ABOUT

UNA-LA's mission is to inspire, educate, and mobilize the LA Community to support the vital work of the United Nations.

Our Team

President : Jillian B.

As president of the Los Angeles Chapter for the past 3 years, Jillian has enjoyed bringing her international experience to the local level in her hometown of Los Angeles. With a master’s degree in International Relations from University of Queensland, Australia, Jillian has an insatiable desire to learn from other cultures and develop solutions to global issues. She was able to do both while conducting research for her master’s thesis in remote villages outside Siem Reap, Cambodia. During this time, Jillian created a human trafficking prevention initiative with New Hope Cambodia and re-instated a women’s reproductive health program in collaboration with Marie Stope’s International Clinic. Jillian is currently a marketing and sales representative for an internationally renowned ethical jeweler. In her current role, she utilizes photography, content creation and marketing strategies to ensure economic prosperity and preserve traditional arts for communities around the world. You can find her in local coffee shops, independent bookstores, and enjoying all the outdoor activities LA has to offer.


Vice President: Varsha N., JD

Varsha is passionate about advocacy, diversity/addressing bias, healing, wellness, and resiliency amongst other important issues.


Varsha is an International Speaker, Mayo Clinic Trained Wellness Coach and Founder of ROAR Training Consulting, LLC (ROAR TC®).The mission of ROAR T&C® is to bring awareness on key social issues and providing professionals with tools to enhance services for diverse populations (ROAR TC: Reflect, Observe, Analyze, and Respond®). She received her BA from Columbia University and later received her JD.

Varsha provides innovative trainings to law enforcement, judges, lawyers, military on healing and resiliency, diversity, bias, domestic violence/sexual assault nationally and around the world-Spain, Australia, Italy, Rwanda, India etc. Varsha has served as a domestic violence/sexual assault advocate in hospital settings and 24 Hour crisis helplines. She has worked with diverse populations from Somalia, Nepal, India, Sierra Leon, Iraq, Russia, Ethiopia, amongst others and also received training through Harvard Medical School’s Program in Global Mental Health Refugee Trauma. Varsha serves on the Los Angeles Police Department DNA Taskforce, the Board of Directors of End Violence Against Women International, Co-Chair of the Los Angeles Domestic Violence Council’s Religion and Domestic Violence Committee and has also served as Advisory Council for United Nations Women Los Angeles.

Treasurer : Candis H.

Candis Hawkes is a representative for the David Geffen Company, a business management firm. Candis has worked in the accounting and finance field since 1997 for various types of companies and industries including helping many small businesses grow into successful profitable companies. Candis is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Westchester Lodge #2050. She served as an officer from 2014-2016 and as Treasurer from 2016-2017. Candis volunteers at community events involving helping homeless women & children, veterans as well as participating in walks to support Breast Cancer research. Candis enjoys live music, reading and the outdoors, including snow sports and hiking. She also loves to meet friends out at new restaurants to enjoy new types of cuisine.


Vice President of Fundraising : Paraag Lal

An established 21 year entrepreneur in the technology, financial and real estate industries, Paraag has been an innovator, helping grow two successful $2 Billion dollar businesses at Intel & Cisco. He has leveraged his experience in venture financing, private equity, due diligence & deal analysis to consult for High Net Worth Investors investing in innovative opportunities from start-up to significant growth, while exceeding the expectations of his loyal clientele.

Vice President of Membership : Gabriela Soto

The core vision in my life is to create a world where all belong. As a Leadership, Management and Strategy Consultant, I am continuously creating new ways to empower people and organizations.

I have been working in the US and internationally for the last 20 + years enabling leaders and their teams to operate and think in new ways, expanding their leadership and creating new cultures of purpose and performance. My consulting and executive coaching work includes challenges that are multi-national and cross-cultural in nature with focus on team communication, alignment, performance and strategy and management in industries ranging from retail, oil and gas, construction, development, real estate, financial, risk management and technology.

I have a passion for empowering clients to realize their personal dreams while fulfilling their organizations vision,mission and strategic business results, creating a positive impact in their communities.

The proven and unique methodology I offer changes people’s performance and gives them access to new levels of satisfaction and extraordinary results.

