Suzanne Scholte (born 1959, Connecticut) is an American human rights activist and congressional candidate. She is the president of the Defense Forum Foundation. She is also the Vice Co-Chair of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. She has received many awards, including the Seoul Peace Prize in 2008 and the Walter Judd Freedom Award in 2010.
The Seoul Peace Prize award, instituted in 1990 and given biennially, was declared at the Korea Press Center to honor Scholte for the contributions she made to the cause of North Korean peoples' freedom and human rights and the refugees of Western Sahara. She also chairs the U.S.–Western Sahara Association. "I feel ashamed but also I feel honored. It is a great honor to receive this great prize even when I just did what I should do," she said. Scholte started her career as the youngest-ever chief-of-staff to a U.S. Member of Congress. Before promoting human rights in North Korea, she had worked for the promotion of human rights in the Soviet Union and Cuba.
In 2011, Scholte, as the president of the Defense Forum Foundation and the North Korea Freedom Coalition, started a project called Operation Rising Eagle to rescue 15 North Koreans stranded in China, mostly orphans who had fled there. Although the operation proved unsuccessful, three of the youngest among the children were rescued and granted asylum in the United States as refugees in 2012. Scholte has since been lobbying with the U.S. government to expedite the process of providing asylum to North Korean refugees.
Besides the Seoul Peace Prize and the Walter Judd Freedom Award, Scholte was also awarded the Order of Diplomatic Service Merit Sungnye Medal in 2013. She is also the chairman and founding member of the North Korea Freedom Coalition.
2014 congressional campaign
In 2014, Scholte announced her intention to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in Virginia's 11th congressional district. She won the nomination at a convention on May 11, 2014, and lost against the incumbent Gerry Connolly in the November election.
Scholte graduated from the College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, and received an Honorary Doctorate in Education from Koshin University, Busan, South Korea. She is married to Chadwick R. Gore and has three sons.
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