Our Mission & History
UNA USA NNJ is a chapter of the UNA USA.
We are dedicated to educating, inspiring, and mobilizing Americans to support the principles and vital work of the United Nations and its agencies. Our nationwide network is committed to strengthening the United Nations system, promoting constructive United States leadership in that system, and achieving the goals set forth in the UN Charter. UNA-USA is a program of the United Nations Foundation. UNA-USA and its partner organization, the Better World Campaign, comprise the largest network of UN advocates in the world.
The Northern New Jersey Chapter was formed in November 2010 with the merger of the former Montclair and Bergen County Chapters. We cover the entire northern half of New Jersey and welcome members from the area.
The Montclair Chapter has a long and interesting history. The Montclair Chapter of AAUN (now UNA) was founded 1947, just two years after the UN was organized. It was a strong educational force in the community, bringing to Montclair such famous luminaries as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz (former members of the U.S. Delegation to the UN), the former Syrian and Iranian Ambassadors in the 1950s, a member of the British Parliament, and others of world eminence. The Chapter founders were John T. Rice, the first Chapter President, and Elvira K. Fradkin (1891-1972). In 2000 the Montclair Chapter and the South Orange-Maplewood-Milburn Chapter merged to form the Essex County/Montclair Chapter.
The roots of the Northern New Jersey (NNJ) Chapter date back to 2010. Donna joined UNA-USA that year and subsequently learned that the two chapters in the area, the Montclair and Bergen County Chapters, had not been active for some time. Working with the National office and the Southern New York Division, she brought together the residual members of the two chapters to form the NNJ Chapter in November 2010. In one year the original membership of 45 ballooned to 140. Donna served as President of the chapter for eight years.
UNA-USA works closely with the United Nations Foundation and its sister organization, the Better World Campaign, to strengthen the U.S.-UN relationship. These current partnerships continue a long history of UNA-USA helping bolster American support for the UN.
The American Association for the United Nations, UNA-USA’s predecessor organization, grew from the League of Nations Association in 1943. A group of prominent citizens, including the first executive director, Clark M. Eichelberger, activated the association to promote acceptance of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals in the late years of World War II. Among the association’s early actions was a national tour by a number of US representatives to spread the word and gain support for American adherence to the Dumbarton proposals, which led to the creation of the UN.
When First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, a member of the association’s board of directors, completed her term as a US representative to the UN General Assembly in late 1951, she walked into the association’s offices and asked for something to do. Her offer was gratefully accepted, and in early 1953, she established an office at the association’s headquarters.
This was the quiet beginning of a major campaign in which Mrs. Roosevelt carried the message of the American Association for the United Nations across the country through personal appearances, recruitment speeches and fund-raising efforts that continued until her death in November 1962. She was elected chairwoman of the board in 1961.
In 1964, the association merged with the US Committee for the United Nations, a group of 138 national organizations supporting the work of the UN, thereby creating the United Nations Association of the United States of America. Since then, several distinguished Americans have served in positions of leadership at UNA-USA. These include Arthur J. Goldberg, former Justice of the US Supreme Court and US permanent representative to the United Nations; James S. McDonnell, former chairman of the McDonnell-Douglas Corporation; Elliot L. Richardson, former US attorney general and US representative to the Law of the Sea Conference; William Scranton, former governor of Pennsylvania and US permanent representative to the United Nations; Cyrus Vance, former secretary of state; and John C. Whitehead, former deputy secretary of state.
In 2010, UNA-USA formed a strategic alliance with the UN Foundation. Under the new alliance UNA-USA continued as a robust membership program of the Foundation. Together, UNA-USA and the UN Foundation are pooling their talents to increase public education and advocacy on the work of the UN.