Passionate about my work and life. You could find me at the gym, catching Sunsets, taking photos of flowers, creating experiences with my daughter, family and friends from going to listen technomusic, hiking to meditating, reading a book, having a great cup of coffee, playing tennis, … Cooking is one of my love expressions, so you could find me choosing vegetables and fruits at the market too.

Board Member : Jennie Dean

Jennie Dean recently became the Vice President of Education and Conservation at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Prior to this role, she was a Program Director at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Jennie has worked in the field of marine conservation policy since 2007. She held a series of roles with the federal government (White House Council on Environmental Quality, U.S. Navy) and nonprofits (Pew Charitable Trusts, Global Ocean Commission, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation). Through these, she had the opportunity to engage in a wide range of ocean topics including marine spatial planning, sea turtle conservation, ocean observing systems, ridge to reef management, high seas governance, and marine debris.


Her educational background is in environmental management with a master’s degree from Duke University and bachelor’s from Princeton University. In her free time, you can find her at the beach, sailing, or hiking in the Santa Monica mountains.

Board Member : Felita Wong Shen

Born in Hollywood and raised in the Westside, Felita moved to the Bay Area and stumbled upon Yahoo! in the mid-1990s, where she got to create her own job description: internet evangelist, goodwill ambassador, developer of online sponsorships and charitable campaigns. She ‘taught’ celebrities and VIPs how to use the Internet, showed them how to expand their online presence. Within the company, she was called the “heart and soul of Yahoo’, and helped build and chair the Yahoo! Employee Fund. Retired since 1999, she is a "connector" and loves to put her energies into personal development, empowering projects and experiences (Miss California/Miss America Organization, Tony Robbins Platinum Partnership, USC Asian Pacific Alumni Association Board of Directors, USC Delta Phi Kappa Alumnae Association Board President, The Netherland’s “Free A Girl” Ambassador). Her favorite cities: Paris (2ème), NYC (Meatpacking), Kaka'ako (Honolulu), and her hometown Los Angeles (Westside). LA Faves: Gjelina and Gjusta, Rose Cafe, Sun Nong Dan (kalbi-jjim flambè), Cheng-du Taste and Sichuan Impression (Szechuan chili chicken), Destroyer (koshihikari rice porridge), Superba (kouign amann).

Board Member: Alyssa Grigoryan

Alyssa Grigoryan heads Inspections at Southern California Edison (SCE), one of the nation's largest electric utilities. She is responsible for inspecting SCE's assets located in high fire areas, utilizing drones and helicopters, in support of wildfire mitigation. Prior to this role, Grigoryan was the principal manager of the Strategic Business Partner group, directing the business partner team, compensation, employee relations, and organizational effectiveness functions. She brings nearly 25 years of experience across a diverse range of industries to her current role, having served in numerous leadership positions of increasing responsibility.


Previously, Grigoryan was the senior manager of the employee relations department, directing a team of employee relations investigators, overseeing compliance of company policies, corrective action, and strategic performance improvement initiatives.


Prior to serving in this position at SCE, she led the Human Resources organization at Transamerica and Grancell, Lebovitz, Stander, Barnes and Reubens (GLSBR) as the head of Human Resources, overseeing all HR functions, including people strategy, staffing, learning and development, executive leadership development, executive successions and talent management, total rewards, employee relations, as well as organizational effectiveness and development.


Grigoryan also worked for Valley Community Clinic as a Certified Health Educator, Coach, and Counselor, conducting health education and coaching to high-risk teenagers with a focus on pregnancy, disease, and addiction prevention.


Grigoryan has a Ph.D. in Business Psychology with a focus in Organizational Leadership from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She received a Master of Business Administration degree and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. Grigoryan has proudly served in the United States Air Force as a Personnel Specialist. She serves as the Secretary on the Executive Board of the United Nations Association of the Los Angeles chapter.

Volunteer : Jennifer B.

Jennifer is passionate about affordable housing, international development and education. As a program manager in tech Jennifer has designed and led transformational projects for companies, universities, and the public sector.


Her experience has led her to speak at the United Nations General Assembly as well as join boards such as the Housing Council for Urban Land Institute.