Chapter Spotlight: Greater Lansing

The goals of the United Nations are created with everyone in mind and the UNA Greater Lansing Chapter is on a mission to prove this to the people in Michigan. The chapter’s Java Café Global Conversations focus on involving community members in discussions about global issues by inviting speakers to share their experiences related to different Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), UN special agencies, among other topics. The chapter hosted this free series in a local library where members of the community were invited to listen in and partner together toward a common goal: advocating for the UN. Then COVID-19 reached Michigan, and libraries closed. But this pandemic didn’t stop UNA Greater Lansing Chapter President Lynn Bartley and board members who sprung into action and moved the series online. 

The focus of the latest conversation was on peacebuilding and peacemaking which hosted speaker Dr. Welore Tamboura who works on building sustainable peace in Mali. Lynn was pleased to see that some people who joined the virtual conversation were also from West Africa, some expressing a desire to collaborate with Dr. Tamboura on those same goals. People join UNA-USA for so many reasons and come from all backgrounds. Unique connections are often made during these events. Centered around SDG14, Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, the speaker discussed how to transition after globalized conflict into a setting of peace and facilitated reconciliation. 

As UNA-USA chapters across the U.S. power through this difficult time and move their programming online, it’s a great opportunity for them to engage members. Lynn and board member Hakan Yildiz shared tips and tricks that helped their event run smoothly. Feel free to use these in your next virtual event!

  1. Communicate in advance with clear instructions on how to join the virtual meeting when using a platform such as Zoom. 

  2. Always do a practice run with your presenter!

  3. Use a PowerPoint along with the camera feature to help keep people engaged. 

  4. Have guests register in advance so that you have a record of names and email addresses.

  5. Record and download the file so that you can share it.


Hosting routine events online provides accessibility to an entirely new audience that may not have been able to attend before, and is a great opportunity for building membership and increasing inclusivity. Using social media to spread the word is easy and is a great way to connect with younger audiences. We are all in this together, and we hope that this chapter’s success story brings hope to our UNA-USA family during these unique times. Share how you are staying connected with your chapter with us on Instagram by tagging us (@una.usa).