MORE ABOUT NYLESA  | How we work


NYLESA is managed by a Steering Committee (SC) comprising of six members: Chairperson, Co-Chairperson, Treasurer and 3 working group Coordinators. 

All of these positions are democratically elected by the association members at the Annual General Meeting, and any regular member has the right to stand for election. 

SC members serve one-year term (April - March), on a volunteer basis. Inevitably, due to relocation or other reasons, active SC member(s) may withdraw from the postition. In this case, replacement will be arranged by additional election or in case of short remaining term, be appointed by the SC. 

 2018-2019 Steering Committee
(Left to right: Eric Pasqualli, Zein Dudha, Francine Afane, Davina Solomon and Tuba Durrani; absent: Hong Xiao)

SC Members (Jun 2020 - Mar 2021)


  • Chairperson: Yen Nguyen

  • Co-chairperson: Natalia Chernysh

  • Treasurer: Siham Bloch

  • Welcome Coordinator: Soraya King

  • Career Support Coordinator: Julien Soufflet

  • Communication Coordinator: Ana Danchevska 

Bios of Interim Steering Committee Members 

Chairperson: Yen Nguyen

I’m from Vietnam and moved to New York in the summer 2016 when my husband joined UNDP.  I am a communications specialist with a MSc in this field and more than 15-year experience working for international development and UN agencies.

NYLESA embraced me from the moment I joined and has given me so many friends. In return, I volunteer with communication team and provide support to other teams and members, and have stepped in as the Communication Group Coordinator/SC member when required.    

Beyond a supportive community, I strongly believe NYLESA is and should be seen as a professional establishment, even though it is fully run by volunteers. I will continue to contribute to that.

Co-Chairperson: Natalia Chernysh

I am from Russia. I have a Masters in French Language and Literature, and have lived and worked in Saint-Petersburg, and UN’s duty stations in Nairobi and Vienna.

Arriving in New York almost three years ago, I intended to find UN Women’s Guild, an organization I volunteered for several years in Kenya but somehow found NYLESA first. This lucky coincidence and the nice and warm people from NYLESA helped me get through my first time in the Big Apple.

Seeing the lack of volunteers, I decided to help and I have been part of the membership team since August 2018. I volunteer to help new spouses arriving to this great and controversial city finding this supportive community, the same way I did when I joined NYLESA. I hope all members can contribute, even just a little so the association can further thrive to help UN spouses even more in their sometimes not so easy life in a foreign country.

Treasurer:  Siham Block

I am from Sudan and my background is Human Rights and Conflict Management. I have previously worked with UNICEF, UNDP as a program analyst . I also held the position of President of the Parent Teacher Association of a NYC school.

I arrived to New York in 2016. NYLESA is a great community for families like ours; it is the support we rely on far away from our country and family. I lived in multiple duty station, such as Algeria, Kenya, Turkey, Egypt and Germany. I found it hard to readjust to the new climate and culture. My difficulties each time were alleviated when connecting with other UN spouses at the country level.

I have been Treasurer in the Steering Committee and would like to continue this term.

Career Support Group Coordinator: Julien Soufflet

I am from France and moved to New York in spring 2019, when my wife got her first duty assignment for the UN. I have a master’s degree in engineering and I have worked as an IT consultant and project manager for more than eleven years. Now I am looking for new career opportunities in the Big Apple.

I joined NYLESA as it gives me the opportunity to meet people who relocated here from all over the world and share common experience with them. I am also glad I was able to get involved in a working group in 2019 and support the association in the help it provides to all members.

Welcome Group Coordinator: Soraya King

I am from Zimbabwe. My background is in sales, marketing, advertising, and HR. For the past 10 years I have worked at various levels including Chair/Director in different NGO and volunteer organizations in a number of African countries.

Arrived in New York in October 2019 and was daunted by everything, I joined NYLESA following the information provided by UNICEF. I enjoy socializing, meeting new people, trying new adventures and giving back to the community. Those are the reasons I want to go for the Welcome Group Coordinator position and also to share my past experience.


