UVU | United Nations NGO Conference Biographies

Carolina Allen

Carolina Allen | Founder and Board Member, Big Ocean Women

Big Ocean Women is a maternal feminist organization dedicated to representing perspectives of faith, family, and motherhood. Carolina, a native of Brazil, holds a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Utah with an emphasis in cultural religions and philosophy of science. Carolina’s groundbreaking work has been presented at various international conferences including the Women of the Mountains Conference, The World Congress of Families, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and the United Nations Habitat III Conference.

Jeff Brez

Jeff Brez | Chief, DPI NGO Section, United Nations

Jeffrey “Jeff” Brez has been named Chief of the new and enhanced NGO Relations and Advocacy Section of the United Nations Department of Public Information. Jeff’s work in international humanitarian aid and development assistance spanned more than a decade and covered a range of issues, including children’s and women’s rights, refugee assistance, child soldiers, heath, education, sustainable agriculture and food security, environmental sustainability, anti-corruption and climate change.  His experience includes strategic communications and campaign planning, social media, video and photography, knowledge product development, and events. 

SLC Mayor Jackie Biskupski

Jackie Biskupski | Mayor, Salt Lake City

With a degree in criminal justice from Arizona State University, and a family history of entrepreneurialism, Jacqueline “Jackie” M. Biskupski moved to Utah and began her career by forming her own private investigation firm. After making her home in Salt Lake City for more than ten years, Jackie was elected to a seat in the Utah House of Representatives in 1998, representing the Liberty Wells, Sugar House and Central City neighborhoods of Salt Lake City. Being the first, openly gay elected official in Utah instilled in Jackie a commitment to be a voice for change and diversity whenever she had the opportunity. For 13-years on Capitol Hill, Jackie fulfilled that promise by standing up for LGBT families on issues such as adoption. Jackie Biskupski was elected as Salt Lake City’s 35th mayor in 2015 and was sworn in on January 4th, 2016.

McKenzie Cantlon

McKenzie Cantlon | Manager, Women of the World

McKenzie Cantlon is a recent graduate from the University at Buffalo, located in Buffalo, NY, studying Political Science, Psychology, and Legal Studies. It was there she first discovered the momentous need of helping refugees coming into the United States. While working as an intern for the legal and then employment department of a refugee resettlement agency, she recognized the extreme barriers refugees face to become self-sufficient in their new country. After relocating to Salt Lake City, Utah in 2017 she started working at Women of the World, continuing the work of supporting refugees on their journey to self-sufficiency. She is so proud to be a part of an organization dedicated to bettering the lives of refugee women.

Ahmad Corbitt

Ahmad Corbitt | LDS Charities, Salt Lake City

Ahmad Corbitt currently represents LDS Charities in Salt Lake City. He was most recently director of the New York Office of Public and International Affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He managed aspects of the Church’s public affairs domestically and represented the Church to the international community based in New York. Corbitt has hosted numerous United Nations ambassadors, consuls, Heads of State and other international dignitaries on behalf of the Church. He represented the Church on the Boards of Directors of the National Bible Association and the National Interfaith Cable Coalition (Odyssey Networks).

Rebekah Ellsworth

Rebekah Ellsworth | Globus Relief

Rebekah currently works with Globus Relief, the largest gift-in-kind non-profit in Utah. At Globus, Rebekah contributes to a wide spectrum of the charity’s mission and operations, including strategy, finance and accounting, donor relations, marketing, web design, business process and technology. Previous to her time at Globus, Rebekah worked at the Federal Reserve in Washington, DC, where she assisted in programs related to the 2008 financial crisis and oversaw production of the 2009 United States financial statements. In the non-profit realm, she has done field work for various charities in Africa and India and assisted in the origination of Singular Humanitarian, a charity specializing in humanitarian expeditions.

