Natalie Samarasinghe has been appointed Executive Director of UNA-UK with effect from 1 July 2013. She is the first woman to hold this position.
The unanimous decision was made by the UNA-UK Board on 20 June, following a four-month period in which she served as Acting Executive Director.
Natalie commented on her appointment: "I am immensely honoured to have been confirmed as UNA-UK's Executive Director, and proud to be the first woman in the hot seat. UNA-UK is not an ordinary charity. I firmly believe in our unique value as a people's movement for the UN, and as an organisation that promotes joined-up thinking and action on global issues. I look forward to working with our Board, grassroots base and partners around the world to further the UN's goal of a safer, fairer and more sustainable future for us all."
Having joined the Association in 2006, Natalie has held a number of roles within UNA-UK, including Deputy Director. She has particular expertise in UN institutions, human rights and international law, as well as lobbying, communications and non-profit governance.
At UNA-UK's recent Annual General Meeting on 20 June, Natalie reflected on the organisation’s recent progress and outlined her vision for the future.
Highlighting the launch of UNA-UK’s Responsibility to Protect Programme and successful campaigns, such as on the Arms Trade Treaty, Natalie reported that over the past year, UNA-UK had been able to increase the effectiveness of its advocacy and lobbying work. It had also focussed on generating original and timely policy ideas, and on reaching new audiences through its Generation United Nations and supporters initiatives.
Looking to the year ahead, Natalie said that UNA-UK will concentrate on improvements in three areas: resources, reach and results. While the top priority was to secure long-term funding, extending the organisation's reach and creating more outcome-focussed programmes were also important. These three priorities were mutually reinforcing.
She reassured members present that despite resource constraints, the UNA-UK team had created a "comprehensive and challenging programme" of activities for 2013-14. This includes planning for a large-scale 'UN Forum' outreach event in 2014, and for the UK elections and UN's 70th anniversary the following year.
Commenting on her appointment, UNA-UK’s Chairman, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, said: "The Board of Trustees is delighted that Natalie, having worked tirelessly for UNA-UK for the past six years, has taken on the position of Executive Director. We look forward to benefitting from her knowledge of the organisation and her energetic support for the United Nations in taking UNA-UK's work into the next phase."