Communication Group Coordinator: Ana Danchevska 

I’m a Macedonian born in Croatia. I arrived to New York almost six months ago for my partner’s job with UNICEF, and hope to develop a career and explore this city and life here.

I have a degree in International Trade and have worked in administration, finance and HR, and the last position as Program Coordinator in Academy of Arts. Prior to my degree, I also worked as a model and engaged in several artistic projects such as Feature Film, Radio Drama and TV Fashion Show.

I joined NYLESA since the lock down and to me it means support, connection, communication, it has made my time here so much more productive, optimistic and meaningful. I would like to express my gratitude to all the members and volunteers for everything they do, it is a great help.


Functions of the Steering Committee

  • to take all appropriate measures to further the Purpose and Objectives of NYLESA in accordance with the Bylaws, and with the NYLESA Regulations;

  • to implement decisions taken at Annual General Meetings and General Meetings;

  • to create and adopt and implement policies, guidelines, rules and regulations for the effective day-to-day management of the affairs of NYLESA;

  • to develop the NYLESA Annual Work Plan for approval at the Annual General Meeting;

  • to implement the activities of the Annual Work Plan;

  • to develop and present an Annual Report and a Financial Report for approval at the Annual General Meeting; and

  • to provide relevant information to the Membership on the activities of NYLESA via the NYLESA website, and to maintain this information updated;

Responsibilities of the Steering Committee Members


  • promote all affairs of the Association within the International Civil Service;

  • prepare, in consultation with the Steering Committee, agendas  for Annual General Meetings, Special General Meetings, General Meetings and Steering Committee Meetings;

  • chair Annual General Meetings, Special General Meetings, General Meetings and Steering Committee Meetings;

  • support, coordinate and enhance the work of Working Groups;

  • maintain relationships with the Global Expatriate Spouse Association (GESA), with contacts within the various International Civil Service entities in New York and other partners relevant to promoting and advocating the NYLESA’s Purpose and Objectives;

  • guide, in consultation with the Working Group Coordinators, the development and updating or revision of NYLESA’s Annual Work Plan;

  • draft the NYLESA’s Annual Report; and

  • report regularly to the Steering Committee on his/her activities.


  • support and/or deputize for the NYLESA Chairperson in his/her responsibilities;

  • disseminate all relevant information to NYLESA members;

  • maintain an accurate record of NYLESA Members

  • prepare and send out meeting invitations for NYLESA Annual General Meetings, Special General Meetings, General Meetings and Steering Committee Meetings;

  • draft, circulate and maintain a record of minutes of NYLESA Annual General Meetings, Special General Meetings, General Meetings and Steering Committee Meetings; and

  • report regularly to the Steering Committee on his/her activities.


  • manage monies and money transactions held by or on behalf of NYLESA;

  • maintain a detailed record of all income and expenditure; and

  • draft NYLESA’s annual Financial Report; and

  • report regularly to the Steering Committee on his/her activities.

Working Group Coordinators

  • further the Purpose and Objectives of NYLESA in accordance with the Working Group’s mandate;

  • report regularly to the Steering Committee on his/her activities, and those of the Working Group;

  • prepare written contributions on the activities of the Working Group for inclusion in the NYLESA Annual Report;

  • to provide information on the Working Group’s activities to the Members of NYLESA; and

  • participate in the management and guidance of NYLESA in the Steering Committee.

We wish to acknowledge the hard work and time spent by previous Steering Committees building our organization into the vibrant and active group it is today.

(CWG=Communication Working Group, CSWG=Career Support Working Group, WWG=Welcome Working Group)

Interim SC Members (Mar-Jun 2020)

Chairperson: Maija Tiippana

Co-chairperson: Natalia Chernysh

Treasurer: Siham Bloch

Welcome Coordinator: Soraya King

Career Support Coordinator: Julien Soufflet

Communication Coordinator: Yen Nguyen

2019 - 2020

Chairperson: Davina E. Solomon

Co-chairperson: Alejandro Torrealba

Treasurer: Siham Bloch 

Welcome Coordinator: Francine Afane

Career Support Coordinator:  Hong Xiao

Communication Coordinator: Gabriel Amsellem

2018 - 2019

Chairperson: Tuba Durrani

Co-chairperson: Paola Triolo (March - October) / Davina E. Solomon (November - March) 

