Reinforcing Goals at the Annual Meeting

June 23, 2011|By Liuba Grechen
UNA-USA leaders and members from 62 chapters and 27 states convened on Capitol Hill and the Washington area from June 12-14 to raise awareness of the United Nations and the critical role it plays in advancing America’s national security and foreign policy goals. This annual meeting was the first one conducted as part of the UN Foundation, and members met and welcomed UNA’s s new executive director, Patrick Madden.


The meeting’s speakers included Susan E. Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the UN; Timothy E. Wirth, President of the UN Foundation; Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UN Foundation; and Dr. Nafis Sadik, a special adviser to the UN Secretary-General and Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Asia.

Members participated in policy briefings on global health, peace and security, women and girls and energy presented by UN experts with UNF moderators. Skills training sessions with UNA-USA and UN Foundation staff included building chapter membership; using social media to raise awareness of chapter programs and attract new members; Model UN; and fundraising. Members also received a number of toolkits on event planning, engaging young professionals and chapter development. In addition, the UNA Traveling Film Festival ( screened “Climate Refugees,” a film about people who have been displaced by climate-induced environmental disasters.


The Council of Chapters and Regions (CCR) Steering Committee met to strategize for the year ahead for UNA-USA chapters; and CCR members voted on and approved new institutional documents, including the Chapter Handbook and CCR Standard Operating Procedures. Chapter leaders signed Chapter Affiliation Agreements, officially joined the new UNA-USA/UN Foundation family and took part in a Chapter Charter signing ceremony. This was an important first step in developing our new alliance, but we have a lot of work ahead. We need to work together to build our membership, strengthen our chapters and educate our elected representatives and local communities on how U.S. engagement at the UN is crucial.


As Ambassador Rice said in her speech on June 13 at the meeting: “Now more than ever, Americans’ security and well-being are inextricably linked to those of people everywhere. Now more than ever, we need common responses to global problems. And that is why the U.S. is so much better off — so much stronger, so much safer and more secure — in a world with the United Nations than we would be in a world without it. That’s the important case I’ve been making to the American public — and I need your help to reinforce it.” [See the speech here]

Before our annual Day on the Hill, Will Davis, Director of the United Nations Information Center in Washington, prepared members for the their meetings on June 14. Members visited 93 Congressional offices and 14 Congressional representatives to discuss the strong public support behind U.S. participation in the UN.


Specifically, members asked their Congressional representatives to:


Rep. Russ Carnahan, ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and founder of the American Engagement Caucus in the  House, spoke with members during lunch to rally them for their afternoon Senate meetings.

UNA-USA’s strategic alliance with the UN Foundation in 2010 has created the single-largest network of American supporters of the UN, and the enthusiasm felt by both UNA members and UNA-UNF staff this year in Washington proves that we will be successful in reaching more Americans than ever before. UN Foundation President Timothy E. Wirth concluded that, “The United Nations is at the forefront of some of the world’s most difficult challenges today. The energy of UNA-USA’s grassroots support for the UN on Capitol Hill this week and in members’ hometowns and neighborhoods every day of the year is essential to telling the UN story.”


Please visit to find toolkits, fact sheets and materials that were distributed at the annual meeting to help you further advocate on behalf of the UN and to show other supporters of the UN what it means to become a member of UNA-USA.

To view speeches by Nafis Sadik, Tim Wirth, Kathy Calvin, Gillian Sorensen, Peter Yeo and Don Kraus at the annual meeting, please visit to UNA-USA’s YouTube channel here:

Liuba Grechen is the director of UNA-USA membership, based in New York.

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