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01 July 2019

World Refugee Day Panel Discussion

World Refugee Day Panel Discussion

By Jordan Walker, Member, UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee

“The world does not support humanity on the basis of humanity alone.”

On June 20th, 2019, the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area facilitated a panel discussion in honor of World Refugee Day, and to galvanize support for refugee relief efforts around the world. Panelists Dr. Sami Baloch Badini, a political asylee from Balochistan, and Egette Indelele, a refugee from Tanzania, spoke about their stories traveling to the United States, and the incredible adversity they faced both before and after their arrival.

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Mary Kate Vanecko, the Development Coordinator for Nothing but Nets, a malaria elimination campaign of the United Nations Foundation, facilitated the discussion. Her questions centered around themes of identity, acceptance, the concept of home, and what challenges refugees and asylum seekers face when defining all three in their own lives.

The first panelist, Egette Indelele, is a first generation and rising junior at George Mason University. Indelele was born and raised in a refugee camp in Tanzania and came to the United States in 2006. Her parents survived the Rwandan genocide, and her mother worked for the UN, helping other refugees to get into the same camp that they were able to get into. “There were people I knew who were dying in the refugee camp from malaria and starvation,” she recalled. Indelele is the President of George Mason UNICEF, and it is her life goal to help other refugees who are in similar situations as she was. She wants to go to Burundi one day to set up a homeless shelter for children.

The second panelist, Dr. Sami Baloch, is a psychiatrist and political and human rights activist from Balochistan, a country surrounded on all sides by Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and the Arabian sea. Balochistan is the largest provincial state of Pakistan and provides Pakistan with most of its natural gas, coal, and minerals. For decades there have been several growing separatist movements and insurgencies advocating for Balochistan’s independence as a sovereign nation. Doctor Badimi fled Pakistan in 2011 to Saudi Arabia, and from there struggled to obtain a U.S. visa as a political asylee. While in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, he worked as a psychiatrist treating torture survivors, Afghan refugees, and victims of war. He finally arrived in the U.S. in 2015.  Dr. Badini was tortured by the Pakistan soldiers for his work as a political activist, and his life has been threatened numerous times. His goal was to come to America and talk about oppressed people and nations.

“Any person who seeks refuge, that is their last option.” Dr. Badini noted that it is almost impossible for most Balochistans to leave Pakistan, and that it was extremely difficult for him to leave, even as a doctor. As an asylee, Dr. Badini had to wait for his claim to refugee status to be approved by the United States government before he could enter, or have access to benefits, jobs, and housing.

Vanecko first asked both panelists to explain the difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker.

Dr. Badini defined a refugee as someone who seeks refuge while still overseas, but does not become a refugee until permission to enter the country is granted. He defined an asylum seeker as “people like me who do not trust the government (of the place they wish to leave), and cannot seek refuge unless you physically escape and then apply for asylum in the destination country.” In other words, an asylum-seeker is someone who says he or she is a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated. Dr. Badini expressed his own concern with the immigration policies in the United States, where it is blatantly and increasingly difficult to enter as an asylum seeker or refugee, and the backlog of asylum seekers is increasing by hundreds of thousands every year.

“Asylum seekers (in the United States) used to have to wait three weeks while being prohibited from getting a job or seeking health benefits. Now, it takes three years to get an asylum interview in the United states. You are essentially homeless for the duration of that time.”

Along the same lines, Vanecko asked the panelists what they believe people are not talking about enough in light of the global refugee crisis.

“Pakistan is still violating human rights in that part of the world,” Dr. Badini stated.

Dr. Badini expressed that it is essential to recognize that refugees have completely different understandings of basic human rights.  For many refugees, “It is a luxury to feel safe,” he noted.

Dr. Badini spoke about the severe human rights abuses that the Government of Pakistan has committed against Balochistan political activists, including thousands of people who have been killed and/or tortured for speaking out against the government. However, there is very little advocacy for the people of Balochistan, or international attention directed at the human rights violations that are happening there.

“The world does not support humanity on the basis of humanity alone,” Dr. Badini explained. Unfortunately, the blatant human rights abuses committed by a government against its people is not always enough to provoke action from other powerful and resourceful countries.

Dr. Badini expressed his frustration with the United States’ interference in Pakistan, including selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, and introducing torture techniques to Pakistan soldiers who have adopted the same techniques with no constraint or global accountability.

Doctor Badini also spoke about the culture shock he faced when he was first adjusting to life in the United States, in 2015. Aside from learning English on his own, he jokingly recalled how it was difficult for him to adjust to social cues, like learning to make eye contact with everyone, which is not always appropriate in Balochistan. “Nobody wants to start from scratch,” he noted, “people just want to be accepted as they are.”

Vanecko asked both panelists to elaborate on their concept of ‘Home’, and how that idea has changed for them.

Indelele spoke first. “Home is where I feel accepted, not where I was born.” Indelele explained that she, too, did not know any English moving to the U.S., which was a challenge adjusting to life there. Indelele’s concept of Home is more of a feeling than a physical place. “For me, Church and family support was my home.” Indelele remembers being a little girl in the refugee camp, cooking with her grandma and selling shoes that she found with her grandpa. “It felt like home at that time, because I didn’t know better. If I didn’t help, I felt like we didn’t eat.”

For Dr. Badini, he has not really felt at home since he moved to the U.S. “It is a good house, but not a home.” He explained that it takes a long time to rebuild the trust and relationships that make a house a home. Dr. Badini was arrested at his home in Balochistan. He expressed the importance of peace as an ingredient to a true home. “We have to keep the house conflict free to make it a home for every individual,” he indicated.

Vanecko used both Panelists’ answers to shift to her next question, which was how can other people build trust with refugees from a low level, civilian point of view, when there is an overall distrust of the institutions and policies that exist beyond our reach?

Indelele said that the most important step anyone can take is to build awareness, ask questions and to get to know refugees.  She also mentioned that building trust goes hand in hand with feeling safe. In order to feel safe, humans need jobs, education, resources, and most importantly, a mentor.

“Humans want to trust. We have been trained not to,” Dr. Badini said, perhaps drawing from his professional background. He reflected on his own distrust of American cops, or men in uniform in general because of the trauma he endured on the border between Balochistan and Pakistan. It was hard for him to even trust the UN uniforms in refugee camps. “Trust takes a long time, and developing trust economically and holistically is difficult.”

When Vanecko asked both refugees how people can better educate themselves on refugee issues, Indelele said that she notices a lot of complacency in the U.S. “The problem with Americans is they are genuine in their feelings of compassion toward refugees, but they go on with their lives and think, someone else is doing it, someone else is stepping up.” The simplest way to get others involved, she said, is to communicate using the platforms that are available to us. For example, UNHCR’s #StepWithRefugees challenge has picked up thousands of followers on Twitter, and challenges people to take 2,000 steps to recognize refugees who move 1 billion miles every year just to find safety.

Dr. Badini faced the audience and said, “find a refugee and know them.” He emphasized the importance of identity, and taking the time to understand who other people are and where they come from. “The basic fight of life is developing and making known our identity.” He listed what he believes are essential components to an individual’s identity: language, a national identity, culture, and manners. These are components that many people share when they grow up in the same neighborhood, state, or nation. Yet, each of these shared components contribute significantly to an individual’s personality and sense of belonging.

Vanecko ended the panel discussion by asking both Dr. Badini and Indelele to tell the audience what drives them to get out of bed every morning.

