NEW YORK (PRWEB) December 06, 2018
On 3 December 2018, International Day for Persons with Disabilities, the United Nations Secretariat hosted a collaborative effort between the UN Department of Management (UNDM), UN Office of Human Resources Management (UN OHRM), UN Office of Information Communication Technology (UN OICT), and Kessler Foundation. This high-level event titled “Art of the Possible” featured leaders from both the disability community and the United Nations. The day presented an opportunity to focus the international community’s collective attention towards an often overlooked demographic and advance the understanding of disability issues.
The “Art of the Possible” event opened with remarks from Assistant Secretary-General Martha Helena Lopez (UN OHRM) who expressed her continued commitment and leadership towards inclusion and equal employment opportunities at the United Nations. She remarked, “Creating an inclusive workplace is one of the Secretary-General’s and the Organization’s key priorities”. ASG Lopez cited that “15% of the world’s population is disabled” and that “The United Nations should reflect and represent the world we serve”. Prior to introducing the United Nation’s Chief Information Technology Officer, Assistant Secretary-General Lopez stressed “Persons with disabilities, as agents of change, can advance the process towards inclusive and sustainable development and promote resilient societies for all”.
“Our goal is to make an environment that is inclusive and supportive, and where no one is left behind,” Mr Lopez stressed.
Following her remarks, Ms. Lopez introduced Assistant Secretary-General Atefeh Riazi (UN CITO/ UN OICT). The two UN leaders have been successfully working together on digital web accessibility initiatives for employment inclusion. “Through innovative solutions we are making our UN websites more accessible to the over 150 million yearly visitors to these sites,” Ms Riazi explained while opening her speech, before reaffirming Ms. Lopez’s comments regarding the size of the global disability community explaining, “1.5 billion people living with disabilities across the world today, among them 80% who live in developing countries”. She also reaffirmed the UN Secretariat’s commitment to further respond to the needs and aspirations of persons with disabilities, both as agents and beneficiaries of sustainable development and as part of an inclusive UN global workforce. Ms. Riazi bravely shared a very personal anecdote how disabilities have affected her family, including her father.
Before the end of her remarks, the UN CITO also referenced President of the 73th Session of the General Assembly, Her Excellency, Ms. Maria Fernanda Espinosa’s launch of the Steering Committee on Accessibility composed of the PGA, interested member states, senior representatives of the Secretariat and representatives of Civil Society Organizations. The Steering Committee will address the accessibility of the UN for persons with disabilities in a comprehensive manner, by raising awareness, identifying current barriers to accessibility, and exploring plausible solutions in a systematized approach, with a view to developing an integrated plan on accessibility.
The United States Mission to the United Nations was also in attendance, including remarks from U.S. Ambassador Kelley E. Currie, Representative of the United States of America on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Ambassador Currie thanked the UN Department of Management for putting together the “Art of the Possible”, as well as, their other efforts to advance the lives of people with disabilities. Ambassador Currie acknowledge event participants and U.S. Para Olympian, Tanner Gers. She also diagrammed how the U.S. has historically been a world leader on disability issues.
Ambassador Currie reflected on the work of President George H.W. Bush, who peacefully passed away a few days prior. “Rick Kessler reminded me this morning that the seminal legislation [Americans with Disabilities Act] would not have been possible for the person who we honored with a moment of silence, President Herbert Walker Bush, who signed this into law”. President HW Bush also served as U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN (1970-1973). Ambassador Currie encouraged the UN to continue to improve their efforts on behalf of the disability community including accessibility at UN Headquarters.
Following the remarks of U.S. and UN leaders, The Art of the Possible conversation shifted towards a candid panel of global disability leaders. The panelists included Susan Robinson, TED resident, Jim Sinocchi, Head of Disability Inclusion at JP Morgan Chase & Co, and Christina Mallon, Board Member at Open Style Lab. Xian Horn, contributor at ForbesWomen introduced panelist moderator Roger DeRose, President of Kessler Foundation and Featured Speakers.
The Featured speakers of this event was actor Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, star of NCIS: New Orleans on CBS and Fear of the Walking Dead on AMC. Mr. Mitchell, who has paraplegia, is one of few actors living with a disability actively working on the silver screen. He will shared his message “Living your dream with a disability” at UN Headquarters in NYC, which was also streamed online to UN offices across the world. Mitchell shared an insight from the disability community, noting “We are not looking for a handout, all people want is the opportunity. If I can do this, then so can you. They just have to let us in the door.”
The closing remarks for the event were delivered by Under-Secretary-General Jan Beagle who leads United Nations Department of Management, who shared the need for massive cultural change to address barriers of inclusion. The United Nations has undertaken actions ranging from technological improvements to online recruitment to structural changes in their offices and conference halls. “We are always looking to find other ways to break down the physical and mental barriers to full inclusion. You are our partners and when you tell us what you need I promise we will do whatever it takes to meet those needs,” Ms Beagle concluded.
“The Art of the Possible” event also included a technology exhibit highlighting solution sets improving the lives of the disabled. Kessler Foundation presented a live demonstration of the EksoGT, a robotic exoskeleton from Ekso Bionics one of its marquee innovative solutions. When Natalie B, a young woman with paralysis causd by traumatic spinal cord injury entered the room using the EksoGT, the audience erupted with applause and tears of joy to see her walking with little assistance. Other technologies and design solutions include the UN Department of Management, UN Accessibility Centre (DGACM), Open Style Lab and User 1st.
