WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today unanimously elected Dr. Tenzin Dorjee as its Chair. The Commission also unanimously elected its two Vice Chairs: Kristina Arriaga and Gayle Manchin. In a show of bipartisan collegiality and support for the new Chair, the Commissioners opted to hold the election openly, rather than following the Commission’s usual procedure of voting anonymously by closed ballot.
Chair Dorjee is an Associate Professor at the Department of Human Communication Studies, California State University, Fullerton. He is a prominent translator of Tibetan and Buddhist works and has served as translator for the Dalai Lama. Chair Dorjee has also been recognized with numerous honors for his scholarship and advocacy on behalf of the Tibetan community. As a Commissioner he has traveled to Burma and Iraq to monitor religious freedom conditions and testified before the U.S. Congress on religious freedom violations in Tibet and China.
Chair Dorjee was first appointed to the Commission on December 8, 2016, by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). He was reappointed by Leader Pelosi on May 10, 2018.
In response to his election, Chair Dorjee said, “It is an honor and privilege to be unanimously elected Chair of the Commission. Our Commissioners bring a diverse array of complementary experiences and skills to the table, and we all share a collective commitment to the promotion of religious freedom or belief for those of all faiths and none.”
Vice Chair Arriaga was reappointed to the Commission by Speaker Ryan on May 21, 2018. Vice Chair Manchin was appointed to the Commission by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) on April 19, 2018.
Chair Dorjee continued, “The challenges to religious freedom around the globe are growing on a daily basis, but so too is our resolve to confront these challenges. As the first Tibetan Buddhist elected Chair, I look forward to leading this Commission over the next year in an inclusive way as we provide policy recommendations to the White House, the Secretary of State, and Congress on addressing the global challenges to freedom of religion or belief.”
Also serving on the Commission are: Gary L. Bauer, Nadine Maenza, Johnnie Moore, and Tony Perkins. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback serves ex officio on the Commission.
Read the full Commissioner bios here.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world. USCIRF reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations abroad and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and the Congressional leadership of both political parties. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at Media@USCIRF.gov or Isaac Six, Director of Congressional Affairs and Communications (ISix@USCIRF.gov +1-202-786-0606).