Family is what drives Indelele. As a first generation and the oldest sibling in her family, Indelele refuses to let her siblings sleep in later than her (even if they are not physically there with her), to set an example for them. “If I stay in bed, what will my siblings think?” she said, grinning.

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Dr. Badini also spoke about family. “My father used to tell me there are three kinds of people: people that take others’ rights, people that take their own rights, and people that do not fight for their own rights.” Dr. Badini said that a good person fights for their own rights, and that is the person that motivates him to get out of bed and be every day.

This year’s theme for World Refugee Day is solidarity. Every twenty minutes someone leaves their entire life behind to escape war, persecution or terror. Like Dr. Badini said, when someone seeks refuge in a foreign country, it is truly their last option. Whether an individual is labeled as a refugee, asylum seeker, stateless person, internally displaced person, or returnee, they have given up or been stripped of a piece of their identity in order to feel safe. It is the community-lead effort in providing support, compassion, and unity that has the power to make a house feel like a home.

For more information on the Balochistan refugee crisis, see here: https://unpo.org/article/18643

 




26 June 2019

UNA-NCA Participates in UNA-USA Lobby Day


By: Bonnie Worstell, Development and Advocacy Program Manager, and Sean Coffey, Development and Advocacy Program Assistant

On Tuesday, June 11, 2019, over 500 UNA-USA members from all 50 states met with their Congressional representatives and staff in over 300 scheduled meetings. UNA-NCA members visited offices in our jurisdiction from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. Members urged their Congressional representatives and staff to support full fundingfor the assessed U.S. dues to the United Nations’ regular budget, UN Peacekeeping, and specialized agencies. Additionally, advocates encouraged their representatives to also support paying UN Peacekeeping arrears incurred over the last few years as a result of Congress not lifting a 25% cap on peacekeeping. UNA-USA members connected these priorities to their own lives and stories, strengthening the case for Congressional support of a strong U.S.-UN partnership.

Of the 500 UNA-USA members participating in Lobby Day, half were under the age of 26. Amongst these youthful voices, UNA-NCA Program Assistants had the opportunity to add their voices to the mix. Alexander Oddo, Programs and Membership Program Assistant, said of his experience visiting representatives from his home states of North and South Carolina, “Lobby Day gave me new friends with novel ideas and new hope for a future where nations, rather than nationalists, are united.” Sean Coffey, Development and Advocacy Program Assistant, said after meeting with staff from Nebraskan offices that “Lobby day was my favorite part of the Global Leadership Summit, as we were given a first-hand perspective to the front lines of political advocacy by making our voices heard to our representatives about the significance of the United Nations.”

Virginia constituents were split into three different groups, one of which blended with D.C. residents. However, the three Virginia groups came together to visit the offices of Virginia’s Senators. The first two meetings of the morning were with Legislative Assistant Andrew Kalaris from Senator Tim Kaine’s office and Legislative Assistant Caroline Wadhams from Senator Mark Warner’s office. Both Senators are strong advocates for the United Nations, and Senator Kaine serves on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Mr. Kalaris emphasized that climate change prevention and mitigation was one of the Senator’s top priorities. Ms. Wadhams thanked UNA advocates for championing this cause, as “the work you’re doing really does matter.” When advocates bring important issues to the table, it allows their representative to fight for their legislative interests. After all, constituents are considered the bosses. 

In the afternoon, the first group visited with Molly Cole, Legislative Assistant for Congressman Gerry Connolly, and Mike Lucier who serves as the Legislative Director for Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton.  Both Legislators are strong supporters of the United Nations, and Representative Connolly serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The second group split off in the afternoon to visit Jason Eagleburger from Representative Riggleman’s office (R-VA-5). The group was encouraged to set up an in-district meeting to further discuss the issues and meet the Representative. A veteran, Representative Riggleman has seen first-hand the necessity for the United States to utilize the UN instead of getting involved in conflicts directly. The group also visited Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director Zach Cafritz from Representative Don Beyer’s office (D-VA-8). A long-time supporter of the UN, and signatory on a letter urging for the U.S. to fully fund peacekeeping, Representative Beyer clearly supports the efforts of UNA-NCA. Advocates finished the afternoon by dropping materials at Representative Rob Wittman’s office (R-VA-1). 

The third Virginia group started their afternoon meetings with Legislative Assistant Christina Ingram from Congressman Bobby Scott’s office (D-VA-3). Secondly, the group spoke with Legislative Assistant Lillian Adelstein from Delegate Eleanor Norton’s office (D-DC). Past president, Mr. Edward Elmendorf, discussed in detail about the outreach and programs UNA-USA organizes, as well as mentioning its history. 

Maryland advocates were split into two separate groups. The first group started Lobby Day by visiting Legislative Assistant Katherine Close from Senator Ben Cardin’s office (D-MD). Next, the group met with Travis Trejo from Congressman Andy Harris’s office (R-MD-1) and Legislative Aide Daniel Silverberg from Representative Steny Hoyer’s office (D-MD-5). For their final congressional visit, the advocates spoke with Legislative Assistant Jordan Blumenthal from 12-term Congressman Elijah Cummings’s office (D-MD-7). In addition, the team dropped off materials at Representative C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger’s office (D-MD-2). The meetings covered several topics regarding U.S.-UN affairs, most notably the SFOPS bill which is expected to go to the Senate floor in the coming weeks. Within the group, there was a diversity of professional backgrounds coupled with various ethnic, racial, and geographic identities to present their own personal connections to the United Nations. 

The second Maryland group started at Senator Chris Van Hollen’s office (D-MD) to meet with Fellow Paul Warnke, a former UN intern. As Senator Van Hollen has been a strong supporter of the UN, and a recent speaker at the UNA-NCA Annual Meeting, advocates focused on providing resources for the Senator to engage other Members in Congress in better understanding the value of the UN to their jurisdictions. In the afternoon, the group met with Foreign Policy Fellow Brianne Klimas for Representative Raskin’s office (D-MD-8), in which they discussed the appropriations status of the SFOPS bill. They followed with a visit with Jordan Wolfe from Representative Sarbanes’ office (D-MD-3), in which they discussed a multitude of subjects ranging from the value of UN Peacekeeping to global health topics. Finally, the team ended the afternoon by dropping off materials at Representative Brown’s office (D-MD-4). 

With an estimated 500 advocates organized across generational, racial, gender, and political lines, Lobby Day embodied the grass-roots advocacy UNA-USA aims at mobilizing. UNA-NCA members connected their personal stories and knowledge to promote the values of the UN and to further solidify the relationship between the US and the UN. Many of the offices visited by UNA-NCA advocates were not a hard sell, but a celebration of the role that many of these Representatives and Senators have made in promoting a stronger US-UN partnership. 




24 June 2019

A Challenge to David Brooks and UNA Members


by A. Edward Elmendorf and Richard Seifman


In his June 13,2019  New York Times article entitled "Voters, Your Foreign Policy Views Stink", the Times’ senior columnist David Brooks wrote that " Americans simply want the US to look after itself", and not continue a  global leadership role in  the United Nations, the World Bank, and NATO, all  institutions created in the aftermath of World War II.  It is too bad that Brooks failed to reflect the views of more future voters in his article, nor examine wider public opinion in the United States on the United Nations.

Evidence suggests that, in emphasizing the situation today, Brooks ignored future voters:  Future voters want the US to do more than look after itself. The Eurasia Group Foundation survey cited by Brooks found that over one-third of American young people favor UN intervention in human rights abuses overseas. Promoting human rights is the most important foreign policy priority cited in the 2019 Harvard Institute of Politics poll of American youth. If Brooks had  attended  the  United Nations Association Global Engagement Summit in February 2019 attended by 1,800 people – largely youth - from across the country held in the United Nations General Assembly hall, with active participation by UN Secretary General Guterres, he would have understood that there is deep seated, growing conviction among young people that we as a country must actively engage in building positive collective international effort, whether with respect to climate change, containing infectious disease, promoting human rights, gender equality, decent treatment of those seeking asylum, or avoiding another world war.  On a more micro level, similar views were virtually universal among participants in the 2019 UNA-NCA Graduate Fellows Program. It brought together graduate students from the Washington DC area for a deep dive into UN issues ranging from threats to peace in Syria, to ravages of human rights in Myanmar/Burma, to actions in support of the UN’s Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.  

The views of young people are not alone in believing the US must do more than look after itself. Nationwide polling sponsored by the UN Foundation’s “Better World Campaign” (BWC) just found  (June 2019) that more than two-thirds of voters have a favorable image of the United Nations, versus less than one quarter unfavorable-- the highest favorable rating of the United Nations since BWC started its tracking in 2009.  Concretely, widespread UN support is reflected in the fact that Trump Administration budget proposals calling for major reductions in US contributions to the United Nations have been reversed by Congressional action – a striking inversion of roles which for many years had seen the Executive branch UN funding proposals substantially cut on Capitol Hill.  

While public opinion is positive overall, supporters of the United Nations cannot be complacent.   In the 1970s, popular support weakened following UN decisions unfavorable to US policies, reflected in a 1972 poll which showed respect for the United Nations significantly declining. This downward trend was reversed in part with rising optimism built on the ending of the Cold War and democracy on the ascendancy. Indeed, a poll showed respect for the United Nations growing, with a nearly 20 percent rise in support for increased US participation in the UN, from 1989 to 1991.  Nonetheless, in his 1999 book Mixed Messages, former UNA-USA CEO Ed Luck found support for the UN among the American people may be as shallow as it is wide.  

Now is a critical time for voices to be heard across the country in support for the UN.  In June 2019 the UNA-USA June 2019 Global Leadership Summit brought together 500 advocates from all 50 states for a record-breaking 322 Congressional meetings. This -is an example of how support can be garnered and demonstrated. But the message needs repeating on Capitol Hill, in Congressional offices, with local media outlets, and in social media, all across the country. 



19 June 2019

UNA-NCA Hosts Successful Annual Membership Meeting

By Alexander Oddo, UNA-NCA Program Assistant

On Friday, June 7, 2019, The United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) hosted its Annual Membership Meeting at the United Nations Foundation. The event included a reception, ceremony, and discussion on The U.S. and the UN in Threatening Timeswith the Honorable Chris Van Hollen as a special guest and speaker. 

The Annual Membership Meeting is held every year to highlight UNA-NCA’s recent accomplishments and continued work. The meeting began with networking, a hearty amount of shrimp cocktail, and keynote remarks by UNA-NCA President Stephen F. Moseley. President Moseley then introduced the Honorable Chris Van Hollen, the junior Senator for Maryland, who was the recipient of the UNA-NCA Arthur W. Johnson Leadership Award. The award recognizes servant leaders who embody the values of the United Nations like Arthur W. Johnson, a great friend and supporter of the UN Association’s mission. For many years, Art was active in UNA-NCA because of his conviction that the UN Association plays a critical role in educating and advocating for international cooperation through a strong and effective United Nations. He and his wife, Anne Hale Johnson, have been loyal supporters of UNA-NCA. Thanks to their continuing support, UNA-NCA has been able to thrive and make a difference in the community over the years. Art served on the UNA-NCA Board of Directors since 2005 and previously on the Advisory Council. He chaired UNA’s “Adopt a Minefield Campaign” and during his watch, UNA succeeded in having a minefield removed in Afghanistan.

The Honorable Chris Van Hollen, elected to the United States Senate by the people of Maryland in November 2016, exemplifies Arthur W. Johnson’s commitment to UNA through his diligent work to promote equal rights, equal justice, and equal opportunity. Senator Van Hollen is a strong advocate for fully funding the United Nations and protecting wildlife. He has a long record of supporting legislation which aligns with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in subcommittees on the Department of Interior, Environment, Consumer Protection and Foreign Operations. His top priorities include creating more and better jobs; strengthening small businesses; and increasing educational and job training opportunities for individuals of all ages and in every community. 

Following Senator Van Hollen’s remarks, UNA-NCA President Stephen F. Moseley and Executive Director  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  presented the 2018-2019 UNA-NCA Annual Report. The report highlighted the chapter’s successes throughout the year, including its UN Day celebration at the Embassy of Italy featuring the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore; the graduation of the 2019 class of the Graduate Fellows Program; the 15thannual Spring Model UN Conference put on by GCDC; two Young Professionals’ Career Dinners Series; five educational programs focusing on human rights and peacekeeping; a Universal Periodical Review (UPR) orientation; and three Lobby Days on Capitol Hill. 

Following this, Jill Christianson, UNA-NCA Director-at-Large, announced the 2019 Board Election which can be viewed here.

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Nominations Committee Chair, Jill Christianson, announces the new members of the Board of Directors

UNA-NCA thanked the following individuals for their service on its Board of Directors: 
Sandra Coburn 
Christina Hansen 
Jud Nirenberg 
Thomas Riesenberg

The UNA-NCA Edison W. Dick Advocacy Leadership Award was then presented to David Scotton, former UNA-NCA Vice President of Advocacy and former Chair of the Advisory Council. The award honors a UNA-NCA member who displays a commitment to international leadership and UN advocacy just as former UNA-NCA President Edison W. Dick has shown throughout his legal career and work with UNA-NCA. 

Jill Christianson received the Evelyn Falkowski Volunteer Service Award for her generosity, passion for global education and social justice advocacy. Just as Evelyn Falkowski was persistently dedicated to the mission of the UN Association, educating and mobilizing Americans for a strong US-UN partnership when she was Executive Director, in addition to generously recruiting volunteers and donating to UNA-NCA, Jill Christianson cultivates international relationships to advance SDG-focused practices in education, labor organizing, and human rights advocacy. She guides the International Relations work at the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest labor union that represents 3 million public education employees in the United States. Through NEA’s membership in Education International, Jill builds common ground with leaders of national education unions. 

Gender justice is prominent in Jill’s intersectional and multinational approach, such as in advocacy with women educators at the UN Committee on the Status of Women. In a multi-year project to curb School-Related Gender-Based Violence in Kenya and other African nations, she partners with UNGEI and Education International. Whether advancing national policy or interpersonal communications, respect and human dignity are integral to Jill’s work. 

As a strong ally of the UNA and UNA-NCA, Jill’s leadership is evidenced through hosting and sponsoring several conferences and events, including UNA-NCA’s Human Rights Awards since 2017. In DC, Jill’s focus includes support for the Global Campaign for Education as it advocates for SDG 4 on education. Jill partners with the Child Labor Coalition, which focuses on curbing child labor. For several years, she has been her organization’s lead on the US ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

An admirer of Carter G. Woodson’s model of being a servant leader, Jill seeks to put her passions and skills into service. This sense of responsibility in addressing injustices and making the world a better place was nurtured in Jill by her mother. Jill holds degrees in Intercultural Communication from American University and in Multicultural Education from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. 

