Press Release

Speaker Ryan Names Cuban-American Freedom Fighter to Commission on International Religious Freedom

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Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

WASHINGTON D.C. —The Speaker of the House today announced he is appointing Becket’s Executive Director, Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz, to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

“My late father would be very proud to know I will serve on a Commission that defends the same right that was stripped away from him and precisely the reason he fled Cuba–religious liberty.” said Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz, executive director of Becket. “I thank my parents for their life example and I am honored to be appointed to this important Commission.”

Below is the press release sent by Speaker Ryan this morning:

WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) today announced that he has reappointed Daniel I. Mark of Villanova University and appointed Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz of Becket to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The Commission is an independent body made up of nine commissioners from outside the government who review religious freedom violations abroad and make policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress. This will be Dr. Mark’s second term on the commission. Ms. Arriaga will succeed Dr. Robert P. George of Princeton University, who has completed two terms on the commission.

“In a time when so many around the world are being oppressed for their faith, the Commission’s work is as indispensable as ever,” Speaker Ryan said. “I want to thank Dr. George, whose service to the Commission is only the latest chapter in an extraordinary career defending our first principles. Beyond a wealth of insight, Dr. Mark has brought great moral courage to the Commission, and I am proud to reappoint him. The daughter of parents who fled Castro’s Cuba, Kristina Arriaga has dedicated her life to the liberty of others. Her voice and experiences as a freedom fighter make Kristina a great addition to the Commission.”

About Daniel Mark. Dr. Daniel Mark is an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. He teaches political theory, philosophy of law, American government, and politics and religion. At Villanova, he is a faculty associate of the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good. He holds the rank of battalion professor in Villanova’s Navy Reserve Officers’ Training Corps unit. Daniel holds a BA, MA, and PhD from the Department of Politics at Princeton University.

About Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz. Kristina Arriaga is the Executive Director of Becket for Religious Liberty, an organization she first joined in 1995. After starting her career in Washington working for US Ambassador José Sorzano at the Cuban American National Foundation, she became an advisor to the US delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) working directly for Ambassador Armando Valladares. Splitting her time between the seat of the UNHRC in Geneva and Washington, D.C., Kristina worked on raising awareness of the plight of political prisoners in Cuba. Kristina obtained her undergraduate degree at Marquette University and her Master’s Degree at Georgetown University.


Becket   is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions and has a 100% win-rate before the United States Supreme Court. For over 20 years, it has successfully defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians  (read more).