Our Team in Trinidad and Tobago

UN Resident Coordinator Joanna Kazana

Joanna Kazana

UN Resident Coordinator
Ms. Joanna Kazana-Wisniowiecki has over 20 years of experience in international development cooperation. Prior to this appointment, she was the UN Resident Coordinator in the Republic of Belarus where she positioned the UN system as an impartial and neutral partner and substantive authority on sustainable development in the context of upper-middle income countries. She led the UN response to COVID-19 and supported the UN system’s action for refugees and migrants. Since the beginning of her tenure, she has strongly advocated for and collaborated closely with NGOs addressing human rights and sustainable development in Belarus.

Before that, Ms. Kazana-Wisniowiecki worked for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in New York, providing support to UNDP country offices in Europe and Central Asia and working closely with UNDP’s strategic partners, including the UN Member States’ missions in New York. She represented UNDP on the Steering Committee of UNDP-Russia Development Trust Fund and, together with the Department of Political Affairs , led the work of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Ukraine.

From 2005-2010, Ms. Kazana-Wisniowiecki served as UNDP Deputy Representative in Ukraine, and created one of UNDP's largest local development projects “Community Based Approach to Local Development in Ukraine”.

She began her professional career in Poland where she worked as a UNDP National Programme Officer in Warsaw, then as an international consultant for the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and as an Advisor on international programme development and harm reduction for the Soros Foundation. She has facilitated South-South cooperation and knowledge transfer on HIV/AIDS prevention and care.
UNDP Resident Representative, Ugo Blanco

Ugo Blanco

UNDP Resident Representative
Mr Blanco, a national of Spain, brings to the office sixteen years of experience working with UNDP, most of which involved issues affecting the Caribbean, including crises in Haiti, natural disasters and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prior to his appointment to the Port of Spain office, Mr. Blanco was stationed in Bridgetown for four years where he was the Deputy Resident Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean MCO, which covers ten countries and territories.

His career highlights include:

-Senior Recovery Advisor for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean (2018-2019).
-Regional Advisor on Latin America and the Caribbean (2014-2018).
-Part of the UN response in Nepal following the earthquake of 2015 and the Ebola crisis in the Horn of Africa (2014).
-Special Assistant to the UN Assistant-Secretary General and Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean (2013-2014).
-Head of Recovery, Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction Unit in Haiti (2012-2013).
-Early Recovery Cluster Coordinator in Haiti after the earthquake (2010-2012).
-Programme analyst, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, Global Pooled Fund, UNDP New York (2009-2010).
-Programme Officer for Disaster Management and Avian Flu, UNDP Vietnam (2007-2009)

Before joining UNDP, Mr Blanco was the Spanish representative of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (AECID) in Indonesia (2005-2006).

He holds a Bachelor degree and Master’s degree in Political Sciences and Public Administration from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain; a Master’s degree in International Cooperation and Development from the University Institute of Development and Cooperation, Madrid, Spain; and a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management Administration from the School of Politics, Madrid, Spain.
Mr. Pieter Bult

Pieter Bult

UNICEF Representative to the Eastern Caribbean
Mr. Pieter Woltjo Bult was appointed as UNICEF Representative for the Eastern Caribbean area starting July 24, 2022. Mr. Bult comes with over 25 years of experience with UNICEF and other UN agencies.

He joined UNICEF in 1994 and he has an extensive experience working in the field (Suriname, Indonesia, and the State of Palestine) and at the UNICEF Headquarters in New York. Between January 2008 to March 2011 Mr. Bult was Deputy Country Director, Programmes, of UNDP India. He then served as Team Leader for Europe in UNICEF Public Partnerships division in New York Headquarters, and as UNICEF Representative to Romania until July 2022.

A national of Netherlands, Mr. Bult holds a Master Degree in Human Geography from Faculty of Policy Sciences, Catholic University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and a Bachelor Degree in Education from School for Higher Professional Education, Groningen, the Netherlands.

