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15 June 2016

2016 Annual Membership Meeting

The Annual Meeting of UNA-NCA took place on Thursday, June 9, with more than 100 members and chapter leaders in attendance to celebrate the organization's accomplishments over the past year!

IMG_2396On June 9, UNA-NCA held its 63rd Annual Membership Meeting at the United Nations Foundation Headquarters. Members gathered to hear remarks from Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret.), President of UNA-NCA and keynote speaker, Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard on "Meeting the Humanitarian Challenges of the 21st Century". Three awards were presented to chapter leaders along with the announcement of the 2016 Board of Directors election results

President Bliss opened the Annual Meeting by recognizing the recent and forthcoming changes for both the United Nations and the United States of America this year, highlighting the ongoing refugee crisis and upcoming election of the President of the United States and selection of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. President Bliss continued by presenting the 2015-2016 UNA-NCA Annual Report, and invited members to further their involvement in the organization by joining its various program committees.    

Anne_Richard_2President Bliss then welcomed keynote speaker, Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard. Assistant Secretary Anne Richard remarked on the global displacement crisis of refugees and emphasized the importance of the United States government in providing humanitarian aid and opening its borders. She discussed key topics from the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, how countries share responsibility, and how to protect women's rights. She reported that the Summit will be followed by two more high-profile meetings set to take place in September: when world leaders gather for the UN General Assembly and when President Obama will host a Leaders' Summit focused specifically on the needs of refugees. In the months between now and then, the President will be asking governments to make concrete commitments that will meet the needs and objectives of today's humanitarian crisis. The Assistant Secretary concluded by thanking UNA-NCA in its pursuit to help the planet and citizen. See full remarks.

IMG_2392Three awards were presented throughout the evening: the Arthur W. Johnson Leadership Award, the Evelyn Falkowski Volunteer Service Award, and the Richard and Anne Griffis Program Leadership Award. The Johnson Family presented the Arthur W. Johnson Award to the Honorable Constance (Connie) A. Morella for her exemplary leadership and commitment to the vital work of the United Nations. 

tomUNA-NCA Executive Director Paula Boland presented the UNA-NCA Evelyn Falkowski Volunteer Service Award to Thomas Bradley, Vice President of Development, and Vanessa Francis, Vice President of Membership and Volunteer Engagement, for their outstanding volunteer service and commitment to the work of the United Nations. Both Tom Bradley and Vanessa Francis are longstanding members of UNA-NCA.

SDGs_Task_Force__leaders_and_Roger_Griffis__2016_UNA-NCA_Annual_Meeting_1The Griffis family presented the final award - the Richard and Anne Griffis Program Leadership Award to UNA-NCA's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Task Force. Led by A. Edward Elmendorf and Stephen F. Mosley, the entire task force was recognized for its efforts to advance the Global Goals for Sustainable Development both locally and globally, and its successful integration of the SDGs throughout all of UNA-NCA's program committees.

The annual meeting was followed by a festive reception in which people with diverse backgrounds in the UNA-NCA community mingled, discussed topics of common interests, and shared their own stories from the organization throughout the year. Guests were invited to take pictures with their favorite Global Goal for Sustainable Development (view the photo gallery on UNA-NCA's Facebook papge).

It was a pleasure to see so many dedicated members attend UNA-NCA's Annual Meeting. Special thanks to the the United Nations Foundation for providing the excellent venue downtown, and to the United Nations Association of the United States of America for their organizational and logistical support.  

07 June 2016

2016 Board of Directors Election Results

UNA-NCA is delighted to confirm the election of the following candidates for vacant positions on our Board of Directors. 

Officers (2-year term):

  • President-Elect:  Stephen F. Moseley                                            
  • Advisory Council Chair: Kimberly Weichel                              
  • Vice President, Finance and Treasurer: Timothy Barner
  • Vice President and Secretary: Susan Leahy                                            

Directors-at-Large (3-year term):
  • Sultana Ali
  • Jill Christianson
  • Olumide Elegbe
  • Jud Nirenberg
  • Thomas Riesenberg
  • Dr. Iqbal Unus
  • Jodi-Kaye Wade

Kristen Cheriegate from The George Washington University will serve as the Student Representative (1-year term). 

UNA-NCA wishes to thank the following individuals for their service on its Board of Directors: Jonathan Dromgoole, Dr. Mary Futrell, Abigail Pereira, Richard C. Rowson, and Kim M. Watson.  

Bios for all Board Members may be accessed here

These results will be announced at the 2016 UNA-NCA Annual Meeting June 9, 2016. 

