faith-based organizations. Ms. Fariad is the founder & Music Director of America’s first and only Masjid Choir, The ADAMS BEAT Choir. Ms. Fariad is the founder and co-host of the Sister Act Podcast along with co-hosts Dr. Sabrina Dent and Rabbi Susan Shankman. Conversations centered around shame, stigma, rights, and social justice issues and how our faiths address these topics. Ms. Fariad is a former child refugee from Afghanistan and currently resides in Sterling, Virginia with her 4 daughters.

Hurunnessa Fariad

Director of Outreach for Multi-Faith Neighbor’s Network

A seasoned business leader and pastor, Kevin Brown has spent the last decade working with church planters and revitalizing existing churches.  As the co-founding pastor of The Perfecting Church Kevin has fostered radical growth, leading a church plant from three families to a thriving membership, while planting and participating in the launch of several church plants.  Kevin has led The Perfecting Church in engagement work locally and abroad in the Holy Land, mobilizing its members to use their jobs and passions to serve others.  Kevin is the co-founder of Loving Our Cities, a non-profit established to meet unmet needs among the most marginalized in the greater Philadelphia region and the founder of Diverse But Not Divided a network of churches from various ethnic, cultural and denominational backgrounds in the Southern, NJ region.  He has been married to the love of his life Angela for 33 years and is the father of two adult children KJ and Olivia.  Kevin holds a Masters in Pastoral Leadership from Lancaster Bible College and is completing his Doctorate at Missio Seminary in Philadelphia.  

Kevin Brown

Business Leader and Pastor

Jewher Ilham is an author and an advocate for the Uyghur community and for her imprisoned father, Uyghur economist Ilham Tohti.

Jewher has testified before U.S. Congress and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, published op-eds in The New York Times, CNN and the Guardian, and received numerous international awards on behalf of her father including the European Parliament’s Sakharov prize.

In 2015, she recounted her experiences in her book, Jewher Ilham: A Uyghur’s Fight to Free Her Father. Her second book, Because I Have To: The Path to Survival, the Uyghur Struggle was released in spring of 2022.

Jewher currently works at the Worker Rights Consortium as Forced Labor Project Coordinator and serves as a spokesperson for the Coalition to End Uyghur Forced Labour. She is also assisting on the production of a documentary film (Static and Noise) about Uyghurs’ plight.

Jewher Ilham

author and an advocate for the Uyghur community

Vonya Womack is the Executive Director of Refugees Unknown Stories Untold (RUSU), which digitally documents stories and gives voice to empower and advocate for the human rights of refugees fleeing persecution, wars, and tyrannical regimes. 

Vonya is a human rights expert passionate about advancing the rights of people who are most overlooked or discriminated against in crises such as forced migration, large-scale conflicts, and genocide. She is primarily concerned with the human rights of women, children, minorities, journalists, and political prisoners. She is an international speaker and has notably presented at Amnesty International events and the UN Conference on Women. She delivers keynotes for universities, international affairs, fundraisers, and conferences worldwide.

She has authored a book chapter in Human Rights in Turkey by Springer. She has published numerous articles in academic journals on women and children refugees, women in conflict, and leadership in conflict zones. Currently, Vonya is working on two books on the Turkish Purge based on refugee stories she has collected from Greece, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and the United States and a report on human rights abuses experienced by women in Turkish prisons. 

Vonya has a wealth of international experience and a depth of knowledge working with political refugees who have experienced torture, pushback, social death, prison, and loss of life. She now brings her expertise to adjunct teaching on Refugees and Immigration at Villanova University and Economics at Cedar Crest College (PA). She also serves as a member of several boards.

Previously, she was business faculty teaching undergraduate and master in leadership courses at Cabrini University (PA). At this social justice college, she also spearheaded, planned, and implemented international programs as the Center for Global Learning Director. In 2012 she was part of a delegation asked to respond to the crisis in Libya by training transitional councils on leadership programs. She also spent two decades in the banking, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries.

Vonya is a committed advocate for women, children, and those who have experienced trauma and human rights violations as refugees. She is an active contributor to public service messaging, appearing on NPR and being interviewed by numerous international public programs. Through her work, she has trained corporate executives, developed leaders in conflict zones, and presented to policymakers and global ministries. 

She obtained her MS from the University of San Francisco (CA) and BS from Eastern Mennonite University (VA), where she studied abroad in Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East. 

Vonya Womack

Executive Director of Refugees Unknown Stories Untold

Linda (Pei-Lin) Chen was born in Taipei, Taiwan and immigrated to Canada at age 18. She received a B.Sc. with honours in Biology (‘00) and an M.Sc. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (‘03). In 2011, she completed her Ph.D. research in the Department of Pathology,Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada. Upon completion of her Ph.D. degree, Linda was recruited as a post-doctoral research fellow in a multidisciplinary team (IGNITE) that studied rare genetic diseases at Dalhousie University. Currently, Linda works as a research associate in Halifax. Besides her academic career, Linda has been practicing Tai Ji Men Qigong and meditation for over 28 years. She is an active member and volunteer for the peace organizations Federation of World Peace and Love (FOWPAL) and Association of World Citizen. In recent years, Linda devotes much of her spare time in seeking peace and justice for the Tai Ji Men FORB-Case.

