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U.N.’s Shelly Pitterman to discuss refugee outlook, Cuba policy changes Feb. 13

Shelly Pitterman, who represents the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the U.S. and Caribbean, will visit Jacksonville University at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 13, in a rare local opportunity to engage with an influential leader with three decades’ experience in humanitarian refugee work.

Pitterman will offer an update on current refugee emergency situations, as well as offer an outlook on longer-term solutions to refugee challenges and a discussion of policy changes related to Cuba.shellypitterman

As a Regional Representative who heads the UNHCR office in Washington, D.C., he oversees relations with government and non-governmental partners, advocates for support for improved refugee policies and oversees operational activities. He also is involved in fundraising and diplomacy on substantive asylum and refugee policy issues.

The open forum with students and faculty in JU’s Sam R. Marks Chapel is free to the public.

“We are lucky to have this opportunity to hear from a U.N. High Commissioner,” said Dr. Douglas Hazzard, Dean of the JU College of Arts and Sciences.

Pitterman has 30 years’ experience in humanitarian U.N. refugee work in different leadership capacities: as head of district and capital field offices as well as headquarters services. He has supervised small and large teams, with a focus on operations as well as management processes. Pitterman works in partnership with governmental and non-governmental organizations on strategic and operational issues.

His experience and identity are rooted in his parents’ experience as survivors of the Holocaust. They met after World War II in a displaced persons camp in Germany, having fled their separate ways as teenagers from Poland when the Nazis invaded. They arrived in New York harbor with the help of the UN and HIAS (formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), with nothing but the address of their cousins, who were in the catering business at the time. Through perseverance and hard work, they dedicated themselves to their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

For more information on the Feb. 13 event, contact Suzy Foxwell at sfoxwel@ju.edu, (904) 256-7100.