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Meet Our Team!

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 is Best Delegate’s Co-Founder and Chief Education Officer. With over 20 years of MUN experience, Ryan is a highly sought-after expert on teaching Model United Nations 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 — 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.

Kevin serves as the Visionary at Best Delegate. He has developed and scaled the Model United Nations Institute nationwide and the Virtual Model UN programs that serve thousands of students every year. He has authored over 470 articles about Model UN on BestDelegate.com, and helped create online MUN resources that are used by over 800,000 students and teachers every year. He has organized over 35 Model UN conferences, including a dozen conferences held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

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.

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

Outside of MUN, Kevin is active in giving back to the entrepreneurial community. He serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the national Asian American Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ACE NextGen), and as the President Elect of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) chapter in Los Angeles.

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 is the Executive Director of Partnerships 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 seven 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 and delivering training for the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education to enable students and educators 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 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 through the Semester At Sea Program. Laurabeth received her certificate in Strategic Management from Harvard University and will graduate with her Masters in Management from Harvard University in January 2022.

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 toddler who already loves globe time and learning about the world. In her free time she loves to kayak, travel (she has been to all 7 continents and more than 60 countries), and hike.

 

Toni Lawrence

Marketing Manager

Toni Lawrence is the Marketing Manager at Best Delegate. Toni loves to think of innovative ways to market programs that she knows will leave lasting impressions on those who attend.

Toni studied organizational communication and marketing at North Central College located in Naperville Illinois. During her time at North Central Toni participated in volleyball, TED Talk Club, and the Athletic Mentor Program.

She previously worked for a marketing agency based out of Chicago Illinois, serving clients from around the world to help them reach their full potential. Toni is a results-oriented, deadline driven communications strategist with talents in public presentation and promotion.

When Toni is not working she enjoys spending her time traveling, reading, playing volleyball and trying new food. Toni can always be spotted with her dog, Athena, by her side.

 

Madeleine Northfield

Operations Manager

Madeleine Northfield is the Operations Manager at Best Delegate. With 10 years of Model UN Experience, Madeleine helps bring out the best in Best Delegate students, staff and parents.

Madeleine manages all of Best Delegate’s programs and conferences. She works with nearly 30 staff to bring educational and engaging programs to thousands of students around the world.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Madeleine helped transition the Model UN Institute online, creating a virtual experience for students to learn MUN from the safety of their own home. Madeleine first started working with Best Delegate in 2018, working as a MUN Mentor for the MUN Institute and Program Manager for the Virtual MUN Institute in 2020.

Madeleine was the President of the International Relations Association at McGill University, one of the only youth led Non-for-Profits to have consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Prior to that Madeleine served as the President of the Model UN Team at McGill, one of the top 15 teams in North America. She has competed at over 50 conferences around the world as a delegate and organizer.

Madeleine graduated from McGill University with a Joint Honours Bachelor’s degree in African Studies and International Development, with a minor in Economics.

Outside of MUN, Madeleine enjoys exploring new places, cooking Asian cuisines and spending time with her kitten, Hagrid. Madeleine lives in Montreal, Canada.

 

Monica Gonzales

Director of Human Resources

Monica Gonzales serves as the Director of Human Resources, bringing over 12 years of professional human resources experience to the team. She has managed the HR functions in small to mid-size companies in industries including non-profit, education, health and wellness, hospitality, consulting, and more. Her areas of expertise include compliance and best practices, HR infrastructure, compensation, performance management and policy and procedure development. She is passionate about building strategies and initiatives focused on solving business and people challenges.

Monica has a unique combination of strengths, including education and experience in accounting and business management contributing to bottom-line organizational success. Although if asked, Monica will tell you her true strength and passion lies in trust and relationship building across all levels.

When Monica isn’t working solving people challenges or contributing to employee engagement, she enjoys traveling, Netflix binging, and laying out on the beach with a good book.

 

Anaya Chew

MUN Teams Program Manager

Anya is the MUN Teams Program Manager and oversees our MUN Mentors as they teach semester-long virtual small groups of students—ranging in both age and experience. She has worked as a Diplomacy Fellow for the Virtual Model UN Institute (VMUNI) in summers 2020 and 2021, a private MUN coach, and a BDMUNC Chair in 2021. She loves teaching (especially elementary schoolers!) but also loves seeing the camaraderie and enthusiasm for Model UN build over the course of a ten-week MUN Teams journey.

Anya graduated from the Ohio State University in May 2021 with degrees in Political Science and International Studies. She is currently applying to law school and hopes to pursue a career in international law. When she’s not on Zoom or typing away on Google Docs, Anya loves exploring the parks and trails around Columbus, OH; reading nonfiction; cheering on the Buckeyes; and trying out local coffee shops and restaurants.

