Symposium 2012: Keynote Speakers

The International Center for Law and Religion Studies was pleased to welcome three distinguished keynote speakers for the Nineteenth Annual International Law and Religion Symposium: Professor Silvio Ferrari of the law faculties of the universities of Milan (Italy) and Leuven (Belgium), Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, Chair of the United States’ Commission on International Religious Freedom, and Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Freedom. 

The speakers addressed the Symposium during the opening session of the Symposium on Sunday evening, 7 October 2012.

Professor Silvio Ferrari is Professor of Canon Law at the University of Milan and Professor of Church-State Relations at the University of Leuven in Belgium. He has been visiting professor in Paris (École Pratique des Hautes Études) and Berkeley (University of California) and advises many international organizations, including the European Union and the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe. He has founded, together with other professors, the European Consortium for Church and State Research. Professor Ferrari is a member of the Scientific Committee of the Institut européen en sciences des religions (EPHE, Paris) and of the Board of Experts of the International Religious Liberty Association (Silver Spring, Maryland). His main fields of interest are Law and Religion issues in West Europe; Comparative Law of Religions (in particular Jewish Law, Canon Law and Islamic Law); and Relations between Israel and the Vatican. Honorary Life President of the International Consortium for Law and Religion Studies, Professor Ferrari also serves as co-Editor-in-Chief of the newly launched Oxford Journal of Law and Religion.

Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett was appointed to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in March 2012. A holder of degrees in political science from Yale University, law from the University of California Hastings College of Law, and history (PhD) from The University of Southern Denmark, Dr. Swett is the daughter of Holocaust survivors, Congressman Tom Lantos and Annette Tillemann Lantos, who came to the United States from Hungary following World War II. In 2008 Dr. Swett established the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice to carry on the legacy of her late father, who was the cofounder of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and the only survivor of the Holocaust ever to serve in the US Congress. Dr. Swett currently serves as the Foundation’s President and Chief Executive Officer. She teaches Human Rights and American Foreign Policy at Tufts University. She has also taught at the University of Southern Denmark, served as Director of the Graduate Program in Public Policy at New England College, and worked for then-Senator Joe Biden as Deputy Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee – Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Dr. Swett is married to Richard Swett, former U.S. Congressman and U.S. Ambassador to Denmark. They are the proud parents of seven children and two grandchildren.

Dr. Suzan D. Johnson Cook, appointed by President Obama in May 2011, is the third person to serve as Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom since the creation of the position under the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. In this capacity she is the principal advisor to both the President of the United States and Secretary of State for Religious Freedom globally.  Prior to joining the Department of State, Ambassador Johnson Cook served as the senior pastor and CEO of the Bronx Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in New York City from 1996-2010. She was also the founder and president of Wisdom Women Worldwide Center, a global center for female faith leaders and the owner of Charisma Speakers, a cross cultural communications firm and speakers bureau. Johnson Cook held the position of Chaplain to the New York City Police Department for twenty-one years, the only woman to serve in that role; she was on the front lines of 9/11. She was also a founder and board member of the Multi-Ethnic Center in New York City. She received her Bachelor of Science in Speech from Emerson College in Boston, a Master of Arts from Columbia University Teachers College in New York City, a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in NYC, a Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. She was a Sam Proctor Fellow and a Harvard University President’s Administrative Fellow.