He is married with four children.
Dr Anna Paolini Headshot

Dr. Anna Paolini

Representative in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Montserrat, Sint Maarten, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Director of the UNESCO Office in Jamaica
Before taking up the position of Director of the UNESCO Office in Jamaica in 2022, Dr. Anna Paolini was UNESCO Representative
in the Arab States of the Gulf and Yemen and Director of the UNESCO Doha Office for the Countries of the Gulf and Yemen from September 2013 – June 2022. She was also UNESCO Representative and Head of Office in Uzbekistan from 2007 to 2009 and later she covered the same position in Jordan. In 1992, she joined UNESCO as specialist in the field of culture at the Regional Office in Amman. In 1997, she moved to UNESCO HQ covering several positions within the Culture Sector including being responsible
of movable heritage activities and on heritage in conflict response in the Arab region. Prior to that, she held a research associate role at the Institute of Architecture of Venice, worked in restoration in Italy and carried out research in the field of urban rehabilitation in several Arab and African countries. She holds a Master’s degree in Architecture and a Master's degree in Urban and
Regional Planning for Developing Countries, a post-graduate degree on Development Cooperation, as well as a Ph.D in Urban and Territorial Engineering. Dr. Paolini is a member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the Italian Association of Professional Architects and author of several papers on different cultural heritage subjects.
Sylvie Bertrand UNODC

Sylvie Bertrand

Regional Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for Central America and the Caribbean
Sylvie Bertrand previously served as the Deputy Regional Representative at the Regional Office for Eastern Africa. Prior to her tenure in the senior management team of this organization, she held a diverse array of roles, including advisor, expert, program coordinator, and pillar leader. In these capacities, she applied the UNODC mandate in the realms of health and social development, with a particular focus on HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care, and support for individuals facing drug-related challenges, as well as those residing and working within correctional environments. Her contributions also encompassed UNODC's comprehensive approach to drug use prevention, treatment, and care.

Before her affiliation with UNODC, she contributed to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as a coordination officer within the Office of the Resident Coordinator in South Africa. Her commitment to fostering positive change extends beyond her time with the UN, as she previously managed development projects within civil society organizations in Bolivia and Bulgaria. In addition to her international experience, she engaged in the public sector at the municipal level, addressing pivotal management practices such as results-based management and service delivery.
Dr. Sharda Mahabir

Dr. Sharda Mahabir

National Coordinator, GEF SGP Trinidad and Tobago
Sharda has a PhD in Environmental Biology from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. She was part of a five-person team, which completed the first ecological assessment of rivers across Trinidad and Tobago. Her work represents the first national survey for metals in water and sediment of rivers in Trinidad and Tobago and showed that human activities were the major source of these contaminants.

In 2015, she developed a Programme called Adopt A River for the local water authority. This Programme brought together corporate entities, community groups, educational institutes and government agencies to develop and implement projects to improve the poor status of rivers locally. Under her stewardship, the Programme completed 35 clean-up exercises; 40 recycling projects; 3 tree-planting exercises and developed 12 water supply projects. These activities resulted in a reach of 5000 person and over 200 community members were trained in just 2 years. Sharda represented the Programme and won two awards: Most Outstanding Project (2015) from AMCHAMTT and third place in the IDB President’s Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Public Sector (2019).

Sharda has also lectured part-time with the Department of Life Sciences, UWI, St. Augustine for both undergraduate and post-graduate programmes, sharing her knowledge on pollution monitoring and assessment with the next generation.

She is currently the National Coordinator for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP). As part of the SGP, she assists NGOs in developing and implementing projects to benefit their communities and their environment. She also assists these NGOs to highlight their work, through videos and case studies, as well as pursue further funding to scale up their initiatives.

Carolyne-Mélanie Régimbal

Carolyne-Mélanie Régimbal

In July 2019, Ms. Carolyne-Mélanie Régimbal, Canadian, resumed her duties as Director of the United Nations Regional Center for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) after 18 months working at the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia where she served as Head of Field Coordination contributing to the Colombian Peace Process. Prior to joining the United Nations in 2006, Ms. Régimbal previously worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Canada where she began her professional career in 1996.
Cleveland Thomas

Cleveland Thomas

Area Representative
Mr. Cleveland Thomas ITU’s Area Representative for the Caribbean region. Prior to this appointment, he was the CEO-National Information and Communication Technology Company Limited of Trinidad and Tobago. He was also the National Chief Information Officer. Mr. Thomas helps to implement the Caribbean Governments’ vision for development using ICTs: improvement in health care, education, security, commerce, transport, tourism etc.
Diane Quarless

Diane Quarless

Diane Quarless has been the Director of the ECLAC Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean in Port of Spain since 2011, where she leads a multidisciplinary team of experts in the search for solutions to the many development challenges facing the countries of the Caribbean.

