Riverview Resident Represents Local Nonprofit At U.N. Conference In Geneva

Closing out 2011 with a career high, Riverview resident and Director of Programs for nonprofit Community Tampa Bay (CTB) Jessica Estevez visited Geneva, Switzerland to attend an international conference on combating racism. Invited to the United Nations as a panelist, Estevez traveled in late October to discuss with world representatives how to successfully end discrimination and reduce racism through co-curricular education.
For the past six years, Estevez has been devoted to CTB’s diversity education and best practices program ANYTOWN. In 2010 Estevez was the South region recipient of the USA Network’s Characters Unite award for her extensive career in advocating inclusion. It was a national spotlight that included her work with ANYTOWN, Tampa Bay’s 20 year-old program that has garnered a lot of national and now international attention with Estevez at the helm.
“My personal mission has always been to be an agent of change. Anti-discrimination, inclusion, diversity, community engagement are key factors to make sure that happen for me. People discriminate because of this fear that keeps us from engaging,” she said.
The conference on The Role of Education in Combating Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance was facilitated by the United Nations Intergovernmental Working Group. Estevez explained that this group holds nations accountable to working to end discrimination. It saw in attendance officials from United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO). Hungary, South Africa, Rwanda and Uruguay were some of the countries represented.
Estevez described the experience as humbling and affirming. “It was an opportunity to unleash a potential world phenomena that can positively impact the end to discrimination. It was humbling because I sat in a room of world advocates for whom ending discrimination could mean life and death of some of their community members,” she added, “It was affirming to note how the resources, tools and innovation that Community Tampa Bay has developed strengthen and enhance current efforts towards the mission,” referring to the ANYTOWN program which has seen 4,500 local graduates and in which Estevez firmly believes.  
For more information on CTB and the ANYTOWN program visit www.communitytampabay.org. A summary of her presentation can be found at www2.ohchr.org.