Treasurer: Eric Pasqualli 

Welcome Coordinator: Pierre Tamer (March - October) / Francine Afane

Career Support Coordinator: Nessreen Bahaa Edin Abuzeid (March - May)/ Hong Xiao

Communication Coordinator: Shivani Berry (March - August) / Davina E. Solomon (Acting co-ordinator) / Zein Dudha  (November - March) 


Chairperson: Tuba Durrani

Co-chairperson: Paola Triolo

Treasurer: Eric Pasqualli

Welcome Coordinator: Odalea Freire

Career Support Coordinator: Nessreen Bahaa Edin Abuzeid

Communication Coordinator (external): Nina Eneroth / Yen Nguyen (Acting co-ordinator)

Communication Co-ordinator (internal): Fiorella Vitale (March - November) / Davina E. Solomon - Weekly Agenda (January - March)


Chair: Banu Chediek

Co-chair: Teresa Lago

Treasurer: Pascal Commovick

CWG: Rosalía Galan

CSWG: Saionara König-Reis

WWG: Nada Pottinger


Chair: Michelle Negreros

Co-chair: Florina Aldeas

Treasurer: Carlos Martinez

CWG: Clare Robertson

CSWG: Ruwanthika Geeganage

WWG: Annette Wolter/Nada Pottinger

Chair: Olivier Caudron
Co-chair: Michelle Negreros
Treasurer: Francesca De Cesare
CWG: Julia Tilinga
CSWG: Cristina Bertarelli
WWG: Florina Aldea

Chair: Olivier Caudron
Co-chair: Michelle Negreros
Treasurer: Teresa Sola
CWG: Paul Henderson
CSWG: Elizabeth Nash
WWG: Florina Aldea

Chair: Angela Bamblett
Co-chair: Teresa Sola
Treasurer: Francesse Bertrand
CWG: Sirkku Lakkonen
CSWG: Dorian Lacombe
WWG: Olivier Caudron

Chair: Mayank Jain
Co-chair: Lora Davis & Dorian Lacombe
Treasurer: Elsa Begne
CWG: Sirkku Lakkonen
CSWG: Ravi Kumar Gandham
WWG: Teresa Sola


NYLESA is functioned by member active contribution, we encourage members to participate voluntarily in one of our  working groups:

Welcome Working Group (WWG)

The Welcome Group organizes NYLESA's regular monthly social gatherings (coffee, cocktail etc) and other social events. It oversees the membership team, and also helps assist new members as they settle into New York.

Career Support Working Group (CSWG)

The Career Support Group works to support and promote our members' professional development and assists with networking and job-search information both within and outside the UN. It also hosts a variety of language practice tables and job-related seminars and workshops.

Communication Working Group (CWG)

The Communication Group provides the association with communication and marketing tools. This group creates, publishes, monitors and updates content for the website and social media platforms as well as creates newsletters, brochures and other promotional materials.

Membership Team

The Membership Team is the first point of contact for new members and provides them with support and information on signing up process and how to get the best of the membership. The team keeps track of members registration, renewal and supports internal outreach.


NYLESA is managed and functioned by volunteers and thus always welcomes any volunteer contribution. Whether you want to gain experience working in a non-profit association, or would like to share your expertise or time - for event-based, short or long term, do let us know by completeing the volunteeer form or write to

  • Coffee Gathering Coordinator
  • Cocktail Gathering Coordinator
  • Special Events Coordinator: Lora Wiley
  • Support Group Coordinator
  • Buddy Program Coordinator 
  • NYLESA Connect Coordinator
  • Language and Culture Coordinators 
  • Monthly Career Seminar Lead 
  • Career Seminars
  • Roster Manager 
  • Linkedin Group Lead
  • Linkedin Manager



  • NYLESA Weekly Newsletter Team
  • Website
  • Branding Strategy
  • Social Media/Facebook Team (Business Page, Private Group and Marketplace)
  • Communication Platforms Admin and Manager (Website, Google Suite, Mailchimp)
  • NYLESA Photographers
  • Podcast Team