“Supporting and connecting UN families”

Thank you to everyone who came to our Welcome Back Social. What started out as a very rainy day turned into beautiful sunshine. 
#unklesa #unklesacoffeesocials

  • Message from the Chair 

  • Strategic Areas of Focus

  • UNKLESA Board

  • Membership Development

  • Team Building for Office Volunteers

  • UNKLESA Holiday Family Market

  • UNKLESA Integrated Digital Platform

  • Training and Development

  • Family and Peer Support

  • Networking and Advocacy

  • Communications and Outreach

  • UNKLESA Accomplishments 2018-2019

  • Members Survey Report

  • UNKLESA Financial Statement


Message from the Chair

The 2018-2019 year has clearly been an eventful one for UNKLESA. A happy, satisfied, and productive workforce is the key for the UN to fulfill its mission in the world. Any change the UN wants to effect in the world has to start within the UN.

Over the past year, UNKLESA has striven to better fulfill our commitment to concrete targets, accountability, data based organizational performance, and our UN families’ engagement and satisfaction. As part of addressing UNKLESA organizational sustainability, the UNKLESA Board lead a process of unprecedented organizational redesign and internal restructuring, with a view to removing redundancy and creating set standards of operation for all parts of UNKLESA. Sustainability must be at the core of UNKLESA, serving as a key driver of our long-term organizational effectiveness while achieving and enhancing our services as a trusted platform for family support. UNKLESA continues to focus on “Building a Sustainable Legacy” despite structural, human resource and policy constraints. We believe we have so far met these challenges and challenge future Boards to further refine and optimize UNKLESA’s sustainability.

To meet UNKLESA’s sustainability goals, the 2018-2019 UNKLESA Board focused on:

Addressing a range of UNKLESA’s inherited structural issues;

  • Establishing an organizational culture where sustainability is embedded as an integral part of UNKLESA strategy and practices and where it becomes a driving force of how we do our day to day operations;

  • Ensuring that the upcoming 2019-2020 UNKLESA Board has all the necessary support for continual improvement of UNKLESA overall performance as UNKLESA navigates changing UN policies; 

  • Securing Common Services funding for a full-time staff or two for UNKLESA.

We hope we can count on your full support to fulfill the 2019-2020 sustainability blueprint that will be developed by the newly elected Board.

David Taddele Dessie


UNKLESA Strategic Areas of Focus 2018-2019

UNKLESA Strategic Areas of Focus 2018-2019

UNKLESA 2018-2019 Blueprint

UNKLESA’s primary goals for 2018-2019 were creating a sustainable legacy, serving as a trusted platform for family support, and advocating for bold decisions that champion resolutions to family issues within the UN system. UNKLESA Blueprint aimed to improve the overall effectiveness of United Nations system organizations, by improving the wellbeing and welfare of family members accompanying staff on assignments at United Nations Office at Nairobi. Based on its strategic directions, UNKLESA focused on 1.) agency membership model, 2.) expansion of Orientation Services, 3.) family support, and 4.) training and development.


2018- 2019 Members

Board members took office 1 November 2018 and serve until 31 October 2019.

Executive Board

  • David Taddele Dessie: Chair

  • Ann Weller: Vice Chair

  • Chanda Ginsberg: Secretary

  • Sarah Gimsay: Treasurer

Coordinating Board Members

  • Fabian Luetzig: Training Development

  • Anwar Subratty: Networking/ Advocacy

  • Gohar Ayoub: Family & Peer Support 

  • Morgan Banea: Communications & Outreach

Office Manager

  •  Njoki Njoroge  

UNKLESA Membership Development

Agency Membership Model Program

Following the success of our partnership with UNICEF ESARO, UNICEF Kenya, and UNICEF Somalia we were pleased to have UNEP partner with UNKLESA under the agency membership model. This model means that the agency pays for the yearly membership of spouses/partner of staff to join UNKLESA. This model also creates a stronger relationship between the agency and UNKLESA. When UNEP was in need of additional assistance during UNEA 2019, they asked UNKLESA for volunteers and several of our members helped with note taking, registration, and report writing.