She previously served as Chief of the Small Island Developing States Unit and as Head of Partnerships for Sustainable Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations.
Dr. Gabriel Vivas Francesconi

Dr. Gabriel Vivas Francesconi

PAHO/WHO Representative
Dr. Gabriel Vivas Francesconi, originally from Bogota, Colombia, holds a medical doctor degree from Universidad del Bosque, a Master of Public Health (MPH) from Universidad de Chile, and a Master of Science (MSc) in Health Care Management from Marymount University, Virginia, USA. With over 25 years of experience in public health program management across South and Central America, and the Caribbean, Dr. Vivas has been instrumental in both public and private sectors, focusing on health systems and services, health policy, financing, human resources, and emergency preparedness and response. His extensive tenure with PAHO/WHO, spanning more than 15 years, has seen him serve in various roles across Central America, Barbados, Brazil, and at the headquarters in Washington D.C. Noteworthy is his coordination of a significant south-south cooperation project in Brazil aimed at expanding primary health services in remote areas.
Dr. Gillian Smith

Dr. Gillian Smith

Representative a.i.
Dr. Smith has worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for over 14 years, leading programme development and implementation in several countries of the Caribbean, engaging with governments and other stakeholders in a wide range of areas covered by the Organization and in alignment with national and regional priorities. Dr. Smith has also worked at the sub-regional and regional level of the FAO, developing Country Programming Frameworks and supporting the design of FAO’s Caribbean sub-regional priorities, and worked on initiatives to enhance alignment and synergies between the Caribbean and Latin American work programme.

Dr. Smith is committed to promoting sustainable approaches to development, recognizing and respecting the views and aspirations of all stakeholders (especially the voiceless and most vulnerable) in the development process. Her abiding interest is to continue active engagement in development, ensuring that equity and social justice inform choices and responses. She is confident that people have within themselves an often unexplored capacity for doing better.
Dr. Richard Amenyah

Dr. Richard Amenyah

Multi-Country Director, UNAIDS
Dr. Amenyah is UNAIDS Multi-Country Director for Belize, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Eastern Caribbean States. A medical doctor by training, he brings into this position several productive years of professional experience in Global Health. He believes in the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, and the urgent need to improve the health and wellbeing of people especially vulnerable, marginalized, and underserved key populations.

Dr. Amenyah joined UNAIDS in 2014 and has wealth of experience in developing public health policies and programs to shape health investments in countries. He previously worked at the Regional Support Team of West and Central Africa as the Regional Investment and Efficiency Advisor, and supported countries to mobilize resources from multi-lateral and bilateral donors, conducted several efficiency studies for sustainability planning, and coordinated technical support and capacity development programs for health systems strengthening. His last duty station was in Nigeria where he supported the established a US$100 million HIV Trust Fund for the elimination of vertical transmission of HIV and helped to mobilize the largest grant for a single country of about US$1.2 billion from the Global Fund for HIV/TB/Malaria/COVID19. He was also a member of the core team that developed the current Global AIDS Strategy 2022-2026.

Prior to joining UNAIDS, he worked on regional technical support projects based in Burkina Faso and in Ghana his home country.
UNFPA SROC Director, Elizabeth Talbert

Elizabeth Talbert

Director, UNFPA Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean
Ms Talbert joined the United Nations Population Fund Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean in December 2022. She has a strong background in population and statistical development with over 30 years of experience in the Caribbean and East Africa. She has led population and housing censuses, poverty assessment and other social and economic surveys in several countries. Prior to her appointment as Director at the UNFPA Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean and Representative to Jamaica, Ms Talbert served as Senior Statistician with the World Bank Poverty and Equity Global Practice in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where she managed the Statistical Development Project (2014-2021). Under her leadership, this project resulted in the improvement of the statistics law, strengthening of statistical and administrative data, and the enhancement of statistical infrastructure and human resource capacity. During her tenure in Tanzania, she also provided technical support to statistical offices in Zanzibar, Mozambique, Somalia and other East African member states. In previous jobs, Ms Talbert served as Chief Statistician, Government of the Cayman Islands, (2009-2014); Statistical Consultant, Government of Guyana (2007-2008) and; Deputy Chief Statistician, Government of Belize (2001-2007). She has also served as a consultant to CARICOM Statistical Unit in analyzing and preparing 2000 Census Country Reports.

