UN Day: Past → Present → Progress (Global Engagement Online Series)

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12:00 pm





In recognition of United Nations Day, celebrated every 24th of October, and to commemorate all of the progress that has been made in the past and present over the last 75 years since its creation, UNA-USA will host a special edition of its Global Engagement Online Series (GEOS).

For this special celebration, we’re reflecting on the past, celebrating the accomplishments of the present, and looking forward to progress, toward a better and brighter future for everyone, everywhere.

In this event, you’ll hear from high-level UN speakers, get a behind-the-scenes virtual tour of UN headquarters, and hear from UNA-USA’s annual award recipients.

Featured and distinguished speakers include:

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, World Health Organization’s Head of Emerging Diseases Unit and COVID-19 Technical Lead

Learn more about Dr. Van Kerkhove >>




Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth

Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake was appointed as the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth in June 2017 at the age of 26. In this role, Jayathma works to expand the UN’s youth engagement and advocacy efforts across all four pillars of work – sustainable development, human rights, peace and security and humanitarian action – and serves as a representative of and advisor to the Secretary-General.

Originally from Sri Lanka, Ms. Wickramanayake has worked extensively on youth development and participation, and has played a key role in transforming the youth development sector in her home country.

Prior to taking up her post, Ms. Wickramanayake was instrumental in creating the movement for civic and political engagement of young people, especially young women in Sri Lanka named “Hashtag Generation”. Previously, she advocated for global youth development on an international level including as the first ever Sri Lankan Youth Delegate to the United Nations and as the youth lead negotiator and member of the International Youth Task Force of the World Conference on Youth 2014 where she played a critical role in mainstreaming youth in the Post-2015 Process and in the establishment of World Youth Skills Day.


Rachel-PittmanRachel Pittman, Executive Director of UNA-USA

Rachel Bowen Pittman serves as Executive Director of UNA-USA, a grassroots movement of more than 20,000 Americans in over 200 chapters across the U.S. who are dedicated to supporting the work of the United Nations in communities, on campuses, and on Capitol Hill. Rachel works to maximize UNA-USA’s advocacy impact by guiding the strategic vision for the organization, overseeing membership expansion, and managing partnerships. Rachel works closely with UNA-USA’s National Council and Affinity Group leadership to spearhead new initiatives that support a strong U.S.-UN partnership.

Before she was appointed Executive Director in June 2019, Rachel served as UNA-USA’s Senior Director of Membership and Programs. In this role, she managed UNA-USA’s national programs and events, including the annual Global Engagement Summit at UN Headquarters, Global Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., and UN Day events across the country. She also led a nationwide fundraising campaign to provide education to youth in refugee camps.

Prior to joining UNA-USA, Rachel served on multiple leadership teams for several professional associations that represented lawyers, surgeons, regulators and engineers. In her many accomplishments, Rachel strengthened membership programs, directed rebranding initiatives and secured agreements with national associations representing China, Korea, Argentina, India, Peru, Egypt and Mexico. While Rachel has worked with inspiring professionals across a diverse range of industries and cultures throughout her career, supporting UNA-USA staff and members in their efforts to make the future brighter is her greatest inspiration.

Rachel holds a B.S.B.A in International Business from American University and an MBA in Marketing from Johns Hopkins University.


Paula Boland, UNA-USA National Council Chairperson and Executive Director, UNA-NCA

Paula Boland is an attorney specialized in environmental law and international affairs. Although born in the United States, she received most of her academic and professional experience in Argentina. Paula worked for three years on regulatory and corporate compliance matters at the law firm of Klein & Franco in Buenos Aires. Her strong interest in the protection of the environment led her to the LL.M. program in Environmental Law at Vermont Law School, from which she graduated cum laude. Following a clerkship with the Environmental Enforcement Section of the US Department of Justice, Paula assisted a number of environmental nongovernmental organizations in the development of conservation projects to be carried out in Latin America.

Paula began her journey at UNA-NCA as a volunteer where soon she was appointed Chair of the Young Professionals, providing volunteer opportunities and engaging professionals and students in dialogue on the UN and international affairs. Paula joined the UNA-NCA staff, serving first as Program Director, and then as Executive Director. Paula received the UNA-NCA Evelyn Falkowski Volunteer Service Award and the United Nations Association of the USA’s 70th Anniversary Chapter Legacy Award. She has played a significant role developing and nurturing strategic partnerships, diversifying membership and expanding program activities. Paula currently serves as Chair of UNA-USA’s National Council.


Dustin Liu, UNA-USA Youth Observer to the United Nations

Dustin (he/his) holds a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University where he served as the Student Trustee on Cornell’s Board of Trustees and was named a Fulbright Grantee. He is currently a candidate for a Master’s in Education at the Harvard Education Graduate School of Education.

Dustin’s prior work experiences have been with organizations such as Breakthrough Collaborative and Matriculate in student-facing roles focused on education access as well as with organizations such as the Center for Collaborative Education and Ashoka where he worked to support the professional learning and network activation of educators in both K-12 and post-secondary settings. In addition, he has worked in the field of social innovation through his work at New Profit, a venture philanthropy firm as well as serving as the Graduate Assistant for Social Innovation at MIT. He currently leads a program that aims to bring global citizenship education to K-12 classrooms, an objective he hopes to continue through this role.

Dustin is the son of two Taiwanese immigrants who have long fostered in him the belief that individuals can inspire social change. He is interested in dialogue as a tool for social change and the potential to build educational pathways and experiences that allow humans to flourish. In his free time, Dustin is a certified Zumba instructor and loves to share his love for playing the cello in community with others.