Together We Can: Ubuntu for Gender Equity and the SDGs

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02:30 pm





Hosted by UNA Women, an affinity group of the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA), this Parallel Event will feature a panel of local community leaders and human rights defenders working to achieve gender equity through an intersectional and collaborative approach that integrates the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Our aim is to bring together grassroots leaders to share best practices on localizing the SDGs to empower women and girls, and to strengthen the path to gender equity locally. Community change-makers hold the spirit and energy of “Ubuntu,” which in African culture means “I am, because you are.” This is the heart of the work toward women’s empowerment.

Featured Speakers:

Lady Tee Thompson · UNA-USA SDG 8 Ambassador; Founder of AgroBiz

Lady Tee Thompson is the principal of the international organization – AgroBiz and emerging Cashew Queens brand. Tee’s unique exuberant personality, extensive client list, managerial project management dexterities, broad range of executive abilities combined with her God-given talent places her at the threshold of an exciting purpose. Her calling is global advocacy for women’s rights, African diaspora inclusion, women’s’ empowerment, agricultural skill transfer, investment matchmaking, gender equality and human rights. She is a global shaper and solution finder with expertise in strategy, collaboration and implementation across sectors and continents. Ms. Thompson facilitates USA and foreign investment capitalizing on her network and international development experience. Tee is a sounding voice to celebrity clientele, governmental agencies, political candidates, supplier diversity companies and nonprofit organizations or NGO’s for marginalized and non-served communities.

Ms. Thompson is a 2020-2021 United Nations Association – USA Global Goals Ambassador, Fulbright Specialist and was named Business Woman of the decade by United African Community Organizations in 2019. Likewise, her work has been recognized by President Obama for contributions toward “Doing Business in Africa” during Women’s History month in March – 2012. She has been honored and received Proclamations in March 2017 by the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey Ras Baraka and the City Council of Newark for entrepreneur collaborations in agriculture during the 61st Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, June 2014 by former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley on African Affairs for AgroBiz program, by U.S. Congressmen John Conyers with three Special Tributes for her business advocacy work with minorities, global and small businesses 2009 – 2013 and by former Congressman Hansen Clarke 2012, with two Proclamations from former Michigan House of Representatives Lisa Howze & Dr. Jimmy Womack for her dedication for women’s business advocacy. Thompson is the recipient of the prestigious Good Cause Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners for her Business-in-a-Bag mentoring, is receipt of the Pioneering Award form Celebrate Michigan, was awarded Volunteer of the Year from the Great Lakes National Women’s Business Council for mentoring, was a nominee for the 2011 National Athena Awards and many other awards and acknowledgements. In short, Tee Thompson is a “Global Citizen” advocating for women’s empowerment, agricultural programs, and Sustainable Development Goals worldwide.

Likewise, she was recognized as a state lead by the White House, Department of Commerce, Department of Labor and Women’s Bureau – where Tee has hosted Senior Principal Officials including Valerie Jarrett, former Senior Advisor to President Obama, former Women’s Bureau Director, Sara Manzino-Diaz, Assistant Secretary to Department of Labor, Phyllis Borzci, former Chief Economist to Department of Labor, Dr. Adriana Kugler and many others and round table discussions for the White House, Department of Commerce, & Department of Labor on women’ issues, investment, agriculture and global business issues.

Tee possesses a Master of Business Administration, and a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Legal Administration, both from the esteemed University of Detroit Mercy. Thompson is a up-incoming-human rights advocate and serves as the International Chairperson for the National Women in Agriculture Association. She currently resides in the metro Detroit area with her family.

Deb Drennan · Executive Director, Freedom House Detroit

Deb has been with Freedom House Detroit since 2006 and i ts chief executive officer since 2009. She has more than 30 years of frontline experience in social services case management. Prior to Freedom House, she held director- and manager-level roles with other Detroit-area nonprofits including the Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS) where she worked with homeless individuals and families, and Women ARISE, where she worked with women re-entering society after incarceration.

While those experiences helped hone her social work skills and leadership style, for Deb, working with asylum-seekers i s an entirely unique and life-changing experience. “All of these individuals, from different places, with different languages, cultures, and beliefs, find themselves living together in the same place during one of the most desperate and pivotal moments of their lives,” said Deb. “It’s an honor to be here for them and to lead this Detroit gem of an institution.”