The final award presentation at the Annual Membership Meeting was the UNA-NCA Richard and Anne Griffis Program Leadership Award, which was given to the UNA-NCA Peace and Security Committee. Richard and Anne Griffis contributed greatly to furthering the cause of the United Nations Association for decades. Richard served as President of the Connecticut chapter and, after relocating to DC, was actively involved with UNA-NCA. As Vice President for Programs, he played a critical role strengthening the work of program committees and integrating the organization’s growing network of young professionals. During his last years at UNA, Richard served as Chair of the Human Rights Committee and contributed greatly to the success of the annual Human Rights Awards program. Anne Hungerford Griffis also was a longtime member and supporter of the United Nations Association. She served as co-chair of UNA-NCA’s UN Week Committee, and represented Church Women United on the Executive Committee of UNA-USA’s Council of Organizations in Washington, DC. Anne is remembered as a devout advocate for women and children’s rights, as well as a supporter of the UNA-NCA Global Classrooms DCprogram. Richard and Anne’s examples of advocating for human rights and the values of UNA-NCA are reflected by the UNA-NCA Peace and Security Committee,led by Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret.)and Richard Ponzio.

The Peace and Security Committee seeks to increase public understanding, encourage US leadership, and make recommendations that will strengthen the core mission of the United Nations, set forth in Article I, Section 1 of the UN Charter, “to maintain international peace and security.” In partnership with like-minded organizations, such as the Stimson Center, the US Institute of Peace, and the Alliance for Peacebuilding, we organize programs, assemble experts, advocate for US leadership and funding, undertake studies, and propose initiatives that will improve the effectiveness of the UN’s peace and security mission. 

After convening two roundtables of experts, the Committee issued a Report: Reform and Strengthening of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations Would Serve Important US National Security Interests, including 25 specific recommendations to strengthen UN Peacekeeping missions. The Committee is currently engaged in studying UN Mediation, Peacebuilding, Sanctions, and Special Envoys by convening experts and organizing programs to explore ways to improve the UN’s effectiveness in these areas. They are advised by two former UN Undersecretaries-General for Political Affairs, Lynn Pascoe and Jeffrey Feldman. The Committee works with UNA-NCA’s Global Classrooms, Graduate Fellows program, and Committees on Sustainable Development, International Law, Human Rights and Advocacy to promote the UN’s peace and security mission.

The Annual Membership Meeting concluded with congratulatory remarks by Paula Boland to awardees, UNA-NCA staff, volunteers and Program Assistants, and the audience. 

Join UNA-NCA today if you want to attend next year’s Annual Membership Meeting and help plan our other events!



07 June 2019

2019 Board of Directors Election Results


Officers (Two-year term)
President: Stephen F. Moseley
VP Communications: Sultana Ali
VP Development: Tim Barner
VP Finance and Treasurer: Scott Stiens
VP Membership & Vol Engagement: Kristen Hecht
VP Programs: Tom Bradley
VP for Strategy & Operations: Lauren B. Terrell
VP Young Professional: Laura Blyler

Directors-At-Large (Three-year term)
Lori Kaplan
Student Representative (One-year term)
Oona Nelson

President: Stephen F. Moseley

BIO:

Stephen F. Moseley is the current President of the UNA-NCA Board of Directors, elected for the first Term in 2017. Previously he served as President Elect for one year, and prior thereto he served as Chair of the UNA-NCA Advisory Council, and member of UNA-NCA’s Executive Committee and the Board of Directors. He has also served as  Board Member at Large, and as a member of UNA-NCA’s Committees for Advocacy and Development, and as Co-Chair of the Sustainable Development Goals Task Force. Mr. Moseley is a Board member of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, an Emeritus Board Member of the Society for International Development, Washington Chapter, where he served twice as President. Mr. Moseley served as President and CEO of the Academy for Educational Development from 1987 to 2010.

Mr. Moseley has been a member of the Board of InterAction; a member of the International Governing Board of the Society for International Development; served as Chairman of the Board of the Basic Education Coalition; and served on the UNESCO Working Committee in Paris for Education for All from 2002 to 2010. Mr. Moseley holds an Honorary Doctorate and a BA degree from the University of Hartford. 

VISION:

I believe our vision together must be to support the UNA-NCA’s three key objectives: 1) to increase public understanding and support of the United Nations; 2) to encourage constructive US leadership to strengthen the UN; and 3) to prepare present and future leaders to work for a better world, both globally and locally. To further this mission we reach out to new audiences in every generation to include more citizens groups, NGO’s, universities, faith-based organizations, foundations and businesses. We must address the needs for peacebuilding and violence prevention, human rights, equity for all people without discrimination; promote the full range of social, economic and environmental development goals for 2016 to 2030; promote the Paris accords  climate change agreement, even without the support of the current US President; promote public understanding about the UN’s work in many other critical areas, including international peacekeeping, nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, rule of law, and humanitarian support of refugees , migrants and displaced people. 


Vice President of Communications: Sultana Ali

BIO:

An accredited public relations professional with 15+ years experience, Sultana F. Ali is communications manager at The Pew Charitable Trusts, a global nonprofit, where she produces Pew’s podcast “After the Fact,” facilitates media training, and provides strategic communications support. Sultana was previously the PR Director for Liquidity Services and provided client support— including strategic communications and media relations—for Ketchum and a boutique agency in Florida. A longtime UNA-USA volunteer and youth mentor, Sultana was the first elected YP representative to its national board of directors and helped form its
young professionals group. She’s a former Orlando chapter president and chaired UNA-NCA’s Human Rights Committee. Sultana has a Master’s degree in Strategic Public Relations from The George Washington University and received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida. She is former president of PRSA-NCC, the largest chapter of U.S. PR professionals, and adjunct faculty at Georgetown University.

VISION: 

While many topics attract members, they all require strong communications. As VP of communications, I would plan to audit tools and tactics, review best practices, and shape an innovative communications strategy. I’d also work with programs and chapter leadership to advance strategic goals, ensure message alignment, and deepen stakeholder engagement.


Vice President Development: Tim Barner 

BIO:

Tim Barner retired in 2017 after 15 years as a development professional with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), a Quaker lobby in the public interest. He traveled from Maine to Georgia to interpret FCNL’s program to supporters.  Tim moved to DC in 1992 to direct the World Federalist Assn and became an active member of UNA-USA and its Council of Organizations.  Tim and his wife Kathy Guthrie have lived in their rapidly changing Capitol Hill neighborhood since 1994.

VISION:

I enjoy the challenge of fundraising teamwork with fellow Board members as we secure a firm base for current and future UNA-NCA programs.

Support for the United Nations and its dedicated global staff has been an important part of my life, from UN studies at Princeton and Pitt to work with the peace and security committee of UNA-NCA.  I feel privileged to continue serving on the UNA-NCA board.  


Vice President of Finance and Treasurer: Scott Stiens

BIO:

Scott Steins worked for the Secretary of State's Office for the Director of Foreign Assistance, where he was the Deputy Program Director for FACTS (Foreign Assistance Coordination and Tracking System).  FACTS tracks budget and performance for all AID to other countries, be it from USAID, DoD, DoS, OGAC, DoA, DoE, Peace Corps, and others. He has a strong interest and background in international affairs, and has volunteered with the United Nations Association for nearly a decade.

Having been the second longest staff member managing this project, now grown into many service modules, he manages the e300 funding, the SA&A, hosting, and developer hiring, and most recently they are negotiating with their host for a Continuity of Operations (COOP) site.  His history with the Government is long . . . nearly 28 years.  He entered directly out of graduate school in England to work as a health care administrator negotiating contracts between DoD and the Cambridge Health Authority.  Then he moved back to the US to work for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in health policy, a true introduction to accounting data systems.

