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IPR Welcomes Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook as our new Distinguised Visiting Fellow

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The Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies is pleased to announce that Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook is our newest Distinguished Visiting Fellow.  She was introduced at a press conference held at the National Press Club at 2:00pm on December 3rd.

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IPR Director, Dr. Stephen Schneck, introduced her at the Press Club press conference.  His remarks are below:

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you so very much for coming to this press conference.

My name is Stephen Schneck. I’m the director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies of The Catholic University of America.

The Institute is an academic think tank that is charged with the study and assessment of public policy from the perspectives of the university’s mission and the social teachings of the Church.

I’m pleased to announce today that Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, who has recently stepped down as United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, is joining the Institute as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow with a one-year appointment. We are tremendously excited and honored to have the ambassador be part of our work.

Appointed by President Barrack Obama as the United States Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Suzan Johnson Cook was the principal advisor to both the President of the United States and Secretary of State for Religious Freedom globally. She was the first African American and the first female to hold this position. As our ambassador for religious freedom, she represented our nation in more than 25 countries and more than 100 Diplomatic engagements and worked to further integrate an active promotion of Religious Freedom into our Foreign Policy and National Security Priorities.

Prior to joining the Department of State, Ambassador Johnson Cook was an author, activist, analyst and commentator, professional speaker and faith leader.  She has given more than 2,500 speeches and been featured on most major TV and radio shows, including:  THE TODAY SHOW, GOOD MORNING AMERICA, FOX MIDDAY and THE DAVE DINKINS SHOW.

She has had three Presidential appointments, two appointments from Cabinet Secretaries and a United States Senate confirmation. In 1993, Johnson Cook was a White House Fellow on the Domestic Policy Council. In that role, she advised President Bill Clinton on a range of issues including homelessness, violence, and community empowerment. She also worked with the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on faith based initiatives from 1994 until 1997. President Clinton appointed her in 1997 to serve on his National President’s Initiative on Race, as his only faith advisor.

Ambassador Johnson Cook is the recipient of several awards, including the Woman of Conscience Award from the UN, the Martin Luther King Jr. Award, the Visionary Leader’s Award, the Judith Hollister Peace Award, and the Hellenic Award for Public Service, and has also authored ten books, three of them bestsellers: Too Blessed to be Stressed: Words of Wisdom for Women on the Move (Thomas Nelson) ; Sister to Sister: Volume One: Devotions for and from African American Women (Judson Press), and Becoming a Woman of Destiny:: Turning life’s Trials into Triumphs.

I might add, that ESSENCE Magazine named her one of the TOP 40 Power women, and MOVES Magazine recently named her as one of the TOP POWER MOVES women.

The ambassador completed her Master of Divinity at the prestigious Union Theological Seminary and received her Doctor of Ministry United Theological Seminary.  Previously, she was named a Sam Proctor Fellow and a Harvard University President’s Administrative Fellow.

What the ambassador brings to the Institute is her extraordinary activism and expertise on issues of international religious freedom – a focus that Cardinal Timothy Dolan named in his farewell address as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as a foremost concern in our times. As most of you know, the Institute recently announced the appointment of the Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng as Distinguished Visiting Fellow who has similar interests. Several of the Institute’s other Fellows are involved with parallel issues. We are excited to have the ambassador provide leadership in this area. We hope over the coming months to have the ambassador offer a major public lecture and to lend us her wise counsel in developing a conference in conjunction with her expertise.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am so very happy to give you Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook.