2011: The Year in Review

December 20, 2011|Patrick Madden, UNA-USA Executive Director
The UN had an impressive year.

From the uprisings of the Arab Spring to a peaceful transition to democracy in South Sudan, the UN played a vital role. From Japan’s nuclear crisis to the 500,000 refugees being provided food and shelter in the Horn of Africa, the UN delivered help and expertise. From the Every Woman Every Child effort to a framework for climate change in Durban leading up to Rio+20, the UN is leading and preparing for the world’s future.

The United Nations Association of the USA had a notable 2011 as well. Chapters helped make it a banner year, holding over 90 meetings on Capitol Hill during our lobby day, and conducting over 60 in-district meetings to advocate their Members of Congress on behalf of the UN. Also, Chapters have rallied in support of major UN observances by hosting hundreds of events across the country during UN Day and Human Rights Day. As a staff, over the past several months, we’ve helped UNA-USA forge a new direction and provided increased support for Chapters and members. As we look to 2012, we are also working to develop a 10-year roadmap for UNA-USA. What will UNA-USA look like in 10 years? What will the member and Chapter profile be in 10 years?


To lay the groundwork for our plan we underwent a major research project focusing on UNA members, former members, and prospective members. More than 5,000 individuals were involved in the survey. Through phone call interviews, focus groups, and electronic survey, we obtained a baseline read-out of why individuals become members, why they renew, what they like about Chapter engagement and programming, and so much more. The above graphic (known as a ‘word cloud’) shows what words survey participants associate with UNA-USA when then think about our organization. Data such as this will help us shape our programs for members and services to Chapters. Most importantly, it will strengthen our network so we can continue to help the UN.

Other highlights of our work this year include:

  • Stronger Chapter Structure – 120 Chapters with more than 13,500 members have officially affiliated with UNA-USA under the new governance structure. The Council of Chapters and Regions (CCR) Steering Committee worked diligently to complete a number of administrative changes to the CCR governing documents and a new Chapter Handbook guides and supports local programs.
  • Model UN/Global Classrooms – Our school year ended in June with another busy round of Model UN conferences in more than 25 cities. We hosted dozens of teacher trainings on Model UN, engaged more than 1,000 college students as volunteers and conference leaders, and reached over 25,000 middle and high school students. This fall brought a new start to the school year and two more program highlights: the addition of Atlanta as the newest Global Classrooms community and the Tampa Bay area school districts requiring our Human Rights curriculum in their classrooms.
  • Annual Meeting – In June, UNA-USA’s 150 Chapter leaders gathered in Washington, DC to engage UN officials directly in briefings, share best practices for running successful UNA Chapters, and let Members of Congress know they support U.S. engagement with the UN.
  • Decorum – our Global Classrooms® Model UN film, is a lively 3-part web documentary that takes you inside our conference experience and shows how Model UN changes students’ lives. The New York City premiere of the documentary garnered coverage in Huffington Post, New York 1, and Fox News Latino.
  • UN Day – Eighty-five Chapters hosted 130 events in 34 states to celebrate the UN and its impact around the globe. From a city parade to a live video conference with students across the world, UNA-USA and our Chapters demonstrated how the UN matters in communities across the U.S. UNA-USA Chapter events for UN Day brought in national media coverage, and more than 50,000 pageviews to the UNA-USA website.
  • Leadership Dinner – Over 400 people gathered in New York City to honor a few of the UN’s greatest supporters and advocates. Honoring rock band Linkin Park was a coup, as they tweeted about their experience to their millions of fans during the dinner and promoted UNA-USA and the UN Foundation to followers on their website and Facebook page. Watch the video highlights.
  • Human Rights Day – Earlier in December, more than 30 Chapters nationally hosted events to recognize the importance of human rights and the UN’s role in advancing and protecting human rights globally.

These are just a few of the national highlights. The genuine excitement for the UN is delivered by UNA-USA Chapters and their leaders who work tirelessly throughout the year to promote the UN and its work. Like the UN, members and Chapter leaders can reflect and celebrate this holiday season, and start 2012 with a resolution to increase the number of events we host, the number of people we engage, and the number of times we talk about the UN to friends, family, and neighbors.

On behalf of the UNA-USA staff and the UN Foundation leadership, I wish you a relaxed and enjoyable holiday season. May next year bring us a more peaceful world and one that’s brought closer together by the United Nations.

Best wishes,
Patrick Madden

The UN Foundation
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