On July 30, President Joe Biden named aMuslim American Rashad Hussain as America’s next Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom. The U.S. Senate confirmed thatHussain will become the sixthperson to serve in this position. As ambassador-at-large,the 41-year-old attorney will also head the Departmentof State’s Office of International Religious Freedomand serve as a non-voting member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The positions of ambassador-at-large and USCIRF are relatively new. They were created roughly 22 years ago, by the U.S. Congress, through the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, in response to rising religious intolerance worldwide. As a head of the Office of International Religious Freedom, Hussain will have a substantial influence and impact in shaping U.S. policy on religious freedom around the world. Hussain is the first Muslim American to be nominated to become ambassador-at-large for religious freedom, but it is another part of his identity that has garnered more attention in Washington and worldwide. As the White House noted, Hussain is the first Muslim to be nominated for this position. It has significance for a number of reasons. First, the importance of a Muslim American holding a job of the country’s top envoy for religious freedom, just five years after the last President Donald Trump announced his infamous Muslim ban, cannot be overstated. As someone, who has personally known Hussain for several years, I can vouch that he will be a great messenger for America on the importance of religious tolerance. President Joe Biden came to office vowing to turn the page on four years of Trumpism, which was marked by a series of discriminatory policies against Muslims and other minority groups. Bidendid that from the moment he was sworn in as the commander-in-chief, not just by reversing many of the Trump administration policies, but also by reaching out to those groups that were targeted by Trump and namingsome oftheir members to key administration positions. Second, by picking Hussain – a devout Muslim, who has memorized the Quran – Biden sends a powerful signal to the world. Many countries around the world areintolerant of faiths than their own.As someone, who has personally knownHussain for several years, I can vouch that he will be a great messenger for America on the importance of religious tolerance. One of the bedrock principles upon which America was founded was the guarantee of religious freedom. The American experience has proved that freedom of faith is key to a nation’sprosperity. No country can succeed and prosper when freedom of religion is suppressed and minorities are held back. On the other hand, freedom of religion and building bridges between different faiths bring people together, which, in turn, strengthens democracy. Freedom of faith is central for people to live together and is vital in keeping a democracy healthy. Minorities must be an equal partner in a nation’s shared prosperity and inclusive economic mobility. I am also optimistic that Biden’s selection will lead to a debate onfreedom of religion and more interfaith dialogues in South Asia and other parts of the world. It is worth pointing out here that in the United States, even during the dark days of the Trump administration, leaders of different faiths continued to work on building bridges. One of the first groups to welcome the Hussain nomination was the influential American Jewish Committee (AJC). “Rashad Hussain is an impressive advocate of freedom of religion or belief in challenging diplomatic contexts,” said David Harris, CEO of AJC. “He is an ally in the global fight against antisemitism, including in his extensive engagement with the Muslim world, and an experienced advocate for building stronger Muslim-Jewish relations.” Finally, in spite of the symbolism around his nomination, Hussain is not a symbolic candidate. His resume is stellar and reveals that he is ideally suited for this position. Hussain received his bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy from University of North Carolina and earned his law degree from Yale University. Later, heacquired two masters’ degrees from Harvard, one in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government and another in Arabic and Islamic studies. During the Obama administration, he worked in the Office of White House Counsel in 2009. The next year, President Barack Obama named him as the U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).In the last two years of the Obama administration, he served as the Special Envoy for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications. In addition to Hussain, on July 3, the White House announced three other nominees and appointees to the State Department and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.Reputed Emory University Professor and Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt was nominated as “Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism”, and Sharon Kleinbaum, spiritual leader of the Beit Simchat Torah congregation, and Muslim Pakistani American Khizr Khan were appointed as commissioners of the USCIRF. Khan’s nomination to the USCIRF is also significant. He is a Gold Star parent, father of the late U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, who died while serving in Iraq. Khan has been a prominent critic of Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-minority policies. In 2016, he was a prominent speaker at the Democratic National Convention, where he told Trump, the then nominee for President, “Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing-and no one.” The selection of Hussain and Khan are, at once, a repudiation of Trumpism and an affirmation of American values. As the White House pointed out in its press release when it made its appointments”Today’s announcement underscores the President’s commitment to build an Administration that looks like America and reflects people of all faiths.” The White House announcement and these appointments do much more. They send a powerful message around the globe that the United States of America has rejoined the world stage as an exemplar of and advocate for religious freedom internationally. The writer is an entrepreneur, civic leader, and thought lseader based in Washington DC.