Robert Skinner


Robert Skinner is currently serving as the Director of the United Nations Information Center (UNIC) in Washington, DC, a position he returned to in April 2021, having began his tenure with the United Nations in 2015 in this post.  Prior to returning to this post, he served as a Senior Special Advisor in the UN’s Department of Global Communications, focusing on the UN’s COVID-19 Communications Response Initiative.  He also spent time as the Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Partnerships. Prior to joining the UN, Robert was the Executive Director in the New York Office of the United Nations Foundation.  Before joining the Foundation in 2006, Robert held several positions in the United States Department of State, including as Deputy Spokesperson at the United States Mission to the United Nations in New York, and as Public Affairs Officer for the United States Embassy in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. He also held posts in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire and San Salvador, El Salvador. Robert was an attorney in the Office of the Cook County Public Defender, Chicago, Illinois before starting his diplomatic career. Robert holds a law degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Oakland University in the United States. He is married and has two children.

Stefania Piffanelli

Deputy Director

Stefania Piffanelli is the Deputy Director of the United Nations Information Center (UNIC) in Washington. Ms. Piffanelli brings to the job over 20 years of experience with the UN, academia and the private sector. Before joining UNIC Washington, she was part of the team investigating those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Previously, Ms. Piffanelli managed the work of the UN Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund in Sierra Leone both out of New York and Freetown. She served as the Special Assistant to the UN Deputy Secretary-General and in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General under Secretaries-General Ban Ki-Moon and Kofi Annan. She also held a number of positions in the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs in the areas of development and gender equality. Earlier in her career, Ms. Piffanelli worked as a consultant for the UNDP Bureau for Eastern Europe and Central Asia and for UNDP Lebanon. Prior to her work with international organizations, she worked as a junior fund manager in Italy. She holds a PhD in Economics from New York University and a graduate degree in Economics from the University of Bologna, Italy. She speaks English, Italian and French and has some knowledge of Spanish. She is an Italian citizen.

Deborah DeYoung

National Information Officer

Deborah DeYoung is an Information Officer at the UN Information Center. Deborah worked on Capitol Hill for 13 years, serving as the spokeswoman for the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, chaired by Michigan Senator Don Riegle; the Senate investigation into the fate of MIAs and POWs from the Vietnam War, led by Senators John Kerry and John McCain; and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Montana Senator Max Baucus. She also worked for Congressmen Sander Levin and Tony Hall. She joined the UN Information Center’s staff after working briefly at the UN World Food Program’s regional hub, in Nairobi, and has traveled extensively to focus, primarily, on humanitarian issues. A graduate of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, Deborah was a reporter at the Midland Daily News, a Michigan newspaper before moving to Washington.

Karen Smyth

Congressional Relations

Karen Smyth is the Congressional/Senior Liaison Assistant for the UN Information Center, where she serves as a first point of contact for congressional offices on requests or questions related to the UN, helps inform staff of the UN’s work and monitors congressional actions relevant to the UN. Having pursued protocol training as a personal interest, Karen is part of the small information team that develops official programs for senior United Nations officials coming to Washington for meetings with US government and congressional offices, as well as the NGO community, think tanks, the media and others. Karen is also the focal point for the coordination of information sharing within the UN "Family" in Washington. She joined the UNIC in 1993, after having participated in an internship there the previous summer, and has held several positions within the small office during her time here. Karen graduated from New England College in Henniker, NH in 1993 with a B.A. in International Relations. She is married with two children.