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Obama Extends Schwartz’s Stint on International Religious Freedom Commission

President Obama extended the appointment of Eric Schwartz, a dean at the University of Minnesota, to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Schwartz, who is on the boards of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, was among several appointees and nominees the White House announced Wednesday. He was first named to the commission a year ago; generally, appointments are for two years.

Schwartz is the dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and previously served for two years as assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration.

He also served as the U.N. secretary general’s deputy special envoy for tsunami recovery from 2005 to 2007. Schwartz was chief of office in Geneva for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent body that tracks religious freedoms overseas, has members appointed by leadership in both houses of Congress and by the president.

Other commissioners active in the Jewish community include Elliott Abrams, a deputy national security adviser under President George W. Bush, and Sam Gejdenson, a former Democratic congressman. Its vice chairwoman, Katrina Swett, is the daughter of the late Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), the only Holocaust survivor elected to Congress.

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