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08 April 2021

Coffee Chat: Climate Change, Displacement, and Human Health and Security


Join UNA-NCA for its next Coffee Chat on Thursday, April 8th from 1:00-2:00pm EST. 

Persons displaced due to climate change will increasingly seek asylum within the United States; current immigration and asylum policy fail to define a ‘climate refugee’ and thus lack mechanisms for legal entry, resettlement, or workforce integration. Expanding access to asylum to climate refugees will mitigate national security risks, propagate economic growth at state and local levels, and affirm U.S. commitment to upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This Coffee Chat will explore the potential impact of climate change on human displacement, current legal frameworks for supporting climate refugees, and the inextricable link between human health and safety and the environment. 

Register here.  

Dr. Shanna N. McClain, Earth Science Divisions Global Partnerships Manager, NASA
Dr. Shanna N. McClain is the NASA Earth Science Divisions Global Partnerships Manager and the Applied Sciences Lead for Risk Reduction and Resilience. She sits as a Visiting Scientist with the Environmental Law Institute, where she co-leads the program on environmental migration and displacement. She serves as Chair to the Environmental Peacebuilding Association’s Interest Group on Water, and to the IFRC-German Red Cross Anticipation Hub Working Group on Earth Observations. She worked previously for the joint UNOCHA/UN Environment Emergencies Section on issues relating to complex and protracted crisis. She holds a PhD in Environmental Science & Policy from Southern Illinois University, where her she examined the challenges of integrating three science and policy priorities – climate change adaptation, response to disasters, and resilience – into multilevel governance frameworks of international river basins.

Carl Bruch, Senior Attorney and Director of International Programs, Environmental Law Institute
Carl Bruch is the Senior Attorney and Director of International Programs at the Environmental Law Institute. His research focuses on making environmental law work. He has helped countries across Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia develop and implement laws, policies, and institutional frameworks to effectively manage water resources, biodiversity, forests, and other natural resources. He is an authority on the means to manage natural resources to support post-conflict peacebuilding, on environmental governance and institutions, and on ways to prevent, reduce, mitigate, and compensate for damage to the environment during armed conflict. In addition to working at ELI, Bruch has been an attorney with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (E-LAW). He is an adjunct professor with American University School of International Service, where he teaches a master’s-level course on environmental peacebuilding.
Ready to take action to support refugee rights? Join UNA-NCA and Lutheran Social Services (LSS) on Thursday, April 15th for an Advocacy Training.

Pablo Escribano, Regional Thematic Specialist on Migration, Environment, & Climate Change, IOM
Pablo Escribano is the Regional Thematic Specialist of the International Organization for Migrations on Migration, Environment and Climate Change (MECC) for the Americas and the Caribbean. Previously, he worked at the Donor Relations Division of the IOM in Geneva, Switzerland. He also participated in the implementation of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Observatory on South-South Migration, and worked on counter trafficking projects in West and Central Africa. Pablo Escribano holds master's degrees in political science and history from the Institute of Political Studies in Paris (Sciences Po). 

25 March 2021

Global Health Initiative: Investing in African Health Care in The Times of The COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 Pandemic is ravaging the world indiscriminately, but a combination of medical, political and societal factors presents other challenges for Africa. Join UNA-NCA's African Affairs Committee for a virtual panel event that will focus on how to engage larger communities across Africa to promote and invest in sustainable resources to respond to the community health needs exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic. This event will focus on UN Sustainable Development Goal 3: to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all.

This event will be open to young professionals, students, business investors, working professionals, and the general public. Attendees will come away with a sense of engagement and a purpose to develop and provide expert advice on sustainable resources and solutions to address the challenges that have been exacerbated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The panel will be moderated by Carolyn Nganga-Good, Branch Chief at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and speakers will include:

  • Yolanda Ogbolu, Chair of the Partnerships, Professional Education and Practice Department and Associate Professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore, School of Nursing (UMSON) and School of Medicine.
  • Eric A. Friedman, J.D., is the Georgetown University O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health's Global Health Justice Scholar and the Project Leader for the Platform for a Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH).
  • Hezekiah Adesanya MD, Former Philadelphia Area Chapter Chairman and Board Member of the Association of Nigerian Physicians in America (ANPA).
  • Valentina Okaru-Bisant, CEO & Founder of Afrocosmo Development Impact, LLC.
  • Dr. Njide Okonjo- Udochi, President of the Millennium Health Group, PC.

When: Thursday, March 25th, 6:00-7:30pm 
Where: Online 
Cost: Free, but registration is required.

Register Here.

21 March 2021

2021 Call for Nominations for UNA-NCA Officer and At-large Positions

According to Article X of UNA-NCA’s bylaws, the Governance Committee of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) will constitute itself in a Nominating Committee from time to time. The Nominating Committee invites UNA-NCA members to submit names of candidates, including themselves, for vacant officer and at-large positions on the UNA-NCA Board of Directors. The Nominating Committee is chaired by Vice Chair of Membership and Volunteer Engagement Kristen Hecht, and includes members from UNA-NCA’s Board of Directors and Advisory Council: Bailey Dinman, Judith Edstrom, Jordan Hibbs, Ambassador Steven McGann, and Dr. Iqbal Unus. Ex-officio members include Board Chair Stephen Moseley, Board Chair-Elect Jill Christianson, and President Paula Boland.

UNA-NCA's bylaws stipulate that each member who has been in good standing for the preceding year should be given the opportunity to submit the name of any member in good standing for nomination for any vacant office or for membership on the Board of Directors.

We invite your suggestions for nominees for the positions listed below. Names, contact information, and a 100-word statement of the nominee's qualifications should be submitted by the end of day on March 21, 2021 using this form

Because UNA-NCA elects officers in alternating years, there are many positions in which the incumbent is either completing a term or can remain in office for another term if re-elected. Current members on our Board of Directors who are eligible for a second term are asked to complete the nomination form to confirm their continued interest in the position. For current members on our Board of Directors who are completing their second term, Article IV of our bylaws indicate:

“Any Board member who serves two full consecutive three-year terms shall be ineligible for reelection as an at-large member until a year has elapsed after expiration of the second three-year term unless that Board member is a member of the Executive Committee of the Organization. Any Board member who has served two consecutive three-year terms may be reelected to fill a position as an officer of the Organization.” 

The Nominating Committee seeks candidates that include, but are not limited to, stakeholders from corporate, philanthropic, government, foreign policy, international relations and academic leadership. The committee also seeks nominees that will bring a diverse range of perspectives and represent attributes across many dimensions, including race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, education, socioeconomic class, and geographic region. UNA-NCA seeks to create a balance of individuals on the Board of Directors who are already engaged with the organization (e.g. committee members and leaders, volunteers, supporters, etc.) and those who may be able to offer outside perspectives, experiences, and expertise.

After consideration by the Nominating Committee and voting on by UNA-NCA’s membership, the election results will be presented at the Annual Membership Meeting on June 15th. 

Officers (two-year term)

Vice Chair of Communications
Vice Chair of Development
Vice Chair of Finance & Treasurer
Vice Chair of Membership & Volunteer Engagement
Vice Chair of Programs
Vice Chair of Strategy & Operations
Vice Chair of Young Professionals
Student Representative (one-year term)

Members-at-large of the Board of Directors (three-year term)

Eight positions open.

The Officers (UNA-NCA Executive Committee) meet every other month and are expected to commit 5-10 hours a week to the organization. The Officers and Directors at large are expected to attend and participate in Board of Directors meetings (minimum of four per year).

According to the bylaws, Board members define the strategic direction for UNA-NCA to fulfill financial and managerial oversight responsibilities,  volunteer time to UNA-NCA Committees, recruit members, help to identify new funding sources, assist in fundraising, and make annual gifts that represent significant and meaningful commitment, with full appreciation for the person's financial ability and other obligations.

The Board has adopted an annual contribution policy of $500 ($200 from each Board member and $300 “give or get”). The policy enables every Board member to be recognized as a Global Citizen in the UNA-NCA Annual Report. Board participation and compliance with this policy will be taken into account by the Governance Committee. 

If you have any questions about the positions vacant please do not hesitate to contact Nominating Committee Chair Kristen Hecht at KHecht@unanca.org  and President Paula Boland at paula@unanca.org or at 202.223.6092.

