Katrina Lantos Swett joins 2021 International Religious Freedom Summit as co-chair, Gayle Manchin steps down to begin new federal assignment

May. 17, 2021

WASHINGTON — Katrina Lantos Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, has accepted the invitation to serve as co-chair of the 2021 International Religious Freedom Summit. The Summit’s previous co-chair, Gayle Manchin, stepped down after being appointed and confirmed as vice chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). Dr. Lantos Swett will join Samuel Brownback, former U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom, to lead the summit, which will be held Tuesday, July 13 through Thursday, July 15 in Washington, D.C. 

“The right to freedom of religion, conscience and belief is a fundamental cornerstone needed to build just, free societies — but it is increasingly coming under attack,” said Dr. Lantos Swett. “Sadly, there is no shortage of persecuted religious groups around the world who stand in need of solidarity and support. I am honored to be part of the IRF Summit 2021, and I feel optimistic that this event will be a catalyst for greater collaboration and collective action on advancing religious freedom ‘for all people, everywhere at all times.’”

Lantos Swett is the former chair and vice-chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and is daughter of the late Congressman Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to the U.S. Congress and founder of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. She is a lecturer within the Department of Political Science at Tufts University, teaching courses on human rights and American foreign policy as well as international religious freedom. 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. Lantos Swett also serves on the Advisory Boards of UN Watch, the annual Anne Frank Award and Lecture, and The Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy.

The honorary congressional co-chairs and keynote speakers for the summit include: 

  • Sen. Christopher Coons — Delaware (D): Co-founder and co-chair of the U.S. Senate Human Rights Caucus; U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs; U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee; U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee; U.S. Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee; U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics. 
  • Sen. James Lankford — Oklahoma (R): U.S. Senate Committee on Finance; U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources; U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs; U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics; Co-founder and co-chair, U.S. Senate Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism; Commissioner, Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
  • Rep. Henry Cuellar — Texas, 28th District (D): Chief Deputy Whip, U.S. House of Representatives; U.S. House Appropriations Committee; Vice Chair, U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security; U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense; U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies.
  • Rep. Christopher Smith — New Jersey, 4th District (R): Author, Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000; Co-founder and co-chair, Congressional Human Trafficking Caucus; U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs; U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights & International Organizations; Co-chair, U.S. House Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission; U.S. House Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
  • Imam Mohamed Magid — Executive Imam, All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center
  • Cardinal Timothy Dolan — Archbishop of New York, Catholic Church
  • Archbishop Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis) Archbishop of America, Greek Orthodox Church
  • Archbishop Angaelos Archbishop of London, Coptic Orthodox Church 
  • Lord David Alton of Liverpool Independent Crossbench Life Peer
  • Frank Wolf House of Representatives, (R) Virginia, 10th District, 1981-2015 
  • Wai Wai Nu — Founder of Women’s Peace Network 
  • Tursunay Ziyawudun — Uyghur Rights Activist
  • Ruth Okediji — Jeremiah Smith. Jr, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School

The Summit is supported by more than 60 diverse partners, including the Religious Freedom Institute, Uyghur Human Rights Project, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Alliance Defending Freedom, among others. All partners can be seen here. It aims to bring greater attention to religious freedom violations and to create a powerful coalition of groups to advance the cause of religious freedom around the world.

More information on the International Religious Freedom Summit 2021 is available here

Registration and accommodations are available here.

International Religious Freedom Summit 2021 is convening a powerful, broad coalition of religious and civil society groups to advocate for religious freedom for all people, everywhere at all times.

Samuel Brownback served as the U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom from 2018 to 2021.

Katrina Lantos Swett is president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice and former chair and vice chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).