Member Driven Initiatives

Family and peer support working group has introduced member driven initiative’s focusing on family fun and community engagement. Initiatives include trips to Kiambethu Tea Farm and Mlango farm, a children’s baking day, and a family craft day.

Member participation is an important contribution to helping UNKLESA improve and serve our supporting family needs
— David T. Dessie

Team Building for UNKLESA Office Volunteers

UNKLESA office volunteers were invited to take part in a UN Tour as a team building exercise. The main goal of this exercise was to ensure that all volunteers understood UNKLESA’s long-term goals as  spelt out in the 2018-2019 Strategic Blueprint and to promote better teamwork to help achieve UNKLESA’s objectives

Members’ Survey

In line with our commitment to continuous improvement, UNKLESA conducted a survey on service satisfaction to its members in April 2019. The survey was meant to help better tailor UNKLESA services to its members and the UN at large as well as take it the pulse of members halfway through the 2018-2019 Board’s term. The findings of this survey are detailed on pages 18-20 of this report.

UNKLESA Holiday Family Market

Partnership with UNON, UNRC and UNDSS

 On 30 November 2019, United Nations Kenya Local Expatriate Spouse Association (UNKLESA), in collaboration with United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON), hosted the first-ever Holiday Market at the United Nations Recreational Center. More than 350 UN staff members, their families, and members of the diplomatic community attended the event to shop for handcrafted holiday gifts at nearly 40 local retailers. Most notably, Executive Director, UN HABITAT, Maimuna Moh'd Sharif  provided the welcome visitation.

This event would not be possible without the support of UNON, UNRC, and DSS, specifically Haris Pajtic (Human Resources Officer) who was responsible for the original idea of the event and coordination of processes lead; Peter Marshall (Chief of Service, Security and Safety) who authorized security to oversee the safety and security of all involved in this event; Stephen Stannah, (Chief of Integrated Support Services Officer) for the utilization of the football fields as venue for this event;  Moses Garama (Head of UNRC) for supporting the facilitation of the UNRC and football fields; Biruk Kibret (Chief of Section, Procurement) and Fatumah Mutaasa (Procurement Officer) for their advice and recommendations about the procurement process and contracting of vendors; Christine Etemesi for her guidance and support; Janet Okal and Andrew Bakhoya (Senior Security Inspectors) who assisted with the entire security process and information distribution; and Patrick Mukhala who served as Security head on the day of event. It’s through these individuals going above and beyond their day-to-day scope of work, that this event was a success for all involved.

The UNKLESA Holiday Market provided a fun and family-friendly activity for all. Through this event, UN staff, their families and the local community were benefitted. We sincerely appreciate and thank all of our UN partners and supporters for helping to enhance UNKLESA’s mission to support the UN community and families in Nairobi.

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UNKLESA Integrated Digital Platform

UNKLESA is developing an integrated digital platform that will provide UN Staff and Families with a digital access via their mobiles that serves as an intelligent personal assistant APP to navigate the Nairobi duty station.

Training and Development

Over the past twelve months, UNKLESA’s Training & Development group (T&D) has organized 20 workshops and events.

Successful Pilot Concluded

In December of 2018, Training & Development concluded the pilot run of the ‘Project Incubator’ program, a paid course that offers a unique blend of the mastermind and group coaching approaches, enabling participants to structure, plan and ultimately implement whatever personal or professional project they are working on with inspiration, conviction and momentum  The course was conducted at maximum level of participants; UN Staff Members and UNKLESA members participated in equal numbers.

Here is just one of the positive reviews: Surprisingly useful and ready to put in practice. Fabian is knowledgeable and provides resources tailored to one’s needs. It’s also remarkable how the group dynamics created from having together people from different backgrounds results in a rich and unique experience. I am definitely left with wanting to repeat this course.

Everybody has something to teach!

