Mary Kirtley Waters




4 FEBRUARY 2019 Secretary-General Appoints Mary Kirtley Waters of United States Director, United Nations Information Centre, Washington, D.C. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed Mary Kirtley Waters of the United States as Director of the United Nations Information Centre in Washington, D.C.  Ms. Waters assumed her duties on 1 February. Prior to this appointment, Ms. Waters served as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Legislative Affairs at the United States Department of State in Washington, D.C.  She also oversaw the confirmation process for United States ambassadors and State Department leadership.  From 2001 to 2005, Ms. Waters was Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations in the Department of Agriculture. In addition to her Government roles, Ms. Waters also held several leadership positions in the private sector.  She was Director of Business Development in a communications start-up company in 2014, President of the North American Millers Association from 2010 to 2013, Vice-President at the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation from 2005 to 2010, as well as Senior Director and Legislative Counsel at ConAgra Foods from 1986 to 2001. Ms. Waters holds a doctorate in law from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the United States. Ms. Waters is married with two adult 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.

Liam Murphy

Public Information

Liam Murphy joined UNIC in 2005 as Information Coordinator. Liam is responsible for public information, online communications, the Center’s library, and the intern program. Prior to working at the Center, Liam worked for the International Labor Organization for 3 years, where he was responsible for administration and information activities in the DC office. Prior to the ILO, he held several administrative and technical positions with various organizations including the Public Broadcasting Service and the Providence Journal Company. Liam's early years were spent moving around and living abroad, gaining an appreciation for cultures and places. His family ultimately settled in Rhode Island and that's where he calls home. Liam received his degree in International Politics from American University’s School of International Service in 2000. He is the proud manager and coach of the UNIC Washington softball team, the UN Do’s.

Karen Shira


Karen Shira is the Administrative Assistant and joined the UN Information Center in 1995 bringing with her 18 years of accounting and administrative experience. Karen handles all of the Financial Management, Human Resource, Premises Management and Administrative issues for UNIC. In addition Karen handles Imprest duties and Administrative issues for UNDP, IFAD, IAEA, UNOPS and UNDB. Prior to joining UNIC Karen worked for various organizations as an Office Manager and Accounting Manager including the International Council of Cruise Lines, Learning Services and the State Justice Institute. Early in Karen’s career she worked for the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Department as a Deputy Sheriff and graduated from the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy in 1983. Karen is an American citizen.

Ebru Kuran

Knowledge Management Assistant

Ebru Kuran is the Knowledge Management Assistant. Ebru provides direct assistance to the Director and Deputy Director on administrative and outreach related tasks. Maintains calendar/schedules, including those related to the visits of UN Officials. Ebru organizes the programme of senior UN officials. She joined UNIC in 2014 after working at the UN World Food Program’s Turkey Office, HQ in Rome and Regional Bureau in Cairo for more than 7 years. She started as Admin and HR Assistant, then became Senior Procurement Assistant and then National Procurement Officer. Ebru is from Turkey and is also an American citizen.