Our Staff

The Model United Nations Institute is organized and led by a team of Model UN professionals with experience running programs in over twenty countries.

Ryan Villanueva

Ryan Villanueva

Co-Founder & Program Director

+ learn more

Ryan Villanueva

Co-Founder & Program Director

Ryan Villanueva is the Co-Founder of Best Delegate and Program Director of the Model United Nations Institute. Ryan has participated in Model UN for 15+ years and has attended 150+ MUN conferences.

Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Yale University. In college, Ryan served as Secretary-General of Yale’s college conference, won Best Delegate at the Harvard National MUN Conference, and chaired the UNA-USA Global Classrooms MUN Conference in New York City. In his senior year, Ryan launched the webste bestdelegate.com from his college dorm room.

After graduating in 2008, Ryan worked at Goldman Sachs in its New York headquarters. As a risk analyst, Ryan helped manage the firm’s liquidity, funding, and capital risks during the Global Financial Crisis. After two years on Wall Street, Ryan decided to quit his job, partner with one of his best friends, and start a company that would teach Model UN all over the world.

Today, Best Delegate is the world’s leading resource on Model United Nations, with 600,000+ readers around the world and partner schools and conferences in 20+ countries. Best Delegate hosts the Model United Nations Institute every summer at Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, and other top universities. And the mission of Best Delegate is to provide Model United Nations for All: to make Model UN available in every country, at every school, and for every student in the world.

KEVIN FELIX CHAN

Kevin Felix Chan

Co-Founder & Program Director

+ learn more

Kevin Felix Chan

Co-Founder & Program Director

Kevin — also known by his initials “KFC” — is the Co-Founder and Program Director of the Model UN Institute and has over 15 years of Model UN experience.

An internationally renowned Model UN expert, Kevin has taught Model UN in 18 countries across North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Kevin has organized ten conferences at the United Nations Headquarters, spoken twice at the UN, and introduced Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the UN General Assembly Hall. He has also authored over 400 articles about Model UN on BestDelegate.com as well as an ebook on Model UN strategy.

Kevin received his B.A. in Political Science from UCLA, a Certificate in Financial Management from Cornell University, and a Certificate in International Studies from Fudan University in China. In college, Kevin served as the Secretary-General and Head Delegate for the UCLA Model United Nations program and Secretary-General for UNA-USA’s Global Classrooms conferences in New York and Los Angeles.

After graduating from college, Kevin was accepted into the AT&T Leadership Development Program and held senior management positions in marketing, operations, and sales in San Francisco and Atlanta. However, he wanted to make a bigger difference in the lives of others and decided to quit his job after a few years to start Best Delegate and the Model UN Institute.

Kevin believes in the power of Model UN because he personally transformed from a shy high school student into a confident global leader through Model UN. He’s excited to meet all the students at the Model UN Institute this summer and help them become confident global leaders too!

Laurabeth Goldsmith

Laurabeth Goldsmith

Director of Partnerships

+ learn more

Laurabeth Goldsmith

Director of Partnerships

Laurabeth’s passion for Model United Nations was sparked by hearing Secretary General Ban Ki Moon speak in Washington DC at a Model UN Conference she attended in High School. Laurabeth has traveled to more than fifty countries and has taught Model United Nations in North America, Asia, Central America, and the Middle East. Laurabeth has served as a Training Director implementing programs for students and teachers abroad.

Laurabeth graduated from Emory University where she studied Political Science and completed the Community Building and Social Change Fellowship.

Laurabeth started competing in Model United Nations her freshman year of high school and gaveled numerous times at prestigious conferences around the United States including Harvard, Georgetown, University of Chicago, and Duke.

Laurabeth served as President and Head Delegate of Emory Model United Nations, helping to enhance the team’s training and bringing the team into the top twenty of nationally ranked teams.

Laurabeth believes in the power of diplomacy and cross-cultural diversity and has traveled internationally teaching human rights, gender equality, and self defense in North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Laurabeth is a full time Program Manager for Best Delegate. Prior to working for Best Delegate Laurabeth worked for President Jimmy Carter and for Girl Scouts.

Laurabeth is incredibly excited for MUNI 2016 and the opportunity to help provide a platform for students to increase their confidence, learn about the world, and address global issues through Model United Nations!

Erik Leiden

Erik Leiden

Director of Operations

+ learn more

Erik Leiden

Director of Operations

Erik Leiden is the Director of Operations for Best Delegate, and has been participating in Model UN for 9 years. Erik is a graduate of The Ohio State University, where he studied World Politics and led the Model UN team as Head Delegate and OSU’s Model UN conferences, OSUMUN and MUNCOS, as Secretary-General. Erik started working with Best Delegate in 2013, and throughout college worked as the Secretary-General of Global Classrooms Middle School Model UN (GCIMSMUN), taught Model UN in Italy, India, South Korea, Honduras, Qatar, and across the United States, and served as a MUN Mentor at the Model United Nations Institute.

