Capitol Conversations Episodes

Staff from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom sit down with ERLC policy director Matt Hawkins to discuss their work and the most recent annual report from the Commission. Dwight Bashir serves as Director of Research and Policy Director of International Law and Policy at the Commission.  

Guest bios  

Dwight Bashir is Director of Research and Policy at the Commission. For more than 20 years, he has worked in the areas of international human rights, freedom of religion or belief, and conflict resolution. While at USCIRF, Mr. Bashir has led or participated in numerous fact-finding missions internationally and has traveled widely throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Mr. Bashir has been interviewed and his articles featured in major media outlets, blogs, and academic journals, including BBC, CNN, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, PBS NewsHour, National Public Radio, Al Jazeera, the Yale Journal of International Affairs, and the Cairo Review of Global Affairs, among others, and he lectures in the United States and globally on various topics in international affairs, including countering violent extremism, ethnic and sectarian conflict, and global peace and security. Mr. Bashir pursued his Bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations at the University of Richmond and his Master’s and Doctoral degrees in international conflict analysis and resolution at George Mason University.  

Elizabeth K. Cassidy is Director of International Law and Policy at the Commission. She manages USCIRF’s annual report process, supervises policy and research staff, and is responsible for a substantive portfolio that includes United Nations issues, international and comparative law issues, and U.S. refugee and asylum policy. Ms. Cassidy has taught courses at the University of Namibia, Princeton University, and Seton Hall University School of Law, and conducted training sessions for U.S. State Department and Department of Homeland Security officials. She has authored and co-authored several book chapters and numerous journal and online articles, including in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, OnFaith, and Opinio Juris. In 2014-2015, she served on the U.S. State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group. She holds a B.A. in international politics from Wesleyan University, a J.D. from American University's Washington College of Law, and a LL.M in comparative constitutional law from the University of Stellenbosch.

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Matthew Hawkins

Matthew Hawkins previously served the ERLC as a Policy Director in Washington, D.C. Presently, Matt is  pursuing a Ph.D. in public theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In the meantime, he is writing and consulting at the intersection of religion and the public square. Matt holds an M.A. in Ethics … Read More


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