By Tracy Gray, Board Member, Vice President of Advocacy
The United Nations Association of Atlanta and Indian Creek Elementary School hosted the UN Day 2023 event on October 28, 2023. The event celebrated the 78th Anniversary of the United Nations.
The event, which was free and open to the public, aimed to provide valuable insights and resources on healthcare services, mental health services, cultural identity, and educational empowerment.
The event celebrated dignity, equity, and justice for immigrants and refugees, reinforcing the values of the United Nations.
Distinguished keynote speakers and workshop leaders graced the event and shared their expertise and experiences, inspiring the participants and fostering a sense of community and empowerment.
Keynote Speakers and Workshop Leaders:
Dr. Devon Horton: Dr. Devon Horton, the esteemed Superintendent of the DeKalb County School District, emphasized the crucial role of equity-centered decision-making in the educational sector. He reiterated the importance of creating systemic and sustainable change, focusing on marginalized students. Dr. Horton's powerful message highlighted the need for passionate leadership and the belief that all students can achieve their maximum potential.
Dr. Heval Kelli: Dr. Heval Kelli, a Syrian Kurdish-born physician, shared his remarkable journey as a refugee and his exceptional contributions to medicine and healthcare outreach. Dr. Kelli's story of perseverance and dedication to serving underrepresented communities left a lasting impact, inspiring attendees to strive for excellence and make a positive difference in society.
Alexis Stewart: With her extensive experience in education and curriculum development, Alexis Stewart facilitated an insightful workshop on accessing mental health services in Atlanta. Her guidance on finding culturally competent mental health providers and tackling the stigma associated with seeking mental health care provided valuable resources for participants.
Molly Read Woo: Molly Read Woo, a prominent advocate for environmental sustainability, conducted an interactive workshop on storytelling for youths. Her engaging approach encouraged participants to share their stories and aspirations for the future, fostering creativity and self-expression among the younger attendees.
Selin Buyan: Selin Buyan, a founding member of the United Nations Association Campus Chapter at the University of Georgia, hosted an informative workshop on navigating the U.S. healthcare system. Her comprehensive guidance on finding affordable healthcare options and overcoming language barriers provided essential knowledge for attendees seeking medical care.
Arda Seckiner: Arda Seckiner, the UNA-Atlanta Youth Envoy for Global Goal 3: Good Health & Well-being, conducted a workshop focusing on children's oral health. His efforts to promote proper oral hygiene practices among children highlighted the significance of early dental care and access to essential dental services for underserved communities.
The UN Day 2023 event organized by the United Nations Association of Atlanta provided a platform for meaningful discussions, valuable insights, and community engagement. The contributions of the keynote speakers and workshop leaders highlighted the importance of equity, education, healthcare, and cultural integration in building a more inclusive and empowered society.
The event's success was a testament to the commitment of the UN Association of Atlanta to advocate for the values and principles of the United Nations.
The United Nations Association of the United States of America – Atlanta Chapter recognizes the following Partners and sponsors for their contributions to our 2023 UN Day Event:
DeKalb County School District, Dr. Devon Horton, Superintendent
Indian Creek Elementary School
Stephanie Brown-Bryant, Principal
Monica Mclester, Assistant Principal
BabatunJi Farinu, Assistant Principal
Dr. Adam Nykamp, STEM Instructor
Dekalb County Communications Department
British Consulate Colin Gray
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Matt Reynolds
Delegate for Georgia, Refugee Congress, Dr. Heval Kelli
Molly Read Woo, Founder, Planet Atlanta
Alexis Stewart, Founder, Rinnovi Educational Consulting
Emmanuel Miot, Founder & CEO SocialAim
Selin Buyan, Founding Member, UNA Campus Chapter, University of Georgia
UNA Atlanta Chapter members and Board Members
Selen Beduk, President
Tracy Gray, VP of Advocacy
Nalat Phanit Black, VP of Education
Ikoie Norman, Senior Director, Fundraising Strategy and Engagement
Selin Buyan and UGA Volunteers
Molly Read Woo
Rinnovi Educational Consulting
British Consulate General Atlanta
Since 2020, Dr. Devon Horton has served as the proud Superintendent of Evanston/Skokie School District 65, a pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school district just north of Chicago. Dr. Horton is a native Chicagoan who was impacted by redlining and learned the value of equity early. Throughout his experience across multiple states in education, from the lens of a teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal, Assistant Superintendent, Chief of Schools, and now Superintendent, passion, persistence, and powerful practices are his proven formula for success. Dr. Horton’s research is focused on school leaders’ impact on Turnaround Schools.
He is a Disruptive leader with an unwavering belief in the potential for success for all children. He has a proven track record of transforming educational institutions into sustainable, high-performing organizations. His accomplishments in leadership were rooted in Chicago Public Schools. Under Dr. Horton’s leadership, every team he has led developed a robust culture of equity-centered decision-making. Data and research provide the target, but the art and science of teaching is where the magic happens for all marginalized students.
Dr. Horton is eager to support communities to help identify leaders and educators with the desire and passion to make a difference in today’s society. He is a leader who creates a sense of urgency to create systemic and sustainable change. Dr. Horton is seen as an anti-racist leader nationwide and has presented his work at several local, regional, and national education-related conferences. He was recently honored with the 2022 RTM National EdTech All-Star award for his support in the education of other dynamic leaders.
Dr. Horton lives by the “Equity in Action” creed and believes it is the only way to build systemic change, focusing on shifting policy, people, and practice. He has made Urban Teacher Residency programs for three different school districts. These programs prioritize selecting and training future teachers who must have a strong belief that all students can learn and meet their maximum potential. While serving in his third year as District 65 Superintendent, he was awarded the National Alliance of Black School Educators 2022-2023 Superintendent of the Year. Dr. Horton created and lived by the motto, “Students do not fail; the systems we create as adults fail our students!”
Previous roles include Head of the UN Political Team in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (2014-2017) and Head of Communications at the British Embassy in Seoul, Korea (2011-2014).
Colin is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde, and holds a Bachelor of Laws (with Honours) degree. A former newspaper journalist, he also holds an Advanced Certificate in Public Relations from the UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations. He speaks fluent Spanish and Korean.
A proud Scotsman, Colin is married to Nicolle and they have two children, Georgia (6) and Logan (4).
Alexis hosted the workshop, Accessing Mental Health Services in Atlanta, providing information about available mental health services and resources in the Atlanta area. Participants will learn how to find culturally competent mental health providers, understand insurance coverage, and access affordable or free mental health support. It will also address the stigma often associated with seeking mental health care.
Drawing from his own experiences as a founder, Emmanuel offers hands-on guidance and innovative business solutions that address some unique challenges faced by social entrepreneurs, helping them bring their visions to life. His expertise extends to areas such as marketing, creative design thinking, sales, and evaluating product market fit for startups, where he has achieved remarkable results. He possesses a keen ability to strategize, collaborate, and implement lasting change across diverse settings. With fluency in Haitian Creole and French, his goals are to extend his reach and impact to a global scale.
Beyond his professional accomplishments, Emmanuel's dedication to positive change shines through his volunteer work with local nonprofits and organizations. In his spare time, Emmanuel enjoys spending time with family, meeting new people, playing golf, or learning something new. His diverse experiences and unwavering dedication to making the world a better place make him a remarkable and inspiring individual.
Emmanuel hosted the workshop, Cultural Transition and Identity, exploring the complexities of cultural identity and the challenges of adapting to a new culture. Refugees will have the opportunity to share their experiences and engage in discussions about preserving their cultural heritage while embracing their new life in Atlanta. The workshop will offer tools for fostering a strong sense of self and belonging.
Returning stateside, she founded Planet Atlanta, the first news journal dedicated to covering the international communities within a major U.S. city. In 2006, she presented The Read Report, a documentary to help Georgia improve the effectiveness of its crisis preparedness programs.
The premier edition of Ms. Woo's first novel, The Red and Black Breed, a murder mystery set at the University of Georgia, came out in Summer, 2011, and retails exclusively through independent bookstores.
In 2021, Molly founded Planet Atlanta.org to support legislation to reduce our carbon foot print, fight the effects of global warming and to create environmentally friendly, self-sustaining cities. Ms. Woo resides in Atlanta, along with her son, Max Woo.
Molly hosted the interactive workshop, Storytelling for Youths, where youths get to share stories and their dreams for the future. There will be arts and crafts and sing-a-longs.
Selin hosted the workshop, Navigating the U.S. Healthcare System, covering topics such as finding a doctor, understanding health insurance, making appointments, and accessing affordable healthcare options. Additionally, her workshop will address cultural nuances and language barriers that may arise when seeking medical care.
Arda hosted the workshop Team Up on Your Teeth, which will focus on children's oral health. It will cover topics such as proper brushing techniques for kids, and the importance of early dental check-ups. Participants will receive guidance on finding pediatric dental providers and accessing dental care for their children, including information on the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).