President's Report, December 2016
To keep Saturday’s (12/10) Board meeting as short as possible, I am submitting this in writing before the meeting. I have two main topics, the phone conference of Tuesday and an OCCA update.
National phone conference of December 6
Chris started the conference by stating that election or no, we must not lose heart and must keep to our core mission especially with advocacy. Our former Division President Mel Boynton is the new National advocacy chair and will shortly have new guidelines available. One of the chapters asked if Kenya was shutting down the large refugee camp that was proposed for the Adopt-a-Future refugee school(s) and would now eliminate Kenya as a school site. Chris responded that several hundred thousand refugees are housed in the particular camp and it would be nearly impossible to shut the camp down given its size. We will be kept apprised of the situation.
As promised, new Chapter Affiliation agreements are being prepared and will be ready to submit for signing in February. All chapters will be asked to sign. New by-laws will also be required based on new National guidelines but not due in February. A new Chapter Guide is also planned. National also will now require our Annual Chapter Reports in February rather than May.
Several chapters reported on Human rights Day events either planned (most) or already held. Most of these were in association with other like-minded organizations.
Our National organization-sponsored Day at the UN in February was talked up a good deal and members were asked to sign up as soon as possible. The date is Feb 17 and full information is available on the national website at UNA-USA. Note: those of us on the West Coast have trouble attending unless we are members of the Council of Chapters and Regions (soon to be renamed as the Advisory Council) as they have a meeting at the same time and are partially reimbursed for expenses.
OCCA Meetings Nov 16 & Dec 5
Based on our previous meetings with Nicole Capretz and her work on convincing the city of San Diego to adopt an ordinance that ensures that San Diego’s electrical power will be 100% renewable by 2035, OCCA has undertaken to enact similar measures in Orange County with the initial emphasis in Irvine. Both meetings had large attendance, the earlier meeting was held at UCI and included a large number of UCI student activists who listened to Nicole’s presentation of how she succeeded in San Diego and from an Irvine business group opposed to Southern California Edison building a new substation in the middle of an existing Irvine business complex. Because of the enthusiasm of the attendees, Barbara English, our chair, decided to capitalize on the interest in sustainable power and hold another quick strategy meeting on Dec 6 in her office. Although we had fewer attendees, they overflowed Barbara’s office and by my count peaked at 25. And now we had people from other cities including a strong contingent from Huntington Beach which included several important city commissioners associated with environmental issues. Nicole again contributed this time by telephone. Antonia Graham (sp?) the most senior of the Huntington Beach attendees by rank, cautioned that Irvine might be a difficult city now with an unfriendly city council but it was agreed to continue with Irvine for the present because of our previous ground work. OCCA is also looking to sponsor other events in the New Year and to participate with Golden West College in their 2017 events.
President's Report, March 2016
Some of our and my recent activities worth sharing with the membership.
Presentation to the Democrats of Greater Irvine – Feb 28
My presentation was titled "Why The United Nations is More Important Than Ever" and was focused on the recent Paris Climate Accord signed in Paris in December. The presentation was scheduled for 20 minutes but ran a little long when the electronic devices refused work according to expectations and I had no PowerPoint slides. Still the program was well-received and I also discussed briefly the purposes of the UN and the new Sustainable Goals. This would be a good short program to run after our board meeting and I am willing to present it at any time.
Coffee Talk – Feb 27
The Subject ‘Islamophobia” presented by Ali Mir, the Outreach Coordinator for the Council on Islamic American Relations (CAIR) stirred a lot of interest and emotions among the attendees and we had a longer meeting than usual. I hope the attendees felt they learned something from the event – I did.
Great American Write-in - Mar 12
We also had a very good day last Saturday at the Great American Write-in at the Delhi Center in Santa Ana. There was an excellent crowd and we had a lot of visitors to our table. Our visitors took lots of post cards to write to their congresswomen and men, especially Loretta Sanchez, Mimi Walters and Dana Rohrabacher. Loretta Sanchez visited the event, stopped by our table and chatted with our group. We may have even gotten a photo or two. We had many volunteers on Saturday; Kathy O’Neil, Isabel Treidl, Lisa Nguyen, Kate Wolf, Joy Adams, Rupsi Burman and Janeen Kabbara. Several other members also attended but worked at other tables, Aneta Think Of Others and Susan Eaton who both came over and said hello.
Thanks to Rupsi and Janeen who are leading the Cities for CEDAW (Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Again Women) effort in Orange County, we collected more than 60 signatures supporting Cities for CEDAW and generally helped these two to spread the word. Rupsi has obtained the support of Councilwoman Christina Shea in Irvine to urge the Irvine City Council to support the cities for CEDAW effort. I am sure we will be hearing much more in the near future on this effort as Rupsi has also made contacts with several other cities in Orange County recently.
Because of the large attendance and the interest in our organization expressed by the visitors to our table, this was one of our most successful recent tabling events.
Message from the President and the Young Professionals
Re: Our 70th UN Anniversary Celebration
What a terrific event we had on Saturday, October 24, 2015 at Chapman University! We had 85 total participants, an excellent crowd despite some no shows. Our success was a total group effort but the special kudos go to Lisa and our Young Professionals who put the event together. These young leaders, Lisa Nguyen, Hallie Stohler, Isabel Triedl and Kate Wolf from our Chapter; together with Damaris Bangean, Lynzi Andre and Evan Cooper from the Chapman student UNA Chapter and Jackie Vasquez and Armando Robles from the CSU Fullerton student UNA Chapter made this event a success. Thanks also to any other young people who participated in organizing the event.
I was especially proud of the appearance of the event room with its tables and center pieces, the layout of the sign-in station, the information tables and especially the banners displayed through the courtesy of Soka Gakkai. We also must thank Chapman University Student Government Association who underwrote almost the entire cost of the event, including the fine buffet lunch. The Argyros Forum room was perfect for the event.
The Soka Gakkai Representatives Geoff Westropp and Laurance Koike brought their colorful, message-loaded banners. I was especially impressed by the message from UN Foundation Representative Mara van Loggerenberg about the Sustainable Development Goals, what they mean and their importance to the member states of the United Nations. They were a perfect introduction to the afternoon session.
We were also joined by Southern California Division President Judith Harris who was accompanying Mara and Division Vice-President for Communications Mel Boynton. Additionally, Rida Hamida, Community Liaison for Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, joined us and shared Rep. Sanchez’s words in response to the Syrian refugee crisis as well as some valuable and startling data on the issue of resettlement and funding in the US.
Our morning program consisted of robust coverage of “Human Rights”, which was launched by Keynote speaker, Professor Catherine Sweetser from UC Irvine School of Law. As a litigator in a private firm and the Co-Director UCI’s the International Human Rights Clinic, Cathy shared with us a substantive review of International Human Rights law and its application in the US. Of great interest was her expertise on economic and social rights, specifically regarding the enforcement of negative rights in protection of the homeless.
Our four-expert panel on human rights included: Rupsi Burman of Hope in Life Foundation and Cities for CEDAW who inspired us to act locally to implement
international standards for women’s rights; the Director of Immigration Services at Catholic Charities of Orange County, Deana Gullo, who shared her experience advocating and providing services for the rights of
immigrants, including those who have experienced torture abroad; Jose Serrano, the Refugee Resettlement Case Manager of World Relief in Garden Grove, who shared about his work and urged the audience to empathize with the plight of refugees in moments of led reflection; and finally, Professor Joshua Yang of CSU Fullerton, who delved into the right to health – a positive right – that has proven difficult at best to enforce in the US. Each of these speakers provided some excellent perspective on the local efforts to promote and protect internationally codified human rights.
One take-away from this excellent program was the talk of the Syrian refugee who spoke so intensely about the trauma he faced in his short 18-year lifetime. He and his family had to flee fighting three times starting from his original home in Iraq. He’s now safe in the United States with his family but he is one of only a handful of Syrian refugees to be settled in the United States among the millions of displaced Syrians and others that need our help.
We rolled out the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development in the afternoon session and the term “roll-out” is key as a UNA chapter, it will be our job to educate, inspire and mobilize the citizens of Orange County to support these goals as well as the other critical work of the United Nations. But the afternoon session was an excellent sendoff.
One final note, there are a number of others that I must mention that were critical to the success of the event, our mature, long-serving hard-working members, Kathy O’Neil, Joy Adams, Virginia Bernal and Barbara Tye. And a special thank-you to Mailing Pros, Inc. as organized by Kate Wolff, who furnished all the printed materials.
With description of panel by Hallie Stohler
President's Report Oct 6, 2015
I am so pleased with our Young Professionals and how well they have all stepped up for our October 24 United Nations Day 70th Anniversary program at Chapman University. They arranged the venue and the speakers and one of them, Hallie Stohler will emcee the event. I also must tell you how proud I am for their contribution today at our visit to KUCI, Radio 88.9 FM, to promote the event. Hallie, Aramdo Robles and I went on the "Ask a Leader" show hosted by Claudia Shambaugh at 9 AM and spoke for 25 minutes about our Oct 24 Program and many other issues associated with the United Nations and the Global Goals. Again, thanks Hallie and Armando, you were both great and thanks to Lisa, our Young Professionals Chair for selecting these two fine young people to represent our chapter. I hope many of you were able to listen in, but if not it will be on the KUCI website and can be streamed on http://kuci.org/talk/ when it will be available.
We have had lots of activities lately, tabling at Golden West College on Peace Day Sep 21, at the Irvine Global Village and the Progressive Summit both on Sep 26. We made a lot of contacts and explained the vital work of the United Nations to those who stopped by our table. We also persuaded 7 individuals to write postcards to their elected national representatives at the Sep 26 events regarding supporting the work and funding of the United Nations. Thanks to Barbara Tye for furnishing us new postcards with correct addresses for our representatives!
We also participated in the Southern California Division's 8th Annual West Coast Global Forum, Sep 30, at the California Endowment on Alameda Street, just a short walk from the LA Train Station. We had a great turnout,
six of our chapter members by my count and our Joy Adams was one of the event committee members who
made the event a great success! We had a half page ad in the event Program Book and I will have a copy of the Program Book at our next meeting on Oct 17. Check the Division website for pictures from the event by clicking here.
Prior to our Oct 24 program we have our monthly board meeting on Oct 17 at the Sisters of St. Joseph. We will have a lot to discuss so we will forgo our usual UN Update program and instead have an extended committee/board meeting with much to discuss. These items include: expanding participation in our board, outreach to the inquiries we had at our tabling events on Sep 26, our upcoming Annual Brunch on Sunday, Jan 31, 2016; and our participation in the Division Annual meeting on Nov 14 of this year; among other items.
See you all soon!
UNA-USA 2014 Annual Meeting June 8-10 in Washington DC, at National Education Association Headquarters
Chapter Report by Carl Mariz, President
I have been to enough annual UNA-USA meetings since roughly 2000 that I can say the UNA knows how to run an Annual Meeting. Also in my years of attending these meetings, this one was perhaps the best. I was proud of our Chapter as we had eight members in attendance, including four of our Young Professionals. Our chapter had the largest delegation from the Southern California Division. Attendees were: our
Young Professionals (YP) - Sky Pham, Paul Figueroa, Rachel Sanchez and Rebecca Snyder; and our regular members Joy Adams, Virginia Bernal, Kathy O’Neil and myself. The meeting was held at the National Educational Association Headquarters, a very convenient location and excellent meeting venue.
Our Executive Director Chris Whatley began the meeting Sunday morning with the best speech ever on the importance of UNA as a grass-roots organization supporting the United Nations. We also had a video presentation from our US Ambassador to the UN, Hon. Samantha Power and presentations from the National Leader of our Council of Chapters and Regions, Karen Mulhauser and several other very informative presentations regarding the origins of the UNA and what challenges lie ahead. Something I was surprised to learn was that Eleanor Roosevelt was very important in organizing chapters of UNA-USA at the beginnings of our organization.
The rest of the day Sunday was spent in breakout sessions where various items for improving our chapters were discussed. We split up the various sessions with someone from our chapter going to each of them. Some of these were: Fundraising “Better than a Bake Sale,” pursuing an international career, membership sustainability, beyond Model UN.
On Sunday evening we met at the UN Foundation offices on Pennsylvania Avenue, close to the White House for our Reception and Awards ceremony. It would take too long to list all the award winners, they can be found on the UNA-USA website but Southern California Division Chapters and members were prominent among the winners. I was especially glad that Rene Wilson was a co-winner of the prestigious Arnold Goodman Lifetime Achievement Award. Rene is from Pasadena
and I worked closely with her when I was a member of the Council of Chapters and Regions a few years ago.
Monday was spent on Advocacy Issues largely as we were getting ready to visit congress on Tuesday. But we had two very inspiring talks, the first from Ambassador Pickering on the present issues and challenges facing the UN. This is the sort of information that Ambassador Pickering, our former Ambassador to the United Nations, provides peerlessly! The second talk was by Assistant Secretary General William Orr, the highest ranking American on the UN staff who briefed us on the importance of the post 2015 development goals. These goals, presently being hammered out in UN committees, are key to sustainable development among UN members.
Our key Advocacy issue this year was funding for Peace Keepers as the US is behind on our funding and new important peacekeeping missions are in the process of being organized, right now in the Central African Republic. Peace keeping is one of our country’s best investments in the work that the UN does, it saves lives and costs the US one-eighth of what an equivalent American soldier costs. Prepped and readied for our meetings with our elected representatives, we marched off on Tuesday.
Our Orange County Chapter had only one meeting scheduled with our Representatives on Tuesday morning, a meeting with a John Campbell staff person. The staffer, Chris Bognanno, had a Master’s degree in Counterinsurgency from the US Naval Academy and was very knowledgeable on the value of UN peacekeepers. We hope he can convince Rep Campbell to vote for peacekeeper funding. We also dropped off briefing books at the offices of Dana Rohrabacher and Loretta Sanchez. Our visits to our two Senators Tuesday afternoon were disappointingly short as the staffers we visited both had to rush off to meetings after one-half hour of conversations. However, both Senator Boxer and Senator Feinstein are strong UN supporters.
I will have a separate write-up on a conference our California state delegation had with Steve O’Dowd on the status of the post 2015 development goals. This meeting took place on June 9 at the State Department, after the end of the convention.
Previous President Messages and Chapter Newsletters
by Carl Mariz
Nov 16, 2013 Board Meeting
We have had a very busy month, with many activities..
On Oct 22 Joy Adams spoke to the new Mission Viejo Lions Club based on their invitation via Dominic Trevino. Her talk on our chapter’s activities was very well received.
Our chapter had a booth and a number of our members attended the Nov 3 “Living Ubuntu” event at St. Marks Church in Newport Beach. The main speaker was the very inspiring Carl Wilkens, the lone American who stayed in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. He published his story in a book I’m not leaving. One of the more memorable passages from the book states “Simply being there is often the most powerful factor in making the right decision – a decision we will not regret for the rest of our lives.”
Our chapter also had a good turnout for the Southern California Division Annual Meeting held at Pasadena Nov 9. We honored our past co-presidents Ken and Barbara Tye. Gerri McNenny did a splendid write-up on their many accomplishments. A few hard copies are available in the room today and I asked that it be posted on our website. The Division also elected former Pasadena chapter president Judith Harris as the new president replacing Mel Boynton. Judith was a big help to me during my tenure when she served as Division Vice-president of Programming. Mel was given a great sendoff as he has done a great job not only with the division but also with the National UNA organization. More details on the meeting can be found on the division website.
One final note; the Division’s very able web master, Shirley Williams, is retiring. She has done a great job over a number of years and will be sorely missed. I hope the Division can find someone equally as capable. Electronic communications are the wave of the future and all chapters need to know how to utilize these effectively.
The next big SoCal Division UNA event is the “The Post 2015 Development Agenda” meeting on Dec 7 at the Hillcrest Congregational Church, 2000 West Road, La Habra Heights. We are allowed 15 members at the event. I want to stress that the input of young people is key to making this a successful event.
Finally, I wanted to share an Advocacy item from the National
UNA’s Nov 15 Chapter Leader Update publication. It concerns Show Your Support for the UN Disability Treaty by submitting a Letter to the Editor. I would also recommend sending an email to our senators.
Quote “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held the first of two hearings on U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) last week. CRPD is an international treaty that provides a framework for countries to embrace the rights and dignity of the more than one billion disabled individuals around the world. Last December, the
Senate narrowly failed to ratify CRPD, despite bipartisan support.
We need your help rallying support in your community and letting your Senator know that you're a constituent who cares about ratifying CRPD! Submit a Letter to the Editor to your local newspaper, and help spread the word on why the Senate should ratify the disabilities treaty immediately. A template letter is available as a link from the Chapter Leader Update of Nov 15.
The next hearing on CRPD will be November 21st at 9:30 a.m. Stay tuned in how you can take action to help ensure the treaty gets ratified.”