The Model United Nations Institute is organized and led by a team of Model UN professionals with experience running programs in over twenty countries.
Co-Founder & Program Director
Co-Founder & Program Director
Ryan Villanueva is the Co-Founder and Education Director of Best Delegate. With 18 years of Model UN experience, Ryan leads Best Delegate’s Model UN teacher training and certification programs. He works on aligning Model UN with education standards, including Common Core, International Baccalaureate, 21st Century Learning, and Global Citizenship Education. Ryan advises the United Nations, governments, NGOs, school districts, and educational organizations on how to create Model UN programs.
Ryan launched the website bestdelegate.com in his senior year of college because he thought he was done with Model UN. After graduation, Ryan worked at Goldman Sachs as a risk analyst during the 2008 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.
In addition to Best Delegate, Ryan volunteers on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including MUN Impact and Hope for Education and Leadership in Afghanistan. Ryan is a member of the Entrepreneurs Organization and serves as co-chair of the EO Accelerator program in Boston.
Ryan graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
Kevin Felix Chan
Co-Founder & Program Director
Kevin Felix Chan
Co-Founder & Program Director
Kevin — also known by his initials “KFC” — is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Best Delegate. He manages the Best Delegate team to deliver Model UN programs to over 5,000 students and teachers and Model UN resources to over 730,000 participants every year.
With over 18 years of Model UN experience, Kevin is a globally recognized expert in organizing and teaching Model UN camps, conferences, and workshops. Kevin has taught Model UN workshops in 19 countries around the world including programs for students, teachers, and staff at the Model UN Institute. He has organized 35 Model UN conferences including a dozen held at the UN Headquarters in New York. And he has authored over 430 articles about Model UN on BestDelegate.com and has spoken at Model UN conferences hosted by Yale, Stanford, and Princeton. One of his personal highlights was introducing former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the UN General Assembly Hall.
Prior to starting Best Delegate, Kevin was in the AT&T Leadership Development Program and held senior management positions in marketing, operations, and sales in San Francisco and Atlanta. However, he decided to quit his job at AT&T so that he could partner with one of his best friends to make a bigger impact and give back his Model UN experience. Kevin’s Model UN experience includes serving as the Secretary-General and Head Delegate for the UCLA Model UN program and as Secretary-General for UNA-USA Global Classrooms conferences in New York and Los Angeles. Kevin has traveled to over 60 countries and enjoys exploring the world’s cities and cuisines.
Kevin graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, cum laude. He also received a Certificate in Financial Management from Cornell University and a Certificate in International Studies from Fudan University in China. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
Director of Partnerships
Director of Partnerships
Laurabeth Goldsmith is the Director of Partnerships at Best Delegate. She has developed partnerships with governments, nonprofit organizations, school districts, and businesses to create sustainable, student-led, and standards-aligned Model UN Programs. Laurabeth has traveled to more than fifty countries and has led Model UN trainings for thousands of students and educators around the world. This has included pioneering a multi year partnership with IDEA Public Schools (61 charter schools). Laurabeth also served as Program Director for the MUN Institute summer programs at Harvard, Georgetown, Columbia, and more.
Laurabeth believes in the power of Model UN to help create global citizens and to empower students to succeed in college and beyond. Prior to joining the team at Best Delegate Laurabeth worked for the Carter Center and Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. She was also the President of Emory’s Model UN team and helped to transform the team into one of the top 15 MUN teams in the country.
Laurabeth is an activist for gender equality and has volunteered with Girl Scouts for more than 20 years including in her current role as Girl Leadership Committee Advisor. In her free time she loves to travel, hike, kayak, and scuba dive.
Laurabeth graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and completed the Community Building and Social Change Fellowship. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
Erik Leiden is a Program Director for Best Delegate. Erik is responsible for organizing Best Delegate’s MUN Institute, international workshops, and Model UN conferences around the world by creating the curriculum that thousands of Best Delegate students learn each year, and organizing the staff, facilities, and materials needed to create amazing experiences for all the delegates at Best Delegate events. Erik works closely with the UN Department of Public Information, the World Federation of United Nations Associations, and the THIMUN Foundation to coordinate Model UN programming in every major procedure. Erik’s responsibilities include organizing the WFUNA International Model UN (WIMUN), the most accurate portrayal of the UN of any conference in the world, and the largest conference using UN4MUN procedures. Erik has worked with partners and students from over 130 different countries to create educational and impactful MUN programs.
Erik has been participating in Model UN for 11 years. While in university, Erik served as the Secretary-General of OSUMUN, and as President and Head Delegate of the Model UN program at The Ohio State. Erik started working with Best Delegate in 2013 to coordinate Model UN programs around the world, including serving as the Secretary-General of Global Classrooms International Middle School Model UN (GCIMSMUN), and coordinating programs in South Korea, India, Italy, and across the United States prior to graduation. Erik enjoys traveling, reading, writing, and participating in triathlons.
Erik graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor’s degree in World Politics. He currently lives in Amsterdam.
Community Development Manager
Community Development Manager
Aaron Kalafarski is the Community Development Manager of Best Delegate. In his current position Aaron works with hundreds of families, students, and educators to join the MUN Institute every summer. Most recently, Aaron also has been visiting schools and conferences within the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area to bring his MUN expertise to new and established MUN programs.
Aaron started reading Best Delegate’s blog as a Sophomore in high school. Aaron would go on to work with Best Delegate’s MUN Institute starting in 2013 as MUN Mentor. He eventually became a Program Manager for the MUN Institute at Georgetown, Columbia, Harvard, and other locations. He would join the team full time in 2016. Before this Aaron participated as a delegate and in several leadership positions in over 50 MUN conferences. Some of these opportunities included being the Secretary-General of his University’s MUN conference GatorMUN, teaching MUN at over 20 different Universities and across 4 countries, and being the Editor-in-Chief of Best Delegate’s Global Media Team. He also lived in South Korea for a year after graduating where he taught English to students ranging from 4 to 30.
In his free time Aaron enjoys consuming pop culture, supporting Manchester United F.C., exercising, listening to politics podcasts, and learning.
Aaron graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, cum laude. He also received an International Relations certificate. He lives in Washington, DC.
MUN Institute Staff
We 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!
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 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.
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 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.
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 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 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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
After 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 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 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.
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 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.