Ms Talbert is a native of Belize. She holds a BSc in Sociology and Public Administration, Minnesota State University, Mankato; MPhil in Population and Development, Centre for Development Studies, Kerala State, India and; MS in Demography, Florida State University. She was also a participant in the UNFPA
Global Training Programme in Population and Development (1993-1994).
Helen Gradstein

Helen Gradstein

Regional Digital Finance Specialist, UNCDF
Ms. Helen Gradstein is the Regional Digital Finance Specialist and heads the UNCDF Eastern Caribbean office, based in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. She is an expert in digital finance and financial inclusion and is passionate about ensuring that financial inclusion policies and programmes protect consumers, empower women, and support financial capability. Previously, Ms. Gradstein worked as a Financial Sector Specialist in the World Bank's Financial Inclusion and Payments team. She holds a Masters in Global Policy from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She can be reached at Helen.Gradstein@uncdf.org.
Jewel Ali

Jewel Ali

Head of office
Jewel has been with IOM Trinidad and Tobago office since 2007. She has served on the national counter-trafficking Task Force, civil society working group and co-facilitates training on countering human trafficking for Government officials, including immigration officers and police.
Joni Musabayana

Joni Musabayana

ILO Director
Mr. Joni Musabayana took up the position of Director of the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean, effective 15 October 2023.

Mr. Musabayana, a Zimbabwean national, leads the ILO’s efforts in promoting social justice, decent work, and inclusive economic growth across 13 Member States and nine non-metropolitan territories in the English-and Dutch-speaking Caribbean.

Mr. Musabayana has a three-decades long career in labour, social development, and international relations. He has played a pivotal role in addressing issues relevant to the Caribbean including labour migration, enterprise development, social protection, skills development, gender equality and climate resilience. His dedication to fostering tripartite social dialogue and cooperation between governments, employers, and workers has been instrumental in reducing decent work deficits and driving positive change in the labour landscape.

Prior to his current role as Director of the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean, Mr. Musabayana served as Director of the ILO Pretoria Decent Work Team, leading technical support for 18 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. He was also Director for the Country Office politically and administratively covering Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and South Africa.

Mr. Musabayana has a Doctorate in Business Leadership from UNISA School of Business Leadership, as well as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Political Science and Public Administration from the University of Zimbabwe. He also has a Diploma in Training Management, and a Diploma in Computer Programming.
Liliana Garavito

Liliana Garavito

Director for UNIC Caribbean
A national of Colombia, Liliana is a journalist and communications specialist with twenty-seven years of experience in the field — including twenty-three years with the UN and four years as a news producer.

As the director for the United Nations Information Centre for the Caribbean Area (UNIC Caribbean), Liliana works to educate Caribbean audiences about the work of the UN globally and provides communications support to various UN offices and agencies operating within the Caribbean region.

Before joining UNIC Caribbean, Liliana served as a Regional Communications Officer for the Development Coordination Office based in Panama. This position entailed managing a network of communication professionals across 25 countries. In previous years, she acted as Chief of Public Information and Communication Strategy in the UN Verification Mission in Colombia.

Prior to joining the Mission, she served as Information Officer for 17 years at UNIC Bogotá, which also covers Ecuador and Venezuela, and led public information activities.
Miriam Aertker, Head of National Office - UNHCR Trinidad and Tobago

