UNITED NATIONS ASSOCIATION
Harold E. Stassen Division in Minnesota

Speakers

Mehr "Jay" Shahidi

Topics for Two One-Hour Presentations:

Are the UN Global Goals Succeeding?
Dangers of New Middle East Alliances!

Mehr “Jay” Shahidi is a past president of the United Nations Association, Harold E. Stassen Division in Minnesota, having served as board member for many years working on areas of land mines, refugees, economic development, US leadership in UN, peace-keeping and peace-building, population planning and environmental protection. He has been a citizen lobbyist advocating for international social justice and economic development since 1966 and made hundreds of visits to political and governmental offices.

Jay has been a human rights activist in US for 48 years and served in leadership roles at over 40 civic, educational and charitable organizations including the American Refugee Committee, Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth, Citizens for Global Solutions, and, Population Connection. He has been a Great Decisions lecturer at Global Minnesota (formerly Minnesota International Center) for years, has written many articles and given over 800 public speeches on international issues. Some of his writings and interviews are available online at Minneapolis StarTribune, Twin Cities Daily Planet, Twin Cities Public TV, Belahdan TV, KAFI Radio, and Daily Telegraph in UK. He is a business owner in MN who was born in Tehran, Iran and came to the US for higher education after attending college in London, UK for 2.5 years. He graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato with majors in economics and political science while becoming Student Body President, a newspaper columnist and a board member of Mankato Area Chamber of Commerce. He helped organize the International Student Office, a free legal aid service and Kessel Peace Institute there and has served on a university advisory board. Jay was awarded the university’s Distinguished Humanitarian Award in 2004.

Jay founded Decorative Construction Services, Inc. in 1977 which provides environmentally healthy building renovation in Twin Cities and M.J. Shahidi Business Consulting Co. which provides services to small business, non-profit and civic groups. He also co-founded the Iranian-American Society of MN.

Steve Werle

The Founding of the United Nations: A Historical Perspective

Steve Werle was born and raised in Rochester, Minnesota and teaches Advanced Placement United States History in the Twin Cities. He graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 1994 with a B.A.A. in Teaching Secondary Social Studies and earned a master’s degree from the same institution in 1999. He has taught a variety of high school history courses for over twenty years and also serves (pun totally intended) as a varsity tennis coach. Each summer Werle bakes thousands of Sweet Martha’s Cookies at the Minnesota State Fair. Mr. Werle is the author of An American Gothic: The Life & Times & Legacy of William Gates LeDuc. His most recent book, Stassen Again, was published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2015 and is available wherever books are sold. Werle lives in Minneapolis with his wife Colleen and their three sons.

Dr. Bharat Parekh

UN's Sustainable Development Goals

Dr. Bharat Parekh, a native of India, earned his PhD in Physics from the University of Rochester and has lived in the Twin Cities since 1987. An educator and consultant for US and Indian companies and NGOs, his work has involved technology transfer in the environmental and rural development sectors, including bio-fuels, food processing and modeling of water resource systems. Prior to his move to the Twin Cities, Dr. Parekh was professor of Physics at North Dakota State University (NDSU) and research scientist for the ND State Water Institute, Fargo, ND. His research focused on turbulence modeling and hydro-logic simulation to address complex river basin issues. In teaching, he was an early initiator of inter-disciplinary curriculum wherein, physics was learned in relation to areas such as art, technology, environment and health. Presently, he is a board member of several organizations including United Nations Association of MN (UNAMN), Citizens for Global Solutions Minnesota, Saint Paul Minneapolis Committee on Foreign Relations and Toddler Food Partners (TFP).

Speakers on International Issues

Humphrey International Fellows

We have a unique partnership with the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Every year UNA-MN partners with the Humphrey International Fellows. They are mid-career professionals and scholars committed to public service from around the world to the Humphrey School for professional enrichment, leadership development, and cultural exchange.

New Fellows will be available as speakers starting October 1st. Please contact us to request a speaker.

Inbar Ben Menda, Israel

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Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Mariana Machado, Brazil

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Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Lucy Chivasa, Zimbabwe

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Area of Study: Law and Human Rights

Issam Yahyaoui, Tunisia

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Area of Study: Law and Human Rights

Mubanga Kalimamukwento, Zambia

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Area of Study: Law and Human Rights

Zintle Koza, South Africa

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Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Mohamed Naciri, Morocco

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Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Mir ‘Reza’ Ozgen, Pakistan

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Area of Study: Urban and Regional Planning

Bimal Poudel, Nepal

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Area of Study: Law and Human Rights

Arlind Rama, Albania

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Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Anahita Saymidinova, Tajikistan

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Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Suonvisal Seth, Cambodia

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Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Suilieti Sika, Tonga

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Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Sarfraz Khan Virk, Pakistan

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Area of Study: Law and Human Rights

Inbar Ben Menda, Israel

Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Inbar Ben Menda is a Senior Assistant to the Legal Adviser of the Israeli Civil Service Commission. She advises the commission on all legal matters ranging from constitutional, contractual, administrative, current and proposed employment law to provide advice and guidance, and influence policy development in the Civil Service Commission.  Ms. Ben Menda has dedicated her career working on Israeli labor laws and facilitating cross-governmental discussion to increase participation of underrepresented populations and persons with disabilities in the civil service. Ms. Ben Menda holds a Master’s in Public Policy from Hebrew University, Jerusalem and a Masters of Law from Bar Ilan University.  During her Fellowship year, she would like to explore existing models of workforce integration in the United States, with the goal of designing a model that she can apply to her home country context.

Mariana Machado, Brazil

Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Mariana Machado holds a Bachelor’s in Law from the University of Brasilia, Brazil and has two postgraduate diplomas, one in economics and governmental management and the second in organizational management and innovation. She has dedicated much of her life to serving underprivileged groups, mainly by working to assure educational rights and literacy for adults. Ms. Machado currently serves as an alternate supervisor in the Department of Planning and Strategic Management at the Federal District State Court where she works with various units to align and help the Court achieve its goals. During her Fellowship year, she hopes to learn more about how to integrate gender-sensitive approaches to increase the number of women in leadership positions in the Brazilian Public Administration.

Lucy Chivasa, Zimbabwe

Area of Study: Law and Human Rights

Lucy Chivasa holds a Bachelor’s in Law from the University of Zimbabwe and a Masters in Constitutional and Human Rights Law from Midlands State University in Gweru, Zimbabwe. She has worked to enhance youth empowerment and conflict resolution for many years. She started her career as a moderator for the Harare Youth Empowerment Program, which uses sustained dialogue as a form of conflict resolution. Ms. Chivasa currently works as a lawyer for the Legal Resources Foundation, one of the largest human rights NGOs in Zimbabwe, representing low income and juvenile criminal offenders in court to ensure that all people have access to representation and fair trials. She also facilitates workshops for judicial officers, police offices, traditional leaders, and elected officers to ensure compliance with donor contractual obligations. Ms. Chivasa hopes the Humphrey Fellowship program improves her knowledge of human rights advocacy, and provides her with additional tools to help her improve human rights in Zimbabwe.

Issam Yahyaoui, Tunisia

Area of Study: Law and Human Rights

Issam Yahyaoui holds a Bachelor’s in Law from the University of Legal and Political Sciences in Tunis, Tunisia and a Master’s of Civil and Criminal Law from the Higher Institute of the Judiciary in Megrine, Tunisia. Judge Yahyaoui has worked for the Ministry of Justice in Tunisia for over 14 years working with cases ranging from taxes and bankruptcy, to civil and commercial disputes. In 2017, he was appointed as a vice president of the Tunis Trial Court in charge of the Commercial Division. He is also a member of the Chamber of the First President of the Court of Appeal of Tunis, which hears the proceedings for the annulment of international arbitral awards. During his Fellowship year, Judge Yahyaoui plans to gain more knowledge and skills to reform the judicial system in Tunisia, especially the business courts.

Mubanga Kalimamukwento, Zambia

Area of Study: Law and Human Rights

Mubanga Kalimamukwento is a criminal lawyer with over five years’ experience in criminal and civil litigation. She is a State Advocate at Zambia’s National Prosecution Authority, and holds a Bachelor of Laws Degree from Cavendish University, Zambia. Over the course of her career, Ms. Kalimamukwento has taken a keen interest in strengthening Zambia’s human rights record by facilitating workshops to train rural communities on the Anti-Gender Based Violence Act, and participating in her country’s process in the prerogative of mercy through the office of the Attorney General. In her current role, she has regular interaction with prisoners in Zambian prisons, a position that inspired her application to the Humphrey Fellowship and informed her proposal which focuses on the Mandela Principles on the Treatment of Prisoners. During her fellowship year, Ms. Kalimamukwento hopes to interact with industry professionals, and learn strategies to influence policy change and prison reform in Zambia.

Zintle Koza, South Africa

Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Zintle Koza is an international relations practitioner with over 13 years in the South African civil service. She currently serves as the Director of International Organizations at the National Treasury. In this role, Ms. Koza is responsible for South Africa’s continued engagement with and participation in the World Economic Forum, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Before joining the National Treasury of South Africa, she served in the Foreign Service for 11 years and was responsible for portfolios that included the African Union and European Union. Ms. Koza holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and Political Studies from Rhodes University, and is currently completing a Master’s in International Relations from the University of Pretoria. During her fellowship year, she would like to focus on public sector leadership, with particular emphasis on global policy and its governance, strengthen her skills and knowledge to advance socio-economic transformation in South Africa.

Mohamed Naciri, Morocco

Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Mohamed Naciri is a Financial Judge at the Regional Court of Audit in Tangier, Morocco. In this role, he oversees the use of public funds, evaluates and provides analyses and recommendations for effective oversight for policy decisions made by public entities under the jurisdiction of the Regional Court of Accounts. Judge Naciri’s other roles have included serving as an Auditor at the Court of Accounts in Rabat and a Lecturer of Management in Oujda, Morocco. He holds a Master in Management, and is a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at Abdelmalek Essadi University, Tangier. During his fellowship year, Judge Naciri intends to broaden his knowledge of evaluation tools that can be used to assess the efficiency of government programs and activities.

Mir ‘Reza’ Ozgen, Pakistan

Area of Study: Urban and Regional Planning

Reza Ozgen holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Bahria University in Islamabad, Pakistan and a Master’s in Business Administration and Management from the Institute Of Business Administration in Karachi, Pakistan. Mr. Ozgen began his career in the private sector, but transitioned to public service and is now an additional Political Agent in the Khyber Agency as a government representative for all development related to the Agency and its stakeholders. He is in charge of formulating and implementing the Annual Development Programme (ADP) alongside 16 other departments working on the plan. As a Humphrey Fellow, Mr. Ozgen plans to study urban and regional planning to address the challenges related to Pakistan’s rapidly growing urban population and improve the quality of life of its citizens.

Bimal Poudel, Nepal

Area of Study: Law and Human Rights

Bimal Poudel holds a bachelor’s degree in jurisprudence, constitutional law and criminal law from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He completed a masters degree in law from the same university in 2002. In 2006-07 he was awarded NUFFIC Scholarship to pursue master degrees in international business and trade law from Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands. As a Chevening scholar he earned LLM in international human rights law degree from the University of Essex, United Kingdom in 2011-12. Mr. Poudel is working as a Registrar of the High Court Patan, Nepal.  He also worked at the Supreme Court of Nepal, National Judicial Academy, various Courts of Appeal and Attorney General Office in various capacities for more than 15 years. He contributes on planning, implementing and monitoring judicial policies, conducting training, research and dedicated to enhancing access to justice for all and promoting the rule of law. During his Fellowship year, he would like to learn how American judicial system is able to tackle backlog of cases, foster rule of law and enforce judicial decisions. Moreover, he would also like to learn American working culture, build strong ties with American governmental and non-governmental institutions.

Arlind Rama, Albania

Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Arlind Rama serves as Analyst/Advisor to the Prime Minister of Albania, where he is responsible for coordinating economic development policy to advance the President’s economic priorities. Before joining the PM’s Cabinet, he worked as an Economist at the Research Department of the Bank of Albania, specializing in macroeconomic projections and economic modeling analysis. In 2011, he was elected Councilor and chaired the Finance Commission in the Municipality of Tirana, Area No. 7. Upon completing his term, Mr. Rama co-founded the Institute for Public Policy and Good Governance (IPPM) aimed at increasing transparency of public finances and promoting civic engagement in the policy-making process. He was awarded the Chevening scholarship by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and earned his Master of Science in Financial Economics from City University London. Mr. Rama is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Tirana where he also lectures. During his fellowship year, he would like to enhance his skills in public policy design and implementation, fiscal and monetary policy, financial markets, strategic investments, and public finances management.

Anahita Saymidinova, Tajikistan

Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Anahita Saymidinova holds a Bachelor’s in International Relations from Russian-Tajik University in Dushanbe, and a Master’s in Politics and Security from OSCE Academy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Ms. Saymidinova is a member of the Political and Prosperity team at the British Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan where she works on Bilateral Project budgets. She also conducts analyses of political, security, economic, and social development in the region, and covers gender and cultural issues at the Embassy. Ms. Saymidinova acts as a liaison for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other relevant stakeholders in the diplomatic community. During her Fellowship year, she plans to study urban planning and design in the United States so that she can apply these skills to the development of Dushanbe.

Suonvisal Seth, Cambodia

Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Suonvisal Seth is a Deputy Director of Research at the Cambodian Legislature. Mr. Seth’s work supports the Parliament in its governance and legislative oversight role through public policy research. He is also responsible for designing the strategic plan for Capacity Building Project, allowing him to lead and conduct personnel training for the research unit. Mr. Seth holds a Bachelor’s in English Communication from Norton University in Cambodia, a Bachelor’s in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from BELTEI International University, and Master’s in Management from the Pannasastra University of Cambodia and is a Chevening scholarship recipient. During his Fellowship year, Mr. Seth plans to learn more about public policy research support, and tools to prepare Members of Parliament to more effectively debate, defend and protect the public interest.

Suilieti Sika, Tonga

Area of Study: Public Policy Analysis and Public Administration

Siulieti Sika holds a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Economics from the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. Ms. Sika has over 10 years of experience working with the Tongan government, starting her career with the Tonga Office of the Auditor General, and then later moving to the Ministry of Finance and National Planning. She was formerly the Chief Economist where she was responsible for coordinating the preparation of the national budget estimates, and worked with several government ministries to improve strategic planning, governance, and monitoring of results. During her Fellowship year, she will focus on the effective evaluation of programs within the public sector, with an aim of resuming work with the government to improve fiscal policy formulation that better addresses the development needs of Tonga.

Sarfraz Khan Virk, Pakistan

Area of Study: Law and Human Rights

Sarfraz Khan Virk received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Master’s in History from the Government College of Lahore. He also holds Bachelor’s degree in Law from the University of Punjab, and a Master’s in Human Rights from University College, London. Mr. Virk is currently enrolled in a Masters of International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford in England. He has over 13 years of experience with the National Police Bureau of Pakistan and is currently the head of the district police in Sheikjupura Lahore, Pakistan. Mr. Virk is in charge of 3,000 police officers and maintains law and order, investigates human rights violations, and monitors violence and crime in his district. He also promotes close connections with his community and works with local NGOs and civil society organizations to better serve and protect his district. As a Humphrey Fellow, Mr. Virk would like to focus on police training standards on issues such as torture, domestic violence, and addressing child abuse as a human rights issue.