Virtual Townhall Meeting: The U.S. Return to UNESCO

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08:00 pm





Recently, the United States had notified the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that it intended to rejoin the organization in July 2023. Given the news, the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) will host a Town Hall, moderated by Farah Eck (Senior Director of Programs and Policies, UNA-USA) on July 11 to offer a 360 degree view of the relationship between the United States and UNESCO.  Hear about their complex history, and a variety of perspectives that illuminate the complicated relationship. Various speakers will offer their take on the U.S.’ return to UNESCO, including the next steps and the benefits of a partnership to promote world peace and security through international cooperation in education, arts, sciences, and culture.


Ambassador David T. Killion, former U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO

Ambassador David T. Killion, currently serving as the Chief of Staff at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), was appointed on April 10, 2014, by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, the then-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Ranking Member Senator Roger Wicker.

With extensive experience as a seasoned diplomat and a deep understanding of Capitol Hill, Ambassador Killion brings a wealth of knowledge to his role at the U.S. Helsinki Commission. His most recent position was serving as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) from 2009 to 2013. During his ambassadorship, he successfully managed a multi-agency, multi-million dollar U.S. Mission, working diligently to align UNESCO programs and activities with U.S. strategic interests. In particular, Killion promoted U.S. goals in the areas of freedom of expression and science diplomacy, advancing opportunities for girls’ education and defending internet freedom. He also was credited with fostering relationships with civil society and the private sector as key partners in achieving U.S. objectives at UNESCO.

Jordie Hannum, Executive Director of Better World Campaign

Jordie Hannum has 20 years of legislative, analytical, and advocacy experience, including key roles on Capitol Hill, political campaigns, and within non-governmental organizations. As Executive Director of the Better World Campaign (BWC), he guides its legislative and advocacy efforts around U.S.-UN engagement, and helped secure support for paying off over $700 million in arrears to the United Nations. During his tenure at the UN Foundation, Hannum has testified in front of Congress on the UN’s value, its peacekeeping operations, and U.S. standing in international organizations. He has traveled to South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda researching civilian protection and written on the importance of U.S. engagement in peacekeeping. In 2017, he visited Mosul, Iraq, soon after the city was liberated from ISIS, and highlighted how the UN helped lead one of the largest managed civilian evacuations ever. Stemming from his travels, Hannum has also examined how peacekeepers create conditions under which displaced persons can voluntarily return home. His writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The Hill, Just Security, The Cipher Brief, and Devex.

Before joining the UN Foundation, Hannum was the policy director for the Alan Sandals campaign for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, worked throughout the country on the Wesley Clark Presidential campaign, and served as a legislative assistant to Congresswoman Constance Morella, where he helped shepherd five different bills through the U.S. House and Senate and into law. In 1998, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania and in 2005, a Master of Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. He lives with his wife Kimberlee, their two children, and a permanent puppy outside Washington, DC.

Melinda Kimble, Senior Fellow, Executive Office, United Nations Foundation

Melinda Kimble offers policy advice on environmental issues, public health policy, and development finance. She joined the UN Foundation in May 2000 as Senior Vice President for Programs, developing initiatives on children and women’s health, biodiversity, and climate change. As an alternate Board Member of the Global Fund to Combat HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, she played a critical role in shaping policies on HIV/AIDS and malaria. From 2005-2007, she led an international effort to develop sustainability indicators for bioenergy. She is currently serving on the High-Level Review Group for the 6th Global Environmental Outlook (UN Environment).

Prior to the Foundation, Melinda served as a State Department foreign service officer, attaining the rank of minister-counselor. She served in policy-level positions in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, overseeing multilateral development issues and debt policy; in the Bureau of Oceans, International Environment and Scientific Affairs (OES), leading environmental negotiations (Kyoto Protocol 1997 and Cartagena Protocol 1998); and in the Bureau of International Organizations where she shaped negotiating strategies for the ICPD in Cairo and the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing. Her overseas assignments included Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, and Tunisia.

She heads Americans for UNESCO, holds two master’s degrees: MA in Economics (University of Denver) and MPA (Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government), and speaks French and Arabic.

Maria Amalla, Grassroots Advocacy Manager, UNA-USA

Maria Amalla serves as the Manager of Grassroots Advocacy for UNA-USA and focuses on strategy and implementation tactics to increase grassroots engagement. She develops and facilitates advocacy events and training to empower UNA-USA members with skills, knowledge, and tools needed to take effective action in promoting UNA-USA goals and mission.

Maria is a former congressional staffer, having served as Staff Assistant, Scheduler, and Legislative Correspondent for a Senior Member of the House of Representatives. She has traveled extensively through Latin America and is a native Spanish speaker. She also graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in political science.

*This event is open to UNA-USA Members and members of the public.