18 March 2021

Women Leading Change: The Intersection of Faith & Empowerment

Join the Rumi Forum and UNA-NCA as they host a panel to explore the connection between faith and women empowerment with a particular focus on women leadership. This NGO Committee on the Status of Women (CSW) side event will highlight the potential of faith in efforts for women’s participation in decision making, elimination of violence, achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls within the framework of the SDGs. Panelists will shed a spotlight on the role of women leaders of faith as key stakeholders and entrepreneurs of change in achieving these goals. Jill Christianson, UNA-NCA Board Chair-Elect, will moderate the event. 
Speakers will include:
  • Gayatri Patel, Director of Gender Advocacy at CARE USA and Vice Chair of Advocacy at UNA-NCA
  • Dr. Semiha Topal, William & Mary University, Religious Studies, Visiting Assistant Professor
  • Samirah Majumdar, Pew Research Center, Research Associate
When: Thursday, March 18, 2:00-3:30pm
Where: Online
Cost: Free, but registration is required

11 March 2021

DC for CEDAW: Gender Equity Coalition


Join UNA-NCA on Thursday, March 11 from 1:00-2:30pm ET for its DC for CEDAW Coalition Call. Register to attend here.

Through a coalition of organizations, institutions, universities, and individuals advocating for gender equity, our campaign seeks to have the principles of the Convention on the Discrimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) adopted into city legislature across the National Capital Area, starting with the District of Columbia. 

On March 11, we will brief new and potential coalition members on our primary objectives and opportunities to get involved, brainstorm strategies for effective engagement and mobilization, and contextualize local CEDAW implementation in the broader context of the fight for gender equity in DC and beyond.  

What is CEDAW? 
CEDAW is a human rights treaty passed in 1978 and signed by President Carter, but never ratified by the US Senate. This makes the US one of only six UN member states to have not ratified the treaty. The aim of Cities for CEDAW is to “Make the Global Local” and protect the rights of women and girls by adopting the principles of CEDAW in cities and towns across the United States. CEDAW offers a comprehensive international women’s human rights treaty as an overarching framework for advancing political and economic equality for women in the US at the local level; while at the same time elevating the important benefits from US ratification of the treaty at the federal level. Learn more about CEDAW here

Why CEDAW in DC? 
In 2015, UNA-NCA and coalition members successfully partnered with DC Councilman David Grosso to introduce a bill to: 

    • Amend the Office of Human Rights Establishment Act of 1999 to require that all District government agencies conduct gender analyses within their departments and require the Office of Human Rights to produce an annual report for the purpose of implementing a citywide action plan to ensure equality for women and girls in the economic, educational, political, social and cultural arenas pursuant to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women; 
    • Cited as the “Local Implementation of the Convention of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women Amendment Act of 2015”

However, a hearing about the bill (despite cosponsorships from all DC Councilmembers) was never scheduled. 

What does our bill call for? 
The key provisions of the 2015 bill are: 

    • District government agencies will be required to conduct gender analysis reporting according to the guidelines developed by the Office of Human Rights (OHR)
    • The gender analysis will include the collection of disaggregated data and an evaluation of gender equity in the District government agencies operations
    • Each agency will designate a management or executive level employee to serve as a liaison to the OHR and coordinate the completion of the gender analysis
    • OHR will develop timelines for completion of the gender analysis
    • Annually, OHR will develop a citywide action plan to address any deficiencies identified in the gender analysis reporting
    • OHR will present the annual action plan to the Mayor and monitor the implementation of the citywide action plan
    • OHR will make available to all District government agencies training in human rights with a gender perspective 

Register to attend here.

Please direct all inquiries to Shayna Vayser at shayna@unanca.org.

25 February 2021

UNA-NCA Coffee Chat: Global Health Challenges

On Thursday, February 25th from 1:00-2:00pm ET, join UNA-NCA for the latest installment of our Coffee Chat Series. 

We've explored through this series how COVID among other factors are impacting facets of sustainable development, from poverty, hunger, housing, to innovation. This discussion on Global Health Challenges will look specifically to how COVID is impacting other longstanding or emergent health challenges.

Will the global pandemic response ultimately serve as a positive model and allow us to mitigate the harm of future crises? Has it raised public consciousness of the importance of proactive, well-funded and coordinated health interventions? Or has COVID been too great a setback in the broader scheme of vaccinations, or in managing preventable illnesses worldwide?  

Launched in 2020, UNA-NCA's Coffee Chat series has brought together the foremost leadership on sustainable development  alongside hundreds of participants from around the world. Together, we engage with the most pressing challenges of our time, identifying our shared goals and new opportunities for collaboration. Dynamic and genuine, Coffee Chats offer participants unprecedented access to high-profile decision-makers from across sectors. 
Register here.

