As Director of Countering Antisemitism and Extremism at Human Rights First, Susan Corke works to ensure that the U.S. leads internationally on combating antisemitism and extremism in partnership with European allies. Susan is a skilled expert and practitioner in protecting human rights, promoting tolerance, and supporting democratic reform in Europe and Eurasia. Both in and out of government she has focused on how to address a troubling trend: authoritarian regimes in Eurasia have increased popular hostility to principles of democratic governance and propelled nationalistic, extremist, antisemitic, and racist momentum. When citizens have legitimate grievances without an outlet and freedoms are denied in the name of stability, instability and extremism are likely to increase. The work of organizations like Human Rights First is vital in pushing for leadership from the U.S. government and allies to reverse these dangerous trends.
Susan joined Human Rights First after 4.5 years at Freedom House where she was Director of Programs for Europe, Eurasia, and Southeast Asia and also led corporate engagement efforts in New York. In this position, she managed teams in multiple offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Turkey to implement programs and advocacy campaigns to protect human rights, promote tolerance, support human rights defenders, and advance democracy and rule of law. She led the development and production of several special policy reports on Turkey and Russia, among others, to draw international attention to volatile political situations and recommend policy solutions. She has been regular commentator in American and European media and testified on Capitol Hill several times to bear witness to urgent human rights issues, including countering the rise of extremism and intolerance across the Eurasia region.
To put rhetoric into programmatic action, in Susan’s role at Freedom House she implemented a Eurasia-wide strategy for providing civil society, religious groups, and media actors with support, tools, and networks to raise awareness and advocate action to combat the spread of the “Russia model,” which fans the flames of intolerance, antisemitism, extremism, and homophobia throughout the region by crushing civil liberties, restricting religious freedom, and cutting off freedom of information and replacing it with propaganda. Her efforts also involved engaging wider constituencies in the human rights agenda—those most vulnerable to extremist and antisemitic recruitment—the young and the marginalized.
Before joining Freedom House, Susan held senior positions at the U.S. Department of State, in Washington, D.C., taking leadership roles on assignments in Russia and the Czech Republic; most recently she was the Deputy Director for European Affairs in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), where she worked to promote human rights and democratic reform in some of the most repressive countries in the region, such as Russia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus. She was a member of several high level U.S. government delegations including to the OSCE Bucharest conference on tolerance and nondiscrimination and the OSCE Madrid Ministerial. She oversaw the editing for the State Department annual human rights country reports for Europe and had supervisory oversight for DRL’s civil society, media, countering extremism, and human rights programs in Europe. She also served in stints at U.S. Embassy Moscow, U.S. Embassy Prague, the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, and in the Bureau of Public Affairs as a Presidential Management Fellow.
Prior to the State Department, Susan helped found and manage the U.S. Foreign Policy Institute at the Elliott School of International of Affairs at George Washington University. She has also worked at the German Marshall Fund and as a media strategist at several advertising agencies in New York. Susan has a Master’s degree in International Affairs from George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs with concentrations in International Law and Conflict Resolution, and a Bachelor’s degree from the College of William & Mary.
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