Birmingham Chapter Celebrates 20th Birthday with Member Honors

May 24, 2012|Beverly Hawk, UNA-USA Birmingham



Fifty UN supporters packed the home of Chapter President Ilse Diasio to celebrate the 20th anniversary of an organization that has brought southern hospitality to supporters of the global community in Alabama. Exchange students from the PAX program of the U.S. Department of State and Alabama students also took part in the 20th anniversary celebration. Since the Chapter was chartered in May 17, 1992, Alabamans have shaped international programs and intercultural community through its activities, monthly meetings and special programs.


Today, the Chapter supports the educators who lead Model United Nations and Junior United Nations Assembly activities in area schools, provides a local network of global friendship for those who move to Alabama from around the World, and contributes to a better understanding of the work of the UN in the World.


The anniversary celebration honored members for their individual roles in the Chapter’s success, and UNA-USA Member Dot Baker led the group in a discussion of Chapter history highlights. Winners of the UNA-USA Greater Birmingham Chapter essay contest were also recognized for their vision and leadership. The contestants, which included teachers, librarians, administrators and students, had to answer why learning about the UN is important for students.  The winners' schools will receive maps of the world and books about the UN for their school libraries. Each book will carry a bookplate honoring the student’s achievement.


Students from Oak Mountain High School, Helen Caldwell and Caroline Kelsoe, led a memorable presentation to honor early chapter leaders and presidents.  Dorothy Baker, Ilse Diasio, Dr. Emily Hammood, Dr. Gregory Jeane, Reverend Julian McPhillips, Dr. Digambar Mishra, Dr. Grady Nunn, Gail Owen, Greg Peek, Barbara Piper, Eileen Walbert and Reverend Ed Wilson led the development of the United Nations Association-USA Greater Birmingham Chapter. One of their early initiatives was to defend Model UN advisors in the schools who were being criticized by members of the John Birch Society. The service and dedication of Chapter founders was recognized with a Chapter donation to the United Nations Foundation malaria prevention program, Nothing But Nets. Nothing But Nets has provided nearly 6.5 million mosquito nets throughout the world to protect individuals from malaria, and the Greater Birmingham Chapter chose to mark its anniversary with a contribution to that life-saving effort.


The history of the Chapter is a story of individuals from different walks of life who came together to benefit their community. Some of the founders have passed away, but the courageous and joyful organization they founded has grown to more than a hundred members and works in close cooperation with the national UNA-USA leadership. 

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