UNA Brooklyn rocked the house – or better said “rocked the hall” – for our UN Day 70th anniversary celebration last month, Thursday, October 22nd, 2015. At Brooklyn’s biggest-ever UN Day, Borough President Eric Adams joined the program and welcomed nearly two hundred guests and a dozen NGOs, community groups and schools, along with several great keynote speakers to Brooklyn Borough Hall. The event also featured a fantastic buffet plus live music, with the French-Algerian sounds of Ourida plus DJ Jumpertz IN THE HOUSE!
The United Nations Association of the U.S.A. had asked local chapters to focus UN Day and 70th anniversary events on the new Sustainable Development Goals, and we met the challenge! Our speakers and NGO participants addressed SDGs and their related efforts, such as advancing gender equality, fighting climate change, and ending extreme poverty. Recognizing that the UN’s founding purpose was to tackle the scourge of war, we were very honored as well that our speakers also included an expert from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNDPKO).
The rousing event began with networking and educational opportunities with numerous NGOs hosting information tables about their SDG-related initiatives and campaigns. Among them were activists and officials from the UNA Energy Project, Midwives for Haiti, Long Island University’s UN Graduate Certificate Program, New York Public Interest Research Group, 350 Brooklyn (a chapter of 350.org), Save the Children, Cities for CEDAW, Black Women’s Blueprint, and HABNET Chamber of Commerce. I was also happy to see representatives from International Refugee Committee, the World Federation of United Nations Association and UNAs from other countries. I encourage you to learn more about these groups by checking out their websites.
Dr. Joan Tropnas, Delta Rho Omega’s Global Impact chair, opened the formal part of the program with a warm introduction to the Brooklyn borough president. In his remarks, Borough President Adams highlighted the importance of personal development and community activism, and very proudly noted (talk about a global village!) the fact that 47% of Brooklyn residents speak a second language. He read his official proclamation recognizing the UNA Brooklyn Chapter for our efforts to mobilize and inspire Brooklynites to support the critical work of the United Nations, in addition to honoring the efforts of our wonderful UN Day partners, the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Chapter Delta Rho Omega and the UNA Southern NYS Division’s Young Professionals.
After a sweet photo op with Borough President Adams, I took the podium to talk about the UNA-USA’s critical role in rallying American support for the UN and its role as the moral and political epicenter of international relations – and shamelessly asked those in the audience who were not already members to join UNA-USA!
Then, I proudly introduced our three keynote speakers. Anna Keye, director of External Affairs and Partnerships for the UNA Southern New York State Division’s Young Professional Group, gave an enthusiastic and informative talk about the SDGs. Estelle Wagner, international advocacy coordinator for International Planned Parenthood Federation, spoke passionately about IPPFs work and shared goals with the UN to empower women by promoting, defending and securing their sexual and reproductive rights, and providing vital health services to woman across the globe. Kristen Petillon, a political officer with the UN’S DPKO, highlighted his agency’s role in curtailing violent conflict, facilitating humanitarian operations, and maintaining security to allow for peaceful and democratic political processes. The talks sparked a spirited question-and-answer follow up.
After the discussion, Octavia Hill, Delta Rho Omega’s president, expressed gratitude for the UNA and highlighted her sorority’s four-year plan to team up with our mission to advance support for the UN. It was interesting to learn that Alpha Kappa Alpha is the oldest African-American sorority, operates globally and has 283,000 members!
A truly fun and festive reception followed in the Borough Hall’s beautiful rotunda. Along with a sumptuous buffet, wine, and beer, we enjoyed music by the three-member band band Ourida (pictured right), whose blend of indie-folk Jazz with French and North African vibes seemed perfectly suited to the globally minded audience and celebration of the United Nations 70th birthday.
Credit for the evening’s success goes to the partnership of organizations and sponsors. The Delta Rho Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and UNA Young Professionals Group of the Southern New York State Division were instrumental in organizing and promoting the event. Thanks are due to LIQNY – Drinks by Design, Trader Joe’s, Professor Lester Wilson from LIU's UN Graduate Certificate Program, and especially Margaret Tropnas and family, for food and beverages.
Thanks also go to UNA Board members Margarette Tropnas, Danny Jumpertz, me, [Poster of BP Adams], Peg Byron and Travis Hardy who worked to make this event a reality.
A MAJOR thanks and mucho gratitude to Brooklyn Borough President Adams and his staff for their participation and support, as well as for their opening the doors to this wonderful venue! I was especially gratified that, at the borough president’s direction, on October 24, the official UN Day, the United Nations flag was raised above Borough Hall! I’m looking forward to more UNA Brooklyn events at Brooklyn Borough Hall in the near future!