Sam Elzinga

Sam Elzinga | President, Utah International Mountain Forum

Samuel Elzinga is a sophomore at Utah Valley University studying Political Science and National Security Studies. He is the president of the Foreign Affairs Club and the Utah International Mountain Forum, a coalition of clubs at UVU.

Justin Harnish

Justin Harnish | Co-Founder, Women of the World

Justin Harnish’s is a writer, engineer, strategic planner, and non-profit founder. Justin is finishing his second book, “Meaning in the Multiverse,” a journey through different theories of  existence and what they tell us about universal versus personal meaning. Justin is the co-Founder of Women of the World, a refugee service non-profit started in 2010.  Justin is newly back from Geneva where Women of the World’s other co-founder, Samira Harnish, was recently awarded the Americas Nansen Award from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for excellence in refugee service.

Jennifer Hogge

Jennifer Hogge | Executive Director, Engage Africa Now

ennifer Hogge is currently the Executive Director for Engage Now Africa, an international NGO that funds programs and teaches self-reliant skills to individuals and families in Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Namibia.  Previous to coming to ENA, she was a donor liaison for LDS Philanthropies a Department of the Office of the Presiding Bishopric for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Her primary responsibilities were to help facilitate, correlate, and encourage voluntary gifts to both Humanitarian Services and BYU-Hawaii.

Ryan Koch

Ryan Koch | LDS Charities; Director, Public and International Affairs Office in New York City for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints>/p>

Beginning in 2014, Ryan Koch has overseen the Church’s outreach to the diplomatic communities in New York and at the United Nations, including representing LDS Charities, the Church’s humanitarian arm. Ryan is also responsible for liaising with religious umbrella organizations in New York. Prior to his work for the Church of Jesus Christ, Ryan spent 11 years as a Public Diplomacy Officer for the U.S. State Department. During this time he served abroad at the U.S. Embassies in Manila, Philippines; Kyiv, Ukraine; and Stockholm, Sweden.

Baldomero Lago

Baldomero Lago | UVU Chief International Officer, Official Representative to the United Nations - DPI

A native of Santander, Spain Dr. Lago arrived to the US in 1987 to embark on an educational journey that continues to this day.  As the Chief International Officer for Utah Valley University, Dr. Lago organizes and manages UVU’s global and intercultural academic initiatives; working mainly with external communities including the Governor´s Office of Economic Development of the State of Utah, the United Nations, and many other organizations, chambers, and global companies.  

Felipe Quiepo

Felipe Queipo | Information Officer, DPI NGO Relations, United Nations

Mr. Felipe Queipo began his United Nations career at the NGO Relations & Advocacy Section of the Department of Public Information (DPI) in 2008. Felipe is the focal point for faith-based organizations within DPI. In this capacity, he leads the team that organizes the "Focus on Faith" briefings within the Department, an initiative that studies the links between faith traditions and religious organizations, and the work and mission of the United Nations.

Astrid Tuminez

Astrid Tuminez | President, Utah Valley University

Following a rich and storied career in business, philanthropy, and academia, Dr. Astrid S. Tuminez became the seventh president of Utah Valley University in 2018. She is the first woman to serve full-time as UVU president. Raised in the slums of the Philippines, Tuminez rose to become a world leader in the fields of technology and political science, most recently serving as an executive at Microsoft. She is also the former vice dean of research and assistant dean of executive education at the Lee Kuan Yw School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.

Lonny Word

Lonny Ward | Field Project Director, Choice Humanitarian

Lonny Ward is the International Field Director for CHOICE Humanitarian. He leads eight in-country teams that run programs which teach the extreme poor how to create prosperity through family and community development. In 2009, Lonny found his true passion when he began working with non-profit organizations striving to solve extreme poverty through small-scale agriculture and community development. Lonny has traveled extensively in this endeavor, working in Bolivia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mexico, Nepal and Peru. Lonny loves to work with rural communities, and finds great joy in helping them catch the vision of how they can improve their lives