2016 Winter Youth Assembly



H.E. Ms. Simona-Mirela Miculescu has been serving as Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UN Office in Belgrade since July 2015. Prior to this, she was the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations between 2008 and 2015. During her 24 years of diplomatic career, she served as Spokesperson for the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as Senior Media Advisor to the Minister (1993 and 1999), as Director of the Press Department within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1994 and 2008), as Press Secretary of the Romanian Embassy in Washington D.C. (1994-1998), and as Senior Public Information Officer at the Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Kosovo (1999-2000).
Between 2000 and 2004, she served as Foreign Policy Adviser to the President of Romania (with rank of minister), becoming the first woman in the Romanian diplomatic history to be granted the rank of Ambassador.
Click here to continue reading.

Follow @SMiculescu on Twitter.

See: Opening Remarks (February 17, General Assembly Hall); Closing Remarks (February 18, General Assembly Hall)



H.E. Mr. Milan Milanović was appointed Permanent Representative of the Republic of Serbia to the United Nations by the Decision of the Government of the Republic of Serbia on 5 April 2013.

He served as attaché and later on as Secretary in the Sector for Economic Affairs of the MFA. (1988-93). He joined the Permanent Mission of the FR of Yugoslavia to the UN Office at Geneva as Second Secretary (1993-98). He was deputy and then Acting Chef de Cabinet in the Office of the MFA (1998-2001).

He served as Counsellor for Economic Affairs in the Embassy of Serbia and Montenegro in Paris and its Representative to the OECD (2001-05). He was appointed as Director of the Department for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the MFA with the rank of Minister Counsellor in 2005 and was promoted to Ambassador at Large in 2006.

See: Official Remarks by the 2016 Winter Youth Assembly Lead Missions (February 18, General Assembly Hall)


H.E. Mr. Virachai Plasai

H.E. Mr. Virachai Plasai, the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Thailand to the United Nations in New York, is a career diplomat who has been with the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1987.

Previously, he was Ambassador to the Kingdom of Netherlands (2009-15), and Director-General of the Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs (2007-09) and of the Department of International Economic Affairs (2006-07). He also served at the Royal Thai Embassy in London (1990-94) and the Thai Permanent Mission in Geneva (1998-2001).

He specializes in international law, treaty negotiation, and international litigation. He was legal counsel to the Royal Thai Government in various litigation cases, and served as Thai Agent before the International Court of Justice in the second Temple case (2011-13). In addition, he has extensive experience as panelist/arbitrator in many landmark State-State dispute cases.

Follow @ThailandUN on Twitter.

See: Official Remarks by the 2016 Winter Youth Assembly Lead Missions (February 18, General Assembly Hall)



Yin-Chu Jou is a New York City-based concert pianist, artist, international concert tour and festival producer, and multi-arts cultural director. She has been awarded Musical America's 2014 Top Professionals of the Year- “Profiles in Courage: Innovators and Risktakers" as the producer of the Rhythms of One World Festival, and “2013 Woman of Achievement" by WCBS Newsradio 880 for her peace-through-the-arts work. She was commended by The New York Times for her work on the Youth Symphony for the United Nations, which promotes world peace through music in 2006.

Ms. Jou has recently been appointed as the Acting Executive Director of Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, Inc. (FAF) and has been serving as FAF's Artistic Director since 2005. Her first projects in her new role include the debut single recording, CD production, and launch of “Strong UN, Better World,” by the new band UNRocks Music Group comprised of sitting Ambassadors to the UN, after her production of the 2013 CD “Ambassadors Sing for Peace.” Plans are underway for the exhibit in support of UN Women- “Planet 50:50: Women of the World" by celebrity photographer Rose Hartman. 

Ms. Jou has performed extensively, including a three-part Classical concert series presented by The Greenwich Arts Council, at the 2000 International Piano Festival in Spain, the Manila Chamber Orchestra Foundation's 2011 Young Artist Series, and the Peace Philharmonic Philippines Foundation. She was the featured artist during the 40th Anniversary celebration of the United Nations Women's Guild at UN Headquarters in New York, where she shared the stage with current First Lady and wife of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon Mrs. Ban Soon-Taek and the former UN Women's Guild President Tsu-Wei Chang. Her performances had been described as “expressive", “beautiful" and “compelling".

Follow @yinchujou @FriendshipAmbas on Twitter.



H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft

On 15 June 2015, the United Nations General Assembly elected Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark to serve as the President of its seventieth session, which runs from September 2015 to September 2016. At the time of his election, Mr. Lykketoft was the Speaker (President) of the Danish Parliament, a position he has held since 2011.

Mr. Lykketoft is an economist by training and a veteran parliamentarian and government minister. As chairman of the Social Democratic Party from 2002 to 2005, he was also the opposition leader in Parliament.

A Cabinet Minister for a total of 11 years – beginning in 1981, when he was Minister for Taxation – Mr. Lykketoft served most recently as Foreign Minister, from 2000 to 2001. Earlier, as Finance Minister from 1993 to 2000, he spearheaded economic reforms that led to a rise in employment rates and a strengthened economy. During the same period, Denmark, which has traditionally been an active supporter of international development efforts, dramatically exceeded its development assistance targets.

Click here to continue reading.

Follow @lykketoft on Twitter.

Video Welcome: Official Welcome to the United Nations, the Youth Assembly & Introduction to SDGs (February 17, General Assembly Hall)


Dr. David Nabarro

Dr. Nabarro serves as Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  He works with Governments and other stakeholders to galvanize action on implementation of both the 2030 and Climate Action agendas.  He also oversees the Secretary-General’s special initiatives, including Every Woman Every Child, Global Pulse and Zero Hunger Challenge, and the UN Office for Partnerships.

Dr. Nabarro has more than 30 years’ experience of public health, nutrition and development at country, regional and global levels, and has held positions in non-governmental organizations, universities, national Governments and the United Nations (UN) system.

Follow @davidnabarro on Twitter.

See: Official Welcome to the United Nations, the Youth Assembly & Introduction to SDGs (February 17, General Assembly Hall)


H.E. Mr. Oh Joon

H.E. Mr. Oh Joon is a career diplomat who has served the Republic of Korea in various posts. He was appointed as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Korea to the United Nations in New York on September 20, 2013. He currently serves as the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as the President-Elect of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) for the 2015-2016 term.

He also served as President of the Security Council for May 2014 during the 2013-2014 term. Prior to this position, he was Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Singapore from 2010-13 and Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Seoul from 2008-2010.

Follow @UNECOSOC on Twitter.

See: Official Welcome to the United Nations, the Youth Assembly & Introduction to SDGs (February 17, General Assembly Hall)


H.E. Mr. David Donoghue

David Donoghue is the Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations since September 13, 2013. 

During a career that spanned many years in the diplomatic service of his country, Mr. Donoghue’s latest posting, since 2009, was as Political Director of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin.  Previously, he was Ireland’s Ambassador to Germany, from 2006 to 2009, and prior to that, from 2004 to 2006, Ambassador to Austria and the Vienna-based United Nations agencies.
Mr. Donoghue was Ambassador to the Russian Federation, with side accreditations to Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, from 1999 to 2001.  He was named Director-General of the Irish Government’s development cooperation programme, known as Irish Aid, in 2001. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Mr. Donoghue had postings to the Irish Embassies in the Holy See (1977-1978) and Germany (1978-1983), as well as the Irish Permanent Mission to the United Nations (1987-1988).  He was seconded to the French and Italian Foreign Ministries (1984-1985) as part of a support service for what is today the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Upon entering Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs in 1975, Mr. Donoghue spent time working at the Irish Embassy in London and as head of the Anglo-Irish Secretariat in Belfast.  He spent a combined total of 17 years working on the Northern Ireland problem and Anglo-Irish relations.  He was closely involved in the negotiation of both the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the Good Friday Agreement. Mr. Donoghue holds a Master of Arts degree in German from the National University of Ireland (NUI), as well as a Bachelor of Arts in French and German from the same institution. Born in Dublin in 1952, he is married and has one son.

See: Official Welcome to the United Nations, the Youth Assembly & Introduction to SDGs (February 17, General Assembly Hall)


Ms. Lakshmi Puri

Ms. Lakshmi Puri is Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women. She is directly responsible for the leadership and management of the Bureau for Intergovernmental Support, UN System Coordination, and Strategic Partnerships. Ms. Puri joined UN Women in March 2011 and was the interim head of UN Women from March to August 2013.

She has steered UN Women’s engagement in major intergovernmental processes, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, including the landmark outcomes at the 57th and 58th sessions, as well as the historic 59th session on the 20-year anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, which resulted in a Political Declaration. Ms. Puri has been on the forefront of UN Women’s intergovernmental work on Sustainable Development, Climate Change, Financing for Development, Health, Information Society, Youth, and the Urban agenda.

Prior to joining UN Women, she was Director of the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. She joined the United Nations in 2002 as Director of the largest division at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Division of International Trade in Goods, Services and Commodities.

From 2007 to 2009, she served as UNCTAD’s Acting Deputy Secretary-General. Ms. Puri had a distinguished 28-year career with the Indian Foreign Service, where she held the rank of Permanent Secretary of the Government of India. She has a Bachelor of Arts (honours) from Delhi University and a postgraduate degree from Punjab University, as well as professional diplomas. An Indian national, she speaks Hindi and English fluently, and speaks some French and Japanese.

Follow @UN_Women on Twitter.

See: Official Welcome to the United Nations, the Youth Assembly & Introduction to SDGs (February 17, General Assembly Hall)


MR. Ahmad Alhendawi

Ahmad Alhendawi, UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, is a strong
youth advocate at the national, regional and international levels. He was a co-founder for Youth for Democracy Network at the Jordanian Commission for Democratic Culture, which he headed. Internationally, he is a co-founder of the International Youth Council, based in New York.

He previously worked as a Team Leader for the World Bank funded programme to the League of Arab States on Institutional Development to Strengthen Arab Policy and Participation. Prior to this, he served as the Youth Policy Advisor in the League of Arab States in Cairo and as an officer in the Technical Secretariat of the Arab Youth and Sports Ministers Council.

Follow @UNYouthEnvoy on Twitter.

See: Official Welcome to the United Nations, the Youth Assembly & Introduction to SDGs (February 17, General Assembly Hall)


Aashka Merchant

Aashka Merchant is the Coordinator for Executive Operations and Special Projects at Amnesty International USA where she advises the executive director, leads special projects for the organization and coordinates events for senior team members. Aashka previously interned with the United Nations World Food Programme while working toward her Master’s degree in Government and Politics and Certificate in International Law and Diplomacy at St. John’s University in Rome, Italy.  Aashka received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Business Administration from Temple University in Philadelphia.

Follow @amnesty on Twitter.

See: Panel 4 – Peace and Human Rights (February 18, General Assembly Hall)


Adnan Karim

Adnan Karim is currently the New York Program Director for buildOn. He received his BS in Political Science in 2009 at Middle Tennessee State University. Adnan then moved to New York City as an AmeriCorps volunteer teaching 5th grade ELA and Math, in addition to leading after school programs for grades 3-8.  He then joined City Year, an education based non profit, as a Program Manager, leading AmeriCorps members though service and managing school partnerships. In addition to his current role at buildOn, Adnan is now earning his MPA at NYU in public and non-profit management and policy, with a specialization in International Development.

Follow @buildOn on Twitter.