Linda (Pei-Lin) Chen

Member and Volunteer for the Peace Organizations Federation of World Peace and Love (FOWPAL) and Association of World Citizen

She Minglei is a Chinese Christian and a senior global ecommerce leader. She became a Chinese human rights activist after her husband was arrested. Her husband Cheng Yuan is a dedicated Chinese human rights defender. As founder of the NGO Changsha Funeng and the NGO Guangzhou Equality & Opportunity Center, Cheng Yuan is one of the leading advocates fighting for Chinese people’s reproductive, education and health rights. Due to his influential and successful work, Cheng Yuan was arrested by the Chinese National Security Bureau in July 2019, accused of subversion of state power and then secretly sentenced to 5 years in prison. Until now Cheng Yuan has been arbitrarily detained for 3.5 years. He is jailed in Hunan Chishan prison. This year Shi Minglei discovered he is subject to forced labor – forced to work 13 to 15 hours every day in the prison-owned workshops producing products for major US brands. As a senior business leader, the wife of Cheng Yuan, and motivated by her Christian faith, Shi Minglei began campaigning to stop forced labor. Through this awareness campaign and by preparing to bring civil lawsuits against participating businesses, Minglei wants to expose the opaque and well-organized global supply chains using and benefiting from the forced labor of Chinese political prisoners.

Minglei Shi

Global E-Commerce leader and advocate

Trent Martin serves as the Advocacy and Training Coordinator at the 21Wilberforce Global Freedom Center, where he works with teams and partners to empower advocacy communities and equip the next generation of religious freedom advocates.

A former 21Wilberforce Associate and Global Leaders Fellow, Trent facilitates 21Wilberforce’s policy advocacy engagement through religious freedom forums and action teams in Washington and as an NGO representative to the United Nations.

Trent also serves in developing 21Wilberforce’s global youth/emerging leaders training program. He has helped coordinate and implement several programs to train young advocates, including 21Wilberforce’s global youth/emerging leaders training program, the International Religious Freedom Summit Youth Track, and Boat People SOS’ NextGen Leadership Program.

Trenton Martin

Advocacy & Training Coordinator

Nick Fish is the President of American Atheists. With more than 15 years experiencing fighting for civil rights, civil liberties, and religious equality, Nick is a committed coalition builder and advocate who works to ensure that atheists and nonreligious people have their voices heard. As president of American Atheists, Nick works to combat stigma, bias, and discrimination, and promote understanding of nonreligious people.

A native of Michigan, Nick studied political science at Albion College before working in Raleigh, North Carolina, managing a voter outreach office that registered more than 5,000 voters and knocked on 25,000 doors in the two months leading up to the 2008 election.

After the election, Nick worked in donor outreach, marketing, fundraising, and communications, including with the Secular Coalition for America. Before his appointment as president, Nick served as Development Director and National Program Director for American Atheists.

Since 2015, Nick has often represented American Atheists in the media, including appearances on the Fox News programs Spirited Debate, Hannity, and Fox and Friends, and on countless local media outlets. He has been quoted in The Washington Post, CNN, Time Magazine, Newsweek, and The Associated Press.

Nick has served as President of American Atheists since 2018.

Nick Fish

President of American Atheists

Dr. Ronald Boyd-MacMillan has forty years of interaction with persecuted communities around the world as a journalist, teacher, and strategist.  He is the Director of Research and Global Strategy for Global Christian Relief, and a Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Religious Freedom, and finishing a book provisionally entitled, An Answer for My EnemiesThe Theology, History and Spirituality of the Suffering Church!  This is a follow up to one of his previous books, Faith that Endures:  The Essential Guide to the Persecuted Church (Revell, 2006).  He taught the world’s most advanced course on persecution at Fuller Theological Seminary in 2019, entitled, The Persecuted Church:  Theology, History & Practices (MC544).  He hold a B.Sc., an M.Div., and a Ph. D in Practical Theology.  He is an adjunct Professor at Fuller and visiting Professor of Practical Theology at the Lahore College of Theology, Pakistan, where he is also ordained in the Diocese of Raiwind.   He is also President of a Speech Tuition Agency for top level leaders in business, and is based in the Cotswolds, England.

Ronald Boyd-MacMillan

Director of Research and Global Strategy

Arslan Hidayat is the Program Director for Campaign for Uyghurs. He is an Uyghur born in exile, an activist and an advocate of Uyghur rights. Arslan graduated from the University of Western Sydney with a Bachelor’s degree in Music and a Master’s degree in Teaching. Before joining Campaign for Uyghurs Arslan taught in schools and universities in Australia, Turkey and Bahrain. Arslan also runs ‘Talk East Turkestan,’ the most popular Facebook page and podcast highlighting the Uyghur’s plight in the English language through interviewing the victims of China’s Camps, former concentration camp detainees, activists, politicians, Uyghur and China experts. Arslan has been invited to share his expertise about the Uyghur’s plight by giving live studio interviews and his insights on mainstream news media outlets like the BBC, the Guardian, Al-Jazeera, CNN, TRT WORLD, AFP and many others.

