The Founding and Development of the Centre County Chapter of the UNA-USA (1992-1994)
In 1992, a regional representative of the United Nations Association of USA contacted Henry Stiefel, a resident of the Foxdale Village Retirement Community in State College, PA to inquire about the possibility of organizing a Centre County (PA) chapter of UNA-USA. Henry Stiefel agreed to pursue the matter with two other Foxdale residents: Peg Sherman, a former non-governmental organization representative (NGO) at the United Nations and Dr. Elton Atwater, an Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the Pennsylvania State University. These four people met to make plans for an exploratory meeting.
On October 24, 1992, UN Day, Peg Sherman convened a group at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County to hear James Olson, a staff member of the national UNA-USA explain the requirements for achieving chapter status.
On April 28, 1994 the organizational meeting of the Centre County (PA) Chapter of UNA-USA was held in the Auditorium of the Foxdale Village Retirement Community.
By-laws were adopted and the following officers and board members were elected:
President: Peg Sherman
Vice-President: Nancy Desmond
Secretary: Mae Smith Bixby
Treasurer: Dean Tuttle
1994-95 Board Members: Ann Cook, Betty Grudin, Simon Duke, Henry Stiefel, Don Sherman
The Early Years (1995-2000)
These were the years of rapid increase in membership reaching 125 by the year 2000. The focus was reaching beyond Foxdale Village to the larger Centre County community. Annual and public meetings were held at the State College Friends Meeting House, the State College Women's Club, State College High School and the Penn State Conference Center. UN Day Dinners featured the following programs and speakers: (1996) Martin Rendon, staff member of UNICEF; (1997) Zarrin Caldwell, staff member of the UNA-USA Washington Office; (1998) featured the Humphrey Fellows who led table discussions; (1999) Kick-off for the Adopt-A-Minefield Campaign; (2000) Speaker was Professor Andrew Murray.
Dr. Elton Atwater chaired a panel in a series of meetings on the national UNA-USA Global Policy Studies. Centre County high school students participated in the National UNA-USA High School Essay Contest. Speakers, literature and videos provided education and information about the death toll and injuries to innocent civilians. In the year 2000, the Board sent new member Norma Keller to a "Rights of the Child" conference in Kansas City to launch a campaign to seek US ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Peg and Don Sherman attended meetings of the UNA Council of Chapters and Divisions and spoke to numerous churches and civic groups about the work of the United Nations. Dr. Syedur Rahman, Coordinator of the PSU Humphrey Fellows program was elected chapter president to succeed Peg Sherman.
Building Bridges to the Community (2001-2005)
President Barth and Adam Wehler, a president of the PSU Model UN group led a Model United Nations Workshop for PA high school students at the South Hills Business School. In 2004, Vice-President Don Sherman succeeded President Barth who resigned for personal reasons. On 3/16/04, the chapter sponsored a bus trip to New York to attend UNA Day at the United Nations. On 4/18/04, we celebrated our 10th anniversary. UNA staff member Leslie Vann addressed the meeting of chapter members and community leaders and met with the board the next day at the Ramada Inn. On 10/18/04, board member Arthur Goldschmidt moderated the first "The People Speak" forum at the State College Municipal Building, supported by a $350 grant from the national "The People Speak" organization. On 10/29/04, 130 attended the UN Day Dinner at the Ramada Inn. In 2005, the Education Committee conducted a survey of the Centre County Schools to determine to what extent they include information about the United Nations in their curriculum. The results as presented to school officials were not encouraging. We applied and received a grant from the Centre County Community Foundation ($1200) to distribute UN materials to the county schools and libraries. At the 2005 annual meeting, Norma Keller was elected chapter president.
Provided by Don Sherman, September, 2008