Then he went to the Congressional Commission on Servicemembers and Veterans Transition, to the Hill for House Veteran’s Affairs Committee, and then to the White House on Health Reform. His last fifteen years have been as a diplomat with USAID and Department of State.  He has enhanced his original education in health administration and legal policy --  with a masters in IT project management - passing his PMP, and having earned a masters in Government IT from DoD’s National Defense University, home of the War College. Personally, he likes all things associated with water: boating, fishing, swimming, beaches, cruises.  He also raises Afghan Hounds and shows them, as well as renovate investment property, and restore vintage sports cars (e.g. 996 C2, 308 GTSi and DMC-12).

VISION:

Having served as Treasurer for several institutions including the Department of Veterans Affairs Credit Union, The Shriners, and in the past for UNA-NCA – I welcome the opportunity to further the improvements and maintain the integrity in non-profit accounting and cost control. The challenges which face UNA-NCA are multi-faceted: development and donations, synergizing with partners in our community, efficient expense management, and effective program performance tracking. All these may sound boring to those who deliver the wonderful programs of UNA-NCA, but I see them as the financial lifeblood supplying sustained energy into our shared program successes. I look forward to working with all of you: fellow board members, UNA-NCA leadership and staff, our like-minded community partners, as well as our intelligent engaged members.


Vice President of Membership: Kristen Hecht

BIO:

Kristen Hecht joined UNA-USA in 2009 through its Council of Organizations, a coalition of nongovernmental organizations that share the common goals of making the American public more knowledgeable about global issues and strengthening the U.S.– UN relationship. Since then, she has been an active member of the National Capital Area chapter (UNA-NCA) by participating in its DC for CEDAW Committee, working in the UNA-NCA office as its Director of Membership and Programs, serving as a delegate to the sixty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations, and participating in multiple speaking engagements on behalf of the organization.

Kristen has a background in nonprofit and membership management, with experience in the areas of organizational governance, program management, event planning, and communications. She currently works as program director for the B.A. Rudolph Foundation, an organization that champions the educational and professional development of women. Prior to her position at the B.A. Rudolph Foundation, Kristen worked at several different membership organizations of varying sizes (UNA-NCA with 3,000 members, volunteers, and supporters; Quota International with 6,000 members; and the American Physical Therapy Association with over 100,000 members), where she managed membership recruitment and retention efforts, governing bodies, program committees, and volunteers.

VISION:

My vision for UNA-NCA is a membership that is diverse, informed, and engaged. One of UNA-NCA’s unique assets is its multi-generational membership and programs, with over half of its members identifying as a student or young professional under the age of 40. There are opportunities to engage at all ages and career levels: Global Classrooms for students grades 5-12; the Graduate Fellows and Young Professionals Programs for college students and young professionals; Career Dinners for those wanting to gain advice on starting or transitioning their career; and program committees on issue-related topics for individuals at all levels. As Vice President of Membership and Volunteer Engagement, I will actively work to ensure UNA-NCA recruits members from all backgrounds, that all members are welcomed and aware of the many program activities that UNA-NCA offers, and that members are engaged in the mission of the organization.


Vice President of Programs: Thomas Bradley 

BIO:


Thomas Bradley served on the UNA-NCA Board of Directors and Executive Committee 2009-2017. He has been chair of the Virginia Area of the organization (2009-2013), vice president for development (2013-2017), vice chair of the Legacy Circle (2017 to present), and an assistant
director of the Graduate Fellows Program (2018 to present). He has been involved in UNA-NCA’s Global Classrooms DC program most years 2006 to present. He served 30 years on active duty in the US Air Force, with leadership experience in fighter aircraft operations, operation planning, academic instruction, international affairs, and foreign liaison. He has been executive director and CEO of a non-profit educational association and has been a contractor-consultant to the US Department of Defense. He earned a master’s degree in peace operations in 2018 from the Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University, and earned earlier degrees from Auburn University and the University of Tennessee.

VISION:

Our programs achieve UNA-NCA’s vision, mission, and goals by partnering with the board, committee chairs, staff, and volunteers to: harmonize event programming with the strategic plan; produce, evaluate, and enhance high-quality programs; use communications best practices to increase awareness of programs; identify new opportunities; and develop strategic partnerships.


Vice President of Governance: Lauren B. Terrell

BIO:

Lauren B. Terrell serves as the International Foundation for Electoral Systems’ (IFES) board affairs and compliance advisor. In her role, she provides guidance and coordination on best practices in nonprofit board governance. She also leads the organization’s compliance program and various fundraising events, including online giving.

Terrell began her career with IFES as an executive assistant, providing organizational support to the executive office and taking on a wide range of responsibilities including, event management and logistical and fundraising support to the chief executive officer, chief operating officer and executive vice president.

Terrell holds a bachelor’s degree in government and international politics, with a concentration in political theory and law, and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from George Mason University. She is a member of BoardSource and serves as a board member with the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area and with her homeowner’s association.

VISION:

A great deal of work has already been done by UNA-NCA and the current Vice President of Strategy and Operations in developing and implementing a strategic plan. My goal is to continue to build upon the work already underway. Given the changing external environment, I think it is also critical that we re-assess and re-realign identified priorities (as needed) and consider new priorities that address the new realities of that environment.


Vice President of Young Professionals: Laura Byler

BIO: 

Laura Blyler became involved with UNA-NCA in 2011 as a volunteer at the annual Global Classrooms Model UN Conference. After a few years of supporting GCDC, Laura joined the Young Professionals Board of Directors in 2014 as Director of Development. She currently serves as the Vice President for Young Professionals and is seeking a second term in 2019.

Laura has been working in the nonprofit sector for ten years focusing on fellowship program management, event planning, communications, and strategic planning. She was most recently the Fellowships Alumni Manager at the Social Science Research Council, where she developed and implemented engagement strategies to build a network of SSRC's 18,000 fellowship recipients. Prior to that, she was a Program Manager at the American Association of University Women (AAUW) where she oversaw the network of AAUW's fellowships and grants program. She also coordinated AAUW's global initiatives, developing programs for members and supporting AAUW's representatives to the United Nations. In addition to her volunteer work with UNA-NCA, Laura volunteers with The Spitfire Club, a local girls’ literacy empowerment program. Laura holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from American University.

VISION:

I am honored to be nominated for a second term to serve as Vice President for Young Professionals. If elected to a second term, I plan to work with my colleagues on the Board of Directors to strengthen our membership and fundraising strategies to recruit and retain talented young professionals in UNA-NCA.


Director at Large: Lori Kaplan

BIO:

From 1979 to 2018 Lori worked at the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC), a multi-service youth and family center for immigrant and refugee youth who reside in the DC metropolitan area.  She served as CEO for 30 years.  She has been involved in many local, regional and national issues that impact the lives of refugees and immigrants in the area of immigration, health, employment and has served as a policy advocate to regional mayors and county executives.  While at the LAYC she was the founder of three public charter schools designed to offer opportunity and re-engagement support to young people between the ages of 16-24 who have dropped out of traditional public school settings.  During that time, with a team of experts, she was also one of the founders of a bilingual Pre-K through 5th bilingual Montessori Spanish immersion charter school.  

VISION:

For 40 years Lori worked in the national capital area with young people from all over the world. She worked with refugees forced out of their countries due to war, political oppression, poverty and famine. She worked with immigrants who have come to our region searching for better social, educational and economic opportunities.  Many of the immigrant families are refugees fleeing political oppression but due to country specific US foreign policy decisions they are not recognized as refugees. This has recently worsened due to current US Central American policy. To address current and future global issues it is of critical importance that students understand their world well beyond their neighborhoods and communities. The UNA-NCA plays a critical education and advocacy role introducing students to global issues including women’s issues, migration and the environment.  Lori is committed to working with the UN-NCA to continue and expand its critically important work in the region.


