Third U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook delivered the keynote address during Diversity Week 2014.

Image of Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook
Third U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook delivered the keynote address during Diversity Week 2014.
April 3, 2014
Hartford, CT

On March 27, Suzan Johnson Cook, third United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom from May 2010 to October 2013, spoke at the Law School as part of 2014 Diversity Week activities sponsored by Shipman & Goodwin LLP. In her diplomatic role at the U.S. State Department, Ambassador Johnson Cook worked to further religious freedom as a core objective of U.S. foreign policy, a role she discussed in an anecdote-filled presentation to students, faculty and guests in the William R. Davis ’55 Courtroom. “It was such a privilege to be the first African American and first woman to be nominated to the ambassador-at-large position, but also to be the first faith leader at the diplomatic table promoting religious freedom,” said Johnson Cook, whose distinguished career includes serving as a policy advisor to President Bill Clinton, a pastor of three New York City congregations, an entrepreneur, a best-selling author, and an academic. “My task was to look at religious freedom and integrate it into the national security and foreign policy discussion…How blessed I was as a leader, an American, a woman and an African-American to stand and sit with some of the world’s greatest leaders in and out of government, including faith leaders from all around the world…In my travels as ambassador-at-large I saw that great things can happen when religious leaders come together to share ideas and grow a vision of interfaith harmony.”

While no longer formally in the diplomatic arena, Johnson Cook continues to make use of her boundless energy, communication skills, and experiences as a pastor, ambassador and activist to promote diversity and empower women to be leaders in every sector of society. “I’ve been blessed to serve two presidents of the United States, President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama, and to work with three cabinet secretaries,” she said. “So now that I am out of government I am taking all of that experience and working on the next chapter in my life…a movement that I believe is necessary for women of color and women of faith. It’s called the ProVoice Movement, and it’s a movement to help celebrate multi-faith leaders around the globe…It’s a think tank, a finishing school for preparation and motivation…and a lady-leader academy where we can come together as female leaders and begin to chart a course for this next century. The women before us did so much with so little and now we have so much more opportunity. A woman should have a voice in every area of her life and be active in every arena of life.”

“I see life now in what I call the 3 Ds: democracy, diplomacy and diversity.”
Suzan Johnson Cook

Third United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom