Shaarik H. Zafar was appointed as the Special Representative to Muslim Communities at the U.S. Department of State in July 2014. He is responsible for driving Secretary Kerry’s engagement with Muslim communities around the world on issues of mutual interest, in support of shared goals, and to advance of U.S. foreign policy.
Shaarik recently served as the Deputy Chief of the Homeland, Cyber, and Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Group at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) where he coordinated strategic planning and collaboration with Federal departments and agencies, state and local governments, allied nations, and community stakeholders on efforts to strengthen homeland and cyber security; build resilience against terrorism; and integrate all elements of national power on efforts to counter violent extremism.
Prior to that he served as Director for Global Engagement at the White House National Security Council (NSC) where he drove comprehensive engagement policies that leverage diplomacy, communications, international development and assistance, and domestic engagement in pursuit of a host of foreign and domestic policy objectives. At the NSC, Shaarik led the development of the first ever national strategy that addresses violent extremism in the United States, which President Obama signed in August 2011, and the first ever national strategy on integrating religious leader engagement into U.S. foreign policy, which Secretary Kerry announced in August 2013. Prior to joining the White House, Shaarik served as the Deputy Chief of the CVE Group at NCTC. He also served as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security where he led the CRCL Engagement Team – now known as the Community Engagement Section – and provided proactive policy advice to DHS leadership on issues at the intersection of civil rights and homeland security. Before joining DHS, Shaarik served as the Special Counsel for Post 9/11 National Origin Discrimination at the U.S. Department of Justice where he led the Initiative to Combat Post 9/11 Backlash. Prior to his government service, Shaarik worked as a civil litigator at one of the oldest law firms in Houston, Texas.
Shaarik is a graduate of the Plan II Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas School of Law. He received the 2011 Outstanding Young Texas Ex Award, which recognizes alumni under the age of 40 who have made significant achievements in their careers and service to the University. He is a recipient of the DHS Secretary’s Award for Excellence, the DHS Certificate of Achievement, and a NCTC Team Award. He has also received awards from a number of civil society organizations including the Sikh Coalition, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America, the South Asian Chamber of Commerce, and the North American South Asian Bar Association. Shaarik is a Life Member and former Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.