Eradicate Hate Global Summit names new president
Combatting hateBrette Steele takes the helm of anti-hate organization

Eradicate Hate Global Summit names new president

“Having worked directly with her, we have seen firsthand how Brette’s leadership can accelerate this critically important narrative.”

Brette Steele has worked to combat hate since high school.

“I was doing anti-hate workshops when I was a high schooler for other high schools and middle schools,” she said.

As a student, Steele was selected to attend a local conference put on by the Orange County Human Relations Commission. It focused on bias prevention, something she had a passion for — she helped bring PFLAG (an LGBTQ+ advocacy group) to her school and to create safe spaces for minority communities.

The passion shown in her early life and career will now be funneled to the Eradicate Hate Global Summit, where Steele was recently named its new president.

Steele’s appointment comes after working with the summit since its inception in 2019 and serving for the last five years as the senior director of Arizona State University’s McCain Institute’s Preventing Targeted Violence program.

“I found out about the summit in, I believe, April 2019, when Laura Ellsworth called me,” Steele said.

Steele met Ellsworth when she came to Pittsburgh to speak at a conference shortly after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting — the impetus for Ellsworth to create the Eradicate Hate Global Summit along with her co-chair, Mark Nordenberg.

It was Nicholas Rasmussen, former deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, who suggested Ellsworth reach out to Steele. He told the summit founder that she had to include Steele as part of her planning.

That’s most likely because of her background.

Steele worked for the Justice Department from 2013-2017, heading the Countering Violent Extremism Task Force that coordinated terrorism prevention across 10 departments and agencies. She also served as the regional director for the Office of Terrorism Prevention Partnership for the West Coast at the Department of Homeland Security before working in the private sector in the Washington, D.C. offices of the law firm Mayer Brown.

During Steel’s tenure, the McCain Institute incubated several different programs she’ll be bringing with her to the Eradicate Hate Global Summit including:

• The Prevention Practitioners Network: A first-of-its-kind national network of 1,300 interdisciplinary professionals dedicated to preventing targeted violence, terrorism and their impacts.

• SCREEN Hate: A nationwide campaign and resource hub aimed at caregivers and concerned adults looking for ways to keep youth safe from dangerous online messaging that could incite hate-based violence. The acronym stands for: Start a conversation, Create an environment for sharing, Remind that hate-based violence is wrong, Engage talks about game and social media, Enlist the help of professionals and Never ignore a threat of violence.

• Invent2Prevent: Sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security and coordinated with Edventure Partners, the program includes multiple competitions to empower students to create and deploy products, tools or initiatives to address targeted violence and terrorism.

The competitions, Steele said, are free for high school and college students, supply seed money and feature cash rewards as high as $10,000 at the university level and $5,000 at high schools.

She called the competition a “phenomenal opportunity for students” and hopes more schools participate.

In addition to the programs, Steele’s team from the McCain Institute will join her at the summit.

McCain Institute Executive Director Evelyn Farkas said the institute is proud of the accomplishments the Preventing Targeted Violence experts have achieved over the last several years.

“Now with the Eradicate Hate Global Summit, they are poised to accelerate their work’s impact even more with the potential to save lives,” she said.

Ellsworth said Steele and her team are among the preeminent leaders in the anti-hate field.

“We could not be more excited about her joining us,” Ellsworth said in a prepared statement. “The exceptional work that Brette and her team have done at the McCain Institute to spearhead solutions to prevent identity-based violence is a perfect fit for our Summit and we look forward to continuing and expanding their work.”

Summit co-founder Nordenberg, the chancellor emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh and the chair of the university’s Institute of Politics, called Steele’s appointment “a transformational development” for the summit. He said her work at both the McCain Institute and with the government earned respect around the country and the world.

She “has made important contributions to the Eradicate Hate Summit,” he said. “Having worked directly with her, we have seen firsthand how Brette’s leadership can accelerate this critically important narrative.”

And while Steele won’t be moving to Pittsburgh, she said Summit will continue to be headquartered here. The intention is that it will always be held and headquartered in Pittsburgh.

“The organization grew out of the tragedy of the Tree of Life synagogue massacre,” she said. “The Pittsburgh roots are woven to that organization. They’re in the DNA of the organization.”

Its reach, however, is global, she said, and includes team members in Washington, D.C., and California.

The power of the summit, she noted, is “the fact that so many leaders on this topic from around the world are in one place.”

Steele succeeds former president Chuck Moellenberg, who will continue to serve as the summit’s chief administrative officer.

Each year, the Eradicate Hate Global Summit brings together more than 1,000 global participants — including experts and leaders from many different professions, disciplines and sectors — who are committed to taking action to prevent hate-fueled violence. This year’s summit will take place Oct. 21-23. PJC

David Rullo can be reached at

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