UNA Evolution Begins with You

October 21, 2011|Patrick Madden, UNA-USA Executive Director

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” - Mark Twain

This is one of my favorite quotes. So many times people count sports teams, politicians, and organizations  down for the count. Folks forget about them and then “out of nowhere” they are back and thriving. I think we have a case of this with UNA-USA.

When I arrived this past winter, I was given mixed reports on the health and well-being of the UNA network. These messages came from members, chapter leaders, regional representatives, and donors. I listened and observed, but in my gut, I knew that we may have been down, but were certainly not out.

In the spring and summer I visited chapters to hear about what they were facing in their communities. In June, at the UNA-USA Annual Meeting, more than 150 chapter leaders and members gathered to talk about the UN and how to build the capacity of chapters, and grow membership. In October, I traveled to the Northern California Division meeting where 12 chapters gathered to talk about advocacy, Model UN, and other public programs, as well as trade best practices on recruitment and other topics.

Earlier this month we premiered our web documentary, Decorum, to showcase the power and impact of our Global Classrooms Model UN program. Read more details in the related article in this issue of the World Bulletin.

With each visit, phone call, meeting, and email thread I felt the energy building – and then UN Day planning came about! Whoa! This is the only word that captures what the UNA-USA network is achieving with UN Day on October 24 and throughout that week.

The UN: In Everyone’s Interest is our theme for 2011 and it truly captures the spirit of the UN’s work. More than 80 chapters in 33 states are hosting 126 events over the course of the next few weeks. This is a resounding affirmation of what the Better World Campaign discovered in recent polling– citizens recognize the vital role the UN plays for the U.S.

The interests and passions of the UNA membership are as broad and deep as the work of the UN. Just some of the topics that will be discussed during UN Day events include: the U.S.-UN Relationship, Climate Change, Maternal & Child Health, MDGs, Human Rights, Peacekeeping, the Security Council, the Rights of Indigenous People, Economic Empowerment of Women, the Arab Spring, Energy, Model UN, Intercultural Exchange, and Education.

In November, UNA and the UN Foundation will host its 2011 Leadership Dinner in New York City. There’s still room if you’d like to attend. Please don't hesitate to email me if you are interested in buying tickets or a table.

I’m excited to see the quick progress. In the past six months, three new chapters have formed (Northern New Jersey, Indianapolis, and New Orleans), and two more are on track. There are no tombstones to write yet for UNA.  Our members are powering the UNA evolution. Watch this space – more progress to report soon!

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