International human rights advocate Susan Corke is the new director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, the SPLC announced today.
Corke – a former State Department official who has defended and advanced inclusive democracy worldwide for over two decades – comes to the SPLC from the German Marshall Fund, where she served as a senior fellow and executive director of the bipartisan Transatlantic Democracy Working Group. She is a co-author of “The Democracy Playbook,” a resource to fight authoritarianism and strengthen democratic resilience.
At the SPLC, Corke will lead a team of investigators, analysts and writers who track and expose the activities of hate groups and other far-right extremists.
“There are two different versions of America at the moment – one that believes in a country where everybody is free, has the same rights and embraces diversity, and the people we saw on the steps of the Capitol who are fighting for white supremacy,” Corke said. “There needs to be a line in the sand.”
In addition to holding multiple positions at the State Department, Corke has served as director of Countering Antisemitism and Extremism at Human Rights First and as director of programs for Europe, Eurasia and Southwest Asia for Freedom House.
Corke earned a Master of Arts degree in international affairs from George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of William & Mary.
In her new role, Corke plans to push for accountability for political leaders who promote hate, especially those who supported pro-Trump insurrectionists who invaded the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“The SPLC has been at the forefront of hate and extremism work for decades. Our mission has never been more urgent than now,” SPLC President and CEO Margaret Huang said. “We are thrilled to welcome Susan as she helps us lead this important work.”
As the nation remains gripped by extremist violence and hate, Corke views this moment as a tipping point – a moment when, unless the nation seeks justice for such violence, white supremacist ideology will continue to plague our political system and foster violence.
“As someone who has fought for democracy abroad, now is the time to fight for democracy in America. We need to put an end to white supremacy and to hate groups. It’s a global effort. There’s no more important fight right now than helping America move beyond its systemic racism, and I’m glad to have a team of people who are passionate about this cause, even though it’s quite dark.
“The vision of an inclusive, multi-ethnic America is going to win out in the end.”
Photo by Dan Chung