The Board of Trustees is responsible for the fulfillment of the mission of UNIS and for policies relating to the conduct and management of the affairs of the school. The Board is appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and is composed of 18 members.
Additional information on the work of the Board of Trustees is available for the UNIS community on the Board of Trustees Information Page.
See below for information on the current Board of Trustees members. UNIS also recognizes special members of the community as Honorary Trustees.
To contact the UNIS Board of Trustees please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
UNIS Board Members 2018 - 2019
- Catherine Pollard - Board Chair
- Joan McDonald -Special Representative of the Secretary-General
- Franck Barrat - Vice-Chair
- Anita Batisti - Academic Policy Chair
- Maria-Luisa Chavez
- Maaike de Langen
- Pierre Alexandre De Looz - Buildings, Grounds, and Security Chair
- Lena Dissin - Secretary, Health & Safety Co-Chair
- Felipe Dorregaray
- Ambassador Burhan Gafoor
- Caryn Groce - Vice-Chair, Advancement Chair
- Alla Liberman - Treasurer
- Jean-Victor Nkolo
- Roberto Pagan
- Manu Rana - Strategic Planning Chair
- Udai Tambar
- Yvonne Tsang - Health & Safety Co-Chair
- Santiago Villalpando - Vice-Chair
Ms. Catherine Pollard assumed office as Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management on 1 December 2015. She was appointed to this position by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 27 November 2015. Previously, Ms. Pollard has served as Assistant Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management since September 2014.
On 16 August 2017, the Secretary-General appointed Ms. Pollard as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations International School. She was also appointed on 17 December 2015 by the Secretary-General as the Coordinator for Multilingualism in the United Nations Secretariat
Before joining the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM), she was Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management since 2008. While in that position, she represented the Secretary-General on human resource management issues, providing advice on wide-ranging strategies and policies. She has led human resources reform initiatives and the introduction of new policies during her tenure including as Co-Chair of the Chief Executive Board/Human Resources Network for the United Nations common system.
Prior to joining the Office of Human Resources Management, Ms. Pollard was Chief of Staff in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and before that, the Director of the Peacekeeping Finance Division in the Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts.
Ms. Pollard’s career in the United Nations began in 1989 when she worked with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as the Chief of National Execution Projects. In 1993, she joined the Department for Peacekeeping Operations; she then worked as Chief Budget Officer for the United Nations Operations in Yugoslavia and Central Headquarters. Thereafter, she served as Chief of the Budget and Finance Section of the United Nations Volunteers.
Ms. Pollard brings a proven track record of valuable experience in conference management, financial, human resource and general administrative management. During her 28 years with the United Nations, she acquired a solid foundation of the United Nations culture, organizational and operational structures, global initiatives and reform efforts in accordance with the Secretary-General’s priorities and strategies. In each of her assignments at senior levels, she has helped to effect real improvements in management practices, moving away from the status quo.
Born in 1960, Ms. Pollard holds a Master’s degree in accounting from the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica.
Joan McDonald has over 35 years experience working in the United Nations in New York, Geneva, Vienna and Namibia. She has managed diverse operations from Facilities Management, including renovation of the Secretary-General’s residence and the UN Headquarters complex to Information Technology System Development and Management, Human Resources, Procurement, Travel, Archives, Commercial Management, Budget & Finance, Business Continuity and Change Management.
She was appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations International School on 1 October 2017. She was previously a Member of the UNIS Board of Trustees and served on the Executive Committee, Strategic Planning, Buildings & Grounds, and Development Committees and was Secretary of the Board.
Joan is a UK national. She worked in Edinburgh and London before joining the United Nations in Geneva. She has one son who graduated from UNIS in 2009. She is on the Governing Board of the Association of Former International Civil Servants (AFICS/NY).
Franck Barrat is a Senior Scientist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan and a Professor of Immunology and Microbiology at the Weill Cornell Medical College of the Cornell University. Prior to moving to New York, Mr. Barrat worked for 15 years in the biotechnology industry conducting research focusing on autoimmune diseases, first at the DNAX Research Institute, then at Dynavax Technologies in California, and recently as a Distinguished Scientist at Hoffmann-La Roche in New Jersey. He holds multiple patents and his work has led to many scientific publications and the discovery of new drugs which are currently under clinical development.
Mr. Barrat is also a former representative at the Assembly for French Expatriates (AFE) where he was elected in 2009 and served for 5 years as a member of the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs. This committee holds hearings with the various stakeholders of the Agency for French Education Abroad, a French government agency that manages the network of over 400 French schools in the world but also interacts with legislative members (Sénateurs, Députées) to push for new legislations related to education and cultural issues. The main objective of this assembly is to make recommendations on critical issues faced by the schools such as funding, large construction projects and relationship between the schools with local governments.
Mr. Barrat grew up in the south of France and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife Vanessa 15 years ago. He received his Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Paris conducting his research at the Necker Children’s Hospital. They live in Manhattan and have three children, two of them students in the Middle School and Tutorial House at UNIS.
During the course of her career, Dr. Batisti has served as an administrator, educator and development specialist for New York City Community School Districts, The New York City Department of Education, Fordham University, Pace University, New York University, The United States Department of Education, and The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and not-for-profit organizations. She is an experienced, knowledgeable educator, fundraiser and administrator who understands the complexities and subtleties of institutions of higher education, as well as both urban and suburban school systems, government agencies and empowered networks. She has raised over $280 million from public and private sources. Dr. Anita Vazquez Batisti is currently the Associate Dean and founding Director of the Center for Educational Partnerships at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education established in 2006. The Center serves over 150 schools, 2,200 K-12 teachers, 150 administrators and 50,000 students throughout New York City, Westchester County and Long Island, with programs and services that are researched based.
Since 2006, she has secured over $93 million for the Graduate School of Education at Fordham University for the establishment of three major technical assistance centers, Bronx BETAC – Bilingual/Educational Technical Assistance Center, LHV BETAC – Lower Hudson Valley Bilingual/Educational Technical Assistance Center, RBERN- Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network, Community Schools and a Partnership Support Organization Network (Fordham & NYCDOE), leadership development grants and vendor contracts for teacher professional development in the curriculum areas of mathematics, literacy, English Language Learners (ELL) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Pre-K. For her efforts, Dr. Batisti was awarded the “Fordham President’s Meritorious Service Award”, November 2016 and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., issued a proclamation recognizing her work, and also declared November 16, 2016 to be “The Center for Educational Partnerships Day” in the Bronx.
Dr. Batisti has over 21 years higher education administrative experience (Fordham University – GSE and New York University – Metropolitan Center for Urban Education), as well as over 25 years as an adjunct associate professor at Fordham GSE. Her career includes positions as Director of Funded Programs – Community School District 2 Manhattan, as well as Director of Development – Jazzmobile, Inc. She began her career as an elementary school teacher in Community School District 2 – PS 130 Manhattan, Chinatown.
During her career, Dr. Batisti has conducted numerous presentations on Fundraising, Leadership, Bilingual/Bicultural Education, and Technology in schools, both nationally and internationally.
Dr. Batisti earned her Ph.D. from Fordham University Graduate School of Education in Administration, Policy and Urban Education. She is a native New Yorker born and raised on Manhattan’s Upper East Side where she currently resides.
Ms. Maria-Luisa Chávez, retired from the United Nations in 2013, after a thirty-two year career ranging from a Political Affairs Officer to Chief of Non-Governmental Organizations Relations.
During her thirty two year career at the United Nations she has held several senior Public Information positions, including Director of UN Information Centre for Greece, Cyprus and Israel, Chief of the Educational Outreach Section, and Chief of the Non-Governmental Organizations Section in the Department of Public Information (DPI), which was her last post prior to retirement, acting as the liaison between the United Nations and some 1,300 NGOs.
