Norma Keller
    The Centre County United Nations Association is pleased to announce that our Vice President, Norma Keller, will be awarded the 2015 Arnold Goodman Lifetime Achievement Award at the Annual UNA-USA meeting in Washington D.C. on June 7th.    This national award honors an outstanding leader from among UNA-USA Chapters.  The awardee is selected by the UNA USA Council of Chapters and Regions Steering Committee (CCR-SC).

Below is the nominating letter sent by UNACC president Robert Lumley-Sapanski.

May 8, 2015

Arnold Goldman Award Selection Committee,

I am proud to nominate Norma Keller for this prestigious award. Her dedication to the United Nations Association and what she has accomplished over her sixteen years at the local and national level are truly remarkable. I hope to adequately depict Norma and her impact on behalf of the UNA below.

Norma was asked to join the chapter in 2000. The chapter began in 1994 at Foxdale Village, our local Quaker retirement community and of a 16 member board, only two were non-residents. They sought Norma due to her many connections to the community, looking to grow our chapter beyond their walls especially as many of them were in their 80’s and 90’s. 

In 2000, Norma was sent to Kansas City to receive training on the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, an issue she had great passion for. Upon her return, she initiated a 4 year program of education and advocacy on this. She organized 4-week study groups three times a year working with 15 civic and faith-based groups, all of whom took formal action to ratify the CRC within their own organizations, churches, etc. She developed a formal process for organizations to ratify the CRC. To further support this effort, she gathered petitions with over 3,000 signatures to be viewed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, fostered a 1000 letter writing campaign to senators and made presentation in many Penn State University, Lock Haven University and Juniata College classes. Her inspiration lead to a film being made in a 4th grade class at a local elementary school, acted out by the children. She put her heart and life into this effort.

Two years later, Norma attended the UN’s Special Session on Children as one of only three UNA-USA representatives from across the country invited to attend. She established connections with others dedicated to moving the US towards ratification and joined the US Committee on Ratifying the CRC, headed up by Marty Shear. She traveled to numerous meetings in Washington and Baltimore to help promote national action in support of ratification.

From 2004 to 2008 she served as President of our UNA board and continued in other leadership positions since then including serving as Vice-President currently (thank goodness!)  She had an immediate effect on growing our chapter into the greater Centre County community and after three years our chapter had one Foxdale representative and fifteen community leaders.  Two Foxdale members told her they felt comfortable leaving the board as they knew that now our chapter would live on beyond them, a powerful testament to Norma’s influence. After this transition, she was asked by other UNA chapters who were facing the same situation to assist them in infusing their chapter into their greater communities.

She wrote and received a $1000 grant from the national UNA office to establish a local collaboration in 2005. She used a Council of Organizations membership list to invite all local affiliates of the national members to a luncheon and 22 local affiliates were represented. There was a buzz in the room when the groups learned what each other was doing in support of the United Nations. In this large rural, somewhat conservative area, this information was inspirational and uniting. This luncheon lead to Norma starting the Centre County UNA Council of Organizations which now in its 9th year has 17 members.

The COO Committee meets 5 times annually and focuses on a successful UN Day celebration, inviting all their members, organizing the event and carrying out various activities in support of that day. Their major contribution is selecting and heading up a “Make a Difference Project”. Each year the Council selects a fundraising project that is in sync with the UN Day speaker’s presentation. In 9 years, Norma’s efforts have led to more than $13,000 being raised for organizations/initiative including: Shot@Life, Kiva, Friends of the UNFPA, Solar Box Cookers for refugee camps in Chad and  DR Congo, water purification systems,  the Alan Kerins Project, the Stop Hunger Watch and others. Her connections have also worked to bring us some inspirational and high profile speakers such as Gillian Sorenson and Meg Gardinier.

Norma’s effort with our COO came to the attention of the national office and a national newsletter article was written that recommended other chapters across the nation consider establishing local COOs. She served as a consultant and supporter for any chapter that responded to the article.

In 2009 Norma was elected to the national Council of Organizations Executive Committee. She chaired the committee that shared the benefits of having local COOs and worked with over 20 chapters across the country in helping them establish area COOs.  She chaired a committee that held monthly conference calls for 6 years to further the development of Area COOS. She also ran training sessions at annual UNA meetings as well as in Kansas City in support of this effort. She spent a huge amount of time on something she was committed to making succeed.

Our annual UN Day dinners are a huge success due to Norma being Norma. She works with the COO members and our chapter supporters to obtain 25 scholarships so international students at Penn State may attend our event. She arranges to have flags from each nation to adorn the walls to make the students feel welcome. Last year we had over 40 countries represented! She also has excellent relations with our local legislators and there are always some in attendance who offer resolutions in support of our work.  She works tirelessly to encourage attendance and makes it a wonderful, enlightening and enjoyable evening. 

She has been a champion of environmental stewardship as well and through her efforts we purchased devices to monitor electrical use that were donated to our local boroughs, helped obtain a grant to supply age appropriate books on environmental issues to all the county public schools and libraries, arranged for the donation of reusable shopping bags for our UN dinner attendees to reduce plastic bag pollution and provided community sessions on reducing our carbon footprint.

Children remain a major focus of Norma’s efforts both in her professional life as the longtime director of our county Child and Youth Service bureau , and in  her volunteer efforts  with the Child Welfare League, Altrusa, Global Connections and others, as well as through our UNA efforts where she is very committed to the support of our local Model UN clubs, Kid Day, etc.  She started an annual poster contest focused on the theme at our dinner to which the winning high schools students attend free of charge. She built relations with the Rotary Club and encourages the attendance of our county’s foreign exchange high school students at our dinner. . She is keenly aware that our children are our future and is committed to outreach opportunities focused on students including the Penn State student community.

Norma is an exceptional human being and does all this work with no expectation of recognition for her contributions. Our chapter would not exist and be as healthy had she not gotten involved. I can think of no better recipient to represent the legacy of Arnold Goodman than Norma Keller.

Thanks for this opportunity to recognize this outstanding woman.

Robert Lumley-Sapanski

Please join us in congratulating Norma on her award!