With New Hires, Human Rights First Builds Out Program on Extremism

WASHINGTON – Human Rights First today announced the hiring of Erin E. Wilson as the Senior Director for Extremism and Human Rights and Elizabeth Yates, Ph.D. as Senior Researcher on Antisemitism.

“Domestic extremism and antisemitism are two sides of the same coin, and Human Rights First is working to take that currency out of circulation,” said Michael Breen, president and CEO of Human Rights First. “We are certain that as Human Rights First works to counter white supremacist extremism and the existential threat it poses to American democracy, the experience and tenacity Erin Wilson and Elizabeth Yates have long shown on these issues will be great resources.”

Over her 20-year career, Wilson has established herself as an expert on addressing domestic extremism, with extensive experience as a senior policy strategist and analyst across the U.S. Government’s executive and legislative branches. She has extensive experience with stakeholders in communities around the world as well as federal, state, local agencies and law enforcement partners to address extremism using a rights-centered approach.

“As nationally-renowned experts in violence prevention and countering hate, Erin and Elizabeth bring U.S. government and academic expertise that will drive a broad strategy to take on the extremism that is a growing crisis in our culture and our politics,” said Kareem Shora, Human Rights First executive vice president for programs and policy.

Prior to joining Human Rights First, Wilson served as the Director for the D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine’s initiative, “The People v. Hate: Standing Up for Humanity,” when Racine served as president of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) in 2021. The initiative brought together attorneys general, former extremists, survivors, their families, community advocates, law enforcement leaders and historians to prevent hate by empowering young people, raise awareness of different types of domestic extremism, and to support survivors and communities most vulnerable to hate and extremism.

“It is an honor to join the Human Rights First team to address domestic extremism – the greatest threat in the United States to our security, our democracy, and our common humanity. The domestic threat may be cloaked in different conspiracies and motivations but is just as insidious and destructive to the fabric of our society and the safety of our citizens, as the recent attacks in Buffalo clearly demonstrate,” said Wilson.

Before joining the D.C. Attorney General’s office, Wilson served as a 2019 Brookings Legislative Fellow and Senior Policy Advisor in the United States Senate, where she furthered legislation to improve social justice, prevent hate, and counter violent white supremacy.  Wilson earned her master’s degree in Comparative Politics and Conflict Studies, with an emphasis on extremism, from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She received her bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Michigan State University.

Prior to joining Human Rights First as Senior Researcher on Antisemitism, Yates served as a Senior Researcher at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland, contributing to the expansion of their work on domestic extremism and hate crimes. She co-authored numerous reports and articles on topics including extremism in the U.S. military, the growth of anti-Muslim terrorism, mass casualty hate crimes, and disengagement from right-wing extremism. Her analysis and commentary have regularly been featured on local and national news.

“White supremacism and antisemitism have become increasingly violent and visible in the United States and around the world in recent years. Human Rights First has long been a leader in advancing the cause of justice, and I am honored to join this team in this critical moment in our nation’s history,” said Yates.

Yates has worked at several non-profit organizations, building a career dedicated to advancing social justice and equity. She earned her Ph.D. and MA in Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh and her BA in International Relations from Tufts University.



  • Elizabeth Yates

Published on September 19, 2022


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