September 10, 2020
By A. Edward Elmendorf, UNA-NCA Past President

Arms control experts and diplomats, experts on the United Nations, and United Nations Association friends and colleagues mourn the passing of Jim Leonard, a bright star in the UN world for many years. His star was a shooting one, lasting a full 100 years.

As a US foreign service officer, Jim was Ambassador at the US Mission to the UN with special responsibilities for arms control. In UNA-USA he served as Senior Vice President responsible for policy and subsequently became President and CEO. He continued to engage on critical issues in his retirement years, and served on the Advisory Council of UNA-NCA.

Jim’s friends and colleagues know that Jim was a dream for UNA -- a subtle and knowledgeable supporter of American moral purpose in building a peaceful world. He stepped in to steady the UN Association during its upheavals in the 1990s, and he tried to teach his UNA colleagues how to navigate the shoals and cross-currents of politics in Washington when cooperative security or nuclear arms limits or the very existence of the United Nations was under challenge. Few knew or understood the UN – and its potential -- as well as he did.

Jim was a bright and kind person, and a wonderful, thoughtful individual. He played an important role in empowering UNA-NCA’s young professionals, and hosted a retreat for them many years ago.

In sum, Jim Leonard was a great leader for the United Nations and the United Nations Association. He will be sorely missed.

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