YP Spotlight: Julienne Ness, UNA-MN

Name: Julienne Ness

Chapter: UNA Minnesota Chapter (UNAMN)

Favorite Sustainable Development Goal: #13 Climate Action

When did you first get involved with UNA-USA?

After returning to Minneapolis from graduate school out east, I was keen to continue my international-facing engagement through local, nonprofit work. Having always admired the UN’s mission and provided my background studies, I connected with our local UNA chapter president to see how I might get involved.

What interests you the most about the organization?

I am both interested and inspired by the people who make up our chapter’s membership board. Each member makes a concerted, collaborative effort to promote the goals and principles of the UN through local initiatives and partnerships.

What made you decide to take on a leadership role within your chapter, and what’s been the greatest value to come from that work?

I assumed a leadership role within my UNA chapter thanks to a fervent desire to drive and engage in local efforts aimed at promoting international cooperation. The partnerships our chapter has cultivated with other grassroots organizations- like Global Minnesota, World Without Genocide, and Citizens for Global Solutions- are a testament to the collective determination towards sustainable development in an increasingly globalized world.

What benefits do you see to being involved both locally and nationally within UNA-USA? What do you like most about the summits?

Through both local and national UNA involvement, I better appreciate the inextricable synergism between grassroots and macro-level efforts put forth to strengthen the UN system and its agencies. The summits serve as inspiring and mobilizing platforms to truly turn promises into reality. In identifying deliverables to accelerate progress towards the SDGs, the summits invariably inspire my efforts as a local change agent.

What is one project/program that you are most proud of contributing to within your chapter?

I was afforded the opportunity to spearhead our chapter’s “International Day of Peace” celebration, in honor of the UN-sanctioned holiday observed annually on September 21st. The ceremony was an empowering, commemorative reflection on the salience of peacekeeping. We heard from peace activists and a genocide survivor, who poignantly underscored the importance of combating climate change (the theme of the 2019 observance) as a way to protect and promote peace worldwide. We are eager to build on this momentum in the coming year.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to other young professional members of UNA-USA looking to make an impact in their local chapters and communities?

Do not be afraid to take risks and make your ideas known, even if they go against the grain. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” is an expression I resolutely heed.