Chair's Note - "Supporting Families that Support the World"


6 February 2019 

UNKLESA has undergone a remarkable evolution in the past five months as we’ve pursued the goals of our 2019-2020 sustainability blueprint in order to become the leading family support organization within the UN. One of the most profound changes over this period has been our richer understanding and deeper commitment to the needs of trailing UN families that has come into focus as we have refined our views of what it means to be a platform for family mobility.

What is clearer than ever before is that we cannot achieve success in supporting families if we choose to pursue the spouse as an individual. Success, rather, requires that we consistently work to achieve our goals through integrated initiatives that place a high priority on addressing family support holistically and to UNKLESA becoming a platform for dialogue, innovative policy options, pilot projects, and creative family mobility mechanisms.

This holistic approach is the core of our 2019-2020 sustainability blueprint – it is indispensable to realizing our aspirations as reflected in our organization blueprint. This holistic view of the entire family is the key to understanding and solving the unique needs and challenges of trailing families as we move towards a member driven data-based organization. We are increasingly adapting our strategies, our operations, and our culture to meet the needs of our trailing UN families.

As part of this holistic approach, we are expanding our orientation service and agency membership model to additional agencies. These changes represent some of our latest steps in what has been an ongoing journey for the last five months and we are already seeing important new benefits to our trailing families. For example:

  • As of 01 January 2019, UNICEF Regional Office, UNICEF Kenya and UNICEF Somalia has increased their financial support for a robust and coherent implementation of our 2019-2020 Sustainability Blueprint. 

  • As of 07 January 2019, UN Environment has joined with UNKLESA as an agency member. As part of our partnership agreement, UNKLESA will support UN Environment on UNEA and UN Staff Day, opening volunteer opportunities for our trailing families;

    • As of February 2019, our Office Manager Njoki will lead our effort to support UN Environment for UNEA in March;

  • As of 26 January 2019, UNKLESA is excited to announce that we can now receive payment via Lipa na M-pesa! Our trailing families will now be able to pay for their membership as well as training and activities via M-pesa;

  • As of January 2019, our Family and Peer Support Coordinating Board Member (Gohar Ayoub) has introduced the first of our member driven initiatives focusing on Family Fun;

  • As of January 2019, UNKLESA has convened the UNKLESA Branding Committee to develop our next generation of materials and messaging;

  • As of December 2018, Our Training and Development Coordinator (Fabian Luetzig)  piloted the workshop series ‘Project Incubator’ with participation in collaboration UNON HRMS for staff members as well families with very positive feedback. UNKLESA is now looking into expanding this offer to include an online cohort;

  • As of December 2018, UNKLESA in collaboration UNON HRMS launched the pilot program of our Kiswahili Culture and Language course to address the possible solutions to the complex challenges of our trailing families settling in a new duty station; 

  • On 30 November, 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 trailing families and an opportunity to advocate for improving the overall well-being and welfare of family members accompanying UN staff on assignment in Nairobi;

  • As of November 2018, our Communications and Outreach Coordinating Board Member (Morgan Banea) has relaunched the UNKLESA website to enhance usability and promote engagement through a new member’s only portal;

  • As of November 2018, UNKLESA is regularly presenting at the Weekly UN security briefing on Friday’s.

The UNKLESA Board has established concrete targets attached to our 2019-2020 sustainability blueprint as well as a timetable for achieving these goals by the end of the 2018-2019 Board term. Our goals specify that we will hold ourselves accountable for the organization’s performance as well as our trailing families engagement and satisfaction. We believe these objectives provide us a clear path, not only in our progress towards achieving our 2019-2020 sustainability blueprint, but also to showcasing the value of the services offered by UNKLESA to the UN family duty station system worldwide. As a method of accountability, we have taken steps to tie membership on the Board to satisfactory performance. To this end, we have introduced a performance review mechanism.  All Board members (executive and coordinating board members) will be evaluated quarterly and will need a positive 2/3rds majority board vote to maintain their position.

Our 2018-2019 Board is excited about these initiatives and those that we anticipate will follow in the future, just as we are proud of the many accomplishments outlined. Our success would not have been possible without the support of whole UNKLESA family including the board, the office team volunteers, our active members, UNEP, UNICEF, UN-Habitat and UNON.  We are united and inspired by our shared experiences and it reminds us that our first responsibility is a deeper commitment to trailing family needs.


David Taddele Dessie

Chairman of the Executive Board

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