Report on the Planning and Conduct of the United Nations Day – 5 October 2017
UNA USA Gainesville, Florida Chapter
1. Planning for the Chapter’s 2017 United Nations Day event began in the Spring, with preparations beginning in earnest in mid-August for the event on 5 October. For various reasons, the event was held nearly three weeks earlier than the official 24 October commemoration date – offering both challenges and opportunities.
2. I was honoured to chair the UN Day Planning Committee, which comprised Taraneh Darabi, Masuma Downie, Chris Maxfield, Lisa Renner, and Janet Tew. All Committee members contributed to the development and conduct of the program. To this end, the Planning Committee organized the following division of labour: Taraneh Darabi (outreach to speakers; advice and guidance to the Chair; development of the Program theme and concepts; representation at City and County Proclamation readings); Masuma Downie (arrangements for the “Jewelry from around the World” Bazaar; coordination with the Gainesville Woman’s Club, including set up and preparation of morning refreshments; expert advice and guidance to the Chair; and, taking over from Janet Tew, final arrangements with the caterer); Chris Maxfield (overall advice; coordination of the audio-visual program content; development and review of the feedback questionnaire; and, last minute speaker at the event); Lisa Renner (outreach and coordination of sponsorships, exhibitors and participant and invitation responses; overall advice); Janet Tew (engagement of the caterer (Culinary Institute of Eastside High; overall advice); and Donna Chiurazzi-Maxfield (overall leadership of the Planning Committee, with particular work on the development, coordination and printing of the Program; drafting, with Steve Kalishman and Chris Maxfield, of the Gainesville Sun Article “UN goals can apply to Gainesville community”; coordination with UN Day Chair, preparation of the UN photo presentation; preparation of invitations to guests; and, outreach to Oak Hall Model UN).
3. A number of Board members offered significant contributions to the effort, in particular: Paul Doughty (donation of Polly Doughty’s jewelry and proceeds for the “Jewelry from around the World” Bazaar); Vilma Fuentes (flyer design); Ann Girardin (Membership Desk, Flags; participation in City Commission Proclamation reading; and general support); Jacob U. Gordon (Greeter and general support); Steve Kalishman (engagement of keynote speaker, Mayor Lauren Poe, and UN Day Chair Dr. Leonardo Villalón; outreach to Model UN Clubs at the University of Florida; issuance of invitations; and, lead the delegation at the City Proclamation reading; co-authorship of Gainesville Sun article “UN goals can apply to Gainesville community”; and, general support); Pushpa Kalra (Registration Desk, Chapter Treasury Support and general support); Barbara McDade Gordon (Registration Desk and general support); Brian Mitchell (drafting, arrangements for and participation in the reading of the City and County Proclamations; preparation of “Do you know” flyer and Chapter Newsletter; and last minute speaker at the event); David Price (outreach to Model UN Clubs at Santa Fe and Eastside High, and sponsorship of Eastside High students); Anita Spring (lovely tribute to Richard Downie and Polly Doughty); and Bill Whitney (coordination with Lanny Smith and provision/conduct of audio-visual program and sound system). Sharon Faris managed publicity, including coordination with TV20 and the Gainesville Sun, and distribution of flyers. Sue Blythe coordinated and Lanny Smith contributed his musical performance. Board members contributed to the set up of the event site on 4 October and to clean up on 5 October.
4. The Gainesville Woman’s Club proved again to be an excellent and accommodating venue. The competition of other events scheduled around the actual UN Day was one of the reasons for scheduling the event so early this year. The venue would be available on Thursday, 25 October 2018.
Recommendation 1: Tentatively book the Gainesville Woman’s Club now for the 2018 event.
5. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Lisa Renner, the Chapter enjoyed the support of 32 Co-Sponsors, of whom 5 were individual Co-Sponsors (see Addendum 1) and 16 Exhibitors (see Addendum 2), despite the shorter lead time and the disruption caused by of Hurricane Irma. Exhibits were well-presented and staffed. Feedback from participants indicates that additional time could have been allotted for visits to the exhibits; this should be factored into the planning of next year’s event.
Recommendation 2: Work more time into the program for participants to visit with Exhibitors; consider allotting a few minutes in the program for Exhibitors to speak about the work of their organizations or publish an inset with a few lines about the work of each organization.
6. By all accounts, participants enjoyed the luncheon provided by the Culinary Institute of Eastside High. Also, the Board’s decision to offer a $12.00 student rate for lunch and lunch at the Chapter’s expense for up to five Model UN Club members for each school appeared to greatly facilitate the participation of Model UN Club members and UF students, and enhance their experience. A number of participants expressed concern about the use of Styrofoam cups, plastic bottles, and the lack of recycling bins.
