“We are honored to have Emilie and Roger rejoin Heritage as visiting fellows,” said Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts. “A strong America requires a strong civil society, where Americans are empowered to speak and act consistent with their religious faith in the public square and where parents’ decision-making authority is respected. Policymakers have long looked to Heritage to formulate and promote policies rooted in this vision. Emilie and Roger add their expertise to Heritage at a critical time, as the radical, woke left seeks to use government as a cudgel against anyone who doesn’t adhere to its ideology.”
Marie Fishpaw, acting director for Heritage’s DeVos Center, added: “This dynamic duo has an outstanding track record of advancing policies that protect life, free speech, religious liberty and freedom of conscience. Their leadership is critical to advancing Heritage’s goals to equip policymakers with expertise and solid research that exposes the harms of the left’s policy vision and puts forth a positive vision that protects Americans’ fundamental freedoms.”
Kao joined the Alliance Defending Freedom earlier this year after directing Heritage’s DeVos Center and leading policy work on religious freedom and civil society. She has worked on behalf of victims of religious freedom violations around the world at the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom and Becket Law.
Severino, a senior fellow at Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), previously served as director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and as director of Heritage’s DeVos Center. At EPPC, Severino leads the HHS Accountability Project, which monitors the Biden administration for actions that threaten civil rights for all Americans—from conception to natural death.
"Roger and Emilie are two of the greatest thinkers and doers when it comes to social policy and legal issues,” said Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., president of EPPC, and the former William E. Simon senior research fellow at Heritage. “I’m happy to lend Roger’s talents to Heritage and eager for ways in which EPPC and Heritage can work together to place moral truths at the center of conservatism and our country."
Kristen Waggoner, general counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, added:
“When the government can compel an individual to speak state-approved messages, and force others to stay silent about their religious beliefs, every American’s freedom to speak and live consistent with their faith is in jeopardy. ADF is pleased to partner with The Heritage Foundation to defend religious liberty, an essential component to human flourishing and a free people. Thankfully, brilliant thinkers and writers like Emilie Kao are advancing this cause not only in courtrooms and legislatures, but in academia and the public square. Emilie has dedicated her life’s work to defending religious freedom and fundamental human rights both domestically and abroad.”
Heritage established the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society in 2004. It is named in honor of the late Richard and Helen DeVos, whose generous contributions to Heritage and other organizations have improved civil society throughout America.