May 19, 2020
On April 27th, the 2020 cohort of UNA-NCA Graduate Fellows completed their semester-long examination of the United Nations system and its role in addressing the pressing global issues of our time. Led by UNA-NCA’s Nancy Donaldson, Tom Bradley, Soonhoon Ahn, and Ed Elmendorf, the 23 Graduate Fellows, hailing from twelve countries and nine universities, examined various global issues from the perspective of the UN, participated in weekly conversations with UN thought leaders, and collaborated with Soonhoon and volunteer mentors on their professional development.

Over the course of 14 sessions, held on Friday of each week, Graduate Fellows studied such topics as reforming the UN system, financing the sustainable development goals, and meeting the challenge of climate. In addition to their readings and coursework, Fellows had the unique opportunity to conclude their weekly examinations with conversations alongside UN heavyweights such as Robert Orr, Special Adviser on Climate Change to the UN Secretary-General, and Patricia Beneke, professor at Georgetown University and former Regional Director for the United Nations Environment Programme, as well as NGO and government executives like Anthony Pipa, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and former chief strategy officer at the U.S. Agency for International Development and Micah Spangler, Director of Advocacy and Humanitarian Affairs at the Better World Campaign.

With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the program was forced to adapt swiftly. While marquee events such as the Global Engagement Summit were cancelled, the management team stepped up to the challenge – moving the program to a virtual format while continuing to supplement the weekly curriculum with visits from prominent guest speakers. Likewise, Fellows continued to demonstrate their commitment to the program by remaining active, curious, and engaged throughout. Upon concluding the program, the Fellows offered high praise for the program. One Fellow noted that “the biggest strength of the program is the effort and passion everybody in the leadership team puts in. It shows how much you believe in us and are open to supporting us,” while another added, “Thank you very much for all your effort and motivation. You are a fantastic team! I am grateful to be part of the fellowship, and I hope I can stay connected with you.” Congratulations to the 2020 Graduate Fellows and to the UNA-NCA management team!

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