Stranger Than Fiction

I’ve been in New York for nearly 3 months and I am finally starting to settle into my life here. November has been a really big month for me, and I’m very excited to share some good news with my regular readers and everyone who helped get me out here!

First things first, a few weeks ago I shared some pictures of me at a goodbye party where I finally got to meet Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon! Even though I work in the UNSG’s Executive Office, it’s still huge, and the SG spends a lot of his time traveling and giving speeches around the world, so chances of an SG sighting are often slim.

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From Left: Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the UN General Assembly; Mr. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General; Ms. Amina Mohammed, previously the SG’s Special Advisor on the SDGs; Mr. Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary General 

The reason I even attended the party was because it was a goodbye party for Amina Mohammed, who was formerly Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Advisor on the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. This means that Ms. Mohammed’s primary role was to direct the development and implementation of the SDGs and the 2015 Sustainable Agenda, of which she did a phenomenal job (see my post on my attendance at the Sustainable Development Summit here).

As I currently work within one of the Secretary-General’s Special Initiatives, my division falls under Ms. Mohammed’s management. Unfortunately, the first time I met her was to say goodbye and wish her well as she takes up her new position as Environment Minister for the Republic of Nigeria. As I said in a recent blogpost about my first impressions of New York and the United Nations, the UN does a phenomenal job of diversifying their workforce with exemplary men and women who set the standards for political leadership. Amina Mohammed is without question one of those people.

She was recently named by VOGUE, yes VOGUE Magazine, as one of the world’s 13 Female Climate Warriors, an issue I care deeply about.

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AMINA MOHAMMED

“In Africa, you don’t just think about the children that you bear,” says Amina Mohammed, special adviser on post-2015 development planning to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Every child is yours.” In Mohammed’s home state of Nigeria, she says, climate change has exacerbated poverty. “It has come together as the perfect storm to create situations that have fueled Boko Haram, the terrorists that live in my part of the country.” But, says Mohammed, “I think we’re getting nearer the light at the end of the tunnel.”

She was also regrammed by Kendall Jenner in a bid to promote awareness about #COP21 and the dangers of climate change (btw GO Kendall, for using your platform to speak on important political issues!)

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But both of these attributions are not enough to fully recognize her integrity, kindness, and good will. Listening to several high-level officials (including the SG who gave a 15-minute long speech!) speak about her passion for humanity, her dedication to the SDGs, and her endless willpower to make a difference in the lives of those who generally go unnoticed goes to show, (once again) how lucky I am to be working for an organization that values, uplifts and celebrates women, diversity, and the well-being of all.

I was truly disappointed to see Ms. Mohammed leave (though I have a hunch Nigerians will be very happy to welcome her home) because a girl like me is always on the lookout for a good role model. However oddly enough, I found that real life actually can be stranger than fiction. Just a few days ago it was announced that my own boss would become the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on the 2030 Agenda, i.e. essentially the replacement for Ms. Mohammed’s position, which ends with the 2015 MDG Agenda. And this news came with another silver lining: my contract will now be extended through June! Obviously I’m ecstatic about this, but there’s more, a lot more.

I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but it seems like when one thing falls into place, others do too. For example, my profile was recently featured on Levo League’s Front and Center Page, where they showcase their “Doers, Makers and Thinkers.” Levo League is a premier career mentoring site for millennials, and being featured gave me a lot more exposure than I expected. Within hours of the feature my inbox was full of messages, including one from a content manager at MOGUL. She saw my profile and of course, my blog, and asked if I would be interested working as a contributor for their site.

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As many of you know, I’ve been working really hard to get this blog off the ground in order to get noticed not only for my take on fashion but my writing skills too. This offer was exactly what I needed to reach a greater audience, which I can now do through MOGUL’s extended global network, and be able to write about issues I care about for my target audience. So far, I’ve only written four articles for MOGUL, but I seem to be doing something right because I’ve now been asked to be one of their Global Ambassadors.

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Being a Global Ambassador is an exciting opportunity for me to speak more directly to readers about the issues I care about, plus, I’m excited for the exposure it could bring my blog. New York has also brought me closer to a number of networking and career building opportunities that I probably wouldn’t have had access to anywhere else, and I’m extraordinarily grateful. One of which, was joining a community of bloggers here in NYC to collaborate and help each other advance in the blogging community. The network is called the Out Of Office NY, and if you’re a New York based blogger I highly encourage you to join!

I also recently joined an organization called VoteRunLead (VRL for short) and attended my first #FillTheRoom Event. VRL helps women of all ages gain career and leadership skills to help them run for political office or executive leadership positions. #FillTheRoom is in reference to the fact that men disproportionately fill more seats in elected office than women, even though we are 51% of the population. Thus, #FillTheRoom events are somewhat like leadership training sessions where VRL works with women on helping them gain the skills they need to feel comfortable taking on political office or executive leadership.

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During my training I met a variety of women from all ages and backgrounds who are exceptionally passionate about their communities and making New York a better city. I also got to meet City Council Woman Helen Rosenthal, who is so eager to help women break into politics she took time out of our busy schedule to talk to us about what it’s like running for office as the underdog.

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As we learned in the meeting, the majority of women often shy away from leadership roles and are hesitant to “nominate” themselves, i.e. decide their worthy or qualified enough to run for office. If you know a woman who you believe would make a great elected official, I urge you to nominate her to the VRL community today. VRL travels around the country meeting with women and empowering them with the skills they need, so please don’t hesitate to nominate yourself or another women to attend a VRL session (and yes, you can nominate yourself–I did!). Here is a list of VRL events, sign up to find out when they’re coming to your state.

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Finally, and I know most of you who know me well knew this was coming, I attended my first meeting to volunteer for Bernie Sanders Grassroots Campaign in New York. The Grassroots Campaign means we are not employed by Bernie Sanders but are local volunteers who would like to help out in any way. We have multiple events nearly every day that entail calling, flying, and registering voters (trust me it’s a long race to the White House). I’ve personally volunteered to help with Social Media, as I was one of the youngest people there and I think it’s much easier for me than some of the older volunteers (plus I enjoy it!). So, from now on I’ll be helping with Bernie’s New York Facebook Page and I’m working on other ideas, including *potentially* a blog, since we all know how much I love to talk about Bernie!

This is really important to me because I can tell, being a social media fanatic myself, that younger people’s idea of getting involved is sharing or re-tweeting a post. That’s a great way to spread the message, but getting elected to the highest office will take a lot more than that, and I’d really like to encourage younger people to get involved both online and off. I think the best way to encourage this behavior is to be a role model myself, so from here on out consider me part of Dumbledore’s Army–I MEAN–Team Bernie Sanders 🙂

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That’s all for now, I’m so happy to share this with you guys and have you along for the ride! Please leave any questions/comments below (or email me)–especially if you have questions about how I got involved with Levo League, MOGUL, OutOfOffice, VRL, or Team Bernie–I’m always happy to answer any questions you have.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Natasha says:

    Anissa I’m so proud of you! I knew NYC was for you.

    Sending love from Paris,

    xo Tash

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