White House Announces Appointment of Religious Freedom Ambassador

June 2010 – Washington, D.C.
Joseph Hepworth

The White House has announced that President Obama has appointed Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. Dr. Johnson Cook has served as Senior Pastor of the Bronx Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in New York since 1996 and as chaplain to the NYPD since 1990. Dr. Johnson Cook is the Founder and President of Wisdom Worldwide Center the owner of Charisma Speakers. Dr. Johnson Cook is also a Founder/Board Member of the Multi-Ethnic Center and has been the Executive Director since 1996. From 1983-1996, she served as Senior Pastor to the Mariners Temple Baptist Church. Prior to that she was a professor at the New York Theological Seminary from 1988-1996. Dr. Johnson Cook holds a B.S. from Emerson College, Master of Arts from Columbia University, Teachers College, Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary, and Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary.

The White House also announced two appointments to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Felice D. Gaer is the director of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights of the American Jewish Committee. She was and remains the first American to serve as an Independent Expert on the UN Committee against Torture, a body which monitors compliance of 146 countries with the Convention against Torture. Ms. Gaer is a graduate of Wellesley College, from which she received the Alumni Achievement Award in 1995. She also received advanced degrees from Columbia University.

William J. Shaw is the Immediate Past President of the National Baptist Convention, USA. Inc. and Pastor of White Rock Baptist Church in Philadelphia, a position he has held since 1956. He was previously appointed to serve on the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund and currently sits on the Board of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Shaw has served as President of The Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Philadelphia and Vicinity, The Metropolitan Christian Council of Philadelphia, and the Union Theological Seminary National Alumni Association.