Ms. Chávez comes from a multicultural family, and also as a second-generation UNer, she was raised in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Greece, Jordan, Kashmir, Lebanon, India, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, and the United States.
Ms. Chávez received her Master in International Affairs at Columbia University, and completed her BA at Marymount College in New York, as well other studies at the Sorbonne University in Paris and the Université Catholique de l’Ouest in Angers, France.
Throughout her career and as a retiree, Ms. Chávez, has promoted and strengthened partnerships with civil society, and empowered youth to effectively use their voices in advocacy, and to be the voice of change.
Ms. Chavez is presently a member of the Advisory Board of a new organization HIGGS based in Athens, Greece promoting capacity-building for NGOs, and advisor to 2 NGOs, the Smile of the Child in Greece and the Fundación Cultural Carol Baur in Mexico (NGO Representative at the UN) in outreaching youth of civil society.
Ms. Chavez is fluent in English, Spanish, French, and Italian and has good knowledge of Greek.
Maaike de Langen is currently Head of Research for the Task Force on Justice, which is part of the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, at NYU’s Centre for International Cooperation. The Pathfinders are a group of Member States, International Organizations, and other partners, working to implement Agenda2030 and deliver on SDG16.
Maaike has over fifteen years of experience leading national and international programs and teams in the areas of Governance, Access to Justice and Legal Empowerment. She has worked in the Netherlands, Mali, Chad and New York.
She has a long-standing commitment to the United Nations, having worked for UNDP from 2003-2009, both in the Chad country office and in headquarters. She was also vice-president of the Netherlands United Nations Association (NVVN) and president of the Dutch United Nations Student Association in Utrecht.
She moved back to New York in 2017 and lives in Manhattan with her husband and their two daughters, who are both in Middle School.
Pierre Alexandre de Looz is an educator, writer and architect. Prior to starting an independent design practice, Mr. de Looz was project lead at various local firms following apprenticeships with Robert AM Stern, New York, and Zaha Hadid Architects, London. He currently focuses on small-scale residential renovation.
Mr. de Looz teaches in the Master’s program in Design Research, Writing and Criticism at SVA and is visiting Professor in Humanities and Media Studies at Pratt Institute with multidisciplinary appointments in Architecture and Industrial Design. As a writer Mr. de Looz has reported on art and design for a wide range of publications such as The New York Times and V Magazine. He is contributing editor at Berlin-based 032c Magazine and in 2006 co-founded semiannual architecture magazine PIN-UP, where he continues as editor-at-large.Born in France and raised in New York, Mr. de Looz is a 1993 IB diploma graduate of the United Nations International School. He received his B.A. in Comparative Literature from Yale University and a Master’s in Architecture from Columbia University. He works and lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Lena Dissin spent a life-long career working in the United Nations, where her experience spanned several departments, including the Secretary-General’s Office under Kofi Annan, the Department of Public Information and the Department of Management. Her professional expertise in the Organization centered on communications, administration and management reform, and internal dispute resolution, with her most recent position being Chief of Office of Ombudsman and Mediation Services, providing assistance to UN staff around the world in resolving workplace issues.
A Swedish citizen, Lena grew up in Sweden, the United States, France, Germany and Brazil, setting the foundation of an international outlook. Lena was a UNIS parent from 1995 to 2009, with both her children having attended the school from Kindergarten through Tut House. She is married to Mark Dissin, President and Owner of Pre-Sliced Productions, specializing in food television. After having retired from the UN in July 2016, Lena splits her time between homes in Manhattan and Hudson, New York.
Felipe Dorregaray is a Managing Director, the Chief Financial Officer, the Chief Compliance Officer, and a senior member of the investments team at Metropolitan Real Estate Equity Management, LLC. Prior to joining Metropolitan Real Estate, Mr. Dorregaray served as a Vice President at D. Sherman & Co., Inc. Previously he was a Latin America Equity Analyst in the strategy group of ABN AMRO, Inc. He also worked in equity research at Salomon Smith Barney.