Arslan Hidayat

Program Director for Campaign for Uyghurs

Mariam lbraheem is a Sudanese Christian who was imprisoned for apostasy because of her faith and adultery for marrying a christian in December 2013 and later sentenced to hundred lashes and death by hanging. She refused to recant her faith; therefore, Sharia court declared her an apostate and imprisoned her along with her 9-month-old son, Martin. While in prison she discovered she was pregnant, and her sentence of execution was postponed until after her daughter was born. Mariam gave birth to her daughter, Maya, chained in a prison clinic floor in May 2014. Mariam’s story gained international attention, and many advocated for her release. Mariam and her children were released soon after Maya’s birth, and they eventually moved to the United States. A rare living martyr, Mariam received continued international publicity, and she spoke at the European Parliament and for Pope Francis. Inspired by St. Bakhita of Sudan and her own mother’s persecution for helping victims of human trafficking, she continues to publicly advocate for those who are oppressed globally because of religious persecution and human trafficking, and she is on the Board of Directors for ATI (Anti Trafficking International). She is Co-founder and Director of Global Mobilization for the Tahrir Alnisa (setting women free) foundation which serves women and children impacted by domestic abuse and religiously-motivated violence. On International Women’s Day 2022, Whitaker House released Mariam’s autobiography, “Shackled: One Woman’s Dramatic Triumph Over Persecution, Gender Abuse and a Death Sentence.”

Mariam Ibrahim

Director of Global Mobilization for the Tahrir Alnisa (setting women free) foundation

Talib M. Shareef, is President and Imam of the historic, Nation’s Mosque, Masjid Muhammad, located at 1519 Islamic Way, (4th Street), NW, Washington, DC. Imam Shareef, is a retired Chief Master Sergeant of the United States Air Force after 30 years, and holds a Masters of Business Administration from American Intercontinental University, a Diploma from the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University, and is a graduate of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Arabic and Middle East studies. He is a student of the late Imam W.D. Mohammed, Muslim-American Spokesman for Humanity. Imam Shareef served as Imam in five U.S. cities and seven military locations around the world, and as convener, Georgia State Association of Imams. He led an interfaith delegation to Italy and met with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Under the high patronage of His Majesty Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, Imam Shareef received the Kingdom’s highest Royal Medal and honor for his outstanding interfaith leadership. He was one of the signers in Nigeria to the Abuja Peace Declaration organized by the International Global Peace Foundation and the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution. He was the first Imam with military service to offer prayer at an opening session of the U.S. Congress. Co-organized, spoke and led the historic Islamic congregational prayer at the Washington National Cathedral. He offered the opening prayer on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s March on Washington; the first Imam to serve as a speaker for former President George H.W. Bush’s Points of Light Conference on Volunteering and Service Faith Summit; Serves on council for the National Summit on Non-Violence; Speaker for the South African Embassy celebration of Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday; led historic delegation to and addressed over 500,000 in South Africa; Hosted Press Conference/Panel for Presidential Candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders at the Nation’s Mosque to address religious bigotry. Speaker at Sojourner Douglass College for memorial honoring human rights activist, Coretta Scott King; Speaker at the memorial service for former Mayor Marion Barry. He addressed the ills of Human Trafficking on Capitol Hill. He co-established first Islamic Dietary Nutrition site for elderly members of all faiths in D.C. He was appointed to Mayor Interfaith Council; Senior Islamic Leader and Board member of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington. Imam Shareef was honored to sit with and be recognized for his service by President Barack Obama at the White House Iftar in 2011; served as keynote speaker for the Pentagon and Homeland Security Iftars, and for the first and subsequent Iftars hosted by the Israeli Ambassador to U.S. He co-founded the organization that led to the U.S. Military commissioning its first Islamic Chaplain; co-organized the first US Military Hajj Program in 1992; Islamic Representative on National Coalition for Veteran Caregivers, Imam of the Muslim American Veterans Association (MAVA). National Advisor to Global Peace Foundation, USA; U.S. Speaker at the World Alliance of Religions for Peace in Seoul Korea, and at the Global Peace Convention in South America. Denver’s Spectrum Newspaper’s “Who’s Who” among African American Leaders; Muslim Journal’s 2011 Imam of the Year; Roy Wilkins NAACP Leadership Award. Imam Shareef and wife, Tahirah, have three children, seven grandchildren, are custodial parents of three others and have served as foster parents for several children.

Talib M Shareef

President and Imam of the historic, Nation’s Mosque, Masjid Muhammad

Retired official of the National Taxation Bureau of Taiwan 


Huang worked in the Ministry of Finance and served as senior auditor of National Taxation Bureau in Taiwan. He is experienced in investigating large-scale tax evasion and tax administrative affairs and insists that the spirit of fair and lawful taxation and the rule of evidence are extremely important for taxpayers’ rights. Huang is the author of the book “Defending Tax Justice and Taxpayers’ Human Rights”, has been an outspoken advocate for the unjust for many years.

