Putting People First at #UNGA

September 22, 2016 – New York City, NY: “Putting People First: Community-led Development” featured leaders from the UN and Civil Civil Society describing the growing momentum for community-led development as the best pathway to achieving the integrated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The event was hosted by The Movement for Community-led Development during the week of the United Nations General Assembly.

[youtube https://youtu.be/krHijkbL74o]

The focus of this panel and interactive discussion was to share the progress being made in the global expansion of community-led development. The large-scale initiatives to expand it were discussed, and the panelists shared their experiences to empower attendees to champion their own efforts in community-led development.

[youtube https://youtu.be/HfBOZHMv9uU]
Above: A short video by Catholic Relief Services on empowering communities to prepare for disaster response.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fF80i4tlclA]
Above: The full panel discussion. Links to each speaker’s first and second statements are listed under their bios.


asa-skogstrom_051c_f-1-169x240Åsa Skogström Feldt, President and CEO, The Hunger Project

Åsa joined the Global Office in New York as President and CEO of The Hunger Project in September 2014. As Country Director of The Hunger Project in Sweden from 2004-2012, Åsa succeeded in growing the organization and significantly increasing revenue and public awareness, particularly through partnerships with entrepreneurs and businesses.

She also has experience founding and building networks of women leaders both in Sweden and internationally. At IKEA, which she joined in 2012, Åsa established a new initiative through which IKEA supports social enterprises that are within their value chains through business partnerships. Prior to this, she has a strong background in international communications and marketing.


Jennifer Poidatz

Jennifer Poidatz, VP for Humanitarian Response, Catholic Relief Services

Leading a global team of over 35 emergency technical advisors and response managers, Jennifer ensures timely support to CRS country programs and local partners responding to relief and recovery needs of disaster affected populations. Capacity building for CRS staff and partners in emergency preparedness and response is also a priority for Jennifer and her team. She has served as a Peace Corps volunteer, a research assistant with the United Nations University Food and Nutrition Program, and as a Country Representative in many different countries for CRS, including Burundi, Angola, Sri Lanka, India, Democratic Republic of the Congo, also making great contributions in Ghana, Rwanda, Haiti, and Syria. The majority of her work with CRS has centered around emergency response and development.

See Jennifer’s first response here.

See Jennifer’s second response here.

boarddirectors_amycoughenourbetancourtAmy Coughenour, President and Chief Operating Officer, NCBA/CLUSA

Amy has developed and led NGOs for 23 years in domestic and international development. Prior to joining NCBA CLUSA, Mrs. Coughenour Betancourt served for nine years as the Deputy Director of the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), and as the Deputy Director of the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) from 1999-2002, and as a CSIS Adjunct Fellow from 2002-2010. From 1994-1999, she was Director of the Washington office of the Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD). She serves on the boards of the Overseas Cooperative Development Council and International Cooperative Alliance-Americas Region. Coughenour holds an M.A. in International Policy Studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

See Amy’s first response here.

See Amy’s second response here.


Saket Mani, (@SaketMANI), Children & Youth Representative, Global Youth Advocate, United Nations

Saket is a global youth activist, community mobilizer & campaign strategist. He is focused on driving advocacy & policy on sustainability, youth & human rights, and gender justice. Saket uses his interpersonal skills and experience around collective action to engage citizens, from grassroots to government. Mindful of the need for inclusive campaigning & advocacy, Saket’s outreach encompasses change makers stemming from rural, semi urban, and urban areas. A committed champion for gender rights, Saket currently serves as the Youth Planet 50/50 Champion for Gender Equality to support UN Women’s work on gender equality and women’s empowerment through the Office of the UN Assistant Secretary-General & Deputy Executive Director for UN Women. Highlighting the power of volunteerism through cycling rallies, musical performances, advocacy workshops and other creative offline & online tools, Saket mobilized 121,000+ people to commit & pledge support for ‘HeForShe’, the UN Women’s Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality and ‘Planet 50-50 – Step It Up for Gender Equality’. In addition to his work on gender rights, Saket is a passionate advocate for citizen engagement and serves as a Global Youth Advocate for the UN Secretary General’s My World 2015 Global Citizen Survey, which mobilized close to 7 million youth, focusing on youth perspectives in developing the Sustainable Development Agenda (SDGs). 

See Saket’s first response here.

See Saket’s second response here.

noraNora O’Connell, Associate Vice President, Public Policy and Advocacy, Save The Children

Nora is responsible for leading Save The Children’s advocacy work concerning international development issues, including child survival, aid effectiveness, and ensuring the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals. She has worked on projects with UNGA, Camp David G8, and Child Survival Call to Action.

Her experience prior to Save The Children includes serving as the Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs for Women Thrive, as a campaign manager for Senator Pingree, and running the Women and the Economy program for the Center for Policy Alternatives to push a progressive policy agenda. She has been a spokesperson for various issues, including child welfare, at the local and national levels. She is a University of California at Berkeley graduate and now lives in DC.

See Nora’s first response here.

See Nora’s second response here.

simona marinescu

Simona Marinescu, Title Director, Development Impact Group, United National Development Programme 

Simona has been working with UNDP measuring development impact globally and ensuring high performance of UNDP around the world for more empowered people and resilient nations.  She was the Director of Istanbul Center for Private Sector in Development (IICPD), UNDP from 2012-2014.  In partnership with the private sector globally, business models were designed and contributed to green growth and sustainable human development.  IICPSD is the UNDP global center for growing inclusive markets that creates economic opportunities through innovative business solutions.  Simona was the Senior Economist, Programme Director for Economic Reforms where she managed a multi-UN agency, USD 33 million program portfolio for economic diversification in Iraq, including corporatization of SOEs, SME development, investment mapping and promotion for non-oil FDI, land management, taxation and social dialog. She has also worked with USAID and the World Bank in economic governance and social protection. Simona holds an MBA in International Relations and a PhD inEconomics from the Academy of Economic Studies ASE Bucharest, a diploma in Leadership from Harvard University and a certificate in Modern Labor Market Administration from Cyprus International Institute of Management.

See Simona’s first response here.

See Simona’s second response here.

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