The Global Connection 

October 2023

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Letter from the President

Dear UNA Members and Friends,

As I was writing this, the news was filled with rampant flooding happening across Westchester County, and more was expected the following day. In my many years as a resident of this County, it’s difficult to recall local weather extremes like the ones we have seen over the past few years. Those hyper-local impacts sit in a broader global context—one in which climate-change-related impacts continue to be felt so acutely.

Thankfully, the focus this year of the Global Goals Summit was climate

change; indeed, it was held during Climate Week in New York City on September 18th and 19th. It was preceded by the Climate March to end Fossil Fuels in New York City on September 17 th, which brought together more than 75,000 people in New York City to demand action to address our on-going climate emergency. I hope many of you were able to participate. I was thrilled to get messages from many of UNA’s partners about their active support of this historic event.

This has been a season of many climate-related disasters – the fires in Maui, the earthquake devastation in Morocco, floods in Libya, hurricanes, typhoons and drought. Could we ever have imagined living in a time that the UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called the “Summer of Boiling”? Let me be clear: these horrific events were caused or exacerbated by human activity, and humans have an obligation to help quench the fire we have ignited. It is more critical than ever that young people—like our Chapter’s impassioned Young Professionals--are speaking out about how humans have been destroying the planet for more than 200 years. They—and we—must continue to hold governments, businesses and individuals accountable for this destruction. It is time for us as a society to work together to halt the deterioration and take responsibility for saving our blue planet.

September is normally a particularly busy month for the United Nations, and this year was even more intense. The annual General Debate of Heads of State, which began at the General Assembly on September 19 th , is a time to reflect on why the United Nations was created and how to keep its foundational principles relevant today and for decades to come. Despite regional conflicts, because of the UN, world leaders normally come together to discuss peacefully the most pressing issues of our times. While the topics at hand are certainly overwhelming, the UN provides a space for cooperation, even in the most challenging of situations. The majority of member States, led by the Secretary-General, have already voiced their opposition to the

unprovoked attack by Russia on Ukraine. Now with the additional devastation resulting from armed conflict between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Israel, promises of peace look even more remote. We should advocate for diplomacy and negotiation to play a role in reducing the level of violence in such conflict zones. As the General Assembly meets, we are reminded of just how vital the work of the UN is to the

stability of the world. SDG16 says it most succinctly: “promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.” We have to depend on multilateralism to triumph over threats of destruction from conflict, climate change, global pandemics and myriad other challenges we face as a global human family.

The United Nations observed two other important days in September: The International Day of Peace, on September 21 st , which the UN General Assembly declared as a day to devote to strengthening the ideals of peace through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire; and the International Day for the Complete Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on September 26th. We are facing the threat of nuclear war today, as we see threats from Russia similar to those we faced during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. That we are alive today is a function of luck and

inspired diplomacy, the latter of which is dangerously absent today. At present, the themes of peace and non-violence are very much in harmony with environmental justice.

UNA’s most important anniversary each year is UN Day, the commemoration of the signing of the UN Charter on October 24, 1945. UNA-Westchester and its partners are gearing up for a very exciting celebration of UN Day 2023, the 78 th anniversary of the United Nations and the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. This year’s timely theme is “Appreciating Peace and Non-Violence: The Role of the UN and Local Youth Movements.” The event, which will be held in collaboration with Mercy University’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Center for Global Engagement, will be held in the beautiful Rotunda at Mercy’s Dobbs Ferry Campus on Sunday 22 October from 2:00 to 4:00 pm (registration and networking begin at 1:30 pm).

We will have excellent speakers and representatives of Westchester youth movements that promote peace and non-violence. We are thrilled to have so many fabulous partners as cosponsors this year; they are listed in the flyer for the event in this newsletter. Youth activists will give us an update on their programs to promote peace and non-violence. They include: Peace Action New York State; 914 United; WESPAC Foundation; Westchester County Youth Councils; Combatants for Peace; Manhattanville College; and others.

It can be very easy to become despondent or apathetic when we realize the magnitude of the challenges we face; sometimes, I feel it myself. Then, I am exposed to the many remarkable people and organizations devoted to making life better for everyone; those dedicated to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals; those passionate about protecting and fulfilling human rights, and so much more.

Please JOIN US for this important UN Day event and be inspired, not deflated! Register at UN Day Registration or at We look forward to seeing you there!

- Marcia Brewster

Join us at UNA Westchester's 2023

UN Day Celebration!


Celebrating our Media Contest Winners

The theme of this year's Media Contest was Child Labor Around the World and in the United States” in support of UN Sustainable Development Goal #8.

Winning works were submitted from Somers, Riverdale and Yorktown Heights. Learn more about our Media Contest and view past winners' work at

Celebrating UNA-USA Youth Leader of the Year

UNA Westchester's Communications Director and Young Professionals Co-Chair, Raina Kadavil, was chosen as UNA-USA's Youth Leader of the Year for 2023, nominated by UNA Westchester President Marcia Brewster. View her acceptance speech below.

Standing Up for our Planet

UNA Westchester's Young Professionals Co-Chair Paul Presendieu participated in the March Against Fossil Fuels alongside Raya Salter, Esq, of the Energy Justice Alliance and New Rochelle High School's Green Club

In UN News: The 2023 General Assembly

The 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly marked a crucial milestone in the journey towards achieving the 2030 Agenda and the urgent need to put the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) back on track.

What did the General Assembly discuss?
The Importance of Cooperation

2023 Calendar of Upcoming Public Events for UNA Westchester

October 22, 2023 | UN Day - REGISTER HERE

December 10th, 2023 | Human Rights Day at Manhattanville College - registration coming soon

From the UNA-USA-Westchester Chapter Membership Committee
Join Us!

Are you a humanitarian?     
As our President, Marcia Brewster, tells us, that is the only criterion for joining the Westchester chapter of UNA-USA. If you care about the world and its people, if you believe in reaching across national borders, if you cherish the notion of a nation and a world based on justice, equity, and peace, this is an opportunity for you. If you are looking for the chance to work with other socially conscious people, to contribute your expertise, experience, and interest in areas such as social media and advocacy, to be a voice for change, and to support and protect the increasingly vital work of the United Nations, this is the organization for you. 

Every year, the Westchester UNA-USA chapter hosts events on Human Rights Day, the anniversary of the United Nations, and International Women’s Day. Each year there is an Annual Meeting and Community Consultation on the Future of the United Nations at which your voice can and will be heard.

And - See below for information about becoming a member.
Ronnie Lichtman
Membership Chair
Board of Directors, UNA W

AND: Please also send an email to our Membership Committee Chair ( so we know you have joined and can invite you to our welcome for new members.
See below, to join us ...

Now …

would be the perfect time for ALL our friends to join as Members.  

Remember, Students Join Free!  Thank you!

You can become a member easily by going to Make sure to click on Westchester in the drop-down box. 

If you are 12-25, it’s free. For all others, membership is only $50.00


If you prefer to send a check, include your full name, address, phone number, email, and chapter location (Westchester, of course!) and mail to:




PO Box 96397 

Washington, DC 20090-6397



Raina Kadavil

Line Editor

Marcia Brewster

Online Placement

Raina Kadavil

Social Media Editor

Raina Kadavil



Marcia Brewster, President

Demetrios Mihailidis and Lilli Schindler, Vice Presidents

Karen Rockwell El-Badry, Secretary

Professor Victor Petenkemani, Treasurer

Brenda L. G. Smith, Nominating Chair


Yuhanna Edwards

Tricia Baldes

Daniel Bena

Ambassador Francis Okelo

Nicole Butterfield, Program Co-Chair

Colleen Gardephe, Program Co-Chair

Raina Kadavil, Young Professionals Co-Chair & Communications Chair

Ronnie Lichtman, Membership Chair

Paul Presendieu, Young Professionals Co-Chair

Photos: Reprinted from,, and other related sources.

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