Director at Large: Jill Christianson

BIO:

Jill Christianson builds strong international connections by forging relationships, practice and policy to ensure quality public education worldwide.  At the National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union, Jill’s guides the international relations work.  Gender justice is prominent in her intersectional and multinational approach, such as in advocacy with women educators at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. In a multi-year project to curb School-Related Gender-Based Violence in Kenya and other African nations, she partners with the UN Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI) and Education International.  This project has led to instrumental changes in the attitudes and practices of women and men educators.  Jill has participated in UN meetings on migration, education, and children.  She holds degrees in Intercultural Communication and in Multicultural Education.  As a strong ally of the United Nations Association and the UNA-NCA, Jill’s leadership is evidenced through several conferences and events.
VISION:
Within the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, we have a responsibility to promote sound United States engagement in the United Nations agencies and the full payment of UN dues.  I will advance the organization’s strong, positive message about US participation in the United Nations.


Director at Large: Bailey Dinman

BIO:

Bailey is a senior in the Honors College at the University of Maryland pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Government and Politics with a concentration in International Relations. Bailey is double minoring in International Development and Conflict Management, and Public Leadership. She has completed multiple student fellowships on campus, and studied abroad in Paris last spring. 

In 2016, Bailey served as the UNA-USA Membership Intern at the UN Foundation, beginning her involvement in the organization. Following her experience, Bailey worked to revamp the UNA chapter at the University of Maryland, serving as chapter President. Since June of 2018, Bailey has served as the Student Representative on UNA-NCA's Board of Directors and looks forward to continuing her involvement with
the organization. 

Bailey is currently interning with the United Nations Information Center. She has held
previous internships at Amnesty International and Freedom House.

VISION:

As a member at large on the UNA-NCA Board of Directors, I hope to build upon my experience serving as the Student Representative by maintaining a strong relationship with fellow board members, and an active presence within the chapter at large. Further, I hope to continue to build relationships with local student leaders, and offer continued support to the incoming Student Representative. I hope to contribute my unique opinions as a young professional and a young woman during board meetings and discussions, and ensure that there is younger perspective to governance conversations. 


Director at Large: Rajesh Gupta

BIO:

Rajesh is a veteran in the IT industry, having served as President of DMI’s IoT & Analytics Division (formerly Lochbridge acquired by DMI in May 2017), Global Head & Industry GM of Automotive Sector at CSC and Head & GM of Client Services at Infosys. He has driven exponential client growth by leveraging underlying advanced technologies, such as data science, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, cryptography and IoT in the context of clients’ environment. He also served as the Deputy Director of Defence R&D for the Indian Ministry of Defence. Over the years, Rajesh has gained valuable experience as a global business leader in business transformation, P&L management, strategy, business development, and corporate social responsibility. He has been instrumental in pivoting the companies towards a strategic foundation and building a strong partner eco-system. He has, and continues to be, a driving force in strategic, relationship, entrepreneurial, content and operational leadership.

He is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and a post-graduate in Management from Birla Institute of Management Technology. He holds a Bachelors in Electronics Engineering from the National Institute of Technology and a Master’s Degree in Communication Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi.

VISION:

UNA-NCA is a not-for-profit organization that has been at the forefront to improve the collective wisdom at United Nations by working with the decision makers in the UN as well as the US for important humankind issues like nuclear non-proliferation, global health, conflict resolution, dignity in living for all across the globe, etc. There is a lot which can be accomplished in all these areas by selfless contributions to benefit society and humankind. With my experiences in both government and corporate world and a strong focus on technologies, I believe that we can help bring the much desired change in today’s world through continuous innovation and incubation of new ideas. I will dedicate my efforts to work with the UNA-NCA team and the partner eco-system for the sustainable development and to advocate and reach for the young professionals to help accomplish the noble mission of the organization.


Director at Large: Brian Heilman

BIO:

Brian C. Heilman is an advisor to non-profit organizations, foundations and families in the Washington region for investment policy and allocation.  He is an advocate for the principles on which the UN was founded: the Sustainable Development Goals, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing.

Brian is a Chartered Financial Analyst, and member since 1998 of the CFA Society of Washington, where he previously served on the External Relations Committee.  He holds an MBA in Business Administration from the Anderson School at UCLA and BA, Biology, also from the University of California.

Brian is a member of the Society for International Development, and a co-author of research regarding  the causative agent of South American Trypanosomiasis, T. Cruzi. His son and daughter attended District of Columbia schools, and he has attended Model United Nations sessions in Washington. Brian has lived on three continents, and resided in Tokyo, Japan, for four years.   

VISION:

Global change demands coordinated and swift action to achieve a sustainable future.  My vision is to achieve new alliances to advance the UN and capital community toward realization of a world where opportunity exists for all earth’s inhabitants, built on peace, security, and justice, the bedrock of the United Nations.


Director at Large: Ambassador (ret.) Keith Harper

BIO:

Ambassador (ret.) Keith M. Harper is a partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP. From 2014 to 2017, he served as the United States Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. Harper currently also serves as a
Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs. And the American Bar Association has appointed him as Special Advisor to the ABA’s Rule of Law Initiative.

Throughout his legal career, Harper has represented Indian tribes and individual Indians. He served as Class Counsel representing a class of 500,000 individual Indians in the landmark trust funds lawsuit, Cobell v. Salazar, which settled for $3.4 billion in 2009. Harper served as a Chair for Native American policy in the 2008 Obama For America presidential campaign and then on President Obama’s transition team. He was appointed by President Obama to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships in 2010. He has taught Federal Indian Law as an adjunct professor at Catholic University Columbus School of Law and American University Washington College of Law. Harper began service as an At-Large member of the Democratic National Committee in October 2017.

Harper was selected as one of the 500 best lawyers in America (LawDragon500) and one of the fifty most influential minority lawyers (National Law Journal). He graduated from University of
California, Berkeley and received his J.D. from New York University School of Law. After graduation, he served as law clerk to the Honorable Lawrence W. Pierce on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

VISION:

The United Nations is the extant manifestation of a simple proposition that an international community united in purpose and objective is essential for greater stability, security and prosperity for all.  I would join UNA-NCA to advocate for the multilateral system and its objectives while at the same time addressing some of the United Nation’s imperfections.  In addition, it is necessary in a world where human rights and rule of law are under assault at home and abroad, that we unite in support of these key principles.


Director at Large: Iqbal Unus

BIO:

Dr. Iqbal J. Unus is a trustee,  since 1989, of Amana Mutual Funds Trust, the leading mutual fund operating with Islamic principles. He has focused his  professional career on the evolving Muslim presence in  America, gaining distinctive insight into its growth. He has recently retired from International  Institute of Islamic Thought, is a fellow at Alwaleed Center  for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, chairs the Board of newly established The Islamic Seminary of America, and has served one term on UNA-NCA Board. He has served as secretary general of Islamic Society of North America, where now he is Board member. He has published several articles in Islamic Horizons magazine, a chapter in The Muslims' Place in the American Public Square, and two children’s books. He has also abridged Apostasy in Islam: An Historical and Scriptural Analysis, edited Muslim American Life: Reflections and Perspectives, and written two short books, Moses on Leadership and They Desire to Serve.

