Opening Ceremonies
This year, instead of a traditional keynote speaker, we at the American University Model United Nations Conference want to recognize leaders who are committed to making change and inspiring young activists to be a part of diplomacy -- two key values of AmeriMUNC.

In pursuit of applauding leaders for their work in diplomacy, current affairs, and education, as well as in recognizing the importance of their work, we are honored to announce two inaugural awards this year; the American University International Relations Society Educator of the Year Award to an inspiring educator, and the American University International Relations Society (AMIRS) Activist of the Year Award to a leader, or leaders, in the policy world.

The current state of domestic and international affairs heightens the importance of conversations centered on partisanship. In bringing both policymakers and educators together, we hope to facilitate a conversation not only about the current state of affairs; but perhaps more importantly, what young activists can do overcome the current challenges. Model UN encourages students to learn about policy issues while teaching them how to compromise and hear all perspectives. We hope that the panel discussion will encourage delegates to participate in the simulation with this in mind, as well as leave AmeriMUNC with a new perspective and appreciation for the importance of multi-partisanship, collaboration, and diplomacy.

Recognizing the importance and intertwined nature of both of these roles, we have decided on hosting a panel discussion with the award winners for our opening ceremonies with educators and policymakers giving their respective insight on the topic of Bipartisanship in a divided time.

We are proud to announce the recipients of the inaugural awards and are excited to welcome all three of them to American University’s campus for the opening ceremonies of AmeriMUNC VI.  

Ambassador Sally Shelton-Colby
2019 AMIRS Educator of the Year Award Recipient.

“Ambassador Sally Shelton-Colby has held a number of senior positions in the public, corporate and non-profit sectors and in international organizations. She has been Deputy Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France; Assistant Administrator for Global Programs at the U.S. Agency for International Development; U.S. Ambassador to Grenada, Barbados and several other Eastern Caribbean countries; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America; and Legislative Assistant to Senator (later Secretary of the Treasury) Lloyd Bentsen. She was Vice President of Bankers Trust Co., where she was responsible for managing the bank’s political risk in developing countries during the third world debt crisis of the 1980s. Ambassador Shelton-Colby has served on several non-profit boards, including the National Endowment for Democracy and the National Democratic Institute. She was a Fulbright Scholar at the Institut des Sciences Politiques in Paris.” -American University

In addition to her immense amount of global policy work, Ambassador Shelton-Colby is a Distinguished Diplomat in Residence here at American University’s School of International Service.

We are thrilled to welcome Ambassador Shelton-Colby to AmeriMUNC to hear her speak on the importance of education, her ambassadorship, and the challenges that come to both in a politically divided time.

Congressman Charlie Dent
2019 AMIRS Activist of the Year Award Recipient

Charlie Dent’s career in politics began 28 years ago in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives where he served eight years as a PA state representative, six years as a PA state senator, and finally nearly fourteen years as a member of the US House of Representatives representing PA’s 15th district.  Dent served on the House Ethics Committee for 8 years and as Chairman from 2015 to 2017 and served on the House Committee on Appropriations with four years as sub-committee chairman (Cardinal) for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies and vice chairman for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.  Dent was a co-chair of the Tuesday Group, an informal caucus of center-right Republicans.

After leaving Capitol Hill in Spring 2018, Dent joined CNN as a contributor and the law firm of DLA Piper.  The former member of Congress has been an independent voice for reason, compromise and pragmatism in a trying political environment.  He has been a strong advocate to push Congress to work across the aisle to solve problems and perform its basic constitutionally mandated governance functions.  

On behalf of the entire staff, it is my pleasure to present Mr. Charlie Dent with the American University International Relations Society Activist of the Year Award for his work in bi-partisan political efforts and outspoken support of the “sensible center” in Washington.  

Mr. Charles De Santis
2019 AMIRS Activist of the Year Award Recipient

Charles has a passion for serving others that manifests itself both in his work as Associate Vice President and Chief Benefits Officer at Georgetown University, his board seat on many professional boards including his service on the TIAA Client Advisory and MetLife Client Advisory Board as well as those in the community which he lives and works.

Charles has also heavily committed himself to giving back to the humanitarian sector by serving those in greatest need worldwide. In 2008 Charles and a colleague from Georgetown University started an art education program called Art in Kibera serving AIDS impacted orphans in the Kibera Slum of Nairobi, Kenya. In 2013 Charles created the Kibera Art Institute serving those in this informal community from age 4 to 22 in creating art and having a voice and identity through the visual arts. The Kibera Art Institute through the Sanaa Foundation (founded by Charles) was granted Community Based Organization Status by the Republic of Kenya. This year is the 11th years of Art Education in the Kibera Slum, which was celebrated by a two month-long exhibit at the Nairobi National Museum in Nairobi, Kenya commencing on October 3, 2018.

Charles also Chairs the board of Nyumbani USA serving children with HIV/AIDS in Kenya as well as the School of Hope Foundation serving the children in a school for AIDS affected orphans.

In 2013, Charles became the Chair of the US Association for UNHCR (UN refugee organization), the only private sector fundraising organization that directly serves UNHCR. He was tasked at it 23rd year to re-found this organization as one of the leading UNHCR refugee support organizations worldwide.

Joining the recipients of the AMIRS Awards, we are excited to have Mr. Ron Elving of NPR’s Washington Desk serving as the moderator of the panel, “Bipartisanship in a Divided Time” on February 1, 2019.

“Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for

He was previously the political editor for USA Today and for Congressional Quarterly. He has been a Distinguished Visiting Professional in Residence at American University, where he is now an adjunct professor. In this role, Elving received American University's 2016 University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in an Adjunct Appointment. He has also taught at George Mason and Georgetown University.

He has been published by the Brookings Institution and the American Political Science Association. He has contributed chapters on Obama and the media and on the media role in Congress to the academic studies Obama in Office 2011, and Rivals for Power, 2013. Ron's earlier book, Conflict and Compromise: How Congress Makes the Law, was published by Simon & Schuster and is also a Touchstone paperback.

During his tenure as the manager of NPR's Washington coverage, NPR reporters were awarded every major recognition available in radio journalism, including the Dirksen Award for Congressional Reporting and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.” -NPR