Following the expression of interest by the Training & Development working group’s members, every UNKLESA member has had the opportunity to book time with T&D coordinator Fabian to discuss what topic they might be interested in presenting; whether it’s a 2 minute mini-presentation, a full-fledged workshop series or anything in between.

Examples for successful training projects

In order to build a solid skills foundation for our community and member-driven system, we have designed and delivered ‘Find Your Voice!’ Month:

  • Modern Learning

  • Preparing a Presentation

  • Public Speaking

  • Facilitating a Workshop

Endeavoring to give our members their best shot to advance their careers, we organized ‘UNstoppable Careers’ Month:

  • General Application & Career Planning Skills

  • Inspira Bootcamp

  • Preparing for a Competency Based Interview

  • Opportunity for a personal mock Competency Based Interview

Serving Members’ Preferences

Since our previous training survey in the summer of 2018, we have addressed our members’ top priorities in terms of training topics:

Going forward, we have given every member the possibility to create their ‘Learner’s Profile’, which they can update regularly, thus giving us an up-to-date overview over their needs and preferences. This includes information about preferred learning topics, workshop time slots and delivery methods.

Lessons Learned

  • Different members have different T&D needs; some are interested in developing their professional skills with UNKLESA, others prioritize the community aspect of UNKLESA events.

  • Members want to understand what exactly a training activity entails so they can make an informed decision on whether to invest their time.

  • The T&D group can learn a lot from the Family & Peer Support group in regard to member mobilization: personal conversations are key.

  • Numerous workshops have been designed over the last year and are now available as an asset to run with little effort.

Family and Peer Support

We can proudly say that the Family and Peer Support working group (F&PS) has played a pivotal role in UNKLESA becoming a leading family support organization within the UN with a real purpose and the ability to positively impact. F&PS has helped UNKLESA in fulfilling its two core roles: assisting families in making the most of their Kenya experience by encouraging family-focused activities and supporting families that need assistance in dealing with difficulties in the transition. As part of its creative family support mechanisms, the working group launched several pilot projects in 2018-2019 to engage UN families in supportive, socially aware activities ensuring that they gain rich, valuable experience and have a safe, productive way to spend their time at the best family duty station.

Event Highlights

Networking and Advocacy

The Networking & Advocacy working group (N&A) organized, negotiated and launched a several new events during the 2018-2019 year.


 Career Coffee Morning

It was important for our members seeking appointments in the UN, as well as in the Kenyan private sector, to understand the Kenyan way of going about the recruitment process, as it can be time consuming and lengthy as compared to their own country’s environment. UNKLESA launched the Career Coffee Morning series by Inviting UNKLESA members (current and past) who are now employed to share their experience on the recruitment process in the UN agencies and even in the private sector as guest speakers. To show the other side of the recruitment process, UNKLESA invited a current UN HR manager to give members her insights from the receiving ends of the applications: what information is needed when applying for a position in the UN and also what improvements applicants can make.

Coffee Mornings

In collaboration with the Family & Peer Support working group, N&A arranged topic-specific Coffee Mornings that address life in the UN, life as expats, and living in Nairobi. UNKLESA was delighted to present guest speakers from UNON to explain frequently requested topics such as UN Education Grant and Home Leave Travel and Shipment.

HRSC Meeting (Human Resources Sub Committee)

An important platform to advocate for UNKLESA and its activities is our the participation in the HRSC meeting. During the monthly meeting, the HR managers of Nairobi based UN Agencies, funds, and programs discuss issues related to HR and other matters. During the 2018-19 year, the HRSC has created another sub-committee on “Spouse Volunteer Contract Discussion” to find a way to recruit UN spouses for volunteer positions available in Nairobi. This discussion is ongoing discussion and it is an important discussion for UNKLESA to participate in to better advocate for our member who are seeking employment. The HRSC set aside time on their agenda for UNKLESA to present HR managers with information regarding the development of the UNKLESA app.

