Advocates of the United Nations having expertise in UN systems, agencies, and programs.
Mehr “Jay” Shahidi:
Mehr “Jay” Shahidi is a business owner and past president of the Minnesota division of the United Nations Association.
Born in Iran, he came to the US for higher education and later became a citizen. He studied economics and political science at Minnesota State University, Mankato where he was student body president and received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Humanitarian Award for his work on public education, refugee protection, landmines removal, population stabilization, environmental protection, economic development, nuclear disarmament and peace building.
In 1975, he was accepted into the Ph. D. program in political science at University of Cincinnati, but decided to go into business instead. He created the M.J. Shahidi Business Consulting Company, which has provided management services and advocacy for small business and civic groups.
Jay has been an active member of Amnesty International and done citizen lobbying at all levels of government for over 40 years. In 1999 he began providing fundraising and advocacy services for the American Refugee Committee (now Alight) and served on its Board of Directors for 12 years.
In pursuit of his commitment to democratic exchange and international cooperation, Jay has founded or held leadership positions in over 40 business, civic and charitable organizations, published dozens of opinion articles, and given over 800 public speeches on sociopolitical issues (most of which are related to the mission, agenda and operations of the United Nations).
He has been a Great Decisions Lecturer for Foreign Policy Association and Global Minnesota for over 15 years.
In June of 2019 Jay was awarded the Arnold Goodman Lifetime Achievement Award of the United Nations Association Foundation, to honor his 54 years of advocacy on behalf of the mission, agenda and programs of the United Nations.
Werle is the author of An American Gothic: The Life & Times & Legacy of William Gates LeDuc. His most recent book, Stassen Again, was published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2015. He currently lives in Minneapolis with his wife and three sons.
Born and raised in Rochester, Minnesota, Steve Werle graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Teaching Social Studies in 1994 and went on to earn a Master’s from the same university in 1999. He teaches Advanced Placement United States History (APUSH) in the Twin Cities. Every summer (very much in the spirit of Minnesota) he bakes thousands of Sweet Martha cookies during The Great Minnesota Get-Together.
Dr. Bharat Parekh:
Dr. Parekh immigrated to the Twin Cities from his native India in 1987. He earned his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Minnesota Rochester and has since worked as an educator and consultant to U.S. companies, Indian enterprises, and non-governmental organizations alike.
His work involves technology transfer in the rural and environmental development sectors, using methods such as biofuels, food processing, and water resource models and systems. Prior to coming to the Twin Cities, Dr. Parekh was a physics professor at North Dakota State University. While in North Dakota he also served as a research scientist for the State Water Institute in Fargo. His research there focused mainly on turbulence modeling and hydrologic simulation, and ways to better address complex issues in the river basin. During his teaching career, he was an early advocate of the interdisciplinary curriculum: learning physics in tandem with other disciplines such as art, environmental sciences, technology and health.
Parekh currently serves as the board member of three other organizations: Citizens for Global Solutions Minnesota, the Committee on Foreign Relations Minnesota, and Toddler Food Partners.