Recommendation 3: Again engage the Culinary Institute of Eastside High next year to provide lunch; maintain the practice of offering a student rate for lunch and financing the lunch of up to five Model UN Club members; and, address the concerns about the use of Styrofoam cups and recycling water bottles.
7. Some 30 invitations were sent to city, county, state and federal officials. Four respondents accepted the invitation and three were able to attend. Preparing the invitations presented certain challenges, as there were no available records of prior invitees and their addresses; nor was there a Chapter letterhead.
Recommendation 4: maintain a central Chapter repository of invitees to Chapter events and their addresses, building on the list developed for the 2017 UN Day event; design/print and have an electronic version of Chapter letterhead to be used for official communications.
8. By virtually all accounts and as reflected in the feedback questionnaire, this year’s Program was well-received by participants. The participation of Model UN Club members and the Young Professional Panel opened possibilities for an interesting and vibrant discussion. By and large, all presenters were found to raise relevant, interesting and engaging issues. However, a number of participants found the Program to be long without a break, and overly packed. They suggested allotting more time to browse the “Jewelry from around the World” Bazaar and the Exhibitors. The video presentation was challenged by sound difficulties and was not well-received by participants; consideration of a similar activity should factor in measures to address the sound system challenges and perhaps run the videos while participants are having lunch. The musical program also got mixed reviews.
Recommendation 5: ensure that feedback from this year’s event is factored into planning the Program in 2018; in particular, maintain the link between the work of the UN and the greater Gainesville Community, especially the Model UN Clubs and ensure that the Program reflects the work of the United Nations and the key issues being addressed by the Organization and the international community.
Event publicity and Chapter outreach:
9. Despite the challenges of Hurricane Irma, very short lead time and other factors, Sharon Faris was able to publicize the event through the placement of flyers and engagement of local media. The placement of the article in the Gainesville Sun and the TV20 spot gave good coverage. Earlier planning of the 2018 event with a greater lead time, should address some of these challenges. Some initial confusion with the information placed on the Chapter website was resolved early, although a number of changes to the Program created some confusion. Difficulty with the PayPal set up also needed to be resolved. One questionnaire respondent suggested that greater efforts could be made to engage social media, through perhaps opening a Facebook event page. Early in the planning process, the Chapter Board should brainstorm means of expanding outreach to the broader Gainesville Community and Alachua City (as recommended by another participant) for the purposes of both increasing the number of Exhibitors and Sponsors, as well as engaging students, business partners and other participants. Board members might brainstorm on how to improve its social media profile to engage the broader Gainesville Community and inform on the Chapter’s work. Greater efforts could also be made to engage Model UN Clubs directly in the work of the Chapter.
Recommendation 6: allow more lead time to publicize events, and increase outreach to participants, sponsors and exhibitors; take greater advantage of social media to publicize UN Day and other Chapter events, and to increase awareness of the Chapter’s activities and encourage new members; and, more systematically engage Model UN Clubs in the Chapter’s work.
10. To capture the feedback of participants, Chris Maxfield developed a questionnaire that was printed and placed at each table. Of the approximate 100 participants, 22 completed the questionnaire (an approximate 22 % return). An analysis of the responses – both multiple choice and open-ended questions – is attached at Addendum 3. Participant reactions to the Program, lunch and issues covered were quite favourable.
Recommendation 7: use the feedback from the 2017 UN Day event in the planning of future events.
11. Planning the UN Day event under fairly tight time constraints placed considerable demands on the time and efforts of the Planning Committee. The lack of formal Chapter records added to these challenges. As an example, neither the Chapter nor Renaissance Printing had easily available records of the production of prior year Programs, flyers, invitation letters/addresses. Thanks to the institutional memory of Masuma, Lisa, Taraneh, and Janet, we were able to piece things together and get everything done. But, it would be helpful to maintain a central repository of all of the planning and event documentation. To this end, I have ensured that the final, sealed City and County Proclamations for 2017 are on record with the Chapter Secretary. For this purpose, I have also decided to write this formal report for the record.
Recommendation 6: create and maintain a central repository of planning documents and the questionnaire/analysis for UN Day 2017; and, send formal thank you notes to the presenters, the Gainesville Woman’s Club, “Earthman” Lanny Smith and the Culinary Institute of Eastside High.
12. In closing, I offer my sincere appreciation to the members of the Planning Committee, Steve Kalishman and all the members of the Chapter Board of Directors for their support and active engagement in making the 2017 UN Day celebration a success. It has been a privilege to lead this effort.
Chair, UN Day 2017 Planning Committee
11 October 2017
- Published: 13 October 2017 13 October 2017