Meet Our Speakers

On Saturday, February 1st, 2014, Yale UNICEF will be proud to host the following speakers for our 2nd annual Conference on Children’s Rights:

Dr. Stephanie Goins, Executive Program Director of Love146
Dr. Monzer Yazji, Founding Member of the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations
Dr. Ehsan Hoque, Founder and Executive Director of Distressed Children and Infants International

Thanks again to our 2013 speakers:


Ishmael Beah

Founder of the Ishmael Beah Foundation
  • Forced into being a child soldier at the age of 13, Beah served for two years until he was rescued by UNICEF and placed in rehabilitation. From there, he moved to the U.S. to live with an American family and start a new life, but never forgot his life in Sierra Leone.
  • Beah has traveled around the world and kept up his tireless effort to bring attention to the plight of child soldiers, speaking for the Human Rights Watch, UN Secretary General’s Office for Children and Armed Conflict, and the UN General Assembly. He has also served on a panel with Secretary General Kofi Annan, met with dignitaries such as Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela, and is a member of the Human Rights Watch Child’s Rights Division Committee.
  • Beah has chronicled his experience into the award winning book, A Long Way Gone, recipient of a Quill Award in the Best Debut Author category in 2007. For more information, visit
  • Ishmael was interviewed by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show in February, 2007. You can view the segment here:
  • Beah foundation:

Nicholas Rees

A graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science, Mr. Rees now works as a Policy Analysis Specialist in the Division of Policy and Strategy at UNICEF Headquarters in New York.

Joanne Goldblum

Founder and Executive Director of the National Diaper Bank Network – national non-profit organisation dedicated to ensuring that every child in the US has an adequate supply of diapers to remain clean, dry and healthy.
  • She works to increase the number of diaper banks in the US and create a national network of community partners.
  • Recognised by ABC News as their ‘Person of the Week’ and People magazine as one of the publication’s ‘Heroes Among Us.’
  • Education: MSW from Hunter College School of Social Work, BA from NYU.
  • Lives in New Haven with her husband and three children.
  • Website:
  • She has a weekly blog for the Huffington Post which can be found here:

Cheryl Perera

Founder and President of One Child Network and Support Systems Inc., a Canadian based NGO which was created and run by young people dedicated to ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children around the world.
  • After reading about child exploitation in high school at the age of 16, she traveled to her native country, Sri Lanka, to get an insider’s look into child sex slavery. She worked with the National Child Protection Authority and posed as a 15 year old child prostitute to catch a paedophile. 
  • Her courage and determination were rewarded by the Sri Lankan government with the offer of a permanent placement at the Presidential Secretariat to serve as the President’s nominee on child protection at the age of 17.
  • Recipient of the 2005 Impact Entrepreneur of the Year award.
  • Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100, and Canada’s Top 20 Under 20.
  • 2007 BRICK Award Winner in the category of Global Impact at the age of 21.
  • 2011 winner of the ‘So you think you can speak’ talent search.
  • Cheryl holds an Honours BA in Ethics, Society, and Law, and Political Science from the University of Toronto.
  • She actively addresses UN organizations, government bodies, business groups, educators, students, and the media on the importance of children’s rights, social responsibility, and volunteerism.

Joan Kaufman, PhD

Joan Kaufman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, and Director of the Child and Adolescent Research and Education (C.A.R.E.) Program within the Department. She is also the Co-Director of the Zigler Center Child Welfare Unit.
  • Dr. Kaufman’s research interests include Child Abuse and Neglect, Risk and Resilience, and Psychiatric Diagnoses.
  • She received her PhD in Psychiatry from Yale in 1990.
  • Dr. Kaufman has published on a wide variety of topics in the field of child abuse, neglect, risk, and resilience, including on the Social Supports and Serotonin Transporter Gene Moderate Depression in Maltreated Children and Critical Periods Revisited: Implications for Interventions with Traumatized Children.