 

Julia Cole

Data and Roster Manager

Julia Cole has been Best Delegate’s Data and Roster Manager since the Spring of 2021. She loves being able to accommodate requests that help students be the best that they can be in MUN programs.

Julia is a Master’s student in History and holds a B.A. in History from the University of Guelph. Her previous work experience includes historical research and archival cataloging, Museum exhibit staffing, and conservation fieldwork. Julia is grateful to be part of a team that is as passionate about education as she is.

When Julia is not at work, she spends her time volunteering at her University, with her family and dogs, and reading.

 

Joyca Calixton

Customer Service Representative

Joyce Calixton has served as the Customer Service Representative at Best Delegate since December 2020. Joyce loves helping families to select the programs that are going to help their students grow and learn.

Joyce is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a B.S. in Accountancy from Ateneo de Davao University, in the Philippines. Joyce previously worked as an Assurance Associate for Ernst & Young Global Limited.

Joyce is detail-oriented and wants to make sure families are signed up for the program that best meets their needs.

In her free time, Joyce loves to go on long walks with her pug, binge watch anime, and attempt to read a good book.

 

Jill Bendlak

BDMUNC Program Manager

Jill Bendlak is the BDMUNC Program Manager at Best Delegate. In this role, she creates monthly conference programming for hundreds of students grades 5-12 and trains staffers to lead engaging committees and effectively mentor MUN skills to students. She has an extensive background with Best Delegate, previously working as a Diplomacy Fellow for the summer MUN Institute in 2019 and the Virtual MUN Institute in 2020 and she served as Program Manager for the 2020/2021 BDMUNCs. She loves seeing the personal growth in both students and staffers when they work with Best Delegate.

Jill also currently serves as Marshal’s Aide at the Supreme Court of the United States, where she supports operational, legal, and courtroom-related work. Jill graduated summa cum laude from the George Washington University in January 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and Political Science. She is interested in foreign service, conflict resolution, and Europe-US relations.

In her free time, Jill enjoys reading fantasy and science fiction novels and baking a new creation in her kitchen. Jill currently lives in Washington, DC, where she loves to go to museums and explore what the city has to offer.

 

Maggie So

Fractional CFO

Maggie So leads the finance department at Best Delegate as their fractional CFO. She is an experienced finance, accounting and operations professional specializing in working with small to mid-sized companies in building scalable infrastructure for growth. Her mantra in helping businesses operate is “People, Processes & Platforms”, and her passion is in helping executive management teams in resolving issues in these key areas.

She enjoys getting into the technical side of things, while her interest in psychology allows her to be mindful of the human element critical for every organization. Prior to starting an outsourced CFO services firm, Maggie worked in venture-backed software companies in accounting, finance, operations, client services, human resources and marketing departments. She’s worked with clients in industries such as consulting, software, aerospace, cybersecurity, advertising, e-commerce and more. In addition to her work as a fractional CFO, she also serves as an executive coach and management consultant for entrepreneurs and business owners.

Maggie is happiest when she is connecting with others about life, business, and food. She is currently raising one dog and two cats who you will find curled up next to her when she’s reading a book or on Zoom meetings.

 

Georgina Kenchington

Community Manager

Georgina Kenchington is the Model UN Community Manager at Best Delegate. Georgina started her MUN journey in 8th Grade and never looked back - she now has over 10 years of Model UN experience, and loves finding new & creative ways to share the activity’s positive impacts with the Best Delegate community!


Georgina returned to Best Delegate as Model UN Mentor & Program Manager in April 2020 after being evacuated from the Peace Corps during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has been constantly inspired by the champion students, parents, & teachers she’s had the opportunity to connect with since. Georgina first worked with Best Delegate as a MUN Mentor for the MUN Institute in 2017 & 2018.
Georgina was the Conferences Coordinator & Head Delegate of Georgetown University’s Model UN Team, consistently ranked in the top 10 teams in North America, and participated in MUN conferences across the country & globe. She also served as the dUSG of ECOSOCs at NAIMUN LIII, USG of the USNSA at NAIMUN LIV, USDG of the UKNSA at NAIMUN LV, Director-General of the Global Leaders’ Summit, and Director-General of the inaugural NAIMUN China.


Georgina graduated from Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service in International Politics, concentrating in International Security. Since then, she’s spent a year in Hyderabad, India working with experiential learning platforms and continuing to teach Model UN, volunteered with women’s cooperatives in Morocco, and served as a Youth in Development Volunteer with the Peace Corps in Thailand. She absolutely believes none of this would have been possible without Model UN!

Outside of MUN, Georgina is pursuing a Master’s Degree in International Education at NYU and spends the vast majority of her time buried in readings or debating them with her classmates. If she manages to find free time, she can probably be found attempting to finish a novel, biking in Central Park, or looking for the best bagel place in NYC.

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 Teachers Best Delegate Model United Nations