Photo Credit: Amanda Howard

21Wilberforce Welcomes Two New Board Members and a Director of Church Engagement

21Wilberforce is pleased to announce the appointments of  Knox Thames and Curtis L. Brown, Treasurer, to the Board of Directors. With these changes, the 21Wilberforce board will be comprised of  14 Directors. Other Board members include: James Carr, Ross Chandler, J. Nixon Daniel III (Chairman), Darrell Dunton, Simon “Trey” Hendershot III, Amanda Howard (Board Secretary), Suzii Paynter March, David Nelson (Vice Chair), Dr. Raúl Scialabba, Keith Skaar, Michelle Smith and John Upton. The Board provides insight and strategic direction as 21Wilberforce addresses ongoing challenges to and opportunities for defending the persecuted and advancing religious freedom for all.

In addition, Dr. Randy Dale has been hired to serve as 21Wilberforce Director of Church Engagement.

Meet Our New Board Members

New board member, Knox Thames, is an American human rights lawyer, advocate, and author who has dedicated his career to promoting the rights of religious minorities and combatting persecution. Over his 20 years of service in the U.S. government, Knox held several key positions advocating for freedom of religion or belief, including at the State Department and two different U.S. government foreign policy commissions. Known for his nonpartisan approach to advocacy, both the Obama and Trump administrations appointed Knox as the Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South / Central Asia at the State Department. The first to serve in this special envoy role, he received a civil service appointment to lead State Department efforts to support religious minorities in these regions

In 2023, Knox joined Pepperdine University as a Senior Fellow with the Caruso School of Law and School of Public Policy. From Pepperdine’s DC campus, he directs the new program on Global Faith and Inclusive Societies. In addition, he is a Senior Visiting Expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

“I am honored to join the board of 21 Wilberforce, said Knox.” “I appreciate and value their commitment to religious freedom for all, based on Christian principles. Looking forward to supporting them on their important mission.”

New board member and Treasurer, Curtis L. Brown, has served as chair or member of the board of directors, attorney or advisor of innumerable business, academic, professional, civic and charitable organizations for over 44 years.

Before beginning his practice of law in Dallas, Mr. Brown received his CPA license and practiced in the Denver and New York City offices of one of the largest international accounting firms where he was a Senior Tax Accountant for the 4th largest company in the United States. He served as Founding Partner of Brown, Baskin, Bickel and Brewer, Attorneys, in Dallas that represented publicly traded businesses and banks, as well as not-for-profit entities. He has served as outside General Counsel of several companies, including Interstate Battery System of America.

Curtis served on the Judiciary Committee of the Dallas Bar Association and on the Board of Directors of the Waco Bar Association. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors and of the Executive Committee of the Art Center of Waco.

Curtis shared his thoughts about joining the Board. “I have been involved in religious freedom issues for decades, and have supported organizations which have handled litigation of religious freedom matters effectively for many years. Having participated with 21 Wilberforce in collaborative partnerships to aid the persecuted around the world, I am eager to assist in their “top-down, bottom-up” strategy featuring grassroots empowerment and policy campaigns to advance freedom worldwide.”

Meet Our Director of Church Engagement

Dr. Randy Dale has joined the staff as Director of Church Engagement, a new position for the organization. Randy will coordinate development of the Global Impact Partners program comprised of churches, faith-based institutions and other partners. Randy will assist President Randel Everett recruiting, training, and empowering Global Impact Partners. This will further 21 Wilberforce’s programs of network mobilization, leadership and advocacy training, and coalition building.

Randy comes to 21Wilberforce after practicing law, primarily as a governmental agency attorney and a criminal prosecutor, for 43 years. He first became intrigued with international religious freedom issues while serving in Afghanistan as a U. S. State Department contractor. Randy also served on church staffs in Austin and Abilene, Texas in education and recreation ministries, and recently retired after 50 years of officiating high school and small college football.

Randy earned a bachelor’s degree from Hardin-Simmons University, a Juris Doctor from St. Mary’s University, a Master’s in Religious Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Adult, Professional, and Community Education from Texas State University-San Marcos.

“I am humbled and honored to be a part of the staff of 21 Wilberforce, as I believe there is no greater nor nobler campaign than to have true worldwide Freedom of Religion, and the abolition of persecution of people simply because of how they choose to exercise those freedoms, said Randy. ” There is, in my opinion, no greater governmental intrusion into a citizen’s natural rights than mandating a certain religious belief, and further mandating how that belief system must be lived out.”

“21Wilberforce is honored to have Dr. Randy Dale joining our staff as Director of Church Engagement. Randy’s experience as a prosecutor, university professor and minister has prepared him to connect with churches, institutions, and religious networks as we seek to defend the persecuted and promote global religious freedom for all people.

We are also pleased to add two prominent defenders of religious freedom to our Board of Directors, Knox Thames from Virginia, and Curtis Brown from Texas.  Both bring their legal backgrounds, relationships and passion for international religious freedom to our Board.”