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Southern NY State Division – President’s Report – Annual Meeting – 11/30/11

December 1, 2011

 President’s Report – Annual Meeting, November 30, 2011

First, I would like to thank all board members, Young Professional members and friends of the Division board, who have led or participated in the Division’s work in the past year.   Lee Bloom who retired as Board Treasurer, has been a mainstay for many years.  Thank you to George Garland, who has taken over the position.  Catherine White has been a particularly dedicated Vice President and Past President and Peg Shannon an excellent secretary.  Several can’t be here this evening:  Marcia Brewster, VP,  is in Southeast Asia and several board members are in ill or cannot attend due to other obligations.   Congratulations to the four chapters – Brooklyn, New York, Queens and Westchester – which have continued to provide vibrant programs in their communities and to share ideas through the Division. 

This has been a year of transition, with UNA-USA joining the UN Foundation officially.  As a Division we signed an affiliation agreement with New UNA.  We are following a new Chapter Handbook which lays out strong administrative requirements.

We have expanded our events and co-sponsored several.  The Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference / Members Day at the UN was a great success.  About 550 attended. We added a panel with Jeff Laurenti and a colleague about the changes in Egypt, and not long after they spoke, we learned that President Mubaryk had just stepped down.  George Garland led a panel on energy and climate, and Mini Murthy moderated one on new dimensions in health, gender and development.  Meron Demisse co-chaired and brought a new focus on Africa as well as a panel on international careers.  Jeff Laurenti led a lively session with the Ambassadors of Pakistan and Afghanistan and a former US Ambassador to Afghanistan.

On the International Day of Peace we worked with UNA National and UN Foundation to show the movie on peacekeeping The War on War, with the director and panelists from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  On October 11 we teamed with the Westchester Chapter at Sarah Lawrence College to celebrate Eleanor Roosevelt’s birthday with a presentation of a book on her work with labor unions.  On October 18 we co-sponsored an event of the Leo Nevis Human Rights Task Force, where its chair, Felice Gaer, led a discussion about the work of UN Special Representatives on Human Rights.   The Council of Organizations co-sponsored the Peace and Human Rights events.  George Garland spoke at a UN Day Nassau County event in Roslyn, Long Island.  And on November 12 we co-sponsored the 5th Annual Festival of Universal Sacred Music, at Symphony Space.  Matthias Resch and members of the YP European Affairs Committee staffed a table there.

In the spring, the Division voted to start a UNA Energy project, to highlight what the United Nations is doing in this area as well as US and local actions.  George Garland is leading this.  So far the project takes the form of a blog and a twitter account.  Faculty of Pace University Law School have expressed interest in being involved, and the blog carries Pace’s Greenlaw blog stream.

Several Board members have started a task force on advocacy and membership, which I hope will be picked up more strongly in the coming year.

The Young Professionals group, no longer called YPIC, has had an active year, with most of their committees hosting one or more activities.  These included book discussions, films, panels, and last month, the second Friends of Africa Benefit.  Meron Demisse stepped down as Chair, and Vice Chair Trusha Chokshi and Margot Hill are now co-chairs.  We are happy to add several YP members as board members of the Division.

For the first time, we have started a newsletter, using Constant Contact to reach out to members as well as UNA friends including those who have attended our Conferences in 2010 and 2011. 

In the coming year we will focus on several areas.  First is to work with the four current Chapters to support their programs through public relations, sharing of ideas and work in advocacy and membership development. The second is to develop new chapters in Nassau County and in the Mid-Hudson Valley.  In Nassau Peter DeBartolo has offered to develop this with a base at Adelphi University, and several others have volunteered.  In the Mid-Hudson Valley, thanks to Mini Murthy and JoAnne Myers of Marist College, we are starting to work with the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill.  Our first joint event will be to invite the Center’s members and ours to participate on December 9 from 9:30-10:30 a.m. in a Human Rights Event online through UNTV Webcast or on the Human Rights Facebook page.           

UNA has again requested that the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference, on February 10, 2012, serve as Members Day at the UN.   Patrick Maddon, Jeff Laurenti and I are co-chairing and a committee has been formed.  The title will be 2012 Year of Decision: The UN in American Foreign Policy.   We are working closely with Patrick and other UNA staff to develop the panels and keynote speakers and will send a Save the Date this week.

Thank you to all board members who are continuing with the Board in 2012-2013, and to those who are joining for the first time.  We look forward to working together for an exciting year of programs and membership development in service of the United Nations.  As in the past two years we will schedule an Orientation meeting to give a chance to those not so familiar with the UN and UNA to engage.

In the next few weeks you will learn about opportunities to fill positions of Mid-Atlantic Representative to the UNA Council of Chapters and Divisions Steering Committee.  One Young Professionals position will be open and I hope the young professionals in this room will consider running for that post.

Thank you again for allowing me to serve as President for a second term.

 Jeanne Betsock Stillman

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