President Biden Announces Intent to Nominate and Appoint Leaders to Serve in Key Religious Affairs Roles
WASHINGTON – Today, President Biden announced his intent to nominate and appoint individuals to serve in key roles at the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom:
- Rashad Hussain, Nominee for Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom
- Deborah Lipstadt, Nominee for Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism with the Rank of Ambassador
- Khizr Khan, Appointee for Commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
- Sharon Kleinbaum, Appointee for Commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
Today’s announcement underscores the President’s commitment to build an Administration that looks like America and reflects people of all faiths. Hussain is the first Muslim to be nominated to serve as the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, and Lipstadt is a renowned scholar of the Holocaust and antisemitism.
Rashad Hussain, Nominee for Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom
Rashad Hussain is Director for Partnerships and Global Engagement at the National Security Council. He previously served as Senior Counsel at the Department of Justice’s National Security Division. During the Obama Administration, Rashad served as U.S. 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 worked with multilateral organizations such as the OIC and UN, foreign governments, and civil society organizations to expand partnerships in education, entrepreneurship, health, international security, science and technology, and other areas. Rashad also spearheaded efforts on countering antisemitism and protecting religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Rashad worked on the House Judiciary Committee, served as a judicial law clerk to the Hon. Damon Keith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and was an Associate Counsel to the Obama-Biden Transition Project. Rashad received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal, and Master’s degrees in Public Administration (Kennedy School of Government) and Arabic and Islamic Studies from Harvard University. He has also taught as Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown Law Center and the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. He speaks Urdu, Arabic, and Spanish.
Deborah Lipstadt, Nominee for Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism with the Rank of Ambassador
Deborah E. Lipstadt is Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, where she was the founding director of the Institute for Jewish Studies. She is the author of Beyond Belief: the American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust 1933-1945; History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier; The Eichmann Trial; Holocaust: An American Understanding and Antisemitism: Here and Now. After the British writer and Holocaust denier David Irving sued her for libel, a ten-week trial in London in 2000 resulted in an overwhelming victory for Lipstadt. Lipstadt is currently on the Boards of the Jewish Forward Advisory Committee and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and serves as a judge for the Rohr Prize in Jewish Literature. She has also served in several roles at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, including twice as a Presidential Appointee to the Museum’s Council, and was asked by President George W. Bush to represent the White House at the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Lipstadt was previously a member of the U.S. Department of State’s Advisory Committee on Religious Persecution Abroad and was a Board Member of Hillel International, The Defiant Requiem, and The Covenant Foundation. She has received numerous awards for her research and writing and is the recipient of nine honorary degrees. Lipstadt received a B.A. from City College in New York and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Brandeis University. She is fluent in Hebrew.
Khizr Khan, Appointee for Commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
Khizr Khan, founder of the Constitution Literacy and National Unity Project, is an advocate for religious freedom as a core element of human dignity. After immigrating to the United States in 1980, he attended Harvard Law School and obtained his LL.M degree. He is licensed to practice law before the Supreme Court of the United States, various Federal District Courts, and Washington, DC and New York State courts. In his law practice, he devotes a substantial amount of his time to providing legal services to veterans, men and women serving in uniform, and their families.
Khizr Khan is a Gold Star parent of U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan. Capt. Humayun Khan was a University of Virginia graduate who was killed while serving in Iraq as he stopped an attack on his camp and saved the lives of scores of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with Valor. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery Section 60 with full military honors.
Khizr Khan lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is author of three books, including An American Family-A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice, Founding Documents of the United States of America, and This is Our Constitution.
Sharon Kleinbaum, Appointee for Commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum serves as spiritual leader of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST) in New York City. She was installed as CBST’s first rabbi in 1992, arriving at the height of the AIDS crisis when the synagogue was in desperate need of pastoral care and spiritual leadership. She guided the congregation through a period of loss and change, while addressing social issues and building a strong and deeply spiritual community. Under her leadership as Senior Rabbi, CBST has become a powerful voice in the movement for equality and justice for people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions. Rabbi Kleinbaum has long been involved in the fight for human rights, including religious freedom. She previously served on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in 2020. For many years Rabbi Kleinbaum has been ranked by Newsweek among the 50 most influential rabbis in America. Rabbi Kleinbaum is also a Commissioner on New York City’s Commission on Human Rights, serves on Mayor de Blasio’s Faith Based Advisory Council, and serves on the boards of the New York Jewish Agenda and the New Israel Fund.
Sharon Kleinbaum’s longtime leadership of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah and her outspoken activism have made her a powerful voice for religious freedom, LGBTQ rights and other human rights in America and around the world.