Young Professionals for Sustainable Development Goals
Seminar Series

A joint program of the United Nations Association, San Francisco Chapter (UNA SF) and the University of San Francisco School of Management’s Master of Nonprofit Administration Program (USF-SM-MNPA)

Time commitment: 45-90 hours
Registration fee: $200 paid before Session 2; Session 1 is free to attend
Session dates for Spring 2019: February 16, March 16, April 13, May 11
Program Director: Fyodor Ovchinnikov, Chair, UNA SF Leadership & Organizational Culture Committee
Application form:


Young Professionals for Sustainable Development Goals Seminar Series is a professional development program for young professionals looking for opportunities to align their careers with the UN Agenda 2030 or make a career transition to a different sector or industry while focusing on some or all of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Our past participants included Global Disaster Response and Relief Lead from a top-tier tech company aspiring to work for the United Nations, a recent graduate of a Masters Program in Public Policy looking for a position in Corporate Social Responsibility, a healthcare professional planning to start her own nonprofit, and other talented and highly motivated young professionals with diverse backgrounds and a shared passion for creating a better world.

Most of our past participants reported that making useful professional contacts with mentors and panelists, building long-term peer support relationships, learning about relevant networks and opportunities, and feeling supported, inspired, and more confident integrating UN SDGs into their work as hallmarks of the program that they found genuinely helpful.

The overwhelming majority of past participants gave the program the score of 8-10 out of 10 for being extremely helpful for their personal and professional development and everyone said that they would be recommending this program to their contacts.

Program Structure & Objectives

The program consists of 4 monthly half-day sessions at the University of San Francisco and 30 hours of self-study. Through panel discussions, a dialogic process called World Cafe documented with the Collective Narrative Methodology, and curated peer learning participants deepen their understanding of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, explore possibilities to contribute to UN Agenda 2030 in different sectors and industries, work on developing the right mindset and the appropriate skills to contribute to real change, learn about relevant tools, resources, and networks, and develop a relationship with a mentor who is well-positioned to support specific career aspirations of the mentee.


Past participants were mentored by Mark Ward, a former Senior Advisor to the head of the UN Mission in Libya, Kate Arcieri Walter, Senior Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Services Officer at the Consulate General of Canada in San Francisco, Mary Elizabeth Steiner, President of the United Nations Association of the USA, San Francisco Chapter, and Dr. Marco Tavanti, Director of Nonprofit Administration at the University of San Francisco among others. We work with each participant individually to find an appropriate mentor based on the specific background and career aspirations. If you or someone you know would like to be considered as a volunteer mentor, please fill out this Mentor Application Form.

Additional Training

Up to 6 participants can be selected to go through an additional training in World Cafe Facilitation and Collective Narrative Methodology. Such participants would be called hosts-in-training and they would participate in the planning and facilitation of program sessions. This additional training requires a 45-hour commitment to participate in Zoom calls, study training materials, process data harvested from program sessions to create collective narratives, and communicate with internal and external stakeholders and co-facilitate World Cafe dialogues at program sessions.

This is a great opportunity for young professionals to get leadership experience, receive professional recommendations from the Program Director, and get this training acknowledged on their certificates of completion.

Program Fees

After attending the first session, committed participants will be asked to pay a registration fee of $200 to the United Nations Association of the USA, San Francisco Chapter to cover program expenses. This registration fee includes morning snacks and lunches. The additional training in World Cafe facilitation and Collective Narrative Methodology is a work-trade program and does not require additional financial contributions from selected participants.


Participants who attended all 4 sessions and successfully completed all program assignments receive certificates of completion from the University of San Francisco and the United Nations Association of the USA, San Francisco Chapter. Hosts-in-training have their facilitation training mentioned on their certificates.

What Participants Say

In the follow-up survey we asked our participants what they would say to their past self who was just considering joining this program. Here are some of their responses:

“I think you took a very wise decision to join this program”~
“I would say it was such a right decision to ‘just do it’”
“Absolutely attend every seminar and don't stress about it. It is going to be a significant learning experience.”
“Yes, join. An opportunity to learn, connect, gain support, be understood, find a mentor and learn new skills.”
“Definitely join the program, you will answer questions for yourself you never even knew you had.”

How to Join

Fill out this application form, attend the first session on February 16, and pay the registration fee at or soon after the first session to get officially enrolled. Attending the first session does not constitute an obligation to pay the registration fee, but paying the fee is necessary to continue with the program. Space is limited, so UNA SF and USF reserve the right to select candidates based on their responses to the application questions and the promptness of paying the registration fee.

Session Dates

Saturday, February 16
Session One: Peer Learning & Peer Support Networks for Young Professionals

Saturday, March 16
Session Two: The Big Picture: Developing a New Global Mindset to Address SDGs

Saturday, April 13
Session Three: Skillbuilding for Young Professionals: What Skills to Have and Where to Get Them

Saturday, May 11
Session Four: Where to Start: Immediate First Moves to Shift Your Support of the SDGs to the Next Level