31 May 2016

Legacy Circle Spotlight on Tom Bradley

UNA-NCA enjoys a Legacy Circle of members who offer support through planned giving of sums large and small.

Gifts may be made monthly, under wills, or in other ways. UNA-NCA is introducing members of its Legacy Circle to other members and supporters. This week, meet Tom Bradley:

Tom Bradley’s involvement with UNA-NCA began through the Model UN program.  He heard about an opportunity in 2006 to work as a volunteer with high school students in Washington, asking them to give their best efforts thinking about solutions to global challenges.  Over the years, he worked with teenagers at Benjamin Banneker and Eastern high schools, and discovered how interested they are in working on the world’s problems.  His awareness of UNA-NCA began with the Model UN program and the full-year Global Classrooms DC program that prepares students to participate in the annual Model UN Conference.  He has continued to work as a mentor and policy advisor in the Model UN program.

Tom has been involved in other UNA-NCA programs as well.  He was the Virginia area chair for three years, and then in 2013 became the vice president for resource development, working to help ensure UNA-NCA has the financial resources to sustain and enhance its programs.  He also has helped UNA-NCA’s Young Professionals by helping to sponsor the YP career dinner series for the last five years.

Tom joined the Legacy Circle to ensure that his financial contributions will continue to support UNA-NCA for years to come.  He is a retired US Air Force officer who had a second career in consulting and in non-profit management.  He currently is a graduate student at George Mason University, majoring in peace operations; with the inspiration of UNA-NCA members Karen Mulhauser, Ed Elmendorf, Don Bliss, and Steve Moseley, among others, he decided that he could have one more career, this time working to help countries escape from the ravages of civil war. 

Learn more about the Legacy Circle, or contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Co-Chairs of the UNA-NCA Legacy Circle.

24 May 2016

UNA-NCA and Ambassador Keith Harper on US Engagement with the UN Human Rights Council

On Tuesday, May 17, 2016, UNA-NCA, its Human Rights Committee, and the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) sat down with Ambassador Keith Harper, US Representative to the UN Human Rights Council, for an informal conversation about the United States’ engagement with the Human Rights Council and the UN’s human rights program in general.

Ambassador Keith Harper, US Representative to the UN Human
Rights Council (Left) and Amb. Donald T. Bliss (ret), President, UNA-NCA

Ian Houston, Executive Director of the AFSA, welcomed attendees and invited them to participate actively in the conversation with Ambassador Harper. UNA-NCA President Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret.) highlighted that the day marked International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and pointed out that this is an important year for both the US and the UN, given that the US will welcome a new President and Congress, and the UN will select a new Secretary-General. Against this backdrop, President Bliss introduced Ambassador Harper.

IMG_2194Ambassador Harper began by explaining the transformations seen by the Human Rights Council as the United States grew as an active leader there, noting that the Council became more effective in achieving its goals. He provided a brief overview of the changes that came about due – at least in part – to US involvement, looking specifically at its activities in Israel and Sri Lanka.

President Bliss asked Ambassador Harper to describe what he found most surprising upon arriving in Geneva; the Ambassador answered that he was impressed with how much could be – and was being – accomplished, quietly. He also spoke about the high level of respect that many countries have for the institutions in the United States, regardless of our perception of how the rest of the world sees our country. Questioned about the United States’ own human rights record, far from perfect, Ambassador Harper responded that acknowledging this actually builds the country’s credibility on the topic. He encouraged human rights actors to be candid in discussing that record, as it can serve to open conversations about human rights challenges other member states face.

IMG_2196In that same vein, President Bliss pointed out that the United States has yet to ratify a number of important human rights treaties – including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. President Bliss wondered how the US could be a serious leader in the world of global human rights while refusing to become party to those Conventions. Ambassador Harper replied that, though he would like to see many ratified, the issue is not serious because the United States is largely in compliance through its own domestic law.

A lively question and answer session with audience members – from students to recent graduates to seasoned professionals – followed Ambassador Harper’s conversation with President Bliss. President Bliss concluded that, given Ambassador Harper’s inspiring experience with the Human Rights Council and his confidence in the difference US leadership has made there, constructive US engagement in all areas of the international policy can help the United Nations more effectively achieve its vision.

A blog post with more information on this event is available here.

UNA-NCA is very grateful to Ambassador Harper for his time and remarks on Tuesday evening, to the American Foreign Service Association for its partnership in organizing and hosting the event, and to the UNA-NCA Human Rights Committee.