VISION:

It is imperative that the citizens of the United States constructively engage with the United Nations and its system of cooperation and collaboration across national boundaries. Such engagement fosters a truer understanding of global citizenship, and subsequently develops within them a genuine concern for all peoples of the world. By educating individuals about their power to bring about change through the UN system, we will be better prepared for the challenges and open to the possibilities that emerge within our global community. Ever-increasing globalization demands a response. To that end, we must facilitate education in global citizenship. I seek to further the work of UNA-NCA by extending it to communities of citizens and immigrants not reached effectively.


Director at Large: Melissa Wolfe

BIO:

Melissa Wolfe chairs UNA-NCA’s Governance Committee. She lends expertise and counsel on governance best practices to UNA-NCA and most notably led the process to develop UNA-NCA’s current strategic plan and 2019 business plan.  Melissa is United Way Worldwide’s Director of Governance.  As part of the Executive Office team, she is responsible for governance strategies for the global network and she manages the work of United Way’s Worldwide and U.S.A. National Boards.  She also provides technical assistance to United Way’s members and international partners in 41 countries and territories.  Melissa is a National Association of Corporate Directors Governance Fellow and was recognized as one of 24 America’s Leaders of Change by the National Urban Fellows. She is also a past recipient of UNA-NCA’s Evelyn Falkowski Service Award for advancing the mission of the United Nations and for strengthening UNA-NCA as an organization.

VISION:


The United Nations charter remains as relevant today as it did in 1945.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development invites all of us from around the world to be a part of truly global solutions. As a member of the UNA-NCA board, I am honored and privileged to contribute to this work and I look forward to advancing our organization’s mission in the next few years.  


Student Representative: Oona Nelson

BIO:

Oona Nelson is a junior International Business Major concentrating in emerging nations and Spanish with a minor in political science at Howard University. In Spring 2019, she interned at the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of Human Resources where she worked in Student Programs, planning and coordinating events for the Unpaid Interns. Previously, she collaborated with Miss Black Ambassador D.C. 2018, Candace Johnson, on an event co-sponsored by her campaign and the United States Department of State, to increase the awareness and involvement of young African-Americans in careers in international affairs.

Oona joined the United Nations Association as a freshman in 2017, when it was first chartered on Howard University’s campus. From then to now, she has been actively involved with planning and facilitating events. Now, she acts as the President of her Chapter for the 2019-2020 school year.

VISION:

As Student Representative to the Board of Directors of the National Capital Area, Oona intends to grow the collaboration between chapters and increase membership retention to campus and advocacy events. She also intends to increase the amount of diversity and inclusion within the Chapters to promote innovation in ideas and representation for all. While promoting the 17 sustainable goals, through advocacy work, fundraising and event planning.



14 May 2019

Local to Global Engagement through Model UN: 15th Annual Global Classrooms DC Model UN Conference


On Friday April 26, 2019, around 400 students, 70 educators, 50 volunteers, and 40 guests gathered at the U.S. Department of State and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for the 15th Annual Spring19Conf-1UNA-NCA Global Classrooms DC (GCDC) Annual Spring Model United Nations Conference, the culiminating event for GCDC. 

The conference welcomed 5th to 12th grade students from 27 schools and groups from not only the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area but also as far as Lebanon. Throughout the intense one-day conference, student delegates debated possible solutions to important international issues from the perspectives of their countries. They acted as diplomats advocating for their country's position on five topics across five different committees:

  • Ending Modern Slavery (International Organization for Migration)
  • Creating Youth Employment Opportunities (International Labour Conference, which is part of the International Labour Organization)
  • Promoting Women in Peace and Security (UN Development Program)
  • Developing Better Responses to Natural Disasters (UN Environmental Programme)
  • Crisis of Democratic Republic of Congo (UN Security Council)
Spring19Conf-4

The conference was opened by Paula Boland, the Executive Director of UNA-NCA, and Stephen F. Moseley, the President of UNA-NCA. Both expressed appreciation to the International Organization Affair Bureau at the State Department for the long standing partnership collaboration and inclredible support. Public Affairs Director, Mark Schlachter, remarked that this program continues to be the single largest student event the Department holds each year.

The Keynote Speaker for 15th Annual GCDC Spring Model UN Conference was Vivian Lowery Derryck (right), the founder and the president Emerita of the Bridges Institute. Spring19Conf-2Ms. Derryck has focused on promoting sustainable development in education, political participation, conflict resolution, leadership development, and women's leadership in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. She shared her incredible journey from her time in Africa and her passion for empowering women and girls through education. She encouraged the students at the conference to align their skills with their passion, and continue to engage in global issues and the work of the United Nations.

Lastly, Fatemeh Naghavinia, the 2019 Global Classrooms DC Secretary-General, emphasized on importance of raising youths' voice to change the world and officially opened the conference.

As soon as the ceremonies concluded, students head to their different committee rooms and began their morning sessions. Meanwhile, educators and guests gathered in the Delegates Lounge for the GCDC Open House. UNA-NCA Executive Director Paula Boland greeted the guests and and shared this year's program highlights and thanked this year's conference sponsors and partners. Special thanks Spring19Conf-7to UN Federal Credit Union, O'Melveny & Meyers Law Firm, AIRSCHOTT, the National Education Association, the Griffis Family, and all those who donated through the GCDC Support a Delegate program for their generous support!

In addition, GCDC partnered with a number of international organizations as sponsors of conference topics. For the 2018-2019 school year, GCDC partnered with the International Organization for Migration to sponsor a full curriculum unit and conference topic to the issue of migration and modern slavery. GCDC also partnered with the International Labour Organization to sponsor a unit, and the conference delegates talked about youth employment issues. Last but not least, GCDC worked with the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) to cover the topic of promoting women in peace and security. 

After the Open House, educators and guests had the opportunity to visit different committee rooms and witness the students in action.

In the afternoon, the student delegates primarily continued working with others to draft resolutions which outlined their ideas and solutions to solve their committees' respective challenges. Many Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs, who are college students and professionals with extensive Model UN experience, shared their positive feedback on students; the Chairs and Vice-Chairs were extremely impressed by the students' preparation and the quality of their performance.

Spring19Conf-8At the same time period in the afternoon, the educators had the opportunity to attend the Professional Development Workshop. Educators interacted with other teachers from different schools through innovative global education activities and shared their teaching experience regarding international and global education.

During the closing ceremonies UNA-NCA Global Education Managing Director Nicole Bohannon and Student Secretary-General Fatemeh Naghavinia announced the committee and position paper awards to recognize outstanding work done by participating students.

In its 15th year, the GCDC Model UN Conference continued to provide opportunities for primary and secondary school students to fully immerse in global education. Spring19Conf-6They are able to discuss some of the world's most pressing international issues with other student from diverse backgrounds, while learning from inspiring leaders and professionals in the field of foreign affairs. From this experience, students are able to effectively cultivate various skills, such as public speaking, negotiation, and writing.

Thank you again to all our speakers and a very special thank you to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, and the Pan American Health Organization for the continued support throughout the years.

UNA-NCA also thanks the UN Federal Credit Union, O'Melveny & Meyers Law Firm, AIRSCHOTT, the National Education Association, the Griffis Family, and our Supoort a Delegate supporters. Thank you to Sabina Grenaderova for photographing the event. Finally, a warm thank you to UNA-NCA and GCDC Staff, Program Assistants, and volunteers – the GCDC Spring 2019 Model UN Conference would not have been possible without your support!