Dr. Roopa Dhatt, Executive Director of Women in Global Health
Dr. Roopa Dhatt is a passionate advocate for gender equality in global health and a leading voice in the movement to correct the gender imbalance in global health leadership. She is also a practicing Internal Medicine physician in Washington, D.C. Dr. Dhatt is particularly committed to addressing issues of power, privilege, and intersectionality that keep many women from global health leadership roles and to opening up spaces for the voices of these women to be heard. Determined to build a movement to transform women’s leadership opportunities in health, Dr. Dhatt co-founded Women in Global Health in 2015. Today, Women in Global Health has more than 24+ chapters, 35,000 supporters in more than 90 countries, and continues to grow. She advises the WHO on matters of the health workforce, gender equity, and universal health coverage. Dr. Dhatt was recognized in the Gender Equality Top 100, the most influential people in global policy 2019.

Mark P. Lagon, Chief Policy Officer at Friends of the Global Fight 

Mark P. Lagon is Chief Policy Officer at Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as Distinguished Senior Scholar in the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. He was Centennial Fellow in the SFS 2016-2017. Previously he was President of Freedom House. Lagon served as the Executive Director and CEO of the leading anti-human trafficking nonprofit, Polaris Project, which operates the U.S. Government's national anti-trafficking hotline. From 2007 to 2009, he served as Ambassador-At-Large, directing the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) at the U.S. Department of State.

From 2004 to 2007, Lagon served in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs at the U.S. Department of State as Deputy Assistant Secretary. In this capacity, he had lead responsibility for United Nations-related human rights and humanitarian issues, UN reform, and outreach. Lagon previously served as a member of the Secretary of State Colin Powell's Policy Planning Staff, where he focused on UN, democracy and human rights (2002-2004). Dr. Lagon is a Founding Board Member of the Global Business Business Coalition Against Human Trafficking (gbcat.org), which includes as members Carlson, Coca Cola, Delta Airlines, Google, LexisNexis, and Microsoft. He is on the Board of Foreign Policy for America, founded by MSFS alumni. He on Advisory Boards of the Center for Victims of Torture, UN Watch, and ECPAT-USA (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking). 

Sarah Craven, Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Washington D.C.
A policy advocate and attorney with experience in global health and human rights, Sarah Craven currently serves as the Director of the Washington Office of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. In this role, Ms. Craven advocates for UNFPA's mandate which envisions a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person can live to their full potential. Ms. Craven has worked on advocacy campaigns focused on empowering women and girls and ending harmful traditional practices including child marriage and female genital mutilation. Prior to her work at UNFPA, she held positions at the U.S. Department of State and on the legislative staff to U.S. Senators Tim Wirth of Colorado and Spark Matsunaga of Hawaii. She served as policy advisor to CEDPA during the 1994 International Conference on Population and the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. She holds a B.A. from Macalester College, a M.Phil from Cambridge University (UK) and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center where she was a Public Interest Law Scholar. In 2010, she was named one of Macalester College’s Distinguished Citizens.  

Mike Beard, Global Health Director at Better World Campaign
Mike Beard is the Global Health Director for the Better World Campaign. In these roles, Mike directs BWC’s global health initiatives and the advocacy portfolio of the UN Foundation’s signature campaigns, including Nothing But Nets, Shot@Life, Girl Up, and the Universal Access Project. Over the past eight years at the Foundation, his portfolio has included malaria and global immunization programs, girl’s empowerment, women and girls’ health issues, and the Sustainable Development Goals. Through these campaigns, the team has seen unprecedented support for United Nations and its activities in Congress and in the Administration.

From funding for the UN through appropriations bills to securing bipartisan support for the passage of the Girls Count Act of 2015, Mike and his team have achieved several major legislative successes. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2009, Mike worked for five years under Congresswoman Jackie Speier and the late Congressman Tom Lantos on both his personal and Foreign Affairs Committee staffs. Mike holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego.

09 February 2021

New Year, New Opportunities: Engage with UNA-NCA

Looking for ways in the New Year to build connections, engage on topics you care about, and develop as a professional? Please join UNA-NCA’s VC of Membership and Volunteer Engagement Kristen Hecht on Tuesday, February 9 from 12-12:30 pm ET for a 30-minute webinar on current and upcoming opportunities to engage on UN topics at the local and national levels. Following the webinar, you’re invited to join us for an optional ~15 minute meet & greet, where you’ll hear personal stories from UNA-NCA members and connect with others on the call. This webinar is open to members and nonmembers alike who are interested in learning more about UNA-NCA and ways to (re)engage in the chapter.

This event will feature a special panel of individuals sharing their Member Journeys!

