Former UNICEF director heads to Vermont

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(Host) After ten years as Executive Director of UNICEF, the United Nations Childrens Fund, Carol Bellamy is stepping down this week.

She’ll be heading to Vermont, where she’ll become president and CEO of Brattleboro’s World Learning and School for International Training.

VPR’s Susan Keese reports:

(Keese) World Learning operates one of the longest-standing international student exchange programs in the country. It includes a graduate school and training programs for international business people. Its development arm, based in Washington D.C., has training programs in more than one-hundred countries.

Bellamy says World Learning’s mission matches her own passion for social justice and international understanding.

(Bellamy) “World Learning is involved in these issues and presents an extraordinary opportunity to keep my hand in, trying to opens people’s eyes, especially young people and give them an opportunity to see a bigger world out there.”

(Keese) Working on the bigger picture has been a hallmark of Bellamy’s UNICEF tenure. She’s been criticized for expanding the agency’s scope to include women’s issues and children’s rights as well as children’s welfare.

Bellamy has challenged governments and leaders to provide universal education and address HIV/AIDS. She’s heightened awareness of the problem of the exploitation of children as sex slaves or combatants in war.

(Bellamy) “One can’t ignore the fact that with the expanding proliferation and conflict around the world that ninety percent of the victims today are civilian, not military. These are the issues that must be confronted. If they are not, then we are doing a disservice to children and a world that’s fit for children.”

(Keese) Bellamy, a lawyer, has also worked in corporate finance and investment banking. Before she was asked by President Clinton to head UNICEF, she served two years as director of the Peace Corps.

Bellamy has already rented a house in Brattleboro in preparation for her new venture. She says she plans to do a lot of listening and learning, rather than setting goals, especially at first.

(Bellamy) “The mission is there. The people I’ve met at World Learning are really energetic and looking forward. I hope I bring some good experience. I hope I bring some energy. I think it’s a time when the challenges for intercultural understanding, for promoting social justice and international economic development are certainly under some degree of pressure around the world. So I hope I can build on what is already an existing institution and even strengthen it further.”

(Keese) Bellamy officially takes office May 16.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Susan Keese.

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