See: Access to Education: The Role That Each of Us Play (February 17, Conference Room A)


Akshaya Kumar

Akshaya Kumar is the Deputy United Nations Director at Human Rights Watch, where she is responsible for conducting advocacy with members of the General Assembly and the Security  Council, and other UN organs and agencies. Previously Kumar was the Sudan and South Sudan Policy Analyst at The Enough Project where she helped launch The Sentry, a project that aims to dismantle the financing of Africa’s deadliest conflicts. Kumar has also served as Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center and Law Fellow with the Public International Law & Policy Group. She holds a law degree from Columbia University, a master of laws in human rights, conflict and justice from the School of Oriental and African Studies, and a bachelor’s degree from The George Washington University.

Follow @hrw @AkshayaSays on Twitter.

See: Peace and Human Rights Panel (February 18, General Assembly Hall)


Alice Chen

Alice serves as Coordinator for the World We Want platform and Project Consultant in the Communications and Partnerships Team of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Action Campaign, formerly known as the UN Millennium Campaign. Alice specializes in multi-stakeholder engagement, strengthening dialogues between civil society, youth-led organizations, and UN agencies for the SDGs through the Campaign’s MY World and World We Want platforms. She also serves as the focal point for organizations in China, helping to engage organizations and citizens in taking action for the SDGs. Before joining the SDG Action Campaign, Alice worked in Beijing as a consultant for the U.S. Embassy, Account Executive at Edelman Public Relations, and Literary Agent with Peony Literary Agency. In these capacities, Alice worked closely with private sector clients such as Pepsi Co. and BMW, in addition to collaborating with Hollywood Actors such as Christian Bale. Alice grew up in the U.S. and China for equal part of her life. She graduated from New York University with a Bachelor in Political Science and a Master in International Affair from Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs. 


Rev. Art Wilson

Reverend Art Wilson is the Goodwill Ambassador and Special Envoy on Peace and Development for the World Association of the United Nations Interns and Fellows. His priorities have been to work with world leaders and key stakeholders around a set of new global challenges such as economic upheaval, promoting tolerance, fostering peaceful inclusive societies, and taking action towards a more sustainable world. He has sought to be a bridge-builder in developing partnerships in order to deliver the world’s poorest and most marginalized people from despair. 

One of Rev. Wilson’s major initiatives includes the creation of “Global Partnerships for Sustainable Development” to support missions on a global level. Through his extensive work in diplomatic efforts, the initiative has helped put the issue at the forefront of the global agenda since 2005 with government authorities, members of civil society, development institutions, religious and public sector leaders. Subsequent efforts to focus on the world’s poverty targets and the most vulnerable people have generated thousands of dollars in pledges, with a special emphasis on a new Global Strategy on Community Development, Social Stability as well as Women and Children. At the height of the food and economic crises in 2008, Rev. Wilson appealed to partners to finance programs in the United States, which have continued to date, through the “Homeless Rescue Mission Project” as well as for developing countries around the globe. He took steps to guide the international response and protect the vulnerable and poor. 

Rev. Wilson has sought to strengthen peace efforts, including through knowledge and mutual understanding and more recently through the Secretary-General’s initiative of Promoting Tolerance and Countering Violent Extremism. Mediation support along with good offices have help prevent, manage and resolve tensions, conflicts and crises. In this regard, he has worked for over 15 years on community development issues through his affiliates in Iran and more recently on neutral territories and initiatives between Israel and Palestine. Rev. Wilson has also sought to strengthen humanitarian response and emergency relief projects in the aftermath of mega-disasters in Nepal (2015) and India (2011) as well as mobilizing support for the democratic transitions in Africa and the Middle East.

See: Official Welcome to the United Nations, the Youth Assembly & Introduction to SDGs (February 17, General Assembly Hall)


Asher Jay

Asher Jay is saving the world’s threatened wildlife—with creativity. Jay uses groundbreaking design, multimedia arts, literature, and lectures to inspire global action to combat illegal wildlife trafficking, advance environmental issues, and promote humanitarian causes. Much of her best-known work spotlights the illegal ivory trade; from an animated billboard in New York’s Times Square viewed by 1.5 million people, to mass media WildAid campaigns that were run across China to address consumer demand. Jay’s projects have become global sensations. Yet her ultimate goal is to motivate the one person she believes holds the real power to determine nature’s fate. You.

Follow @earthheiress on Twitter.

See: Keynote Speech (February 17, General Assembly Hall)


Brigitte Griswold

As Director of Youth Programs for the Nature Conservancy, Brigitte Griswold leads the overall strategy for Youth Engagement, increasing opportunities for young people to work, learn, and serve in the conservation field as well as developing strategic partnerships with youth-serving organizations to empower the next generation of conservationists. Since 2003, Brigitte has impacted the lives of thousands of young people, raised over $10 million in support, and launched promotional efforts which reach an audience of over 200 million, including appearances on national TV, print, and online programs to discuss topics such as exposing youth to careers in the green economy.

Follow @nature_org @bmgriswold on Twitter.

See: Panel 1 - Environment and Climate (February 17, General Assembly Hall)


Cheri Kaufman

Cheri Kaufman’s vast philanthropic contributions include her dedicated position as Vice President of Lifeline Organization.  She serves on the UN Women for Peace committee and the board of MoMA, and has been on the boards of the Asia Society, Lenox Hill Hospital and the First New York Bank for Business.  She is a founding partner of Kaufman Astoria Studios and served as International Vice President of Acquisitions and Development for Intercontinental Hotels.

Ms. Kaufman has brought together and entertained real estate developers, entertainment industry leaders, heads of state including President Anwar Sadat, President Ariel Sharon, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton, television personality Larry King and Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, among others.

See: Keynote Speech (February 17, General Assembly Hall)


Claes Nobel

Claes Nobel founded the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) with James W. Lewis in 2002. Originally from Sweden, he is senior member of the family that established the Nobel Prizes.  

