Better Know a Staffer: The Secretary General
Many of us seldom see the inner workings of the American Model United Nations Conference unless you are part of the Conference Leadership Team or on our awesome staff. When an opportunity was given to have a chat with this year’s Secretary-General, Brianne Reeves, I volunteered immediately. Not only is she one of the kindest people I have had the pleasure of working with, but she also has been on staff for so long that picking her brain is like stepping into the archives of AMUN, so many stories that you would think they are…endless. Let’s jump in and get to know who Bree is, what brought her to Model UN, and especially, what has kept her around.
Rubi Tabar: First off, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview. Let’s jump right in! What got you into doing Model UN? From there, what brought you to AMUN as a conference?
Brianne Reeves: As a high school student, I learned about Model UN through a group of friends. I grew up in a rural small town and the idea that kids my age were interested in the wider world was so exciting. It was a time when I could both be outside of classes and engage with what was really intriguing to me in a relatively competitive environment. Fortunately, I stuck with Model UN through college, where my school had an AMUN delegation.
RT: That’s awesome. Can you tell me a bit about when and why you decided to join staff and what’s kept you coming back?
BR: I joined staff in 2010, after spending two years as a representative. I had been on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and was very frustrated with the negotiations. Joining staff felt like a step up, where I could help things go more smoothly. I stayed, though, because my friends are here. I have developed truly deep, lifelong friendships with AMUN staff and being in the Sheraton feels like being home.
RT: What is your job this year? It seems like it might be an important one. How are you liking it so far? What’s your favorite part as of yet?
BR: This year, I am the Secretary-General. It’s a very exciting job. I’m responsible for a lot of the organization and staffing issues involved with AMUN. Fortunately, there is a ton of support and truly inspiring people working alongside me. So far, being able to embrace my favorite parts of AMUN (making people’s ideas come to life) has been the best part. That and spending a lot of time with my AMUN friends.
RT: Being Secretary-General is an incredibly big deal, what does your day to day look like as our SG?
BR: On a regular day I start by checking my email and setting my priorities. It might be that I’m dealing with staffing issues or shortages, returning emails to schools, reviewing training plans for our staff, or figuring out what topics need to be discussed by the Executive Committee.
RT: Thinking back to your time on staff, what’s been one thing that you’ll never forget? Whether from a training, a connection with another staffer, a moment at conference with a representative.
BR: My favorite parts of AMUN are almost all educational moments. One of the most memorable moments I had at AMUN was a moment that seemed, at the time, like a major stumbling block. I was the Director of Security Council Procedures at the time and a trainer. I was working with a staffer and they pulled me aside to talk about one of their trainings. They expressed how much they wanted to improve and spoke about the frustrations they had been having with learning our rules of procedure and our processes. I could see their passion. So, we refocused the issue into a building moment. What were our goals? How would we achieve them? Throughout our trainings they made significant improvements and were a key person in encouraging their teammates. Watching the shift from frustration to action was a very positive one.
RT: What is something you learned at AMUN that you use in your day-to-day life?
BR: Time management techniques, my job can be really hectic but the ability to prioritize and stay on top of everything definitely comes from AMUN. There are conflict resolution tools and educational techniques I wouldn’t have known about without AMUN. Every job has conflict, it is completely normal, but you have to know how to handle it professionally and hopefully grow from it.
RT: What is something you do as the Secretary General that directly impacts the representatives and conference participants?
BR: Every year the SG helps to select the topics that will be discussed the following year. A lot of thought is put into selecting topics that are engaging and educational. We also do a lot of research to make sure there is enough available information for representatives to do an adequate amount of research. We also want there to be a wide variety of topics, not just at the current year’s conference but we try and make sure there is enough variety between years so our returning representatives always fees challenged.
RT: AMUN has a lot of documents and content that they send out to schools, and there are even more AMUN documents once conference starts. What is the process to disseminate all of AMUN’s information and content?
BR: We have an arduous documents review process. At least three people review every document in addition to the person who wrote it. The editors are from a few different levels at AMUN including the Executive Office. If a document is edited or changed a great deal we will do an additional final review and then it can be sent out. If the doc has anything to do with fees or money it must be approved by our Board of Directors.
RT: To close out, why is AMUN important to you?
BR: This is the big one, isn’t it? It’s the Thanksgiving Dinner, explaining to my dad why I sleep through the holiday moment.
AMUN is important to me for many reasons. I love watching our representatives grow into better people. Right now, our world seems cold and divisive. But, by stepping into another country’s shoes, we are opening ourselves up to empathy and compassion. We teach students about the depth of world issues and the complex reasons that conflicts continue. By doing so, we understand what our world needs, about how cultural pain contributes to persistent and systemic problems. We are teaching people to be kinder.
We also teach tenacity. Bravery in the face of insurmountable odds. No individual can fix human trafficking or provide clean water to all of the developing world. Instead, we are teaching people to be brave by facing issues together– to dare to be creative in the face of injustice.
In short, MUN broadens your mind and helps you think about others, not just yourself. That’s why it’s important. That’s why I have stayed for more than a decade.
Once again, thank you so much to Bree for taking time out of her day to chat with me and let us in on the chaotic yet fun life of our Secretary-General. Remember: AMUN is much more than just a conference, it broadens your mind, it moves us from frustration to action and it dares us to be creative. We can’t wait to see all of these things in action once again at conference in a few weeks.
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