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One of the most exciting and enriching things about SUNIA is the chance to interact with high-profile individuals on a personal level. Every year, two speakers from the United Nations attend our program, along with a speaker from the Canadian Department of National Defence. These speakers are not only available to lead discussions, answer questions, and provide you with an increased understanding of their field, they spend the whole week with us. At SUNIA, you could find yourself hiking up Mount Baldy with a diplomat, or eating lunch across from an ambassador.

Below you can read about the accomplished individuals who we had the privilege of hosting at SUNIA 2018. Stay tuned to find out our guests for SUNIA 2019.


Dr. Abraham Joseph

Dr. Abraham Joseph is an expert on International Economic Policy Development and Practice with three decades of experience at the United Nations and with the Governments of India and Timor-Leste. As Senior Socio-Economic Adviser of the United Nations (UN), he actively contributed to the  the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (2000 -2015) and also contributed inputs to the formulation of the United Nations Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development Goals which was later adopted by the 193 countries in September 2015. Dr. Joseph recently (December 2017) recently co-authored a chapter with Takako Hamaguchi “Promoting Peace Through Employment and Income Generation in Post-Conflict Countries” in an edited volume titled "Globalization and Economic Justice”. They also co-authored a book (2014) titled “Timor-Leste: The History and Development of Asia’s Newest Nation’. Dr. Joseph’s first book (1984) was on “India’s Trade with Japan: Challenges and Opportunities”. He has also prepared published articles on socio-economic development issues in journals.


Antje Watermann

Antje Watermann joined the Education Outreach Section of the United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) in 2016 following the successful completion of the Young Professionals Programme (YPP) examination. She currently supports several educational programmes, the UN4MUN initiative and the United Nations Academic Impact. Prior to joining the UN Secretariat, she worked as a knowledge and advocacy officer at UNDP, focusing on the Agenda 2030 process and negotiations, and served as a communications analyst in the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific.  

After graduating from the University of Cologne with a Masters in Economics and a Masters in Management from ESADE, Spain, she joined a global management programme with Thomson Reuters.  She was part of two global teams in Poland and Hong Kong, before becoming a product manager at the Reuters News Agency in New York.


Dr. Hamid Rashid

Dr. Hamid Rashid is the Chief, Development Research at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN- DESA) at the United Nations headquarters in New York. He currently leads the publication of the World Economic and Social Survey (WESS) – a flagship publication of UN-DESA that addresses various sustainable development related issues and challenges. Dr. Rashid brings to DESA over twenty years of experience, working for the Government of Bangladesh and also for UNDP, the World Bank and UNICEF in Dhaka, Washington D.C. and New York.

Earlier, Dr. Rashid served as a Senior Adviser in UNDP’s Bureau for Development Policy and led a multi-sectoral programme in the UNDP headquarters in New York, addressing issues of property, labour and entrepreneurial rights of the poor. During 2006-2008, he served as the Director General for United Nations and Multilateral Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangladesh. He was responsible for conceptualizing, coordinating and representing Bangladesh’s positions on various economic issues – special and differential market access for the least developed countries, international migration and financing for development - at the UN and other multilateral forums.

Dr. Rashid earned his Ph.D. in Finance and Economics from Columbia University in New York, working under his advisor and mentor, Professor Joseph Stiglitz - the winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics. He obtained his MPhil in Economic and MPA from Columbia University and Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas. His research interest includes international finance, macroeconomic policies, financial market liberalization and its impact on economic growth and development.

Dr. Rashid has taught graduate level courses in economics and public policy at the Columbia University, University of Manchester and the London Business School.


Dan Shepard

Dan Shepard is the point person on climate change and other sustainability issues for the UN Department of Public Information.  He works with media and the public to raise awareness on how the United Nations is advancing ideas and actions that can raise prosperity and the quality of life while protecting the environment.  At the center of these efforts is the promotion of the Sustainable Development Goals—an historic agreement unanimously adopted by all countries, to change the way countries and communities develop.

Among the issues he is working on are climate change, biodiversity loss, food security, livable cities and water.  In addition to his work on sustainability issues, Dan has also worked, in his ten years with DPI, on a range of topics ranging from the adoption of the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to the problem of overfishing.  He has also served as editor of the United Nations Development Programme magazine, and has worked on advocacy issues that included small arms and the rebuilding effort after the 2004 tsunami.


SUNIA Staff with 

UN Speakers

Jean-Victor Nkolo , Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly  (front row, first from right)

Helena Alphonso, Associate Economic Affairs Officer (first row, second from right)

Former UN Speakers

  • Javier Perez de Cuellar, former UN Secretary General
  • Ingo Pitterie, Economic Affairs Officer at the UN
  • Daniel Gay,  Inter-Regional Advisor on least developed countries

  • Ingrid Kasper , UN Television Producer & Director

  • Beppe Lovoi, Sustainable Development Officer at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
  • Stephen Lewis, former Canadian Ambassador to the UN
  • Jonathan Perry, Member of the Division for Social Policy and Development at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
  • Brian Vitunic, Political Affairs Officer in the UN Department of Political Affairs 
  • Jean-Victor Nkolo, Former Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly 
  • Helena Alphonso, Associate Economic Affairs Officer in the Development Policy and
    Analysis Division
  • Jan Fisher, Former Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly

Former Department of National Defense Speakers

  • Major Alfred G.N de Boda, CD
  • Petty Officer First Class Bryon Dempsey

“I had the privilege and pleasure of attending SUNIA 2011 as guest speaker from the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Working as economist in the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, I gave lectures on economic development issues and discussed with the students some of the major development challenges the world is currently facing – in a seminar, but also during lunches and recreational activities (such as amazing hikes in the Rockies). The week at SUNIA was a fantastic and very rewarding experience for me and, I am pretty sure, also for the students, who showed enormous enthusiasm and excitement for the topics we discussed. What I loved most about the experience was the sense of working and learning together to make our planet a better place in an environment where everyone had a great time. I am certainly looking forward to participating at SUNIA again one day and I can recommend it to each student interested in the work of the UN and the most important political, social and economic issues at the international level.”
- Ingo Pitterie, Economic Affairs Officer at the UN

“I have been associated with the Seminar on United Nations and International Affairs (SUNIA) since 1994. The educational program for high school students organized by university-aged students and held annually is the most rewarding experiences I have had throughout my career with the United Nations. I have participated in the program, so far, four times: 1994, 2006, 2008 and 2011. I can attest to the fact that the one-week learning experience for each group consisting of about seventy students each week is unique in many ways.
First, it is the only program that students stay at the learning center the entire period. They get to know each other, work, travel, eat, dance and learn as an interactive group.
Second, it is the only program that invites two UN officials for each week. The UN experts stay in the same compound and share same activities. They lecture, hold seminars and discussions with students but also share with them recreation trips, sports, and social activities. They avail themselves to person–to-person discussions and get to know the students at the personal level. I, personally, established long lasting friendship with some of the students and counselors who visited me here at my UN office and my home.
And third, SUNIA is the most diverse student-oriented program that not only teaches about the United Nations and global affairs alone but includes, as well, a number of recreational activities, sports and talent and mental development-exercises.
I am so proud to have been associated with SUNIA for many years as a UN official and as a professor. I am so happy to know that many of the students I met at Goldeye Center became successful professionals in all fields. It is my pleasure to continue to work with such talented and dedicated counselors who are committed to bringing up globally-aware young professionals.”

- Hamid Abdeljaber, Professor of Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University and Former U.N. International Staff and member of DPI’s Speakers List