Mr. Nobel is a passionate about humanitarian and environmental causes. In 1974, he drafted “The Nobel Laureates Declaration on the Survival of Mankind,” advocating support for environmental protection and humanitarian leadership. In 1985, Mr. Nobel wrote the “Global Declaration of Earth Ethics,” which became the basis United Earth, an NGO dedicated to environmental issues. 

Mr. Nobel advises prominent spiritual, political and economic leaders worldwide on preserving the earth and maintaining peace, and instills these values in youth.

Follow @nshss @NobelClaes on Twitter.

See: Keynote Speech (February 18, General Assembly Hall)


Ms. Daniela Bas

Ms. Daniela Bas of Italian nationality was appointed Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DSPD/UNDESA) on 9 May 2011.

A politologist specialized in international politics, and social development, Ms. Bas has most recently served as Secretary General of the Interministerial Committee for Human Right within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and as Senior Consultant designated by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as expert on social development and human rights to Institutes that operate internationally. She has also provided her expertise on anti-discrimination issues at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers in Italy.

Ms. Bas has worked for close to 10 years for the UN as a Professional Officer in social development and human rights, travelling around the world on behalf of the UN and also as a speaker at international conventions. In the past she has also held a number of other significant assignments including as Special Adviser on fundamental rights and social policies for the Vice President of the European Commission (Belgium); as the Italian representative designated by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers on the topic “Tourism for All” to the European Commission (Belgium); and as journalist and broadcaster for Radio and TV both in Italy and abroad. In 2008 she also got her Master as Business and Life Coach.

Ms. Bas until recently was a Board Member of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (Austria) and of the Committee to Promote non-Armed and nonViolent Civil Defence within the Presidency of the Council of Ministers (Italy). She graduated in Political Science in 1985, with a major in International Politics and wrote a dissertation on ”The elimination of architectural barriers and the employment of people with physical disabilities”.

Follow @UNDESA on Twitter.

See: Panel 2 – Health and Poverty (February 17, General Assembly Hall)


Derrius Quarles

Derrius Quarles’ journey to attending and paying for college has been anything but simple. As a product of the Illinois foster care system and the south side of Chicago; higher education did not always seem to like a feasible possibility for him. More accessible at times were the fleeting opportunities of the urban streets. Facing the obstacles of his father’s murder in Chicago at the age of 4, being taken away from his mother’s custody at the age of 5, and traversing the foster care system for nine years; the challenges of the inner-city almost lead him down a path of crime and fast money. During his first year of high school, receiving an education was not a priority. That was until a biology teacher by the name of Nivedita Nutakki took him out into the hallway after he showed up twenty minutes late for class and told him “You have so much potential, and yet you choose to waste it”. From that day forward, he approached school differently. Mrs. Nutakki’s words provided an awakening of sorts. It provided him a type of motivation he had never received in his life before, a type of motivation that screamed, “of course you can do it”.

Over the next two years of high school, (while living in his own apartment) Derrius laid the foundation–work ethic, attitude, and vision–that would lead him to accumulating over 1.1 million dollars in scholarships and financial-aid. He is the first in his family to attend college and is proud to be a current Gates Millennium, Horatio Alger, Coca-Cola, Dell, Chicago, Nordstrom, and Gilman Scholar.

Million Dollar Scholar is the culmination of his eagerness to see other students succeed, especially those who face disadvantages that often act as barriers to a college education. It is Derrius’ hope that all students, no matter what their background, can realize that they are Million Dollar Scholars and that it is very possible to obtain the funds for a post-secondary education.

Follow @dosomething @mdollarscholar @drquarles on Twitter.

See: How-to Series: Ideas to Action (February 18, Conference Room 4); Youth Leaders in the SDGs (February 18, General Assembly Hall)


Donya Nasser

Donya Nasser recently graduated Summa Cum Laude from St. John’s University, where she studied Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies as a McNair Scholar. She is passionate about advocating for gender equality and reproductive justice on both a domestic and international level; empowering women, youth, and minorities to become civically engaged and run for office, and contributing to Middle East policy and combating stigmas and stereotypes. Throughout her term as the U.S. Youth Observer to the UN, she will explore the U.S. relationship with the United Nations, connect young Americans to the UN, and work to inspire them to play an active role in the UN’s work to build a better world.

She has interned for the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, the Wilson Center’s Middle East Program, and the Brennan Center for Justice. Donya is currently a member of the YTH Student Advisory Board and the Advocates for Youth Young Women of Color Leadership Council, as well as the youngest Board Director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Board. She has previously served as the President of the College Democrats of America, AAUW Youth Representative to the United Nations, and Executive Director of the St. John’s University Roosevelt Institute. A Truman Scholar, she intends to pursue a joint degree and prepare herself for a career in public service so to be in a position to better serve women and underrepresented communities across the country and the world. 

She has supported these marginalized groups through her academic successes, leadership advancements, and social media opportunities. Donya believes in the power of galvanizing younger generations, who embody the potential of our future to secure equality and justice for all. She was a 2014 Glamour Magazine Top 10 College Woman, a recipient of the WIN Young Women of Achievement Award in Service/Nonprofit Advocacy, and an awardee of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center’s Student Prize. She has been featured on ABC, Al Jazeera, HuffPost Live, and MSNBC.

Follow @USYouthObserver @donyanasser on Twitter.

See: Youth Leaders in the SDGs (February 18, General Assembly Hall)


Farnaz Malik

Farnaz is currently a Global Health Corps Fellow placed at Housing Works in New York where she works on HIV/AIDS research and policy both locally and globally. She is a recent graduate of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health where she received her Master of Public and a certificate in Global Health. During her graduate studies, she traveled to Managua, Nicaragua to research disease trends among children attending a local health clinic. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in Integrative Biology and minoring in Global Poverty and Practice.


Gerardo Porteny

Gerardo Porteny is the President and Founder of Young Minds for Gender Equality a youth led 501c3 organization with the mission of re-thinking gender inequality, generating fresh ideas and turning them into solutions. Porteny is the youngest person to have imparted 3 TEDx talks. He is the former consultant of global youth engagement for UN Women where he worked on developing and implementing the HeForShe campaign.

Follow @GerardoPorteny @YM4GE on Twitter.

See: How-to Series: Ideas to Action (February 18, Conference Room 4)


Gwendolyn Floyd

Gwendolyn Floyd is a serial social entrepreneur and designer. Her work in human centered design and fashion supply chain innovation has been celebrated and awarded for its novel approach and measurably high social and economic impact.

Gwendolyn built off her expertise in mobile innovation and appropriate design to co-found the fashion-tech company Soko, which connects developing world artisan entrepreneurs to global market demand. Her expertise and passion is in using the tools of entrepreneurship and design to accelerate systemic change that vastly improves the way the world buys and trades.


Hannah Dehradunwala

Hannah Dehradunwala is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Transfernation, a technology driven, non-profit organization that helps to redistribute the extra food from corporate events to homeless shelters and soup kitchens around NYC. Having lived in the United States, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia before college, Hannah is currently a senior at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, majoring in the Politics of the Resource Gap. Other projects that she is currently involved with include a counseling platform for underserved students in Pakistan, and juvenile incarceration research for the purpose of political reform.

Follow @solvehungernow on Twitter.

See: Responsible Consumption and Production (February 18, Conference Room A)



Holly Ransom

Holly Ransom is the CEO of Emergent, a company specialising in the development of high performing intergenerational workforces, leadership and social outcomes. Holly is renowned for generating innovative solutions to complex multi-stakeholder problems for corporations, governments and non-profit organisations, and for coaching and professionally mentoring leaders around the world.
Holly holds a Law degree and BA Economics. In 2012, she was the youngest person to be named in Australia’s ‘100 Most Influential Women’, and also became the world’s youngest-ever Rotary President. Her work with Rotary has played a key role in the global efforts to lift youth participation in the organisation, more than doubling engagement in the last five years.

An accomplished global keynote speaker, Holly has presented across six continents, including delivering a Peace Charter to the Dalai Lama and addressing the G20’s Central Bank Governors and Finance Minister. She is also a popular contributor to a number of leading publications including The Australian Financial Review and the Huffington Post.She has featured on ABC’s ‘Q&A’, Reuters, Bloomberg Asia, Channel 7 News and Channel 10’s ‘The Project’, and is renowned for her commentary on intergenerational economic and social challenges.

Holly is also a highly sought after moderator, facilitating panels with major business leaders at summits and conferences ranging from the World Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in Monaco to G20 engagement summits and featuring panelists such as former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and SBTV's Jamal Edwards MBE.  Holly is well known for her capacity to involve panel members and the audience in an interactive conversation that deconstructs complex issues and generates solutions. 

Follow @HollyRansom on Twitter.

See: Youth Leaders in the SDGs (February 18, General Assembly Hall)



Mr. Jamil Ahmad is the Deputy Director of the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) New York Office. Earlier, he was the Secretary for the Governing Bodies of UNEP based in Nairobi, Kenya (2008-14). He directed, managed and coordinated the work of the Secretariat, led the organization of the sessions of the Governing Bodies and was the focal point of UNEP’s external relations.

As Deputy Director of the New York Office of UNEP, Mr. Jamil Ahmad, among other matters, focuses on liaising with the Permanent Missions to the UN in support of UNEP’s policies and programme.

A career diplomat, Mr. Jamil Ahmad joined the Foreign Service of Pakistan in 1986 and has worked in a number of different duty stations with rich experience of bilateral and multilateral affairs, including Acting Permanent Representative to the UN agencies in Rome and Deputy Permanent Representative to UNEP in Nairobi. He participated in numerous important UN and other intergovernmental meetings, including the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002, sessions of the UNGA, the Commission of Sustainable Development (CSD) and the Governing Councils of UNEP, UN-HABITAT and FAO. He was lead negotiator of the Group of 77 & China for Climate Change under Pakistan’s chairmanship in 2007 culminating at COP13 to UNFCCC in Bali in 2007. 

He joined UNEP in 2008. 

Mr. Jamil Ahmad holds a Master’s Degree in Political Science.

Follow @UNEP on Twitter.

See: Panel 1 - Environment and Climate (February 17, General Assembly Hall)


Jenn Lishansky

Jenn Lishansky is the East Coast and Midwest Chapter Manager for buildOn. She mobilizes and coaches student leaders across those regions to support their advocacy and fundraising efforts for buildOn's mission. Before joining buildOn, Jenn worked as the External Relations Manager for Seeds of Peace; in that role, she led an international walkathon in support of international peace in over 50 cities around the globe. She has also worked with the Global Youth Leadership Institute as an Institute Coordinator for an Iraqi youth exchange. Additionally, Jenn served as the Youth Representative to the United Nations for the International Federation of Business and Professional Women—an organization that advocates for women’s empowerment. Jenn has experience working with young people and teachers, creating curricula for teaching human rights, civic engagement, literacy, meditation, and leadership. Jenn graduated from New York University with degrees in Politics and Religious Studies with a focus on the Middle East.

Follow @buildOn on Twitter.

See: Access to Education: The Role That Each of Us Play (February 17, Conference Room A)


Jess Teutonico

Jess is the Executive Director for legendary music producer and multi-Grammy winner Nile Rodgers organization, We Are Family Foundation.  In this position she leads some of the most sought after international youth initiatives including Three Dot Dash and TEDxTeen and is committed to amplifying the ideas and work of young leaders around the World. She also has been working in Kenya since 2006, where she works with indigenous communities to implement lasting infrastructure, financial growth and sustainability through her organization, Under the Acacia. Previously she worked at TED Conferences, Vogue Magazine, and is a featured voice in various media outlets and international forums on youth leadership.

Follow @jessteutonico on Twitter.

See: How-to Series: Ideas to Action (February 18, Conference Room 4)


John Farmer

John Paul Farmer believes in the combined power of technology and cross-sector collaboration to drive positive change throughout society. As the Director of Microsoft’s Technology & Civic Innovation team in New York City, John leads hands-on engagement with governments, non-profits, for-profits, academic institutions, startups, and civic hackers so that they can do more good together than they could apart.

Previously, John served as the Senior Advisor for Innovation in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where he spearheaded the President’s innovation agenda. Under President Barack Obama, he co-founded and led the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, which attracts top innovators and entrepreneurs from the private sector for focused tours of duty in government, in order to make game-changing progress on projects of national importance.

John holds an MBA with honors from the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University and an AB with honors from Harvard University. He grew up in Pittsburgh before moving to Manhattan over a decade ago.

Follow @msphilanthropic on Twitter.

See: The Microsoft Panel – Innovation and Industry in NYC (February 18, General Assembly)


Kelly Peeler

Kelly is the Founder & CEO of NextGenVest.com a free text message service to help students navigate the financial aid and student loan process. Students leave about $2.9BN on the table every year in free aid because the application process is complex and time consuming. NextGenVest provides students with key financial aid deadline reminders, form annotations, and on-demand help over text message to get more financial aid. Recent article in Techcrunch here
Kelly has always been passionate about empowering young people to live their fullest lives. As an undergraduate at Harvard she started Business Across Borders, a 501c3 to help Iraqi University students rebuild their own economy by starting their own companies. 
After graduating from Harvard where she studied the History of Financial Crises, she worked in JPMorgan's Investment Bank covering financial institutions and also as a financial advisor. she was selected as one of the eight Kauffman Foundation Global Scholars, accepted as one of 30 up and coming women in Women In America, named by Goldman Sachs as one of the100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs, and a named a White House #StartTheSpark Ambassador. 
Her TED Talk entitled "How to Change the World as a Millennial - Don't be Stupid With Your Money" is here.

Follow @kellypeeler @nextgenvest on Twitter.


Lauren Singer

Lauren Singer is author of the Zero Waste blog Trash is for Tossers and founder of organic cleaning product company The Simply Co. An Environmental Studies graduate from NYU and former Sustainability Manager at the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, the amount of trash that she has produced over the past three years can fit inside of a 16 oz mason jar. Through her blog, she has empowered millions of readers to produce less waste by shopping package free, making their own products, and refusing plastic and single use items. Her work has been profiled by New York Magazine, MSNBC, NBC, AOL, CNN, Yahoo, Fox Business, BBC, and NPR amongst others.

Follow @trashis4tossers @TheSimplyCo on Twitter.

See: Responsible Consumption and Production (February 18, Conference Room A)


Mansi Prakash

Mansi Prakash is majoring in Economics with a minor in Mathematics and Public Policy & Management at New York University. She has a passion for social entrepreneurship, development economics, traveling and photography. Born in India and growing up in Bangladesh and the Philippines, she has been exposed to the hardships that come with living in impoverished areas, developed an appreciation for diversity and found a passion to take initiative to help others. Through her social venture, Brighter Today, she hopes to use eco-friendly light bulbs as a tool to alleviate poverty in developing nations. Ultimately, she aspires to address some of the world’s most pressing issues, make an impact in the lives of those who were not afforded the same opportunities and resources and help enact change in the world.  

Follow @abrightertoday @prakash_mansi on Twitter.

See: Youth Leaders in the SDGs (February 18, General Assembly Hall)


Mariko Mori

Youth Activist, Working Group on Youth and Gender Equality, UN Women

With seven years of work experience in National Government of Japan, Mariko has extensive experience in public policy areas such as labor policies, local economic developments and public finances. Currently she’s working as an intern at UN Women and a member of the Working Group on Youth and Gender Equality for the UN Interagency Network on Youth and Development. Her interest areas are gender equality in the work place settings, public policy planning (especially labor policies), strategy development and public organization management. She got Master of Public Administration Degree from Syracuse University Maxwell School, and currently she’s pursuing her second master’s degree at Columbia University.


Matt Smith

Matt Smith is the Director of PepsiCo’s Food for Good initiative.  Food for Good creates breakeven business models designed to make healthy food and employment more accessible for low-income families.  Together with a wide network of partners, Food for Good has leveraged PepsiCo’s Research & Development and Go-To-Market capabilities to deliver more than 29 million healthy servings to low-income families since the program’s inception in 2009.  The Food for Good team recently received Ethical Corporation’s Responsible Business Award for “Most Effective Domestic Community Investment.”

Prior to Food for Good, Matt helped lead marketing centered on Frito-Lay’s environmental sustainability efforts and launched a pro-bono consulting program while at Deloitte.

Follow @PepsiCo on Twitter.

See: Panel 2 – Health and Poverty (February 17, General Assembly Hall)


Maxine Davila

Maxine Davila is the Founder of 1+One: Networking for a Better World, a grassroots initiative to encourage individual responsibility through awareness and education. In 2015, 1+One launched “Project #SDGNYC,” to raise awareness about the Agenda 2030 and 17 SDGs, within the 10 most marginalized communities in New York City. Maxine is a member of The World We Want Policy & Strategy Group (PSG), the UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development’s Working Group on Youth & Gender Equality, and has participated as a My UNEA “Green Advocate,” ensuring inclusion and offering New Yorkers opportunities to participate for a better world.

See: The World We Want 2030: Youth Voice and Action in SDG Implementation (February 18, Conference Room 4)


Meicen Sun

Meicen Sun is a PhD student of political science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she focuses on international security, conflict resolution, and Chinese foreign policy. She received her A.B. with Honors from Princeton University and her A.M. with a Certificate in Law from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to MIT, Sun conducted research at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, and the UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa. Sun has spoken at conferences in the field, published articles on related topics, and served as a consultant for multiple policy and innovation-related projects.

Follow @MeicenSun on Twitter.

See: Panel 4 – Peace and Human Rights (February 18, General Assembly Hall)


Mike Kelleher

Mike Kelleher is an Adviser in the World Bank’s office on the 2030 Agenda, UN Relations, and Partnerships, and has worked at the Bank since 2010. Previously he was Special Assistant to President Obama, and worked as Director of Economic Development and Outreach for then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama. He was Country Director for the National Democratic Institute’s office in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. Mike began his development work as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone, working for three years as a community health and development worker in a small rural village.  

Follow @WorldBank on Twitter.

See: Keynote speech (Feburary 18, General Assembly Hall)


Mitchell Toomey

Mitchell Toomey is the Director of the Sustainable Development Goals Action Campaign (SDG Action Campaign), formerly known as the United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC). Under his leadership, the SDG Action Campaign uses citizen-led, data-driven storytelling to empower people everywhere to take action in supporting their government with SDGs implementation. The Campaign is a special initiative established by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2002 under the umbrella of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG). The Campaign’s mandate is renewed in 2015 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and focuses on encouraging popular ownership of the SDGs in every country, building multi-stakeholder engagement in implementation, and sponsoring citizen-driven processes to monitor progress and drive accountability. Mitchell began his career in the marketing and customer research agency business, helping firms leverage data and analytics to shape customer engagement.  more recently, Mitchell held the position of Senior Adviser of the Knowledge, Innovation and Capacity Group in UNDP’s Bureau for Development Policy. He has led groundbreaking work using digital media and technology to engage the public and civil society organizations around the world in collaborative crowdsourcing of development solutions and decision making.

See: The World We Want 2030: Youth Voice and Action in SDG Implementation (February 18, Conference Room 4)


Molly Bangs

Molly Bangs is Associate Special Projects Editor at the Huffington Post, where she works on blog series, content for HuffPost's signature "What's Working" editorial initiative and a variety of other special projects, including HuffPost's global efforts centering around the environment, climate change and impact. She is particularly passionate about human and women’s rights.

Molly came to HuffPost from the New York City Council, where she served as a communications and legislative aide. She graduated cum laude from Connecticut College with a BA in Government and a minor in Hispanic Studies; she also has experience in the Impact world, having interned at the Rockefeller Foundation and the Aspen Institute. Originally from Montclair, New Jersey, Molly lives in the East Village in Manhattan.

Follow @MollyBangs on Twitter.

See: Panel 1 – Environment and Climate (February 17, General Assembly Hall)


Monique Coleman

Monique is most recognized as Taylor Mckessie in Disney’s “High School Musical’ franchise. However, her most significant role came in 2010 when she was appointed the first ever United Nations Youth Champion for the International Year of Youth. With this title, Coleman organized a global tour which spanned 24 countries in 6 months. The aim of which was to raise awareness about the most pressing issues facing youth today. More recently, Coleman can once again be seen on the screen starring as ‘Girl Robin’ in the iTunes released hit “Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List” alongside Victoria Justice as well as ‘Roz’ in “Free the Nipple”. Coleman was recently seen guest-starring in the new ABC Family drama series, “Stitchers”. Coleman is a global youth ambassador and the Founder of GimmeMo', a multi platform community that amplifies youth voices and supports organizations who are working to make the world better for young people. Season 1 of The GimmeMo Show is available on Hulu.

Follow @gimmemo on Twitter!


Mohammed Naeem

Mohammed Naeem is a women’s rights activist, speaker, and Founder/CEO of Hiwad, a global platform to empower youth. As a recent fellow for IMAGINE (an initiative of the empowerment institute and member of the Clinton Global Initiative), Naeem collaborated with private and non-profit stakeholders to empower women globally. As part of the fellowship, Naeem was awarded seed funding worth $25,000 and along with David Gershon (former advisor to The Clinton White House and UN) & Johns Hopkins University, he developed engagement paradigms for youth to serve as active participants in achieving global gender equity.

He is a Delegate at the ManUp Campaign, Global Ambassador for WAW and serves as an advisory board member for Mina’s List. Naeem has a B.S. in Public Health from Stony Brook University and lives with his hero (mother) and family in Flushing, NY.


Nathaniel Granor

Nathaniel serves as a Lead Program Manager for Microsoft’s TEALS program, supporting Computer Science teaching partnerships in high schools all over the US East Coast. He attended Yale University where he tried to major in a cappella singing, but was told it didn’t count. Instead, he picked up a B.S. in Computer Science and graduated in 2009. While working as a software engineer at Microsoft, he volunteered to teach computer science teacher at Cleveland High School in South Seattle through the TEALS program. Nathaniel believes computer science teaches critical thinking and problem solving skills that are essential to understanding and participating in the modern world. All students deserve the opportunity to learn these skills.

Follow @msphilanthropic @tealsk12org on Twitter.

See: Microsoft YouthSpark: Computer Science Unplugged (February 18, Conference Room 4)


Oliver Libby

Oliver Libby, Chair of The Resolution Project, is a Managing Director of Hatzi- memos Partners LLC, a strategic advisory firm based in New York, focusing on the energy, infrastructure, and life sciences sectors. Oliver was previously a Vice President at a global management-consulting firm, where he helped man- age on the firm’s private equity and energy practices. Oliver is also a Member of the Board of the philanthropic Harvard Club of New York Foundation. Oliver graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University.

Follow @resolutionproj on Twitter.

See: Keynote Speech (February 17, General Assembly Hall)


Mr. Ravi Karkara

Ravi Karkara is a trained Social Worker with commitment to advancing human rights, gender equality, inclusion and social justice.  Ravi has served as the Global Advisor on Youth + Partnership with United Nations Millennium Campaign and UN-HABITAT, based in New York. He is the lead author of the groundbreaking report “Youth 21: Building the Architecture of Youth Engagement in the UN System,” by UN-Habitat, which contributed to the creation of United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth.

