Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 14 as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom at the Department of State’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will be sworn-in May 11.
The first woman and person of African-American descent to hold this position, Johnson Cook was appointed by President Barack Obama, and will serve as principal advisor on religious issues globally to him and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. She will be supported by the office of International Religious Freedom in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
Upon her confirmation, Johnson Cook said, “I am deeply honored by the trust that President Obama and Secretary Clinton have placed in me to serve our nation in advancing the right to freedom of religion abroad. I am similarly persuaded in my mind, heart, and soul that religious freedom is the birthright of all people everywhere; a foundation of civil society, a key to international security, and it must always be a pillar of U.S. foreign policy.”
Johnson Cook plans to embrace the mandate of the International Religious Freedom Act, while aggressively promoting the growth of the Office of International Religious Freedom. Plans also call for Johnson Cook to provide oversight of the Annual Religious Freedom Report to Congress, a report that examines the state of religious freedoms in 198 countries throughout the globe.
A noted leader in the religious community, Johnson Cook is adept at developing inter-faith synergies. Founder and president of Wisdom Worldwide Center, and a former advisor on President Bill Clinton’s Domestic Policy Council, Johnson Cook is the first female and African American to serve as chaplain to the New York Police Department, a position she has held since 1990, and has served as the senior pastor of Bronx Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in New York City since 1996.
Johnson Cook also served as the senior pastor to The Mariners Temple Baptist Church from 1983 to 1986. A graduate of Harvard University, Dr. Johnson Cook also holds a bachelor’s from Emerson College, a master’s from The Columbia University Teachers College, a master’s of divinity from Union Theological Seminary and a doctorate of ministry from The United Theological Seminary.