Mr. Dorregaray received a B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida and an M.B.A. from the American University in Washington, DC. He and his wife Ariela have three children; their two oldest are JS students at the UNIS Queens Campus.
Mr. Burhan Gafoor is Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Singapore to the
United Nations in New York. Born on 20 October 1965, he joined the Foreign Service in 1988
and served in many roles, including:
- High Commissioner to Australia (September 2014 to July 2016)
- Ambassador and Chief Negotiator for Climate Change Negotiations (May 2010 to July 2014)
- Ambassador to France (October 2007 to December 2010), with concurrent accreditation as Ambassador to Portugal
- Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva (September 2004 to August 2007), with concurrent accreditation as Ambassador to Turkey
- Press Secretary to then Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Goh Chok Tong (August 2002 to August 2004)
Ambassador Gafoor represented Singapore in various capacities in various International Organisations, including:
- Vice-Chairman of the Preparatory Committee on the Green Climate Fund
- President of the Diplomatic Conference of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (March 2006)
- Chairman of the Special Session of the Committee on Trade and Development, WTO (2006 to 2007)
- Governor on the Board of Governors of the IAEA, Vienna, (2006-2007)
- Chairman of the Sixth Committee (Legal Issues), 72nd United Nations General Assembly 2017 - 2018
Educational Background: Bachelor of Social Science (Honours) degree in Political Science from the National University of Singapore in 1988; Masters in Public Administration from the John F Kennedy School of Government at Havard University in 1997; Degree in Public Administration from the Ecole Nationale d’Administration in Paris in 2002.
Ambassador Gafoor was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Silver) in 2001 and the Public Administration Medal (Gold) in 2013 by the Singapore Government. Mr. Gafoor was also awarded the “Grand Officer de l’Ordre National du Mérite” medal by the Government of France in 2011. Ambassador Gafoor is married to Ms Zarina Varukatty and they have two boys aged 11 and 16.
Caryn Groce is the Senior Vice President, General Counsel of Viacom International Media Networks, a division of Viacom International Inc. At VIMN, Ms. Groce oversees the Business and Legal Affairs function of Viacom’s international media networks business (ex-US), which operates international extensions of Viacom’s multimedia brands as well as program services created or acquired for international audiences. Prior to that, Ms. Groce served as a Vice President, Associate General Counsel, Corporate Transactions at Viacom Inc., where she managed the mergers and acquisitions and JV governance legal teams. Before working at Viacom, Ms. Groce served as Senior Corporate Transactions Counsel at NBC Universal, and was a corporate associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore (in its New York and London offices) as well as Hogan Lovells.
Ms. Groce received a Bachelor of Arts from Bryn Mawr College, her Masters of Arts in Cultural Anthropology from Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. A born and raised New Yorker, Ms. Groce is also a UNIS alumna.
Alla Liberman is a Portfolio Manager at Point72 Asset Management, a global hedge fund and asset manager. In her current role, she is responsible for making investment decisions within the fund’s Macro Division. Prior to joining Point72, Ms. Liberman spent over twenty years as a fixed income portfolio manager at Brevan Howard and Citadel Asset Management firms, as well as Proprietary Positioning businesses of both Royal Bank of Canada and JP Morgan Chase, where she ran Proprietary Positioning Fixed Income business as a Managing Director.
Ms. Liberman holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and Economics from Stern School of Business at NYU, from where she graduated as a Valedictorian.
Born in Ukraine, Ms. Liberman has been living in New York for over 20 years and currently resides in Tribeca with her husband Stan Liberman, a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, and their three daughters, Frances (Class of 2016) and Erica and Sasha (Class of 2023)
Jean-Victor Nkolo has worked at the United Nations for over 20 years. He has served as a spokesperson for three Presidents of the UN General Assembly and for the Security Council during some of the Council’s missions outside New York. In 2006, he received an International Peace Award for contributions to peace, justice and development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Before working with the UN, Mr. Nkolo worked as an international broadcaster for Radio-Canada International and Radio Quebec Television in Montreal, the BBC World Service in London and Radio Netherlands International in Hilversum. He is the father of a son in the Manhattan Junior School.