Miriam Aertker

Head of National Office - UNHCR Trinidad and Tobago
Miriam Aertker assumed the role of Head of National Office at UNHCR in Trinidad and Tobago on June 1, 2021. She brings with her a wide range of experience, coupled with a good understanding of the cross-border mobility challenges currently facing the different Caribbean countries. Since February 2019, Miriam has been based in Trinidad and Tobago, working as a Senior Field Coordinator with the Response for Venezuela (R4V) platform, which is jointly led by UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In this role, and together with her team, Miriam has worked closely with 26 Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) partners across the Caribbean sub-region as well as with five national platforms in Aruba, Curaçao, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and in the Dominican Republic. In addition to her role as Head of National Office for UNHCR, Miriam continues to oversee the R4V platform in the Caribbean together with sub-regional counterparts from IOM.
Miriam has spent the last 14 years with the UNHCR, with posts in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas, working in some of the world's most critical refugee crisis responses, including Yemen, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Somalia, Myanmar, Greece and now Trinidad and Tobago. Miriam has held positions in coordination, management, refugee status determination and protection (including Community Based Protection). Miriam trained as a social worker in her native Germany and holds a Graduate Diploma in Forced Migration and Refugee Studies from the American University in Cairo (Egypt), as well as a Masters in Refugee Studies from the University of East London (UK).

Nahuel Arenas

Nahuel Arenas

Chief of the Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean, UNDRR
The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) appointed Mr. Nahuel Arenas Garcia as Chief of the Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean of UNDRR (UNDRR ROAC), effective the 6th of July 2023.

Mr. Arenas Garcia has been serving as the Deputy Chief of UNDRR ROAC since 2017, and brings more than 20 years of experience leading humanitarian, Disaster Risk Reduction and development cooperation programs in different countries in Latin America & Caribbean, Africa and the Asia Pacific region.

During the last 20 years, Mr. Arenas has led humanitarian assistance interventions, DRR programming and development cooperation in different countries in Latin America & Caribbean, Africa and Asia Pacific. Before joining UNDRR, Mr. Arenas occupied the position of Director for Humanitarian Programs and Policy for OXFAM USA.

He has also worked for the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Action Against Hunger (ACF), consulted for UN-Habitat leading learning processes around DRR programming and contributed to many academic programs including the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative Course: Humanitarian Response to Conflict and Disasters. He has a background in Public Policy (FLACSO) and International Politics (SOAS, Univ. of London) as well as degrees in Crisis Management (Universidad Complutense of Madrid).
Regis Chapman

Regis Chapman

Mr. Chapman is the Representative & Country Director for the World Food Programme (WFP) Caribbean Multi-Country Office, covering 22 countries and territories in the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean and overseeing the agency’s support to regional institutions, national governments, and people.

Mr. Chapman has over 20 years of international development and humanitarian experience, including the past 17 years working with WFP. Prior to his appointment in the Caribbean, he has served in a variety of programme leadership roles with WFP including in the Regional Bureau for Latin America & the Caribbean, Somalia, Afghanistan, Regional Bureau for East and Central Africa, Timor Leste, Regional Bureau for Asia and Pacific and Indonesia. He has also worked with the Red Cross Movement on food security and emergency and with the United States Peace Corps on community development efforts at a grass roots level in rural El Salvador.
Regis is a national of the United States of America. He holds a graduate degree in Marketing from Arizona State University.
UN Women Representative for the Caribbean Tonni Brodber

Tonni Brodber

UN Women
Representative of the UN Women Multi-Country Office - Caribbean
Tonni Brodber is the Representative of the UN Women Multi-Country Office- Caribbean.

Prior to her appointment in August 2020, Ms. Brodber served as Deputy Representative from 2015 -2020 with the MCO Caribbean. Before this Ms. Brodber was the Team Leader for the Advancing Gender Justice in the Pacific programme with the UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office.

Ms. Brodber served as the Gender Specialist for the United Nations Development Programme in South Africa, as well as briefly with the UN Women South Africa Multi-Country Office and established what is now the UN Women Country Office in Haiti.

Ms. Brodber’s work experience also includes lecturing in International Relations and Development Studies at Yanshan University in China, and directing and co-producing, a film on Haiti.

Ms. Brodber received her first degree from the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus and has post graduate degrees in Development Studies and Business Administration from the London School of Economics and ESADE Business School in Barcelona.

Ms. Brodber is raising two sons with her husband.
Vincent Sweeney

Vincent Sweeney

Head of office
Vincent Sweeney is Head of the Caribbean Sub-Regional Office for UNEP and previously spent 4 years as the Coordinator of the GPA, in UNEP’s headquarters. He also served for 10 years as Executive Director of the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute.