Tom Reese Named to Commission on International Religious Freedom

Jesuit journalist Father Thomas J. Reese is among several new members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

In a May 14 announcement, President Barack Obama named Father Reese to the organization that serves as a monitoring and advisory panel to the federal government on religious freedom abroad. He joins three fellow Catholics on the commission: chairman Robert P. George, a bioethicist and Princeton University professor; James Zogby, the founder and president of the Arab American Institute; and Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard University law professor and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

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Commissioners serve two-year terms and may be reappointed. As of May 19, there was one vacancy on the commission, to be filled by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

In naming Father Reese, the White House press release noted his current post as a senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter, his two stints as a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University and his term as associate editor and then editor-in-chief of the Jesuit magazine America. Father Reese has been a Jesuit since 1962, and a priest since 1974. In addition to undergraduate and master's degrees including a master's of divinity, he holds a doctorate in political science.

Under the 1998 law that created the commission, three of its nine slots are filled by the president, two by Congressional leaders of the president's party and the other four by House and Senate leaders in the party that doesn't hold the presidency.

George was reappointed this year by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Glendon was reappointed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

In addition to Father Reese, Obama named Eric P. Schwartz to the commission. He is dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. He has held positions as deputy special envoy to the U.N. Secretary general for tsunami recovery; on the staff of the National Security Council and has been active in an assortment of human rights and social services organizations.

Also appointed for a term that began in mid-May was Daniel I. Mark, an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University, who was named by Boehner. Mark is a faculty associate of the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good, and also works with the Tikvah Fund, a Jewish educational center.

Other commissioners who were reappointed this spring include vice chairs Katrina Lantos Swett, founder and president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, who was reappointed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a physician who is the president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. He was reappointed by McConnell. Zogby has another year in his two-year term.

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