Kun-Kuang Huang

Senior Auditor of the Tai Ji Men Case

Naomi Kikoler is the director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. As the Center’s deputy director she led Center’s policy engagement with the United States government and work on Bearing Witness countries, including undertaking the documentation of the commission of genocide by ISIS. Previously she developed and implemented the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect’s work on populations at risk and efforts to advance R2P globally and led the Centre’s advocacy, including targeting the United Nations Security Council. Prior to joining the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect in 2008, she worked on national security and refugee law and policy for Amnesty International Canada. She has also worked for the UN Office of the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, the Office of the Prosecutor at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement at the Brookings Institution, and she worked as an election monitor in Kenya with the Carter Center. She has been an adjunct professor at the New School University and is the author of numerous publications, including the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2015 report, Our Generation is Gone: The Islamic States Targeting of Minorities in Ninewa, the 2013 Nexus Fund series on the emerging powers and mass atrocity prevention, and the 2011 report Risk Factors and Legal Norms Associated with Genocide Prevention for the UN Office on the Prevention of Genocide and the Jacob Blaustein Institute. She is a graduate of McGill University’s Faculty of Law, Oxford University, where her masters thesis was on the Rwandan genocide, and the University of Toronto. She is a board member of the Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, the Free Yezidi Foundation, is a Fellow at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, and was called to the Bar of Upper Canada.

Naomi Kikoler

Director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide

Dr. Christine M. Sequenzia, MDiv. is an experienced government relations and biblical justice professional, whom successfully transitioned her political acumen and passion for the oppressed into opportunities with the International Justice Mission, the National Association of Evangelicals and International Religious Freedom (IRF) Roundtable. She is a fierce advocate, impassioned speaker, and fervent friend of the exploited and marginalized.

She has traveled to over 15 countries, including to serve refugees in the MENA region and sex trafficking survivors in Central America. She finds joy in serving the oppressed by galvanizing multifaith and multidisciplinary teams toward strategic domestic and foreign diplomacy. Currently, Dr. Sequenzia serves as the co-chair of the IRF Campaign to Eliminate Blasphemy and Apostasy Laws.

Dr. Sequenzia has spent over 15yrs working and writing for members of the U.S. Congress, international non-profit organizations and private publications. Dr. Sequenzia has been profiled in The Hill, CQ Today, CQ Weekly, Politico, Christian Broadcast Network and the InterPress Service United Nations Bureau.

She received both a Doctor of Ministry and Master of Divinity emphasizing international development from Fuller Theological Seminary, following the completion of Cornell University’s High Performance Leadership Program and earning a Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University.

Dr. Christine Sequenzia

Policy Director of the Association of Evangelicals and International Religious Freedom

Raqib Hameed Naik is a journalist from Indian-administered Kashmir currently living in self-exile in the United States. 

He has spent nearly a decade covering conflict, human rights, Hindu nationalism, refugees, and religious minorities in Kashmir, India, China, and the US. He is also the man behind Hindutva Watch, which The Washington Post described as one of the only and most robust real-
time data sets of hate crimes and hate speeches in India.

Raqib Hameed Naik


Throughout her career in foreign policy, Ambassador Kelley E. Currie has specialized in human rights, political reform, Women Peace and Security, development, and humanitarian issues, with a focus on the Indo-Pacific region. Ambassador Currie is currently an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington D.C. think tank, and a Senior Advisor to the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue University. She is a member of the board of directors of the National Endowment for Democracy; the board of governors of the East-West Center; and the advisory boards of Spirit of America and the Vandenberg Coalition. Ambassador Currie was unanimously confirmed in December 2019 as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues and the U.S. Representative at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and served in that position until January 2021. Prior to that appointment, she served under Ambassador Nikki Haley as the U.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council and Alternative Representative to the UN General Assembly (2017-2018). While awaiting confirmation between ambassadorial appointments, she was appointed interim senior official in the Department of State’s Office of Global Criminal Justice. From 2009 until her appointment to the USUN leadership, she was a Senior Fellow with the Project 2049 Institute and the founding Director of the Institute’s Burma Transition Initiative. Ambassador Currie also held senior policy positions with the U.S. Congress, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations. Ambassador Currie received a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center with a focus on International Human Rights Law, and an undergraduate degree cum laude in Political Science from the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs.

Kelley Currie

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Economic & Social Council (2017-19) Senior Advisor, Krach Institute for Tech and Diplomacy

Rev. Luke Higuchi currently serves as President of Japanese Association in the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU). During the past two years, he has been at various times, District Pastor of FFWPU in Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Previous to this, he worked in the FFWPU’s media department at their national headquarters office in New York City, serving there for more than a decade.

He graduated from the Unification Theological Seminary in the Class of 2021 with a master’s degree in religious education. He also earned a master’s degree in administrative science at Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2013.