Reaching Out for Recruitment Possibilities

While UNKLESA is not able to find individual members employment,  UNKLESA advocates for our members as a whole when opportunities arise. For example, one of the major upcoming projects on the Nairobi compound is the Major Replacement of Office Blocks A to J. This project will require a number of consultant positions and the N&A team have met with UNON staff to advocate for our members who have the needed competencies and expertise pertaining to office building projects.


 Security Briefing Presentation

UNKLESA presents at the weekly UNON New Staff Security Briefing that occurs every Friday. In 2019, we revised and updated our presentation to better reflect UNKLESA’s mission and to highlight the activities of UNKLESA. The weekly briefing and an excellent opportunity to introduce newly arrived UN staff and dependents  who do not participate in the UNKLESA Orientation Services to the association.

Database of UNKLESA members actively looking for employment

During the 2018-2019 year, Networking & Advocacy examined the database of members seeking employment to ensure that it was up to date. At the same time, it was also updated to a more useable format for HR and recruiting managers. Customarily, the database was distributed once a month although this has not been as successful as direct applications to postings or call for applicants from hiring managers in securing employment for members.

 Lessons Learned

  • One of the recommendations for the 2019-2020 board is to continue encouraging members to inform the UKLESA office when they have applied for a UN position. In this way, the member database can be sent to the recruiting manager together with the list of our members who have applied for the respective posts.

  • Coffee Mornings and Career Coffee Mornings should be encouraged to continue next year with the participation of UN Agencies, Programs, and Funds.

  • It is important for UNKLESA Networking & Advocacy to continue participation in the HRSC meeting.

Communications and Outreach

The Communications & Outreach Working Group (C&O) has been busy behind the scenes with several projects during 2018-2019. Starting from migrating the website from Word Press to Squarespace, UNKLESA then launched the Members Only Portal on the website which give members access to UN, UNKLESA, and community resources. The UNKLESA resources include an example domestic staff contract, example rental agreement, and the welcome packet information. Members can also find Coffee Morning presentations and an archive of UNKLESA’s quarterly newsletter, Habari UNKLESA.

UNKLESA has also created a school calendar showing term dates and holiday for area schools. The school calendar helps to inform scheduling of UNKLESA events around term breaks and holidays. To better document our events and preserve memories, UNKLESA launched the UNKLESA Event Photo Archive page which allows our members to share photos with UNKLESA from events.

The Communications & Outreach Working Group was also excited to announce the new Orientation and Relocation Portal in 2019. This portal allows newly assigned staff and families who participate in the Orientation Services to find all the information they need for their move to Nairobi in one central location.

The Branding Committee, under the auspice of C&O, was convened in 2019 to create an updated, cohesive message for UNKLESA. The Committee redesigned the UNKLESA business cards, created a new standing banner design, put together style guides for UNKLESA announcements and fliers, and is in in the process of designing a new UNKLESA brochure.

The working group also maintains the Facebook page and Facebook group as well as the Instagram account.

UNKLESA Accomplishments


  •  The Governemnt of Kenya will now issue no-cost work permits to UN staff (2019)

  • Preliminary approval for a Farmers Market and Summer Camp Proposal (2019)

  • •  UN Nairobi Staff Union, AFICS - Kenya and UNKLESA Partnership: working collectively, we can combine resources and have a greater impact to make Nairobi the best family duty station in the UN system (2019)

  • •      UNICEF Regional Office, UNICEF Kenya and UNICEF Somalia has increased their financial support (2019)

  • •      UN Environment has joined with UNKLESA as an agency member and increased their financial support (2019)

  • •      UNKLESA can now receive payment via Lipa na M-pesa (2019)

  • •      Family and Peer Support has introduced Family Fun and Family Community engagement initiatives (2019)

  • •      UNKLESA has convened the UNKLESA Branding Committee to develop our next generation of materials and messaging (2019)

  • •      UNKLESA relaunched our website to enhance usability and promote engagement through a new member’s only portal and orientation portal (2018-2019)

  • •      UNKLESA in collaboration UNON HRMS launched Kiswahili Culture and Language (2018)

