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

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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

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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

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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!

Avik Chakravarty

Avik Chakravarty

Director of Finance

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Avik Chakravarty

Director of Finance

Avik Chakravarty is a Program Manager for Best Delegate, and he has participated in Model United Nations for over 9 years. Avik Chakravarty has experience teaching and running Model United Nations training programs around the world, including Central America, the Middle East, East Asia, and across the United States. A large part of Avik’s international experience has been in East Asia; Avik has run multiple trainings in the Republic of Korea, and spent two months teaching Model United Nations at schools around the People’s Republic of China in 2012. Additionally, Avik has managed Model United Nations programs at the United Nations headquarters in New York city.

Avik graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in History. At Berkeley, Avik served as Chief of Staff for the student run non-profit organization, Berkeley Model United Nations, which hosts an international high school Model United Nations conference. Avik now sits on the Board of Advisors of Berkeley Model United Nations. In addition to participation in Model United Nations during university, Avik won several Best Delegate awards at the high school level, including at Stanford University and University of California, Davis.

Avik is a strong supporter of the United Nations, and he serves on the Board of Directors of his local United Nations Association (UNA) chapter, a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for the United Nations. Before working at Best Delegate, Avik worked in a legal self-help center at the Superior Court of Alameda County, a public initiative created to provide free legal aid to low-income residents of California.

In his free time, Avik loves to watch and play soccer. His favorite team is Chelsea FC. Avik also really enjoys music, and he plays the drum set.

Erik Leiden

Erik Leiden

Director of Operations

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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 Diplomacy Fellow 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.

MUN Institute Staff

staff-fellows
We believe in personalized instruction and maximizing student safety, which is why we maintain a 1-to-8 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.

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.


The MUN Institute Staff from Summer 2016!

Program Managers

Aaron KalafarskiHS1

This will be Aaron’s fourth summer involved with Best Delegate’s Model UN Institute. He started off as a local volunteer four summers ago and then served as a Diplomacy Fellow over the past two summers. During the past year, Aaron graduated from the University of Florida and moved to South Korea to teach English. In Korea, Aaron taught elementary school, middle school, high school, University, and adult students between the ages of four and thirty years old. He is also the current Editor-in-Chief of Best Delegate’s Media Team. In his free time, he enjoys playing sports, sharing stories, and consuming pop culture. He is excited to be returning to the Best Delegate team!


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 Diplomacy Fellow 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.

Diplomacy Fellows

Caroline Bello

Caroline Bello is a rising junior at George Washington University in Washington, DC. She is majoring in International Affairs with a concentration in conflict resolution and is minoring in journalism. During high school she served a three year tenure as Secretary-General and staffed George Washington’s high school conference, WAMUNC, for the past two years both as a crisis staffer and a chair. She is the current Editor for Model UN Training Resources for bestdelegate.com. This past year Caroline worked with Best Delegate as a Diplomacy Fellow in the United States, as well as in India and South Korea. Caroline is an alum of the Model United Nations Institute and hopes to be able to provide this year’s students with the same amazing experience that she had in high school.


Caroline Rose

Caroline Rose is a sophomore at American University’s School of International Service, majoring in International Relations with a concentration in Foreign Policy, and double-minoring in Middle Eastern Studies and Journalism. There is no question that Model UN has been a driving force in Caroline’s passion for International Relations, as Caroline has been enjoying Model UN for over four years. She has held positions of President, Head Delegate, Best Delegate Contributor, Chair, Secretary General, but her favorite role has been a teammate of her university’s MUN team. While Caroline has been fortunate to have won a collection of awards in both college and high school, her proudest achievement was grooming American University’s team to place as the top #23 team in North America on Best Delegate within a year of being ranked at the bottom #75. Outside of Model United Nations, Caroline serves on the Executive Board of her university’s International Relations Society, is an active member of the Delta Phi Epsilon Professional Foreign Service Sorority, and is a writer for the World Mind Academic Journal and Best Delegate LLC. She looks forward to working with enthusiastic delegates this summer!


Natalia Daza

Natalia is a student at Universidad de Los Andes pursuing a double major in Political Science and Economics, with a minor in Gender and Sexuality studies. She has grown passionate for Model United Nations over the last five years. Natalia had the opportunity to attend Best Delegate’s Model UN Institute in 2013 and 2014 , and she is ecstatic to return as a Diplomacy Fellow! Furthermore, she has served Best Delegate as Under Secretary General of Latin America (2014-2015) and Editor of Community Content (2015-2016). Natalia currently is an active member of her university MUN society (ONUANDES), and serves as Head Delegate of Colombia’s first international crisis delegation. In her spare time, Natalia enjoys feeding her curiosity and spending some nerd time with her friends.


Lala Kumakura

Lala is a rising sophomore at Fordham University, majoring in International Studies and double minoring in International Humanitarian Affairs and Spanish. She has been devoted to Model UN ever since the seventh grade. In middle school, she competed for the travel team in her school and was chosen to attend conferences in different continents. On both the high school level and college level, Lala has taken initiative by founding and leading Model UN programs. She is currently the Vice President at Fordham Model UN and Director General of Fordham’s first high school conference.  Lala attended the Model United Nations Institute in 2013 and she is thrilled to return as a Diplomacy Fellow! Besides MUN, she enjoys traveling, learning languages, and dancing salsa.


Aliana Michals

Aliana Michals is a rising Sophomore at the George Washington University in Washington D.C. studying Political Science and Psychology. Since joining her high school’s MUN team during her freshman year, she has devoted endless time to the world of Model UN. She became the Head Delegate and President of the team her senior year. At GW, besides working with WAMUNC as a crisis staffer, Aliana is a Program Instructor for The Anbryce Foundation’s Saturday Institute as a 1st and 2nd grade teacher. Aliana has also interned with Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, Girl’s Inc, and the Youth Assembly at the United Nations. She is a two time Model United Nations Institute alumni and is excited to be returning as a Diplomacy Fellow! Besides Model UN, Aliana enjoys dance, running, and politics.


Elaine Miao

Since her first conference at Boston University as a high school freshman, Elaine has developed a passion for Model UN. Throughout her high school career, she has won an award at four out of the seven conferences she has attended, and became president of her school club senior year. Elaine is also a Best Delegate alum, and worked as a local staffer for Best Delegate in Boston after graduating high school. As well, she was accepted to the All-American MUN program in 2014, traveling to Budapest with eleven other students around the United States to compete in an international conference. A first-year political science major at UCLA, Elaine won best delegate at her first college conference, and is excited to continue participating in Model UN.


Khalil Mair

When Khalil joined Model UN in seventh grade, he was a nervous public speaker who shook every time he spoke, but his years in Model UN have transformed him. As a delegate, his passion for creative research and solutions has led him to win 9 Best Delegate awards. Khalil has served as President of his travel team and founded Ontario’s only bilingual high-school conference, serving as a USG, Secretary-General, and Director-General. In his free time, he enjoys reading, swimming, and laughing at American politics. Khalil will study Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford University.


John Daniel Masangkay

John is a second-year student at the University of Toronto pursuing a specialist in Peace, Conflict, and Justice at the Munk School of Global Affairs. He has additional disciplinary focuses in Psychology dealing with mental health issues, and Sociology dealing with criminal activity and health studies. He’s been hooked on MUN the moment he was physically dragged into showing up to MUN training at his high school. Fast forward several years and he is now an executive training director for the University of Toronto’s competitive MUN team, hoping to improve the skills of advanced delegates while also showing novice members the complexities and joy that MUN participation can bring. Aside from helping staff MUN conferences at his school, training members of the UofT MUN team, and being a delegate himself, John is also an avid member of his school’s competitive Quidditch team (yes it’s a real thing; and no, we don’t actually fly).


Delany SisirucaHS3

Delany Sisiruca is a former Harvard head delegate and is still an active participant on the team a year later. She has been involved in Model UN since her sophomore year of high school, and has now won 8 Best Delegate awards (and counting!) and was listed by Best Delegate as an All-Star in 2015. Her favorite part of Model UN is how it instills strength in students, allowing them to practice their public speaking and negotiation skills.


Angela (Min Yi) HouHS3

Angela is a student at the University of Toronto who is pursuing a double major in International Relations and Contemporary Asian Studies. She has been involved in Model UN since the beginning of high school, and has served as the head delegate for two years,  as well as the Secretary-General for the first MUN conference hosted at her school. As an alum of Best Delegate, Angela continues to develop her passion for Model UN in university, holding formal staff positions in all four MUN groups on campus at U of T. She is ready to share her passion for MUN, as well as the inspiration and joy MUN has brought her. When she is not MUN-ing, Angela enjoys reading, singing, and discussing anything related to Chinese history!


Kaitlyn PerreaultHS4

Kaitlyn Perreault is a student at Boston University pursuing degrees in International Relations and Psychology. Within her majors, she focuses on Middle Eastern politics and trauma in regions of conflict. She has been involved in Model UN since high school and is now the Secretary-General of BarMUN IX, Boston University’s collegiate Model UN conference, after serving as its Chief of Staff. She is proud of the awards she has won competing in Model UN, and is even more proud of the committees and debate she has had a part in creating. Outside of Model UN, Kaitlyn is involved in student government, works at a local hospital, and serves on the executive board of her school’s International Affairs Association.


Elizabeth BurkeHS4

Elizabeth Burke is a rising junior at Boston University studying International Relations, Public Health and Sociology. Within this field of study, she focuses on International Systems and World Order in Europe and the intersection between policy and individuals. She began Model UN as a freshman in high school, traveling to conferences along the East Coast. At Boston University, Elizabeth has staffed both Model UN conferences each year. This past year Elizabeth served as the USG of General Assemblies for BU’s high school Model UN conference, BosMUN, which hosts over 1200 delegates from around the country and abroad. She hopes to translate her studies and practical experience with Model UN into a career working in post-conflict environments, helping to coordinate aid and sustainable strategy for nations transitioning out of civil strife. Outside of the International Affairs Association at BU, Elizabeth serves as the Vice President of Scholarship for her sorority, leads Alternative Service Breaks through the Community Service Center, and interns in the Education department of the United Nations Association of Greater Boston.