He was the Founding Director of Survivors Against Forced Exit (SAFE) in Japan. Rev. Higuchi was responsible for taking care of survivors of faith-breaking as well as raising awareness of human rights violations taking place in Japan from 2010-2011.

Now he feels a calling from God to stop religious discrimination taking place in Japan. He frequently gives presentations on his experience, and the current incidents of open persecution being faced by members of the Unification Church in Japan at this time

Luke Higuchi

President of Japanese Association in the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification

Ján Figeľ is former EU Commissioner (2004-9) and Deputy Prime Minister of Slovakia (2010-12). Prior these responsibilities he successfully acted as Chief Negotiator for Accession of Slovakia to the EU and State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In “annus mirabilis” 1989 he engaged in founding Christian Democratic Movement in Slovakia and in 2009-16 he was the party President. He served four years as a Vice-President of the Slovak Parliament (2012-16). In 2016-19 he was the first ever Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) outside the EU. This successful pioneering role was followed by several EU countries that established similar diplomatic positions since 2016. Figeľ has got strongly involved in FoRB advocacy, promotion of interreligious dialogue, religious literacy and religious social responsibility. He was active in release of FoRB prisoners in Cuba, Iran, Pakistan and Sudan. Under his responsibility the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) was founded in 2008 as the EU body. Ján Figeľ supports and promotes “culture of human dignity”. As he often underlines, there is a nexus between human dignity and FoRB. With a group of experts and scholars he initiated the Punta del Este Declaration on Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere with growing number of signatories (www.dignityforeveryone.org).

Currently he is member of the International Council of Experts of the Int’l Religious Freedom and Belief Alliance (Intergovernmental network) and also member of the IRF Summit Global Leadership Council (Civil society led initiative).

Ján Figeľ

Ex-EU Commissioner and Member of the International Council of Experts of the Int’l Religious Freedom and Belief Alliance

Born in 1944, Dr. Hong, Tao-Tze has inherited and passed on to his dizi (similar to disciples) Tai Ji Men’s unique kung fu as well as the wisdom of balance and the philosophy of yin and yang. He established the Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy in 1966 in response to the needs of modern people, many of whom have lost the ability to maintain a healthy body-mind balance. He has been teaching his dizi qigong and “the heart kung fu,” guiding them to strengthen their bodies and cultivate their hearts and moral character. He also guides them to dedicate themselves to fostering the wonderful Tai Ji Men culture globally, contributing to a more harmonious world and promoting spiritual betterment. Dr. Hong established two branches of the Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy in the United States, one in Los Angeles in 2000 and the other in San Jose in 2001. In 2000, Dr. Hong also founded the Federation of World Peace and Love (FOWPAL) in California. FOWPAL is dedicated to promoting a culture of conscience, love, and peace through various initiatives, including cultural exchanges, World Summits of Love and Peace, and bell ringing ceremonies. It has collaborated with organizations and individuals that share its values to organize events for the benefit of everyone, striving to accelerate the sustainable development of the Earth.

Dr. Hong Tao-Tze

Zhang-men-ren of Tai Ji Men

A human rights activist, writer, speaker and community organizer. He is the founder and president of Ex-Muslims of North-America, the first Ex-Muslim advocacy organization in North America. Muhammad has been a human rights activist for the past decade, with a focus on efforts to normalize religious dissent and promote acceptance of secularism in Muslim communities. His work has been profiled in numerous magazines, news outlets, and shows including The Economist, Slate, BBC, National Review, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and NPR.

Muhammad Syed

Founder and President of Ex-Muslims of North-America

Robert A. Destro is Professor of Law at The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C. He has been a member of the CUA Law faculty since 1982, served as Interim Dean from 1999-2001, and as Director of the University’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies from 2017-2019. His government service includes the United States Commission on Civil Rights (Commissioner, 1983-89); Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (September 2019- January 2021), and Special Representative for Tibetan Issues (2020-21). As Assistant Secretary, he led the State Department’s worldwide policy and foreign assistance programs on human rights and democracy issues such as free and fair elections, Internet freedom, and the growth of the surveillance state. His work on labor issues focused on State Department and inter-agency efforts to ensure that business supply chains do not include goods or services produced by slave or forced labor. As Special Representative for Tibetan Issues, he was responsible for collaboration and consultation with the Central Tibetan Authority and the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the governments of India, Nepal, and other regional powers in South Asia. Since leaving the State Department, he has served as an advisor to in trade and human rights issues in East Asia, the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa. Professor Destro was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1972 from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and his law degree (J.D.) in 1975 from the University of California, Berkeley. He is an active member of the Ohio Bar.

Robert A. Destro

Professor of Law at The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C.

Dr Lien Fu Long

A Theologian from University of Hamburg, teaching Theology, philosophy of EU law, published two books in German

 (1). Die Ekklesiologie in der Theologie Karl Rahners mit besonderem Hinblick

auf das Problem,Published 1990 

(2).Der Mensch im Tao-der Mensch vor Gott, eine

vergleichende Studie über die religiöse Anthropologie im chinesischen und im

christlichen Denken, 

Dr. Lien is active in Tax and legal reform in Taiwan, supporting the transitional Justice, and stand with the victims of tax case persecution of Taijimen. Dr. Lien promote a human rights protection and enlightenment for all people in Taiwan.


