Becket Fund President and Founder Steps Down and Announces Successor
Tonight at the sixteenth annual Canterbury Medal Dinner, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s founder, Kevin J. “Seamus” Hasson, announced that he is stepping down from the position of President and Chairman of the Board. Hasson will retain the honorific title of President Emeritus and will remain on the board of directors and will continue to assist and advise the Fund with regard to its litigation initiatives. William P. Mumma, President and CEO of Mitsubishi UFJ Securities USA, will serve as the next president of the Becket Fund, and Professor Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard University Law School will assume the role of chair of the board.
Hasson’s commitment to the Fund is unchanged and his sacrifice for the cause of religious liberty is unyielding. But after an approximately 12-year long battle with Parkinson’s, Hasson said that his health no longer permits him to perform the various roles of CEO in the effective manner the Becket Fund requires – especially in these momentous times. "The last 16 years have been both a privilege and a real hoot. I'm grateful to all my colleagues and all our supporters (and I'll exercise my own religious liberty and add, to the Lord and the Blessed Mother,) for making the Becket Fund what it is," Hasson said. Then he added emphatically, "I'm uniquely grateful to Bill Mumma and Mary Ann Glendon for accepting the challenge of leading it forward to what it can become. I can't imagine anybody better for the task."
Since founding the Becket Fund in 1994, Hasson has steadily grown the organization into the preeminent religious liberty law firm, the only one of its kind in the world that defends people of all faith. The Becket Fund has litigated in nearly every state in the country and has defended religious freedom in other venues, from Mexico City to Jakarta, from the halls of the European Court of Human Rights to the streets of Orissa, India. Hasson has also earned broad credibility in the national media, having been quoted in outlets ranging from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal and appearing on news programs ranging from Dateline NBC to Al-Jazeera.
Hasson is the author of The Right to be Wrong: Ending the Culture War over Religion in America. He has lectured and debated frequently, in venues ranging from BYU and Notre Dame to Harvard, from Oxford to the Vatican. His contributions to academic discourse on religious freedom, as well as his implementation of the principles set forth in Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, will be acknowledged later this week with an honorary doctorate in humane letters bestowed by the Catholic University of America.
Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and a member of the board of the Becket Fund, praised Hasson’s “inspiring witness and leadership in defense of religious freedom.” George said of Hasson that “no one fights more valiantly, more resourcefully, or more effectively for the rights of persons of every faith to honor their religious obligations as their consciences require.”
Hasson’s successor as CEO, William P. Mumma, has had a distinguished career in leadership. With degrees from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and Columbia University, Mumma ran the global derivative business for Bankers Trust Company. Following this he was an Executive Managing Director at Nomura Securities International and since 2008 is the President and CEO of Mitsubishi UFJ Securities USA. He is also Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Georgetown University’s Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy.
Of his new position, Mumma said, “Thanks to Seamus, the Becket Fund has seen sixteen remarkable years defending religious freedom globally. The firm has won several landmark victories for the cause, among them protecting the Pledge of Allegiance. At the same time, threats to religious freedom have never been greater. I am humbled by the challenges that lie before us but confident that our team of first rate lawyers will continue its remarkable 85% success rate in litigation.”
Based in Washington, D.C., The Becket Fund for Religious
Liberty is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the
free expression of all religious traditions. The Becket Fund has a 15-year
history of defending religious liberty for people of all faiths. Its clients
have included Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs,
Zoroastrians, and others. Its attorneys are recognized as experts in the field
of church-state law.
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