Kristen Hecht, UNA-NCA Vice Chair of Membership and Volunteer Engagement, Board of Directors
Destiny Clements, Program Associate, American Academy of Diplomacy
Lydia Daniels, International Consultant
Radia Mbengue, Research Consultant, Femme Africa Solidarité
Ian Sloan, Paralegal and Project Manager, Jackson & Associates Law Firm, LLC

When: Tuesday, February 9, 12:00 - 12:45 pm ET
Where: Online
Cost: Free, but registration is required

Register Here!

02 February 2021

UNA-NCA Coffee Chats Present Interfaith Harmony Week: Building Peace

Join UNA-NCA on Tuesday, February 2 from 1:00-2:00pm ET for our first Coffee Chat of the year, honoring United Nations' Interfaith Harmony Week by exploring how inter-religious engagement is building and sustaining peace. 

Register here. Stay tuned for speaker details from across the UN, US Department of State, and more.

Invited Experts: 

James Alexander, Policy Advisor at US Dept of State
James Alexander is a Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom Strategic Religious Engagement Unit, where he carries a broadly defined education and outreach portfolio. He previously oversaw a team monitoring the program quality of international exchange visitors. James has evaluated exchange programs and assessed overseas U.S. public diplomacy programs, with a prior stint collecting and analyzing post-Soviet public opinion data. James is a former tenured professor at Northeastern State University (OK) with numerous publications on Post-Soviet politics, having studied and conducted research in Russia’s western regions. James built water systems as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Ecuador in the late 1980s. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, he has an MA and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Palwasha L. Kakar, Acting Director of Religion and Inclusive Societies at USIP 
Palwasha L. Kakar is the Acting Director for religion and inclusive societies at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). Kakar joined USIP after four years with The Asia Foundation where she was the Afghanistan director for Women’s Empowerment and Development. Prior to joining the Foundation, Kakar led the Gender Mainstreaming and Civil Society Unit in the United Nation Development Program's Afghanistan Subnational Governance Program managing a small grants program for Afghanistan's civil society initiatives. An Afghan-American, she has experience teaching and researching religion, gender, security and local governance. Kakar has published research regarding women’s participation in local governance, Pashtunwali-Afghan customary law, Afghan women's identity, and social spaces in Afghanistan. Her research has taken her to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Syria. She earned a Master's degree focusing on gender, politics and religion from Harvard University’s Divinity School and a Bachelor's degree in Religion and Global Studies focusing on peace and conflict from Bethel College in North Newton, KS.

Katherine Marshall, Executive Director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue and Senior Fellow at Georgetown's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs
Katherine Marshall has worked for almost four decades on international development, with a focus on issues facing the world’s poorest countries. She is a senior fellow at Georgetown's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and Professor of the Practice of Development, Conflict, and Religion in the School of Foreign Service. Her long career with the World Bank (1971-2006) involved a wide range of leadership assignments, many focused on Africa. From 2000-2006 her mandate covered ethics, values, and faith in development work, as counselor to the World Bank’s President. She was Country Director in the World Bank’s Africa region, first for the Sahel region, then Southern Africa. She then led the Bank's work on social policy and governance during the East Asia crisis years. She worked extensively on Eastern Africa and Latin America. Ms. Marshall has been closely engaged in the creation and development of the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD) and is its Executive Director. She serves or has served on the Boards of several NGOs and advisory groups, including AVINA Americas, The International Shinto Foundation, the Niwano Peace Prize International Selection Committee, and the Opus Prize Foundation. She was part of the founding members of IDEA (International Development Ethics Association) and is part of the International Anti-Corruption Advisory Conference (IACC) advisory council. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. 

Saurav Upadhyay, Research Manager at Alliance for Peacebuilding 
Saurav Upadhyay is currently the Research Manager - Learning & Evaluation for Inter-religious Peacebuilding at the Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP). Having grown up in Nepal in the midst of a civil war, he is driven by the desire to examine and address root causes of conflict. He was previously a Fellow at the American Friends Service Committee, where he worked on designing and implementing M&E framework and tools that help capture processes and results of peacebuilding and dialogue programs. Saurav strives to make evaluations more inclusive, accessible, and participatory. He truly believes in the power of participatory pedagogy and collaborative learning and is constantly striving to incorporate these ideas into evaluations. He organizes and facilitates learning and training events to promote peacebuilding best practices across the organization and helps create strategies to promote peacebuilding writ large. He is currently based in Philadelphia, PA.

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