  • •      UNKLESA is regularly presenting at the Weekly UN security briefing on Fridays (2018)

  • •      Training and Development developed several new series including Project Incubator, Find Your Voice, Unstoppable Career month, and Networking November workshop series (2018)

  • •      UNKLESA, in collaboration with UNON, UN-Habitat, UNICEF and UNEP, hosted the first-ever Family Holiday Market at the United Nations Recreational Center to highlight the importance of support for UN families and an opportunity to advocate for improving the overall well-being and welfare of family members accompanying UN staff on assignment in Nairobi (30 November 2018)

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In order to serve its members better, UNKLESA conductedasurveyonservicesatisfactiontoitsmembersin2019. ThesurveywasmeanttounderstandbetterUNKLESA servicestoitsmembersandtheUNON atlarge. A questionnaire was administered through an online platform where members presented their views on various aspects of service delivery by the UNKLESA. With regards to this, the analysis was done, and the findings were as follows:

UNKLESA Events 2018-2019


UN Security Briefing

October 2018

UNKLESA Coffee Social – 16th

UNKLESA Coffee Morning with UNV – 25th

November 2018

Networking November Workshop – 6th

Networking November Workshop II – 16th

UNKLESA Holiday Market – 30th

December 2018

UNKLESA Coffee Social – 4th

January 2019

UNKLESA Coffee Morning: Managing your Finances with UNFCU – 17th

UNKLESA volunteer meeting – 22nd

UNKLESA branding committee – 29th

February 2019

Training & Development Working Group Meeting – 1st

Office Volunteer UN Tour – 5th

Kiswahili Language and Culture Course: Review Session – 12th

Find Your Voice: Modern Learning – 18th

Find Your Voice: Preparing a presentation – 22nd

UNKLESA Family Fun Day: Mlango Farm – 23rd

Find Your Voice: Public speaking – 25th

Expat Families: The good, the bad and the ugly – 26th

UNKLESA branding committee – 28th

March 2019

UNKLESA Coffee Social – 5th

Find Your Voice: Facilitating a Work Shop – 6th

UNEA – 8th to 15th

UNstoppable Careers – 19th

UNstoppable Careers (Inspira Bootcamp) – 21st

UNstoppable Careers (CBI Interview) – 26th

UNKLESA Family Fun Day: Mlango Farm – 30th 

April 2019

UNKLESA Career Coffee Morning – 3rd

UNKLESA Coffee Social & Let’s Bake Together! – 16th

UNKLESA Family Fun Day: Mlango Farm – 27th

UNKLESA Town Hall – 29th

UNKLESA Coffee Social – 30th

May 2019

Communications & Outreach Working Group – 7th

UNKLESA Coffee Morning: 3rd Culture Kids – 9th

UNKLESA Coffee Morning: Employing Domestic Staff – 16th

UNKLESA Career Coffee Morning – 21st

UNKLESA Coffee Morning: Household Cooperatives – 23rd

UNKLESA Coffee Social & Make your Own Felt Animals – 28th

UNKLESA Coffee Morning: Maasai Wildlife Adventure – 30th

June 2019

Family & Peer Support Working Group – 11th

Training & Development Working Group Meeting – 17th

Teen FIFA Tournament – 18th

UNKLESA Coffee Social – 19th

Nairobi Culture Tour – 20th

UNKLESA Family Fun Day: Kiambethu Tea Farm – 22nd

UNKLESA Coffee Morning: UN Education Grant – 27th

July 2019

UNKLESA Career Coffee Morning – 2nd

UNKLESA Coffee Social – 3rd

UNKLESA Coffee Morning: Home Leave Travel and Shipment – 4th

September 2019

Job Seekers Platform – 12th

UNKLESA Coffee Morning: Board Election Informational – 17th

UNKLESA Coffee Social – 10th

UNKLESA Family Fun Day: Kiambethu Tea Farm – 21st

UNKLESA Welcome Back Social – 26th

October 2019

UNKLESA Annual General Meeting – 29th

UNKLESA Financial Statement 2018-2019