Last chance to do Model UN this fall - sign up for Virtual MUN Conferences by October 15th!

About Best Delegate | Virtual Model United Nations Institute

Staff Photo 2020

Model UN empowers today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders. 

We believe that Model United Nations is the single best activity to prepare today’s students to succeed in a changing world. Model UN helps students learn about the world, develop their public speaking skills, gain social confidence, and build their leadership skills. 

Model UN simulations are interactive, and students love representing different countries and solving world issues. Students love being able to take on leadership roles within their MUN clubs, conferences, or communities. And students love being able to make new friends in MUN and become inspired to go change the world together. 

Best Delegate is the world’s leading provider of Model United Nations programs and content for students, teachers, schools, nonprofits, governments, and the United Nations. Best Delegate has provided online MUN resources to more than 3 million participants and runs the Virtual Model United Nations Institute and other programs for over 4,000 students every year. 

Best Delegate was founded in 2011 when Ryan Villanueva and Kevin Felix Chan, two friends who met through Model UN, decided to quit their jobs and pursue their passion of teaching Model UN worldwide.

 

Executive Team 

Ryan Villanueva

Co-Founder and Chief Education Officer

Ryan Villanueva

Ryan Villanueva is Best Delegate’s Co-Founder and Chief Education Officer. Ryan brings 20 years of MUN experience and is a highly sought-after expert on teaching Model UN and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Ryan has consulted with the United Nations on how to engage students through MUN. He created the world’s first MUN certification program for teachers and leads Best Delegate’s professional development programs. He has developed a Model UN curriculum for governments, schools, and nonprofits. Ryan has advised NGOs that develop MUN in conflict zones, including in Afghanistan, Northeast India, and Israel-Palestine. For his contributions to the MUN community, Ryan was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 THIMUN Qatar Leadership Conference. 

Ryan served as the Secretary-General of a 1,000-person Model UN conference and received over $20,000 in public speaking scholarships as a high school student. He served as the Secretary-General of the Security Council Simulation at Yale and won Best Delegate awards at Model UN conferences hosted by Harvard and the UPenn as a college student. 

Ryan launched BestDelegate.com, a blog about MUN, out of his dorm room in his senior year at Yale. After graduating, Ryan worked at Goldman Sachs during the 2008 global financial crisis. He decided to leave Wall Street and partner with Kevin to start Best Delegate, an education company that teaches MUN around the world.

Outside of MUN, Ryan served as the President of the Boston chapter of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), a global organization with 12,000 members worldwide. He is a recipient of EO Boston’s Business of the Year Award. Ryan is working with EO to empower entrepreneurs to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals through their businesses. 

Ryan graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, and completed the Global Citizenship Think Tank at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

 

Kevin Felix Chan

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Kevin Felix Chan

Kevin — also known by his initials “KFC” — is the Co-Founder and CEO of Best Delegate. Kevin has personally taught Model UN in 20 countries around the world and spoken twice at the United Nations General Assembly Hall. 

Kevin is responsible for programs that directly serve 4,000 students every year and Model UN resources used by over 800,000 Model UN participants every year. He developed and scaled the Virtual Model United Nations Institute, the Model UN Online Debates, the in-person Model UN Institute, and other Model UN experiences for students and teachers. He has organized over 35 Model UN conferences, including a dozen held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. He is a thought leader in the Model UN community and has authored over 470 articles about Model UN on BestDelegate.com. 

Kevin served as the Secretary-General and Head Delegate for the UCLA Model UN program and as Secretary-General for the UNA-USA Global Classrooms conferences in New York and Los Angeles. He went from being a shy, nervous public speaker as a high school freshman to introducing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the UN General Assembly Hall during his senior year of college.

Kevin held management positions in marketing, operations, and sales as part of the AT&T Leadership Development Program. However, he decided to quit his management career at AT&T so that he could partner with one of his best friends to give back his Model UN experience and make a bigger difference in the world.

Outside of MUN, Kevin has served as the Chair of the EO Accelerator program in Los Angeles, where he oversaw 40 companies scaling up to $1M in revenue each. He sits on the national Board of Directors of the millennial branch of the Asian American Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ACE NextGen). 

Kevin graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and completed an executive program from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He lives in Los Angeles, California, and has traveled to over 60 countries.

 

Laurabeth Goldsmith

Executive Director

Laurabeth Goldsmith

Laurabeth Goldsmith is the Executive Director at Best Delegate. Laurabeth believes in the power of Model UN to help create global citizens and to empower students to succeed in college and beyond.

Laurabeth has created more than fifty partnerships for Best Delegate over the last five years, and has led Model UN trainings for thousands of students and educators around the world. This has included pioneering a multi year partnership with IDEA Public Schools (61 charter schools), creating a partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and delivering educator training at the United Nations in Vienna, creating a partnership with the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education to enable students to learn about diplomacy, and managing dozens of Model UN Institute summer programs and workshops.

Laurabeth was the President of Emory’s Model UN team and helped to transform the team into one of the top 15 MUN teams in the country. Laurabeth was consistently an award winning delegate during her time in MUN in high school and university. Prior to joining Best Delegate, Laurabeth worked for the Carter Center and Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. 

Laurabeth graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and completed the Community Building and Social Change Fellowship. Laurabeth won a full scholarship to spend a semester traveling the world examining gender inequality and teaching human rights and self defense to girls in Asia, Africa, and Europe. She is currently pursuing a Strategic Management Certificate from Harvard University. 

Laurabeth is an activist for gender equality and has volunteered with Girl Scouts for more than 20 years including in her current role as Girl Leadership Committee Advisor. She is the happy mother of a baby boy. In her free time she loves to kayak and hike. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

 

Conna Walsh 

Senior Marketing Manager

Conna Walsh

Conna Walsh is the Senior Marketing Manager of Best Delegate. She draws on her 14 years of Model UN experience to help students, families, and teachers connect with Best Delegate and the Virtual MUN Institute. 

Conna manages all websites and social media for Best Delegate and the Virtual MUN Institute. She loves to connect existing and new MUN participants and organizers through email, social media, video, and other content. She also manages the Best Delegate Media Team, where she empowers students to share MUN content and experiences with an audience of over 800,000 participants worldwide. Conna first started working with Best Delegate when she was in college as a MUN Mentor for the MUN Institute as a Media Team editor for BestDelegate.com.

Conna served as Director of Training of the Cornell International Affairs Society (CIAS) MUN team, and as the Chief of Staff and Director-General for the Cornell Model UN Conference (CMUNC). Conna has participated in more than 50 conferences around the world as a delegate and organizer. After college, Conna worked in the field of international education to create exchange programs between schools in the USA and China.

Conna graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor’s degree in China & Asia-Pacific Studies, which gave her the opportunity to study and work during semesters in Beijing and Washington, D.C. She has also received a Certificate in Marketing Strategy from Cornell.

Conna enjoys volunteering with the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts and conducting alumni admissions interviews for Cornell. She also loves to explore new countries, play video games, try new vegan recipes, and manage her two rambunctious cats. Conna lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

 

Meet the Virtual MUN Institute Teachers

Our Virtual Model UN Institute teachers are among the most successful leaders at the college Model UN level. They all have had their own journeys becoming MUN award winners, experts, and student leaders at their own colleges and within the larger MUN community. Most important, they’re super fun and know how to empower students in an engaging way. Meet just a few outstanding members of our team below!

VMUNI Staff Photo

VMUNI Staff Headshots