Beginning in February, Ivy Tech Indianapolis will host a series of talks with today's global leaders centered around empowerment, service, and urgent contemporary global challenges. 

The guest speakers taking part in the “UN Global Women Leadership Series” are leaders across policymaking, sustainability, STEM, and women advocates with the United Nations (UN). The series will include two lectures and a panel discussion. 

Gerald Maki, an Ivy Tech Indianapolis Professor of English and global education coordinator, spearheaded the UN Global Women Leadership Series to allow our students to meet and hear from the changemakers of our day. 

“Part of the hope is to help students gain greater awareness of contemporary global challenges by connecting them with passionate individuals who have dedicated their careers to addressing these issues. As we see in the news and read in the history books, divisions between people often have catastrophic consequences. There is an urgent need for dialogue – and for leaders,” Maki said of the series’ importance. “I hope this will be a transformative experience for students, not just to learn more about the world but to develop the skills, confidence, and imagination to view themselves as leaders. I believe this speaker series can add to Ivy Tech’s leadership in providing unique and meaningful global learning to students across Indiana.”

Maki’s aim for the UN Global Women Leadership Series is focused on women leaders due to the startling low numbers we see in STEM, policy development, peacekeeping, and other leadership positions. Women in the labor market globally make 23% less as compared to men, 1 in 5 women are married before the age of 18, 1 in 5 women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in the last 12 months, and less than 25% of parliamentary seats are held by women. 

“Our guest speakers have shattered traditional barriers of gendered expectations and seek to empower others by sharing their stories and resources,” Maki said. 

Maki is committed to global education and has showcased his expertise through dialogue at regional, national, and international levels. A UN Global Diplomacy Fellow, Maki most recently served as a distinguished speaker for the Science Summit at the UN’s 78th General Assembly and as co-moderator for a session hosted at the Royal Norwegian Consulate in New York entitled “Science Capacity Building for the Future: Defining the Skills Agenda.” In November, Maki was named a President’s Faculty Honoree at Ivy Tech Community College’s President’s Awards for all of his excellent work.

“As educators, we have an opportunity to create unique experiences for our students to help them imagine a wider range of possibilities for their lives. In this case, students – as well as faculty and staff – are invited to hear first-hand from individuals who are working to address global threats and inequities,” Maki said. 

Jelena Pia-Comella kicks off the UN Global Women Leadership Series on Wednesday, February 14. The next installment of the series is a panel discussion with six global leaders in tech on Thursday, April 4. Cemre Ulker wraps up the series on Thursday, April 16. 

Each talk can be accessed virtually via Zoom. Students are also invited to join watch parties in the Learning Resource Center (LRC) 107. 

Learn more about each talk below. 

February 14: “Women’s Leadership in Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution” by Jelena Pia-Comella

9:15 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.

Former Andorran Diplomat to the United Nations and women’s rights scholar Jelena Pia-Comella will share her deep knowledge of the UN and discuss ongoing global efforts to empower women in preventing mass atrocity crimes and conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence. This talk is sponsored by the School of Arts, Sciences, and Education, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging, and the Learning Resource Center. Students, staff, and faculty are invited to join us for this awareness-raising talk about how we can serve as global leaders.

Student watch party in LRC 107.

Zoom Registration Link


April 4: “Global Women of Tech and the United Nations” Panel Discussion

9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Six leaders in technology from across the globe, including multiple UN scholars and leaders in Science Diplomacy, will join in a panel discussion to share about their lives, careers, and what it means to be a woman in STEM making a meaningful impact on the world today. This event is sponsored by the School of Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering, and Applied Science, the School of Information Technology, the School of Arts, Sciences, and Education, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging, and the Learning Resource Center. Students, staff, and faculty are invited to join us in this empowering talk and opportunity to interact with today’s global leaders. 

Student watch party in LRC 107.

Zoom Registration Link 

April 16: “Gender, Press Freedoms, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals” by Cemre Ulker

9:15 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.

Cemre Ulker, UN Representative and US Director of the Journalists and Writers Foundation, returns to Ivy Tech for a virtual talk on the intersection between international women’s rights and global press freedoms. Additionally, Cemre will provide an overview and update on global progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This event is sponsored by the School of Arts, Sciences, and Education, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging, and the Learning Resource Center. Students, staff, and faculty are invited to join us for this insightful and urgent look at contemporary global challenges. 

Student watch party in LRC 107.

Zoom Registration Link

“It can be empowering to see and talk with someone who has had success in a field. Beginning a new path in one’s life – such as furthering one's education and coming to college – can feel like a journey into the unknown. Seeing someone else who has done it, and done it well, can be incredibly validating to our own instincts and aspirations. Hearing from individuals who have had success can help all of us say, ‘If that person can do it, then so can I. Why not me?’ The message resonates even more when it comes from individuals who want to encourage us to pursue those goals, such as our guest speakers.”

For more information, please contact Maki at

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.