Follow Ambassador Harper on Twitter @USAmbHRC . Statements on the next Human Rights Council Session beginning Monday June 12 can be found here

18 May 2016

A Week of Human Rights Highlights in DC

Adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights reached new heights in the nation's capital this week.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jordanian Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, made the rounds in Washington, DC. The High Commissioner, who took office on September 1, 2014, is the first Asian, Muslim, Arab, and Prince to hold the position. UNA-NCA Executive Director and UNA-NCA President Amb. Donald T. Bliss (ret.) attended a dinner on Monday, May 16, 2016 with Mr. Al Hussein, whose passionate commitment to the values and norms expressed in the Universal Declaration shown brightly. His activist agenda is tempered by a realistic appreciation of the realities of global challenges and an understanding of the historical and philosophical underpinnings of the struggle for universal human rights. His allusions to literature and philosophy were profound. We are fortunate to have a High Commissioner with his background who can bridge the chasm between various cultures and traditions as we seek common understanding of universal norms.

May 17, 2016 was "International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia," and the world witnessed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declaring that "Human Rights are for everyone, no matter who you are or whom you love." UN leadership on this issue, greatly encouraged by the United States, is as remarkable as it is critical, given the continuing criminalization of homosexual acts in many Member States, and even the ugly debate within the US on recent federal guidance on transgender students.

Also on May 17, UNA-NCA showcased the effectiveness of US leadership on human rights as Amb. Bliss (ret.) interviewed Amb. Keith Harper, US Representative on the Human Rights Council, at a program co-sponsored by UNA-NCA and the American Foreign Service Association. Harper, the first Native American ever appointed as a US Ambassador, demonstrated how the decision of the US to engage constructively in the Human Rights Council has transformed its work and enabled it to highlight and advance human rights from Sri Lanka to North Korea.

In a year when the United Nations will select a new Secretary-General and the US will elect a new President and Congress, it is most valuable to demonstrate in concrete terms the importance of strong US leadership at the United Nations.

17 May 2016

Global Classrooms Students on the Road to Paris

On May 12, 2016 over 100 students, educators, volunteers, and guests attended Global Classrooms DC’s (GCDC) last Model UN Conference of the 2015 – 2016 academic year at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), in Washington D.C.

88 students, grades 6 – 12, registered to represent Member States in the United Nations Environmental Programme to discuss the current and pressing issue of climate change. This event was part of the UNA-USA’s Road to Paris Leads through the Classroom Initiative.

PAHO_Photo_2The opening ceremonies began with remarks from the UNA-NCA Director of Global Education, Megan Penn, followed by Yizreel Urquijo, Chief Operating Officer of Education for Sharing, who discussed different ways to bring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the classroom. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Regional Administrator, Shawn Garvin, opened the conference with his keynote speech about the effects of climate change and the role of the EPA to protect to current generation. He posed a challenge to students to hold their peers accountable in order to protect their generation and environment.

image1As the students’ debate flourished, Ms. Penn led a room of educators in a Professional Development Workshop offering sustainable methods to engage students on international affairs through the resources made available by the UN and GCDC’s curriculum. After lunch, Yizreel Urquijo led the instructors through various hands-on techniques aimed at teaching the Global Goals. These interactive learning methods specifically targeted climate change and inspired them to create their own engaging games to bring back to their classrooms. With five draft resolutions presented by the students over the course of the day, three of these were passed recommending a number of solutions to climate change including nuclear energy. The collaboration seen between the students was the ultimate way to end the academic year for GCDC.

Thank you to all of the speakers, staff, and volunteers who made this last Model UN conference possible, as well as UNA-USA for their continued support. 

11 May 2016

UNA-NCA leaders elected to serve on the National Council

UNA-NCA is proud to announce that its Executive Director, Paula Boland, and Board member Kasara Davidson have been elected by our regional chapters to serve on the National Council of the United Nations Association of the USA. Both are long standing committed leaders who have contributed their expertise at the local, regional and national levels.

The Council of Chapters and Regions (CCR) consists of delegates from the 120 Chapters and Divisions in eleven regions around the country and is the democratic voice of the UNA membership in making decisions for UNA-USA.

The Steering Committee, elected by the CCR, consists of slightly more than 30 people based on the membership of the region and consistent with standard operating procedures. It meets twice a year, once during the June Annual Meeting and once in New York in early February; its working groups and subcommittees conduct business year-round by email and conference call in preparation for their semi-annual meetings.  In addition to overseeing these elections, the Steering Committee works on issues of membership, legislative advocacy, web and social media, external communications, education, WFUNA, and the Council of Organizations.  It makes recommendations to both to UNA-USA staff and to delegates at the Annual Meeting.  Regional Representatives also work with staff to assist chapters and to help resolve issues that may arise during the year.

