Capitol Conversations Episodes

This week, Jeff Pickering, Chelsea Patterson Sobolik, and Travis Wussow are honored to welcome Gayle Manchin, Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom to discuss USCIRF’s recently released annual report.

Comprised of nine commissioners, USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan federal body that is principally responsible for reviewing the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and making policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress. The president and leadership of both political parties in the Senate and House of Representatives appoint USCIRF Commissioners.

Guest Biography

Gayle Manchin is an educator who has worked in Marion County Schools at the secondary level, on the faculty of Fairmont State University in Developmental Education, and was the Director of the university’s first Community Service Learning Program. From 2005-2010, Gayle Manchin served as West Virginia’s First Lady. She was appointed by the Governor to serve as a member of the State Board of Education, where she also served as President. She also served for one year as West Virginia’s Cabinet Secretary for the Office of Education and the Arts. At the national level, Gayle Manchin has been President of the National Association of State Boards of Education. She was appointed by then Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to the Federal Improvement for Post-Secondary Education Board in 2010. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of The Ford Theatre in Washington, D.C. Gayle Manchin has spoken at the state and national levels on the challenges of rural education, poverty, and student achievement. She holds a Master of Arts in Reading and a Bachelor of Arts in Language Arts and Education from West Virginia University, and a master’s specialization in Educational Technology Leadership from Salem International University.

Resources from the Conversation


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Chelsea Sobolik

Chelsea Sobolik serves as the Director of Public Policy with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission in the Washington, D.C. office. Previously, she worked on Capitol Hill on pro-life policies, domestic and international religious freedom, adoption, and foster care issues. Chelsea has been published at the Wall Street Journal, USA … Read More

Jeff Pickering

Jeff Pickering is the director of the Initiative on Faith & Public Life, a project of the American Enterprise Institute. AEI is a leading public policy think tank in Washington, DC and the initiative exists to equip Christian college students for faithful engagement in public life. Jeff moved to Washington … Read More

Travis Wussow

Travis Wussow serves as the Vice President for Public Policy and General Counsel. Travis led the ERLC’s first international office located in the Middle East prior to joining the Washington DC office. He received a B.B.A. in Finance from The University of Texas at Austin and a J.D. from The … Read More


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