Cory AlpertHS4

Cory Alpert is a student at the University of South Carolina Honors College currently studying Sociology and Russian. Within sociology, he focuses on social networks, as well as power and legitimacy. He also studies at The University of Queensland, Australia, where he is part of the University of Queensland United Nations Student Association. He began a MUN career in high school, but he took a long hiatus to focus on other projects. At UQ, he has served as a delegate to many conferences in both crisis and deliberative committees. As part of the UQUNSA delegation, which won Best Delegation at the Asia-Pacific Model UN Conference in 2015, he also received the Best Delegate award. Outside of Model UN, he is the coordinator of UofSCRelief, the volunteer flood relief initiative of the University of South Carolina. He also serves as the director of Lead the Way, a voter registration and community engagement initiative.


Stevan Tempesta

Stevan is a deeply passionate individual hailing from a small town in New Hampshire. Since his nascence, he has been a natural leader, and aspired to make a positive, long-lasting global impact. After being elected both class and student body president in high school, and serving as president of his own Model UN organization (where he won an award at each conference he attended), Stevan matriculated to McGill University, in Montréal, Canada. He is currently pursuing a Joint-Honours degree in Political Science and Psychology. He hopes to use his degrees to help bridge the gaps between micro and macro levels of both group and individual behaviour. Since he began his studies, Stevan was elected Vice-President of Internal Operations of the International Relations Students’ Association of McGill (the youngest person to ever hold the position), he is the Co-Founder, Chairman & President of the SuperPAC “Veritas”, he has served as Sergeant-at-Arms for his fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon, and is the President of the Alumni Board for the Model United Nations Institute. Stevan aspires to graduate from McGill and earn both a J.D. and Masters in Psychology, after which he plans to either run for Governor of New Hampshire or enter the Foreign Service.


Rebecca HernandezHS4

Rebecca is a rising sophomore at Harvard University, planning to major in mathematics and acquire a language citation in Spanish. She first entered the world of Model United Nations her sophomore year of high school, and she attended NAIMUN her junior and senior years. Being an alum of Best Delegate (summer of 2014 at Georgetown University), she hopes to help and motivate other students the way the staff helped her when she was a participant. Currently, she participates in several teaching programs at college, which include topics like U.S. Government and International Relations. She hopes to become a teacher and a leader in education after graduating, her goals being to close the achievement gap and provide equal opportunities to everyone. Outside of MUN, her interests include soccer, music, and taking scenic walks in Boston.


Conna Walsh

Conna’s MUN career began in her freshman year of high school, when she was so nervous and afraid during her first conference that she couldn’t even say a single word in front of her committee. After gaining the necessary confidence, Conna has had over 8 years of MUN experience at both the high school and collegiate levels as an award-winning delegate, committee chair, conference organizer, and MUN teacher and trainer. She studied China & Asia-Pacific Studies and History at Cornell University, where she was a proud member of the Cornell International Affairs Society (CIAS), and worked the the organization’s Director of Training. Conna also worked as the Director of Operations, Chief of Staff, and Director-General of the high school level Cornell Model United Nations Conference (CMUNC) throughout her four years at school. Conna was also proud to serve as a Diplomacy Fellow for MUNI 2014. After graduating from Cornell in 2015, Conna has been based in Boston while working in the field of international education.

Residential Counselors

Olivia ChavezHS3

Olivia is a recent graduate from San Diego State University having majored in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in English, Political Science, and International Security and Conflict Resolution. Olivia embodies the ideals of a role model who strives to reach for her dreams and inspire others to do the same. Not only does she demonstrate her dedication to the SDSU community through campus involvement, but she also strives to enhance her personal and professional development through a variety of opportunities locally and internationally. She was involved with the University Honors Council, Professional Studies and Fine Arts Civil Core, Aztec Student Union Board, Aztec Nights, Scholars Without Borders, Honors Program, National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Delta Epsilon Iota. Her academic and professional skills are highly admirable and she is considered one of top-ranked students at SDSU within the Weber Honors College. Olivia possesses the required qualities that a future global professional is expected to have. Above all, her strong conceptual skills, rich ideas, and outstanding social skills make her an excellent candidate for working with other students.


Sadie WilliamsHS3

Sadie Williams is a rising senior at Truman State University in Missouri, where she is pursuing a major in history and a minor in Spanish. As a high school senior in Utah, Sadie worked as a tutor and grader at Kumon Learning Center, where she worked with students on reading, writing, and math skills. After attending a Girl Scout Camp in the mountains of Utah every summer for ten years, Sadie worked there as a counselor for two summers. She enjoyed teaching outdoor skills and helping girls become more confident and independent as they enjoyed being out in nature. In addition, Sadie has worked for three years as a Committee Director at the Regional High School MUN conference in San Francisco and she has studied abroad in Argentina and Spain.

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