Newly elected members will be inducted on June 13 at the UNA-USA Leadership Summit in Washington D.C. The Summit is a great opportunity to meet chapter leaders from across the country, share best practices and advocate for a strong US-UN partnership on the Hill. It’s not late to register!

11 May 2016

Members of the Healthcare Community Discuss Women's Health in DC

On Monday, May 9, 2016, UNA-NCA and its DC for CEDAW committee hosted the third in a series of public education forums to increase awareness of the UN Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). These forums have been part of the Committee’s efforts to pass city-wide legislation in DC to protect women and promote gender equality.

Two previous forums – one in September 2015 and one in February 2016 – focused on specific issues that affect women: the rights of sexual assault victims and the gender pay gap. Monday night, speakers from the healthcare field addressed Women’s Health in the District of Columbia, examining why DC ranks 48th in the country in terms of women’s health, and why the HIV rate in the District is the highest nationwide.

IMG_20160509_181114140_HDRPhoto Credit: Annelise CohonKaren Mulhauser, UNA-USA Chair and Co-Chair of the UNA-NCA DC for CEDAW Committee, kicked off the discussion with a brief introduction of CEDAW and the Cities for CEDAW Initiative. Though CEDAW was signed by President Carter in 1980, it was never ratified by the US Senate, making the US one of very few states that have not adopted this “Women’s Bill of Rights.” As Ms. Mulhauser explained, when it became clear that the treaty would not be passed in the near future, the Cities for CEDAW Initiative was launched to encourage US city councils to pass the legislation at the city level. In DC, though all councilmembers endorsed the legislation last year, it has still not come to a vote. The DC for CEDAW Committee has therefore begun raising awareness by focusing on a number of issues.

Monica Palacio, Director of the DC Office of Human Rights, presented opening remarks, describing a number of protections that do exist for women in DC, including legislation that provides for pregnant workers, prevents discrimination based on choices about reproductive health, and allows for parental leave, among others. She also discussed briefly the duties and responsibilities of the Office of Human Rights.

Dr. Laura Meyers, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, stressed the importance of recognizing the disparity in access to reproductive health that exists across DC: although teenage and unintended rates have dropped significantly in recent years, this is not ubiquitous across all demographics. Women with high deductible costs or lacking insurance altogether are not accessing reproductive healthcare to the same extent as others. 

"There is no gender equity without full reproductive justice” – Dr. Laura Meyers

Ms. Dara Koppelman, Chief Nursing Officer at Mary’s Center, opened her presentation with a discussion of the work of Mary’s Center, which is to provide care for all, regardless of ability to pay. Ms. Koppelman discussed a number of factors that can inhibit a woman from accessing the care that she needs, focusing on documentation status and how that can affect a woman’s access to healthcare. She finally stressed the important connection between education and good health, and concluded that only through CEDAW or similar protection of women can the disparity of accessible care be corrected.

The evening’s final panelist, Khadijah Tribble, serves as Principal for Ground Game LLC. She focused on the demographics of HIV in DC. Currently, over 60,000 people in the District are living with the disease – the highest rate in the country. Most of these 60,000 individuals reside in Wards 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 – traditionally the less affluent areas of the District, and therefore housing the residents least likely to have access to care. The economic disparity here means that these people often have to make decisions based on money, rather than on their health. Furthermore, because of the stigma attached to HIV, and the fact that the most commonly infected individuals are men, women have often been excluded from the conversation about HIV treatment, and are not generally targeted for support. Ms. Tribble stressed the need for women to have spaces to discuss their HIV treatment that are equal to those provided to men. 

“We can get to an AIDS-free generation… We have the knowledge and the science, we just need the will to keep talking about it” – Khadijah Tribble

A lively question and answer session followed the panelists’ presentations, with audience members looking for more information about a variety of subjects, including abortion accessibility and the role of race; DC’s high rate of breast cancer, particularly in women of color; and the availability of mental health services.

The purpose of these forums is to increase awareness about the gender issues in DC. They are taking place in conjunction with our advocacy efforts and outreach to the DC Council, asking for a vote on CEDAW this year. Join our advocacy campaign to show our DC Councilmembers how much equality means to our community!

Many thanks to the wonderful speakers who shared their time and expertise with us on Monday night, to the DC Office of Human Rights for hosting this event, to the UNA-NCA DC for CEDAW Committee for their tireless work in organizing these forums, and to all the organizations who have signed on to support CEDAW.

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