Nationality

United States

Education

Master’s Degree in Public Administration, Concordia University, Canada

Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, Concordia University, Canada

Languages

English, French

Working for the United Nations seemed to be my fate; it was in my blood. Both of my parents served in the United Nations system. My mother worked for the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and my father served in Jerusalem as a security guard for the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization that was established there in 1948. As a child, I was often provided with real-life examples of what it meant to be an international civil servant as well as the lifestyle that went along with it. You could say a seed was planted, and that is why I have a passion for the work I do today.

Currently, I am in charge of all logistic operations for UNAMI. There are two parts to a peacekeeping mission: the theory and the practice. The involvement of many players is a necessity; but because of this, things can get chaotic and confusing if a sense of order is not established. This is where I come in - logistics is the art of making the impossible possible.

I work on the practical side of the mission; I oversee a team of about 200 staff; both national and international. Although operating in a volatile environment can be challenging at times, I consider this to be a highly rewarding position. My number one priority is to help United Nations personnel in the field by empowering them in a practical way to help them achieve their goals - ultimately, to contribute to the restoration and preservation of peace. I make sure staff members are provided with the right equipment to enable them to work efficiently. For example, some mission personnel may obviously need to wear protective gear, such as body armour and a helmet. I oversee everything from ensuring that staff members have laptops and telephones to confirming that vehicles and generators are running efficiently.

It has always been in my nature to provide practical help where needed, whether in an academic or vocational setting. Throughout university, I was heavily involved with student politics, hoping to make a difference. I then developed an interest in logistical operations and administration and also interned with the Ministry of Education in Quebec. Soon after, I was hired as a marketing representative with a huge transnational operation.

Early on in my career as a marketing representative, I realized I wanted to exchange a life of predictability and comfort for work with a larger cause. I read a lot about the politics and culture of Africa while I was at university as well as during my early professional career. So much so, that I realized my true passion was working overseas. I ended up walking away from a 40-hour a week job and comfortable lifestyle to volunteer with World University Services of Canada in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. I exchanged a $75,000 yearly salary for $600 a monthly. It was the single most important decision of my life, and I never looked back. I did everything from creating drip irrigation gardens to running a leather workshop with local people. I began to learn that I worked most efficiently in a support role, rather than in an advocacy or political role. I enjoyed making things happen, getting the job done. This was when I started to consider myself as a logistician - a problem solver.

In 1991, while working and living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with CARE Australia, I was hired to work for the United Nations. I met several staff members who were setting up the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) mission. I saw this as an opportunity to join the Organization, and I was eventually hired to be a Finance Officer for the Office of the Economic Advisor. It was my first taste of what it meant to be a part of a United Nations Peacekeeping Mission. While the environment was turbulent and, at times, dangerous, I felt that an opportunity to serve the world was far more important than leading a comfortable lifestyle. Working in Phnom Penh proved to be a life-changing experience for me, and led me to where I am today at the United Nations.

For those who dream of working for the United Nations: know it is a sacrifice, but a sacrifice that is well worth it. It is not unheard of to be living inside of a tent without any running water or electricity. You need to know how to adapt. Everyone has to sacrifice something before they can begin working for the Organization – whether it is living in rugged terrain or catching malaria. The rewards you reap, however, will more than compensate for the conditions. Joining the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Cambodia was one of the best decisions I ever made for myself.

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