Reflecting on 2019

Looking back on 2019, I’m amazed at how much we’ve accomplished this year, and it’s all thanks to you.

Together, we broke records.

Together, we answered the UN Secretary-General’s call to take action on climate.

Together, we celebrated the accomplishments of girls and women.

Together, we advocated for the UN on Capitol Hill.


Below are some of our highlights from 2019:


We sat in the seats of diplomats.

Secretary General António Guterres at the Opening of the UNA-USA 2019 Global Engagement Summit.


This year, we were honored to have UN Secretary-General António Guterres deliver opening remarks during our 2019 Global Engagement Summit at UN Headquarters. While on stage, he appealed to UNA-USA members to sound the alarm on the climate emergency, and to take action to fight the climate crisis. “I firmly believe we can win this race if we all pull together,” he said. “I thank you for your service as ambassadors for a better world. I feel inspired by your energy and your engagement.” Watch our recap here.


We celebrated International Women’s Day.

In March, UNA-USA chapters came together to host incredible International Women’s Day events nationwide. We celebrated the accomplishments of women in business, politics, education and health. Although International Women’s Day isn’t until March, it’s never too early to begin planning an event to celebrate the girls and women in your community! Check out our 2019 toolkit for some inspiration.


We advocated for the UN on Capitol Hill.

This year’s Global Leadership Summit broke records. Not only did members host 322 Congressional meetings to discuss the importance of fully funding the UN, but this year’s summit also marked the first time our 500-member delegation represented all 50 states and the District of Columbia! We’ve set a pretty high bar, but I think we can do even better next year! Check out highlights from this year’s summit, and join us in 2020!


We changed UNA-USA executive leadership.

UNA-USA Global Engagement Summit at the United Nations in New York, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. (Photo/Stuart Ramson for UNA-USA)


In June, after serving for five years, Chris Whatley stepped down from UNA-USA to become Executive Director of HALO Trust USA, and I was officially named Executive Director of UNA-USA by the UN Foundation leadership. I have been in this role for almost six months, and it has been an honor to lead a hard-working team, to partner with a dedicated National Council, under the leadership of Hon. Teta Banks, and to support the tireless efforts of chapter leaders and members. I was recently asked what gives me hope for the future—here’s what I said.


We Spoke up for Safe and Inclusive Communities

In August, I was honored to speak at the UN’s 68th Civil Society Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, which focused on the importance of building sustainable cities. This was the first time the conference was held outside New York City. Diversity is essential in order to create safe and inclusive communities. Read more about our participation in the conference.


We welcomed Jay’Len Boone as our eighth UNA-USA Youth Observer to the UN.

In early September, we announced Jay’Len Boone—a senior at the University of Texas at San Antonio and Executive Director of Sustainable Youth in Action—as UNA-USA’s 2019-2020 Youth Observer to the United Nations. Balancing his schoolwork and his responsibilities with his organization, Jay’Len jumped right into his new role and has mobilized and engaged thousands of young advocates in the work of the UN. Learn more about Jay’Len.


We submitted 11 UPR reports to the UN Human Rights Council.

With our chapters and partners like March for Our Lives, we convened more than 30 local consultations and submitted 11 reports to the UN for consideration during the May 2020 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of human rights in the U.S. Topics include human trafficking, LGBTI equality, climate action, and gender equality among others. You can read them here.


We celebrated the UN’s 74th birthday.

Throughout October, we celebrated UN Day. Across the country, our chapters held more than 150 UN Day events to highlight the urgency and importance of climate action, asking their elected officials to implore the administration to stay in the Paris Agreement. Check out some of our favorite highlights.


Now, we’re looking forward.

All we’ve accomplished together in 2019 is only motivating us to do even more next year. 2020 is a significant year for the UN—not only does the UN celebrate its 75th birthday but also it marks the 10-year countdown toward 2030, the deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We’ve got a busy year ahead, but with your help, there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll make next year even more impactful.

Thanks again for all your hard work this year. We’re so grateful to have you in our movement.

See you in 2020!