Jennifer Kim, MPH · Director of Programs and Operations, Asian Family Support Services of Austin

Jennifer Kim is a public health and international affairs professional with over two decades of experience focused on gender-based violence, reproductive health, and public health in emergencies. She has lived and worked in West and East Africa, South Asia and the Middle East with non-governmental organizations, research institutions, and UNFPA. She is now based in Austin, TX working with Asian Family Support Services of Austin to break the cycle of violence in Asian and immigrant communities.

She holds a Master of Public Health and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University, through the Mailman School of Public Health and the School for International and Public Affairs.

Saiarchana Darira · Founder of To Heal Humanity; UNA-USA Campus Fellow; Co-President of UNA Arizona State University Chapter

Saiarchana Darira is a passionate advocate for destigmatizing the topic of mental health in this world, and encouraging youth participation in the United Nations’ mission. She is the National Campus Fellow for UNA-USA, where she works with youth across the nation through social media to advance the UN’s work on their campuses. She also founded “To Heal Humanity” for her honors thesis, which is a global mental health initiative that works to support the mental health of humanitarians and remind the world that mental health resources are essential to global progress. She is the Co-President of the United Nations Association at her university, Arizona State University, where she works to remind students of their unbounded potential to heal this world. She has done mental health advocacy in the past, including helping organize a National Summit for Mental Health and Mental Fitness and “America Meditates” Festival in 2019. She spends her free time organizing mental health workshops in her university through the SKY Campus Happiness organization that teach mindfulness tools to students. Through the Millennium Fellowship, with Julio Alvarez, she made a short film about women empowerment, where she highlighted the voices of women in her university about the power that rests in being a woman. She is currently a student triple majoring in Psychology, Social and Cultural Analysis (Peace Studies), and Global Management and minoring in Sustainability, and believes that the healing of this world is inevitable.


London Bell · UNA Women Co-Chair, UNA-USA

London J. Bell is a native Detroiter, a lawyer, community organizer, activist, and humanitarian with specific educational training in international human rights law and policy and international business and trade law. London has focused her career advocating for policy changes on behalf of diverse communities. London is a 2020 African Descent Fellow for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), a highly competitive fellowship to advance the human rights of people of African descent globally.

She is the Founder and President of Bell Global Justice Institute, a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in metro Detroit focused on advancing and promoting the human rights of women and girls.

London is a member of the United Nations Association of the United States (UNA-USA) and serves as a 2020-2022 UNA-USA National Council Member (Great Lakes Region). In addition, London serves as the 2020-2022 National Co-Chair for UNA Women, an affinity group for UNA-USA. London has served as a UNA-USA Delegate for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. London also represents UNA-USA as a Co-Chair of the Executive Committee for the U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security (U.S. CSWG). 

In 2019, London was selected for and proudly participated in the FBI Detroit Citizens Academy Program and became a member of its Alumni Association. During this six-week program, London joined an esteemed group of fellow Detroit area community and business leaders to hear from Special Agents of the FBI Detroit office on the history of the bureau, and areas of their work. London participated in this incredible program to be part of its community building work.

In addition, London serves as a Board member for Freedom House Detroit, a temporary home offering comprehensive services for individuals seeking asylum in the United States.

London is passionate about advocating for gender equity, LGBTQI rights and Disability rights. In addition to advocating for policy changes to advance and promote human rights, she also works within local Detroit area communities to increase the knowledge and fluency of the United Nations. London is passionate about building awareness around the international human rights framework and mechanisms local citizens can use to advance grassroots movements.

London earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She went on to earn her Juris Doctor from DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, Illinois. She also earned her Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International Law at DePaul University College of Law. She focused her Master of Law studies in International Human Rights Law & Policy & Criminal Justice.

Himaja Nagireddy · UNA Women Co-Chair, UNA-USA

Himaja Nagireddy, from Acton MA, is a Northeast region representative on the UNA-USA National Council and serves as the co-Chair of UNA Women where she advocates for and leads programming on gender equity for campus and community chapter members nationally. She also serves as a UNA-USA representative on the Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security at the US Institute of Peace. Himaja is currently an MS candidate in Environmental Health Epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health pursuing a concentration in Infectious Disease Epidemiology. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2020 with degrees in Physiology & Neurobiology (BS), Molecular & Cell Biology (BS), and Sociology (BA), and minors in Bioinformatics and Chemistry.