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About International Day of Persons with Disabilities
The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3) was proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. The observance of the day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
About Daryl “Chill” Mitchell
Daryl “Chill” Mitchell is an actor and accessibility advocate. He plays computer specialist Patton Plame on the hit show NCIS: New Orleans. He has served as a spokesman for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, and established the Daryl Mitchell Foundation to promote awareness, education and advocacy for survivors of spinal-cord injuries. In November 2001, Mitchell was sidelined by a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down; however, it never halted his forward momentum. Once he was in control of his wheelchair, Mitchell went back to work and signed on as a series regular for the role of Eli on the series “Ed,” and has taken on a number of acting roles in TV and film.
About Ambassador Kelly E. Currie
Ambassador Kelley E. Currie serves as the Representative of the United States of America on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, and Alternate Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Ambassador Currie specializes in political reform, development and humanitarian assistance, human rights, and other non-traditional security issues in the Asia-Pacific region. She previously was a Senior Fellow with the Project 2049 Institute and held senior policy positions with the Department of State and several international and non-governmental human rights and humanitarian organizations. She also served as foreign operations appropriations associate and staff director of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus for Congressman John Porter of Illinois. She holds a JD from Georgetown University Law Center and a BA CUM LAUDE from the University of Georgia's School of Public and International Affairs. She is married to Peter Currie and they have two children.
About United Nations Department of Management
The Department of Management, based out of UN Headquarters in New York, supports hundreds of United Nations duty stations, offices and locations around the globe on administrative, personnel, policy and reform matters such as: Human resources and recruitment, staff development, training and learning; procurement of goods and services; global logistics and service delivery; financial management, budget and accounts; travel and transportation processes, facilities management, and more. It strives for reliability, excellence and the highest level of client orientation in all its diverse operations.
About Under-Secretary-General Jan Beagle
Ms. Jan Beagle of New Zealand was appointed by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres as Under-Secretary-General for Management on 1 June 2017. She succeeded Yukio Takasu of Japan and took up her official duties on 10 July 2017. Ms. Beagle brings to the position more than 35 years of experience in the political, development and inter-agency work of the United Nations Organization, coupled with extensive knowledge and hands-on experience in the management of human resources, finance, budget, information technology, administrative services and operations. She has made important contributions in leading and advancing change management initiatives in the Secretariat and at the level of the United Nations system. Ms. Beagle joined the United Nations in 1979 in the Department of Political and Security Council Affairs. Since then, she has served the Organization in various capacities, including as Director of the Division for Organizational Development of the Office of Human Resources Management (1996-2005); Principal Officer in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General (1992-1996); Special Assistant to the Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (1990-1992); Senior Officer in the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Management and Special Assistant to the Controller (1989-1990); and Political Affairs Officer and subsequently Senior Political Affairs Officer (1979-1989). Prior to her appointment as USG Management, Ms. Beagle served as Deputy Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Prior to this position, she was Deputy Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (2008-2009) and Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management (2005-2007).
About United Nations Office of Human Resource Management
OHRM seeks to align the Organization’s human resources capacity with its mission and changing mandates and to ensure that the Secretariat can carry out its functions effectively and efficiently. UN OHRM works to create an organizational culture that is responsive and results oriented. The organization rewards creativity and innovation, promoting continuous and constant learning. UN OHRM works with the UN system to development of a dynamic, adaptable and global workforce with the highest levels of competence and integrity. The department is responsible for managing programmes concerning career development, staff mobility, performance management, contractual arrangements and conditions of service. The Department takes and recommends corrective measures or sanctions to improve management practice
About Assistant Secretary-General Martha Helena Lopez
Martha Helena Lopez is the head of UN Human Resources Management since 2017. Ms. Lopez brings with her a wealth of senior-level international experience in human resources management. Previously, she served as Director of Human Resources at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Prior to that, she held positions as Director of the Strategic Planning and Staffing Division, Office of Human Resources Management, Department of Management at the United Nations; Chief of the Human Resources Policy Service (2006-2009); Chief of the Staff Development Service (2004-2007) at the United Nations; UNDP as Chief of the Policy Unit, Office of Human Resources, Bureau of Management (2001-2004); United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Division of Human Resources, as Human Resources Officer, Policy (1997-2001), and Human Resources Officer (1994-1997); National staff member in Colombia for UNICEF (1989-1994) and the World Food Programme (WFP) (1984-1989).
About United Nations Office of Information and Communications Technology
OICT is responsible for defining strategic direction for ICT to the Secretariat. It provides oversight of ICT programmes, budgets and decision-making to ensure alignment with the Secretariat’s overall ICT strategy. The team consists of more than 300 people operating global data centers and coordinating services provided by more than 4,000 people in UN offices worldwide. The Office is headquartered in
New York and sits within the Department of Management.
About Assistant Secretary-General Atefeh Riazi
Afeteh Riazi was appointed UN CITO in May 2013. Providing strong central leadership, the Chief Information Technology Officer is the most senior manager responsible for the overall direction and performance of information and communications activities in the United Nations. Ms. Riazi has also served as Chief Information Officer of New York City Housing Authority from 2009-2013, Chief Information Officer of New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority (implemented the MetroCard) for 16 years, and as Acting General Manager New York City Housing Authority.
About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in
rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including
employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand
opportunities for employment for people with disabilities.
About Rodger DeRose
Rodger L. DeRose is President and Chief Executive Officer of Kessler Foundation. DeRose, the Board of Trustees, and management make strategic decisions regarding the direction of the Foundation’s internationally renowned disability research and grant making program. DeRose instituted processes to improve the workplace environment so employees can work more effectively to change the lives of people with disabilities. As a result of these efforts, Kessler Foundation has been repeatedly named one of the Best Places to Work in New Jersey by NJBIZ and one of the Best U.S. Nonprofit Organizations to Work for by The Nonprofit Times and Best Companies Group.