Roberto Pagan is a statistician and currently works in cost of living comparisons with the International Civil Service Commission of the United Nations since 2007. He has worked in various roles in statistics with the United Nations and served in Bangkok and Geneva between 1998 and 2007.
Before joining the United Nations he worked in automotive and jewelry sectors with quantitative roles in retail network development and logistics.
A national of Italy, he received his statistics and economic sciences degree at the University of Padova (Italy) and resides in Manhattan with his wife and their two daughters, currently in the UNIS Manhattan Middle and Junior schools.
Manu Rana is a Partner and a Managing Director of Napier Park Capital, a New York-based alternative asset manager, a member of Napier Park’s executive committee, and co-head of Napier Park’s Financial Partners funds. Mr. Rana was previously a Managing Director of Old Lane, L.P, acquired by Citigroup in 2007, and its successor businesses until 2013, when Napier Park was spun out of Citigroup by Napier Park’s partners; and joined Old Lane from Lazard Alternative Investments, where he was a Partner and a Managing Director of the firm. Mr. Rana focuses on principal investments in financial services and related businesses.
Mr. Rana has been and is a member of many for-profit and non-profit boards, including a member of the Board of Governors of the International Baccalaureate Organisation (2010-2016), head of the IBO’s finance committee, and head of IBO’s chairperson search committee.
Mr. Rana is an IB diploma graduate from the United Nations International School, and received a bachelor’s degree, with honors, from Columbia College, part of Columbia University. He, his wife and their daughter live in New York City.
Assistant Vice President for Community Health and Education, Northwell Health
As Northwell Health’s assistant vice president of community health and education, Udai Tambar is part of a team that focuses on improving patient and community health outcomes by addressing social determinants of health.
His prior roles in public service include chief of staff to the NYC deputy mayor for health and human services who had oversight of nine city agencies with a combined budget of more than $20 billion; executive director of South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!), a youth development community based organization dedicated to helping low income South Asian youth in NYC; and manager of policy and operations at the 9/11 United Service Group.
Mr. Tambar has taught courses at NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Princeton University, and was a teaching assistant in the UNIS Junior School. He holds a BA magna cum laude in Asian Studies and Chemistry from Cornell University and an MPA from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Mr. Tambar is a UNIS alumnus who lives in Forest Hills with his wife and children. His younger son is a JS student at the UNIS Queens Campus.
An educator by training, Yvonne has taught in both private and public high schools in the New York and San Francisco metropolitan areas. A native of northern California, Yvonne received her BA from Smith College, JD from the Tulane University Law School, and MA in Secondary Social Studies Education from the New York University Steinhardt School of Education. She resides in Forest Hills with her husband, Dr. Anthony Shih, and their twins, Allison and Nathan, who attended the UNIS Queens Campus and are now enrolled in the Tut House.
Santiago Villalpando is the Chief of the Treaty Section of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs. During his career at the United Nations, he has served as Registrar of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal, and worked in the Codification Division of the Office of Legal Affairs, the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He has also participated in legal teams representing governments in international judicial proceedings, and as an advisor for international organizations.
Mr. Villalpando has taught in several universities in the United States, Europe and Latin America, including the University of Geneva, Leiden University and New York University. He is currently Adjunct Professor at the New York University School of Law, and has published three books and several scholarly articles in public international law.
A citizen of Argentina and Spain, Mr. Villalpando obtained his high school degree in the French system and pursued his law studies in Rome. He holds an Italian law degree, as well as a Master’s and a PhD in international law from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, who is also a United Nations civil servant, and two daughters, who are students in Junior School and Middle School at UNIS.