Ravi represented UN-HABITAT as the Co-chair of the UN Interagency Network on Youth Development. Government of Sri Lanka appointed him as the Global Advisor to the World Conference on Youth in 2014, focusing on youth perspective in developing post-2015 development agenda. He has relentlessly supported United Nations SG’s My World 2015 survey in reaching close to 2 million youth. Ravi has been co-chairing the Policy Strategy Group for World We Want 2015 - a UN & CSO post-2015 data-curation-visualization platform. 

He is serving as Strategic Adviser Partnership Beijing+20, Office of the Assistant Secretary-General/Deputy Executive Director, UN Women. His has committed his lifetime to women’s empowerment, strengthening human rights of girls, young women and women, gender equality and social inclusion. He is a founding member of the MenEngage Alliance and Young Men 4 Gender Equality. He has worked with several organizations on gender equality with a specific focus on children, youth and women including UN-Women, UNICEF, UNMC, Save the Children – has been successfully advocating role of boys and men in gender equality from a life-cycle approach.

He has extensive experience in facilitating and managing strategy processes with diverse range of audience ranging from policy makers to development workers to local communities. He has extensively contributed to policy work including organising High Level Ministerial Consultations, contributing to the UN General Assembly mechanisms, processes related to regional bodies such as the EU, the AU and uniquely organizing consultations between young people and the G8 Leader and Leaders of BRIC countries etc. He has worked with Y20 and G20 Youth Entrepreneurs Alliance linked to G20 processes. He has extensive experience in knowledge creation and management. He has written over 80 publications and has given keynote and panel addresses on above area across the world.

Follow @ravikarkara @UN_Women on Twitter.

See: Step It Up For Planet5050 by 2030: Youth and Gender Equality (February 17, Conference Room 4); The World We Want 2030: Youth Voice and Action in SDG Implementation (February 18, Conference Room 4); Panel 4 – Peace and Human Rights (February 18, General Assembly Hall)


Rohit K. Pothukuchi

Rohit is the Founder of Verdentum, a non-profit social network being created to allow governments, UN bodies, and international organizations to launch programs to volunteers globally. Rohit is also a Policy Specialist at the UN Human Settlements Program and a member of the Policy & Strategy Group, World We Want 2030. He started his career with White & Case LLP, a leading international law firm, at their NYC office. He is a graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Law, an Affiliated Fellow of the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession and a Visiting Scholar at Columbia Law School. He has experience with 15 organizations across 5 nations.

See: The World We Want 2030: Youth Voice and Action in SDG Implementation (February 18, Conference Room 4)


Rosa G. Lizarde  

Rosa G. Lizarde is the Global Director of the Feminist Task Force (FTF @FemTaskForce), a coalition of women’s organizations and gender advocates promoting gender equality as central to poverty eradication and launched under the auspices of the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) in 2005. Under Rosa’s leadership, the FTF has conducted over twenty women’s and girls’ tribunals highlighting the interlinkages of gender, poverty and climate justice. She is a GCAP Global Council member and serves as Secretary of the GCAP Board Foundation.

Rosa currently serves as the civil society Co-Chair of the Policy and Strategy Group (PSG) of the @WorldWeWant2030, a global platform co-founded by civil society and the UN to facilitate dialogues, engagement and promotion of the Post-2015 process and now the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals #SDGs. As co-chair, Rosa promotes bridging the gender digital divide and building an inclusive data revolution. She is a founding member and a current co-coordinator of the Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development (FfD) and a lead organizer of the Women’s Forum on FfD in Addis Ababa ahead of the Third International Conference on FfD (July, 2015). She started ENLACE-Education & Networking for Latina Cooperation & Empowerment, to promote youth leadership, empowerment and cultural exchange in the Western Hemisphere. She is a graduate of Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs.

Follow: @RosaLizarde  

See: The World We Want 2030: Youth Voice and Action in SDG Implementation (February 18, Conference Room 4)


Stella Kechedzhi

Stella Kechedzhi is the North America Admissions Manager at EF International Language Centers. In this position she helps international students to learn a new language and become one step closer to realizing her company’s mission: Opening the World Through Education.

Stella worked in global youth leadership organization AIESEC in Russia and Estonia. In 2012-2013 she led national office of AIESEC in Finland. Stella started her professional career in Helsinki working for ed-tech startups and developing open-source platforms for students in Europe. Moved to the United States in 2015 to get new perspective on the world of education and experience yet another culture. Stella is passionate about youth empowerment and media literacy, she is practicing life-coaching in her free time.

Follow @EF on Twitter.

See: Globetrotting and Global Citizenship (February 17, Conference Room 4)


Tennille Amor

Tennille Amor is a talented creative writer on varying platforms, a public speaker, and a recognized and respected leader. She is working directly with UN Women to promote Gender Equality through the United Nations, she is the co-founder of E.P.I.C. (Everyday People Initiating Change), drilling clean water wells and contributing to community growth and development in Tanzania, Africa, and was a global brand ambassador for Quiksilver Women for five years. Her debut album, “EVOLVE through LOVE,” will be released in the Spring of 2016, and includes the songs “Lion” and “I am a Girl.”

See: Step it Up for Planet5050 by 2030: Youth and Gender Equality  (February 17, Conference Room 4)


Yukino Kikuta

Yukino is a musical actor and singer from Tokyo, Japan. She arrived in NYC in January, 2015 and began studying English and Ballet, and continued her vocal studies. Her off-Broadway debut was the show “Comfort Woman” in summer of 2015.

See: Musical Performance (February 18, General Assembly Hall)


This site is under development. Please check back later for more information regarding our speakers and presenters.