Erik works closely with the UN Department of Public Information and World Federation of United Nations Associations teaching UN4MUN Model UN Procedure and organizing the WFUNA International Model United Nations (WIMUN), the largest UN4MUN conference in the world. Erik currently manages operations for Best Delegate’s Model United Nations Institute and workshops, creating the curriculum that thousands of Best Delegate students learn each year, and organizing the staff, facilities, and materials needed to deliver fun and educational programs around the world.

Erik also developed the MUN Vault, Best Delegate’s premier resource for Model UN materials for conference organizers, club leaders, and MUN delegates. Erik will serve as the on-site Program Director at most MUNI locations during summer 2017.

Aaron Kalafarski

Aaron Kalafarski

Customer Service Manager

+ learn more

Aaron Kalafarski

Customer Service Manager

Aaron Kalafarski is the Customer Service Manager for Best Delegate. Aaron’s first job out of University took him to the other side of the world in Ulsan, South Korea where he spent 9 months teaching English to students between the ages of four and thirty. His passion for learning about educational institutions, world cultures, and international relations stems from the beginning of his MUN journey over 9 years ago with Gulf Coast High School. After walking out of his first MUN committee his interests in leadership, public speaking, and education were sparked and has since participated in over 60 MUN conferences around the world.

Starting as the Vice President and a founding member of his high school’s competitive MUN program Aaron went on to join the University of Florida’s MUN program where he became the Secretary-General (CEO) of GatorMUN XI –the largest MUN Conference in the Southeastern US — during his third year. Aaron also served as a member of the GCIMUN Secretariat at the United Nations headquarters in New York City in 2015. He started as a MUN Instructor with Best Delegate during the summer of 2013 and has worked with us every summer since. Most recently Aaron served as the Editor-in-Chief of Best Delegate’s website over the last year as well as a Program Manager for the 2016 MUN Institute.

Aaron graduated from the University of Florida in May of 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, a minor in Anthropology, and an International Relations Certificate. Aaron has taught MUN at Harvard, Columbia, UC Berkeley, Georgetown, UCLA, UC Irvine, and the University of Florida. Aaron has also taught MUN internationally in Honduras and South Korea. He is excited for the opportunity to continue spreading MUN across the globe!

In his free time Aaron enjoys consuming pop culture, supporting Manchester United F.C., exercising, listening to politics podcasts, and learning.

MUN Institute Staff

staff-fellowsWe maintain a 1-to-12 staff-to-student ratio at each MUN Institute program. Our programs are staffed by the best and most inspiring leaders on the college MUN circuit – the Program Managers, the MUN Mentors, and the Residential Counselors are all there to guarantee an amazing experience for every student. All staff have undergone background checks, completed a course about the protection of minors, and completed the MUN Institute Staff training.

The Program Managers serve as the directors for each MUN Institute program, and they have been trained to ensure that the MUN Institute is a safe, fun, and educational environment for every student.

The MUN Mentors serve as the Model UN instructors and trainers throughout the week, and will work closely with each of their students to help them improve through practice, feedback, and encouragement. The MUN Mentors are all successful leaders from their college MUN programs.

The Residential Counselors will manage residential supervision, evening programming, weekend programming, and general safety throughout the program. Our counselors are university students with significant experience in counseling and residential supervision.


Meet the Summer 2017 MUN Institute Staff!

Program Managers

Ibrahim El Kazaz

Ibrahim is an Egyptian American currently studying International Relations in Istanbul Bilgi University. Over the last 6 years, Ibrahim has attended Model UN Simulations in Europe, the Middle East, East Asia, the United States, as well as online. In his High school career, he served as the first President of the Security Council in Hayah International Academy’s Model UN in Egypt. Then became an Assistant Director at THIMUN O-MUN for Africa then Europe, followed by Head Trainer at the Istanbul Bilgi University MUN team. He has also served as a MUN Mentor and trainer with Best Delegate in the US, India, and Korea. Throughout his Model UN Career, he has had the chance to participate in the various formats and styles of MUN, including THIMUN, UN4MUN, North American Procedure, as well as Crisis Simulations.


Lala Kumakura

Lala Kumakura is a student at Fordham University, majoring in International Studies and double-minoring in International Humanitarian Affairs and Spanish. She has moved around many times but one thing has remained constant in her life: Model UN. Lala has founded and led Model UN programs for both the high school and collegiate level in different countries. In her eighth year of Model UN, she currently serves as President of Fordham Model UN and Director-General of Fordham University Model UN Conference (FORMUNC). Lala is also a NGO Youth Representative to the United Nations, Editor of MUNI Alumni & Community on Best Delegate’s Media Team, and a proud alumna of the MUN Institute.


MUN Mentors

Angela (Min Yi) Hou

Angela is a student at the University of Toronto who is pursuing a double major in International Relations and Ethics, Society, and Law. She has been involved in Model UN since the beginning of high school, and has served as the head delegate and the inaugural Secretary-General for her high school. As an alum of Best Delegate, Angela continues to develop her passion for Model UN in university, holding formal staff positions in all three conference planning groups on campus. She hopes to share her passion for MUN through the MUN Institute as a returning MUN Mentor. When she is not MUN-ing, Angela enjoys reading, singing, and learning about different cultures.


John Daniel Masangkay

John is a rising senior at the University of Toronto pursuing a specialist in Peace, Conflict, and Justice at the Munk School of Global Affairs. He has been devoted to MUN since he was 14 and has been competing, staffing, and teaching since his first conference. As the Training Director for his University’s competitive MUN team as well as a former MUN Mentor, John understands how the teaching of MUN can help foster important social and academic skills in participants. His favorite part of MUN is how it can instill academic passion outside of the classroom, how it fosters a community and network of motivated individuals, and the confidence that it cultivates. Aside from MUN, John enjoys reading, exploring, and trying out new types of food.


Elodie Currier

Elodie is an experienced MUN delegate who has been competing since her freshman year of high school. She is incredibly lucky to have found the Georgetown MUN team, where she enjoys not only competing alongside some of her best friends, but also working on the logistical side of things. She serves as a logistics coordinator for the Georgetown travel team and as the Director of Registration for NAIMUN LIV. She is incredibly thankful to both NAIMUN and Pegasus-MUNUC for giving her the opportunity to teach the next generation of MUN delegates, and hopes to continue this work with Best Delegate. When not in committee, she studies International Politics with a focus on International Law and is involved in Jewish life on campus.


Vyette Tiyavyette

Having competed on both the international and North American circuit, Vyette has gained unparalleled and diverse Model UN experience. She has adapted and excelled in all environments. Though certainly not new to positions of influence, Vyette takes on every responsibility before her with fervor and always looks for ways to refine her leadership capabilities. Vyette’s sheer love for MUN is unmistakable. She is committed to paying it forward to the program that has impacted her life thus far, the most.


Erin Olivieri

erinErin is currently a sophomore at Harvard University studying Government and Astrophysics. She was introduced to Model UN during her freshman year, when she chose to staff both HMUN and HNMUN (Harvard’s high school and college conferences, respectively). Since then, she has become an active member of her college’s competitive team, winning Best Delegate gavels in both of her first two committees and an Outstanding Delegate award in her first GA. For the 2017 conference cycle, Erin will be serving as Harvard Intercollegiate Model UN’s Director of Training, as well as a Director at both HMUN and HNMUN. Outside of Model UN, she is active in her college’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity and serves as a Vice President for the Harvard International Relations Council.


Pedro Rojas

Pedro Rojas is a sophomore at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. He has served as Vice Chair to the International Affairs Society, which oversees the GW’s MUN team and two conferences. In high school, we won a number of awards as MUN Vice-Director at American Heritage School and attended BD Camp in 2013.


Georgina Kenchington

georginaGeorgina is a creative, unique crisis delegate with the capabilities to come up with new and innovative solutions. In high school, Georgina was terrified of public speaking; she would turn an embarrassing shade of red, start trembling, and resort to writing speeches before giving them to hide her fears. Somehow, MUN in high school changed that aspect of Georgina and made her a confident diplomat with the ability to make a large college GA turn and listen to her speeches. Georgina since then has worked to teach students in India to overcome that same fear, and would love the opportunity to be able to take both what she’s learned as a delegate and what she learned in India back to the United States. Model UN isn’t just about a natural talent for speaking or caucusing, its about expanding the activity to reach anyone who has the passion and aspirations of a future diplomat and leader, and Georgina has seen what MUN has done in terms of giving her that confidence, to the point where she has become a leader on Georgetown’s team.


Kieran Spencerkieran

Kieran Spencer has participated in MUN conferences across Europe, Asia, South and North America. He speaks 3 foreign languages, Turkish, Spanish and Portuguese. He has worked with the U.S. state department as well as attended multiple diplomatic conferences sponsored by international organizations including the IMF and World Bank and. In addition to his formal diplomatic work he has extensive first hand exposure to a range of different cultures in the Middle East, Latin America and Europe. In the future he plans to join the State Department full time and become a United States diplomat.


Richard Zhaorichard

Motivated by the constant drive for self improvement, Richard has found enormous success within the world of Model U.N, having found success at a variety of different conferences of both high school and University, around the world. Richard proudly served as Secretary-General of his club’s conference, as well as head delegate for his delegation’s team.


Katrina Stevenson

After 8 years of competing in Model United Nations, Katrina Stevenson has learned the art of debating, collaborating, and diplomacy. With the experience of running high school conferences, assistant chairing international collegiate conferences, and running a collegiate MUN club, she understands the necessary skills and personalities that thrive in Model UN conferences. As a result, she has used her experience winning awards in high school to effectively advise her college MUN club. Being able to effectively train delegates for domestic and international conferences has contributed to their success on the Model United Nations circuit. Ultimately, Katrina believes Model United Nations provides students of all disciplines the necessary skills to thrive academically.


Sam Poveysam

Sam is a recent graduate of the London School of Economics, having studied Economics with Economic History. At university, he served as MUN Director and Training Director for the LSE UN Society, one of Europe’s top-ranked MUN teams. Over the past four years, he has served as a Head Delegate for LSE’s travel team and staffed conferences across the UK and beyond; so far MUN has taken him as far as Lviv, Montreal and Seoul. After graduating, Sam joined a top private equity firm before pursuing his passion for teaching by tutoring high school and college students in London. He currently serves as Media Associate for Best Delegate’s Community team, and enjoys squash, bouldering and running.


Adrienne Ou

adrienneAfter six years of Model United Nations experience spanning large GA bodies brimming with high schoolers to small-scale historical crisis committees, Adrienne has lived a vast multitude of lives – whether that be a Han-dynasty general facing the dissolution of ancient China or the representative of the UAE at the Non-Aligned Movement in the post-Cold War era. After discovering MUN through her high school club, she continued her passion for international relations and debate in university, competing and staffing for UCLA and for GCIMUN, traveling to conferences in San Francisco, Washington DC, and New York City. Aside from a number of awards currently gathering dust on her bookshelf, MUN has awarded Adrienne with something infinitely more valuable: lifelong friendships, a vast networking community, and an extremely detail-oriented personality that contributes to analytical research. She has had an opinion editorial published in a national newspaper, and research articles published in various scholarly journals. Currently, she teaches for UCLA Global Classrooms in Nanjing, China, and is enjoying her crash course in Chinese culture, Mandarin Chinese, and globalization.


Adam Beach

Adam Beach began his MUN career early in high school when one of his friends convinced him to take over the school club (which at that point consisted of about two members, and never really went anywhere). He ended up enjoying it far more than he expected he was going to, and decided to stay with the program for the rest of his high school career. He and the team as a whole experienced a high degree of success across the subsequent three years, until it was time for him to graduate and the club was inherited by his vice-president. At the collegiate level he found himself debating in far more challenging environments: conferences like McMUN that tested the limits of his speaking and caucusing abilities. Through MUN he discovered his passion for global affairs, in addition to a previously undiscovered (but still important) affinity for teaching and team-building; a skill that he hopes to develop further in the future.


Frankie Hillfrankie

Frankie Hill is a rising Junior at Harvard University. He is studying Government and is hoping to earn a citation in Spanish. Frankie is an acting member of the Harvard International Relations Council. In his free time, Frankie attends Model United Nations Conferences, usually as a delegate and occasionally as a staff member. Frankie likes Pistachios, Star Wars, and Kermit the Frog.


Residential Counselors

Samantha Rodrigues

Samantha is a Model UN enthusiast with a Bachelors Degree in International Relations from the University PUC Minas, Brazil and she strongly believes the MUN experience is a great opportunity for personal and academic growth as it helps students expand their knowledge and explore their roles as global citizens. While pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree, Samantha was involved in a variety of research programs such as a Scientific Initiation Fellowship for Brazil’s national public security policies. Additionally, she was a research collaborator for the “Practical Guide on Disarmament”, a technical cooperation project developed by Brazil’s National Secretariat of Public Security (SENASP) and the United Nations Development Programme. Samantha’s experience also includes French studies at the University of Limoges, France and serving as Assistant-Secretary-General of General Assembly Affairs and Conference Management for the WFUNA International Model United Nations (WIMUN) 2017.


Rose Jacobs

roseRose is a rising freshman in college looking to major in some combination political science, international relations, or history. She credits Model UN with improving her speaking, writing, and leadership skills, leading her across the world to conferences in China and India, and giving her some of her closest friends and most treasured experiences. She has served as the Head Chair of the Executive Board for her high school’s Model United Nations team and as a Board Director on the Chicagoland MUN Club, a non-for-profit MUN team in the Chicago area. Rose has also been honored to be the Secretary-General of NIMUN VI, the largest conference for middle school delegates in the Midwest, and MUNAP, her high school’s conference. Outside of MUN (though it does occupy a fairly substantial portion of her life), Rose enjoys slam poetry, chatting about politics with her rabbi, and pretending to know what she is talking about.

Share with your friends










Submit
Menu