Dr Lien Fu Long

Theologian from University of Hamburg

A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where he was a Note Editor of the Harvard Law Review and Managing Editor of the Harvard International Law Journal, Professor Cole Durham has been heavily involved in comparative law scholarship, with a special emphasis on comparative constitutional law. Currently he serves as President of the G20 Interfaith Forum Association. He is the immediate past President of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies based in Milan, Italy, and a Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion. From 1989 to 1994, he served as the Secretary of the American Society of Comparative Law, and he is also an Associate Member of the International Academy of Comparative Law in Paris.  He served as a General Rapporteur for the topic “Religion and the Secular State” at the 18th International Congress of Comparative Law held in July 2010. He has also served as Chair both of the Comparative Law Section and the Law and Religion Section of the American Association of Law Schools in earlier years.   He has taught at the Brigham Young University Law School from 1976 until 2019 and was awarded the honorary designation of University Professor there in the fall of 1999.  As of January 1, 2000, he was appointed to be the Director of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at BYU and served in that capacity until May 2016.  From 1994 until 2020, he has also been a Recurring Visiting Professor of Law at Central European University in Budapest, where he teaches comparative constitutional law to students from throughout Eastern Europe, and increasingly from Asia and Africa as well.  He has also been a guest professor in Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany and at the University of Vienna. In January2009, he was awarded the International First Freedom Award by the First Freedom Center in Richmond, Virginia. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Ovidius University in Constanţa, Romania in June 2013. 

Professor Durham has been involved in constitutional drafting projects in Nepal (2011 and 2009), Thailand (2007), and Iraq (2005-06).  He has worked on constitutional and statutory drafting projects throughout Eastern Europe and in most former Soviet bloc countries.  He has been particularly active in matters involving relations between religion and the state, though he also has extensive experience with comparative criminal law and non-profit law.  He served from 1997 until February 2013 as a member of the OSCE/ODIHR’s Advisory Council on Freedom of Religion or Belief.  He serves as a board member of the International Religious Liberty Association, and of the International Advisory Board of the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief.  He has also been active in work on laws governing the civil society sector, having served as Chairman of the Board of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law in Washington, D.C. (and as a member of its board for many years). Professor Durham’s involvement in similar organizations globally has enabled him to play an active role in advising governments throughout the world on constitutional provisions and legislation dealing with criminal law and procedure, court structure, general constitutional issues, and the law of associations, including particularly religious associations.  He has helped organize technical assistance to law reform projects and comparative law conferences in over fifty countries—typically involving academics, government officials, and other opinion leaders.  This has included consultations on constitutional and law and religion issues in Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Ukraine, and Vietnam. He has co-organized several conferences over the past several years in India. He has also helped organize training programs on freedom of religion or belief in China, Indonesia, Myanmar, United Kingdom (Oxford),Vietnam, and Central Asia.

In the U.S., Professor Durham has organized a series of conferences on comparative law issues at Brigham Young University and at other institutions in the United States which have brought over 1000 scholars and experts dealing with comparative constitutional law themes from over 100 countries to the United States.  He is a co-author with Brett Scharffs of Religion and the Law: National, International and Comparative Perspectives (Aspen 2010; 2d ed. 2019), and with William Bassett, Robert Smith, and Mark Goldfeder of Religious Organizations and the Law, an annually updated treatise published by Thompson Reuters/West. He is the editor (with Noel Reynolds) of Religious Liberty in Western Thought, and (with Silvio Ferrari) Law and Religion in Post-Communist Europe.  He is also a co-editor of Facilitating Freedom of Religion or Belief:  A Deskbook, which was published in 2004 by Brill under the Martinus Nijhoff imprint, and Religious Organizations in the United States, published in 2006 by Carolina Academic Press. He is the co-editor (with Gerhard Robbers and Donlu Thayer) of the Encyclopedia of Law and Religion (Brill 2016). He has authored numerous law review articles dealing with religious liberty and other comparative law themes.  Over the past several years, he has testified before the U.S. Congress on religious intolerance in Europe and the Religious Liberty Protection Act.

Cole Durham

President of the G20 Interfaith Forum Association

Founder President of CSW, a Christian advocacy organisation campaigning for FoRB since 1979

Chair of the UK FORB Forum – nearly 100 civil society groups advancing the cause of international freedom of religion or belief. 

Member of Panel of Experts for the International Freedom of Religion and Belief Alliance.

Between 2006 – 2020 was chair of the Religious Liberty Partnership, a worldwide network  of more than 70 Christian organisations working for Freedom of Religion or Belief.