Spring19Conf-9



30 April 2019

2019 UNA-NCA Human Rights Awards Criteria

The United Nations Association of the National Capital Area’s (UNA-NCA) annual Human Rights Awards Reception commemorates the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by presenting the Louis B. Sohn Human Rights Award, the Perdita Huston Human Rights Award, the F. Allen Tex” Harris Diplomacy Award, and the Community Human Rights Award to individuals and organizations that have made substantial contributions to human rights. We invite you to submit your nominations for the 2019 UNA-NCA Human RightsAwards.  Nominations can be submitted here.

UNA-NCA Louis B. Sohn Human Rights Award

Louis B. Sohn (1914 – 2006) was a longtime scholar of international law,an advocate of international institutions, author, and activist. He participated in the United Nations’ founding at the 1945 San Francisco conference; campaigned for the acceptance of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a legally binding document, rather than a statement of principles; and championed the UN General Assembly’s 1968 adoption of the two UN Human Rights Covenants. In 1997, UNA-NCA established the Louis B. Sohn Award to honor individuals whose human rights work has exemplified that of Dr. Sohn.

The Louis B. Sohn Human Rights Award is presented to persons who have:

1)    Advocated respect for international human rights as defined by the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other international human rights treaties andinstruments;
2)     Championed the effective role of the UN as well as regional organizations in the promotion and protection of humanrights;
3)   Advocated respect for human rights as a priority in US foreign and domestic policies;and
4)    Elevated the role of non-governmental organizations in promoting and protecting humanrights.

The UNA-NCA Perdita Huston Human Rights Award

Perdita Huston (1936-2001) was an American journalist and longtime women’s rights activist.  She was Director ofPublic Affairs for TIME Magazine in French-speaking countries; served as Peace Corps Director in Mali and Bulgaria; worked for the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF); and consulted with UNDP, UNIFEM, UNFPA and UNICEF. She also authored several books about women’s empowerment, covering topics such as motherhood and the status of women in developing countries. From 2001-2010, UNA-NCA issued grants in Huston’s name to support the work of women around the world who were commitment to advancing equality for women and girls. In 2011, UNA-NCA inaugurated the Perdita Huston Award at its Human Rights Awards Reception to publicly recognize persons who continue Perdita’s legacy in promoting gender equality.
The Perdita Huston Human Rights Award is presented to persons who have:

1)     Advocated to eliminate discrimination against women and girls around the world; and
2)    Made significant contributions for greater gender equality through increasing economic opportunity and development, promoting human rights, and supporting peace and security for women and girls.

The UNA-NCA F. Allen "Tex" Harris Diplomacy Award

F. Allen (‘Tex’) Harris enjoyed a 35-year U.S. Foreign Service career in varied and often dangerous posts.His work during the height of the 'dirty war' in Argentina during the 1970s, where he exposed the fate of 15,000 citizens clandestinely killed by the military junta, earned him the U.S. Department of State’s “Distinguished Honor Award.” He also helped push the transition from apartheid in South Africa during the 1980s. When Harris joined the Foreign Service in 1965, events within foreign countries were generally perceived to be off- limitstoAmericaninterestsandrepresentations.Inlargepartduetohiswork, humanrightsadvocacyisnowa majorpolicyconsiderationinAmericandiplomacy.In2013,UNA-NCAestablishedtheF.Allen“Tex”Harris Diplomacy Award to recognize an American diplomat for promoting human rights throughdiplomacy.

The Tex Harris Diplomacy Award is presented to current or former American diplomats who have:

1)    Advocated respect in American diplomacy for international human rights as defined by the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights treaties and instruments;
2)     Made significant achievements in human rights through the use of diplomacy; and
3)    Demonstrated leadership in the diplomatic community on human rightsissues.

The UNA-NCA Community Human Rights Award

The Community Human Rights Award is bestowed on individuals or organizations that have provided outstanding service in promoting and protecting human rights within the UNA-NCA chapter region. Recipients may be U.S. government officials, leaders of non-government organizations, public service organizations, academics, scholars or other practitioners and providers.

The UNA-NCA Community Human Rights Award is presented to persons or organizations who have:

1)    Provided leadership to advance the cause of human rights through a local group or organization in the Washington, DC, Maryland, and/or Northern Virginia areaand;
2)     Demonstrated personal and professional contributions to advance the cause of human rights in the public, private, and/or non-profitsector.

Nominations can be submitted here.  The deadline for nominations is April 30th, and selection begins in May.



24 April 2019

UNA-NCA Young Professional Career Dinner Series: A Focus on Choosing an Enjoyable Career Path

Written by Laura Blyler, Vice President of Young Professionals



On Saturday, April 6, 2019, young professionals and students gathered at the United Nations Foundation to participate in the semi-annual UNA-NCA Young Professional Career Dinner series.

This signature event is held every spring and fall and is an opportunity for young professionals to discuss global career paths and network with experienced professionals in their fields of interest. The Spring 2019 event kicked off with a networking reception, where around 80 participants and speakers had the chance to meet, swap business cards, and enjoy the beautiful views of the city from the terrace of the United Nations Foundation. Stephen Moseley, President of UNA-NCA, and Paula Boland, Executive Director of UNA-NCA, welcomed guests to the evening’s event, before turning over the stage to our keynote speaker, Ambassador (ret) Keith Harper, former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council and Partner at Kilpatrick Townsend, LLC.

Ambassador Harper, also the recipient of the 2017 UNA-NCA F. Allen “Tex” Harris Human Rights Diplomacy Award, addressed the crowd with timely and thoughtful remarks about his career path and the importance of U.S. leadership at the United Nations. Harper weaved stories of his own career journey with advice for a career path centered around issues that make an impact in the world.

Harper’s own career has been driven by two great interests, international relations and federal Indian law. He told attendees to choose the path you find most enjoyable drawing on a choice he made after law school to take a job at the Native American Rights Fund rather than at a big law firm, because he believed the path he wanted to be on was to litigate on behalf of Indian tribes. That choice led him to bring a case against the federal government for mismanagement of Indian trust funds which settled in 2009 for $3.4 billion. Harper went on to work as an advisor on President Barack Obama’s first campaign in 2007, a role which led to a position in the Obama administration and eventually to his appointment as the United States Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

To provide guidance and share lessons learned from his own career journey, Harper imparted four thoughts on career choices for young professionals:

1. Luck. You have to be prepared to accept the lucky opportunities when they arise.

2. Put yourself out there. People who are experts in their field are willing to help young people succeed. It is highly probable that they will want to engage with you if you just ask them!

3. Choose the path that you find most enjoyable.

4. Focus not on what you want to be, but rather focus on what you want to do. If you care about an issue, there are many different ways to impact that issue. There will always be new and innovative ways to work on issues that you care about.

Ambassador Harper left the audience with a final tidbit of advice centered on choosing a path that you find most enjoyable, “as you go through that journey to find out where specifically you want to make your contributions, you let your heart guide you. You follow that which you think is the kind of impact you want to make, and I guarantee you, you will find a way to achieve your objectives.”

Following Ambassador Harper’s speech, the participants broke out into small groups to attend their respective dinner topics. This year the event featured six different topics including Careers in the United Nations, International Development, Climate Adaptation and Mitigation, International Law, Refugees and Migration, and Careers in Women, Peace, and Security. During the dinner, participants had the chance to discuss changing career fields, working in an uncertain political climate and engaging in the workforce as a young professional.

Every year the UNA-NCA Young Professionals’ team is excited to connect mid-career and expert professionals with passionate young professionals to deepen the participant’s knowledge of the field from an insider’s point of view. The next career dinner will take place in the fall of this year and we look forward to seeing you there!

Join UNA-NCA today if you want to get involved with the Young Professionals program to help plan events like this!



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