Welcoming the Right Honourable Helen Clark to NAFSA 2017

April 24, 2017

By Esther Brimmer

Helen ClarkI am delighted to share the news that the Right Honourable Helen Clark, former administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will be the keynote speaker at the NAFSA 2017 Pathways to Peace Luncheon on Friday, June 2, 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

I first met Helen Clark in 2009 as I was starting my job as the United States assistant secretary for international organizations, just 11 days before she started as administrator of the UNDP. On my first trip to the United Nations headquarters in New York in my new capacity, Helen invited me to meet—and to have a nice lunch—so that we could get to know each other. She and I had a memorable talk about the priorities we brought to new jobs with global scope.

Now it is 2017, and I am starting a new job with global scope. Helen’s work has been on my mind since I began my tenure at NAFSA. Development affects billions of people. What role might international education play in sustainable development? What insights might Helen have on this question?

Recently, I represented NAFSA at the second Global Dialogue meeting in Mazatlán, Mexico. At that meeting with our international partner associations, NAFSA’s president Elaine Meyer-Lee and I renewed our commitment "to promote a global higher education agenda which is equitable, ethical, socially responsible, accessible, and accountable."

In Mexico, I was reminded that though the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are not always seen as a leading issue in the United States, in other countries—including major sending countries—the role of education in sustainable development shapes national policies. In those countries, the concept of sustainable development informs economic and social policies, which can expand the middle class and increase demands for higher education. By better understanding these trends, we are stronger partners within global higher education.

Helen Clark is the kind of thought leader who helps illuminate critical issues important to NAFSAns. As UNDP administrator and as the Prime Minister of New Zealand, she brings a uniquely valuable perspective to the work of international education. I am thrilled that Helen Clark has accepted my invitation to join me at the Pathways to Peace Luncheon at NAFSA 2017.

Please add the luncheon to your calendar.

Learn more about Helen Clark and the Pathways to Peace Luncheon at NAFSA 2017


Esther BrimmerEsther Brimmer, DPhil, is executive director and chief executive officer of NAFSA.


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