In 2019 he was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) by HM Queen, for services to Human Rights and Freedom of Religion of Belief

Mervyn Thomas

Founder President of CSW

Olivia Enos is the Washington Director for the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong (CFHK) Foundation. Before joining the CFHK Foundation, she spent a decade advocating for human rights in Asia at The Heritage Foundation, where she covered issues related to Hong Kong, China, North Korea, and Southeast Asia. Enos has a regular column with Forbes focused on the intersection of human rights and national security challenges in Asia. Her commentary has also appeared in the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other nationally-syndicated news outlets. She received her MA in Asian Studies from Georgetown University and her BA in Government from Patrick Henry College.

Olivia Enos

Washington Director for the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong

Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) x is the US Army Chaplain Fellow in the Strategic Religious Engagement Unit within the Office of International Religious Freedom at the U.S. Department of State.  Prior to joining the State Department team, John has served in a variety Chaplain positions over his 24 year Army career to include: Senior Observer Controller Coach and Trainer (OC/T) at the Joint Multinational Training Center at Hohenfels, Germany; Deputy Division Chaplain for 10th Mountain (LI) Division at Fort Drum, New York; US Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) Senior Command and Combined Joint Chaplain Afghanistan. John holds a Doctorate in Ministry from Erskine Seminary and a Master of Divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is an ordained minister in the Southern Baptist Convention. John is married to Jessica Craven, and has beautiful six children. 

John L. Craven

US Army Chaplain Fellow in the Strategic Religious Engagement Unit

MWANGA MASTULLAH ASHAH is a PhD Human Rights Fellow at Makerere University, Uganda. She is currently completing her second Master’s degree of Laws in International Legal Studies (LLM-ILS) at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington DC. She is also a 2022/2023 Leadership & Advocacy for Women in Africa (LAWA) Fellow.

Her first Master’s degree is M.A Human Rights. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development centre (LDC-Uganda’s Bar course). She possesses two Bachelor’s Degrees (B. A Development Studies & Bachelors of Laws- LLB).  

Ashah is a 2017 Global Change Leader (GCL) having been selected by the Coady International Institute of the St. Fx University- Canada as a young woman leader doing incredible human rights and access to justice for the indigent. The same year, Women in International Security (WIIS)-Washington DC also recognized her as a graduate woman peace scholar for the Next Generation Symposium.  Ashah is a 2018 residence writing fellow of women human rights at the Johannesburg Institute for advanced Study (JIAS).   

She is the current and founding Executive Director of Islamic Women’s Initiative for Justice Law and Peace (IWILAP). Ashah is also the newly appointed Executive Director of Alliance of Inclusive Muslims (AIM) where she also sits on the Board as the Global Director Family Law Reform.  She is a Master Trainer of Sexual and Gender Based Violence with the Regional Training Facility of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLRR-RTF).  



Mwanga Mastullah Ashah

Leadership & Advocacy for Women in Africa (LAWA) Fellow

Mimi B Odicho is an Assyrian poet and activist published five of her books (in Arabic) about freedom of religion in speech and true patriot, creator of a program called read for your hero,  Represented Iraq revolution 2021 also had historical and religious events in Babylon Sumeria and Arbil cities in Iraq (Assyria) Berlin, Germany, Chicago, Illinois, United States, Paris, France to restore the identity of Assyria in all the museums.

Member of active women in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon that works with orphans and affected females from terrorist damage.

She represents ANB SAT in IRF Summit 2023.

Mimi B Odicho 

Assyrian poet and activist

Mr. Thomas P. McDevitt is Chairman of The Washington Times and the company’s Board of Directors. He has been with the news media company since 1994, apart from serving as Senior VP of Marketing and Communications at the Points of Light Foundation, launched by former President George H.W. Bush. In 2019, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon appointed him as Chairman of HJ Magnolia US Holdings, a corporate group including the New Yorker Hotel, Manhattan Center production studio, Ocean Peace fishing company and The Washington Times. He also serves as the Vice-Chairman of HJ Magnolia Global Foundation, which includes the 5 US companies along with 13 firms in Korea and 28 companies in Japan.

Mr. McDevitt also serves as the Global Coordinator of the International Media Association for Peace (IMAP) and the International Association for Peace and Economic Development (IAED), both new global projects of UPF International. Earlier this year at the request of IHQ, Tom launched The Washington Times Global Media Group and published the English and Spanish language versions of Dr. Moon’s memoir, Mother of Peace.

He and his late wife, Soonja Lee McDevitt, participated in the Madison Square Garden Blessing event in July 1982. Tom and Soonja are the proud parents of five sons, Macklee (Mack, 37), Casato (Sato, 35), Joehun (Joe, 34), Patrick (Pat, 33), and the late John McDevitt (30). 

Mr. Thomas P. McDevitt

Chairman of The Washington Times and the company’s Board of Directors

 Dr. Thomas Walsh – Board of Directors, The Washington Times; Serves as Chairman of the Universal Peace Federation, the Sunhak Peace Prize Foundation and the World Peace Road Foundation; Co-Chairman of the Board of Trustees at University of Bridgeport (CT); Vice-Chair of the International Council of the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations; He earned his Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University and has taught philosophy and religion at several universities in the U.S. 

Dr. Thomas Walsh

Chairman of the Universal Peace Federation

Dr. Michael Jenkins is President of The Washington Times Foundation, which sponsors The Washington Brief webcast. He is also Chairman of The Washington Times Holdings, the LLC that owns The Time’s news organization. He has led a number of well-received fact-finding trips to Korea and Japan that have met with the legislative, executive, intelligence and military leadership of those countries.

As President of the non-profit NGO, the Universal Peace Federation International, Dr. Jenkins has a decades-long involvement in starting and conducting peace initiatives all over the world, particularly in Northeast Asia and the Middle East.

Dr. Michael Jenkins

President of The Washington Times Foundation

Congressman Dan Burton is currently Co-Chairman of the International Association of 

Parliamentarians for Peace, a project of Universal Peace Federation International.

He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 to 2013, as a Republican from the State of Indiana.

He served on the Foreign Affairs Committee where, during most of his congressional career, he was either Chairman or Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Asia and Pacific. He also served on the Subcommittee on the Middle East, Europe and Eurasia, as well as the Subcommittee on Africa and the Western Hemisphere.

His work on the Foreign Affairs Committee gave him many opportunities to visit the nations of Northeast Asia and gain a better understanding of the complex issues in this part of the world.

He also served as Chairman of the congressional Government Reform and Oversight Committee.

In September 1994, he co-sponsored with Democrat Floyd Flake of New York, the bi-partisan Parents’ Day Resolution, establishing the fourth Sunday of July as a perennial day of commemoration. A month later the resolution was signed into law by President Clinton, “recognizing, uplifting, and supporting the role of parents in the rearing of children.”

The establishment of Parents’ Day was the result of a bipartisan, multiracial and interfaith coalition of religious, civic and elected leaders who recognized the need to promote responsible parenting in our society and to uplift ideal parental role models, especially for our nation’s children.

Dan Burton

Co-Chairman of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace, a project of Universal Peace Federation International.

Amb. Suzan Johnson Cook is a U.S. presidential advisorpastortheologianauthoractivist, and academic who served as the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, 2011-13. She served as a policy advisor to President Bill Clinton and later to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros. She has been a dean and professor of communications at Harvard University, a professor of theology at New York Theological Seminary, a pastor at a number of churches, a television producer, and the author of nearly a dozen books, and is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

Suzan Johnson Cook

U.S. presidential advisor, pastor, theologian, author and academic.

Alessandro (Alex) Amicarelli is a practising attorney in England and Wales and in Italy, and a partner and director of Obaseki & Co in London where he practises human rights and immigration and refugee law. He specialises in International and Human Rights Law having earned a doctorate on “International Order and Human Rights” from “La Sapienza” University of Rome, with a dissertation on the protection of religious freedom in International law.
Dr. Amicarelli has a strong interest for minorities and religious freedom of both New Religious Movements and traditional minority religious and spiritual groups and of their members and also specialises in American State-Church Law and Parliamentary Procedure. He has dedicated the last twenty years to issues related to the protection of freedom of religion and belief (FORB), the rights of refugees and displaced persons, and other human rights and immigration matters, representing clients internationally.
He has extensively lectured in human rights, and taught courses on the International Protection of Human Rights at the School of Law of “Carlo Bo”, University of Urbino, Italy; he has contributed with articles and chapters published on printed and online journals, books and papers, and has also taught a course on Human Rights, Minorities and Religious Freedom at Soochow University, Taiwan (ROC). Atty. Amicarelli is a frequent speaker at academic and legal events and conferences and meetings held in different countries and at different places such as the Chamber of Deputies in Rome, the House of Lords in London, the United Nations Palace in Geneva, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Warsaw, the Senate of the United States of America in Washington DC and other locations too. He is a member of the Society of Legal Scholars and a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts in the United Kingdom and a member of different societies and organisations.  As a committed advocate of freedom, humanity, justice and peace, he is a trustee of the All Faiths Network (UK) and the current chairman and spokesman of the European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB).

Alessandro (Alex) Amicarelli

Attorney in England,Wales, and Italy and Partner and Director of Obaseki & Co

Mark Hill has more than twenty years experience of common law practice advising and representing clients in a broad range of cases including personal injury, professional negligence, rating, costs, trusts of land, property disputes and village greens. Against this wide background, he has developed an expertise in the law of religious liberty and is recognized as the country’s leading practitioner in ecclesiastical law. He is an honorary professor of law at Cardiff University and formerly visiting fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Hill is honorary professor at the Centre for Law and Religion, Cardiff University; extraordinary professor at the University of Pretoria; visiting professor at the Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College London and adjunct professor at Notre Dame University, Sydney, and is ecumenical fellow in canon law at the Venerable English College in Rome. He was elected a Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple in 2011 and appointed President of the European Consortium for Church and State Research in 2012. He is a qualified mediator and was a legal assessor to the Fitness to Practise Panel of the General Medical Council (2008-2015). He regularly publishes and lectures on matters of Church and State and was a contributing editor for Jowitt’s Dictionary of English Law (2010).

Mark Hill


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