Veteran Foreign Policy Expert Susan Corke Joins Human Rights First as Director of Countering Antisemitism and Extremism

New York City—Human Rights First today announced that Susan Corke has joined the organization to lead an intensified effort to counter antisemitism and extremism, with a special focus on Europe. Corke is a seasoned professional with extensive experience in government and the non-profit sector promoting tolerance and supporting democratic reform in Europe and Eurasia. In this newly-created position, Corke will direct the organization’s ongoing effort to foster American leadership, in partnership with European allies, in combating antisemitism and extremism.

“The rise of antisemitism and extremism in Europe, and the role of Russia in facilitating it, is deeply worrying and a threat to human rights and democratic values. We are fortunate to have someone of Susan’s intellect, experience, and policy savvy on board to lead our efforts to combat this trend, and to promote the protection of human rights and democratic values in Europe,” said Human Rights First’s Elisa Massimino.

Corke has a broad range of experience in foreign policy and international affairs. Throughout her career, she has focused on the underlying political drivers that fuel the growth of nationalistic, extremist, antisemitic, and racist sentiments and political parties and how to change them. As Director of Programs for Europe, Eurasia, and Southeast Asia at Freedom House, Corke pursued a Eurasia-wide strategy for enabling civil society groups to combat the spread of the “Russia model”—policies that fan the flames of intolerance, antisemitism, extremism, and homophobia crushing civil liberties, restricting religious freedom, and cutting off freedom of information and replacing it with propaganda.

“Human Rights First has an unparalleled reputation for smart, pragmatic—and successful—advocacy designed to get the U.S. government to uphold the universal ideals of human rights and freedom at home and in its foreign policy. I know from my past experience how important American leadership is on these issues, and I’m excited to take up the challenge of intensifying the organization’s efforts to ensure that our government does all it can to stem the alarming rise of antisemitism and extremism in Europe,” said Corke.

Prior to her role at Freedom House, Corke held several senior positions at the U.S. Department of State, including Deputy Director for European Affairs in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), where she promoted human rights and democratic reform in some of the most repressive countries in Eastern Europe—Russia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus. She oversaw the editing of the State Department’s annual human rights country reports for Europe and supervised DRL’s civil society, media, countering extremism, and human rights programs in Europe. Corke also served at the U.S. Embassies in Moscow and Prague, in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, and in the Bureau of Public Affairs as a Presidential Management Fellow.

Earlier in her career, Corke helped to found and manage the U.S. Foreign Policy Institute at the Elliott School of International of Affairs at George Washington University.

Human Rights First has long led the effort to ensure that the U.S. government makes antisemitism a foreign policy priority. A report released last year by Human Rights First, “We’re not Nazis, but…The Rise of Hate Parties in Hungary and Greece and Why America Should Care” details how antisemitic and racist political parties have grown in strength in Hungary and Greece and have had a wide ranging negative impact on protection of the rule of law and human rights in those countries. In January, Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino addressed a special session of the United Nations, urging an international effort to combat antisemitism.


Published on October 15, 2015


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