Nadine Clopton '19, '20G, a Youth Representative for Caring and Living as Neighbours in Australia, has become the first Youth Representative in history to run for and be elected as a Director on the UN NGO Executive Committee. Clopton has had the opportunity to speak at the UN and gain many experiences. (Courtesy of Nadine Clopton)

Nadine Clopton named youngest director of the UN NGO/DPI Executive Committee


Nadine Clopton, ‘19 ‘20G, was named the director of the UN NGO/DPI Executive Committee. She is the youngest person to ever serve in this role.

The UN NGO/DPI Executive Committee represents thousands of NGOs, non-governmental organizations, around the world and is the liaison between the NGO community and the United Nations.

Before starting this role, Clopton began working with Caring & Living as Neighbours (CLAN), an Australian NGO focusing on health access, advocacy and education for children with chronic illnesses living in low- and middle-income countries. 

Bill Hunter, the director of the Office of Fellowship Advising and UN Programs, said he met Clopton when she was a first-year student who showed strong interest in the UN programs offered at Lehigh.

“When she became CLAN’s Youth Representative during her sophomore year, it was clear to me that she was a rising star within our UN Youth Representative program,” Hunter said.

By taking initiative, Clopton also served as the first Youth Representative in the world at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, while she was studying abroad. 

Last year, Clopton found out she had been elected to serve as a youth chair on the UN NGO/DPI Executive Committee. She was the third student to ever serve in that capacity, contributing to meetings and working on youth capacity building.

Clopton also spoke at the UN during the Commission on the Status of Women. One of the senior board members came to the panel and invited her to come back to speak on two more panels.

“That manifested itself into a nomination to serve as a director on the board,” Clopton said. 

Clopton says it’s been challenging to strike a balance between her work at Lehigh and at the United Nations, but even remotely, she is working to build a global leadership network to build the capacity of and create opportunities for youth development around the world and across the UN system. As the appointed Chair of the Youth and Intergenerational Subcommittee, they are finding ways to engage outside communities and youth who are not New York-based with the UN system.

“We want their stories to trickle upwards,” Clopton said. “That way, we can hear the hopes, needs, priorities, and challenges that Youth Representatives are facing around the world and in their hometowns.”

For her undergraduate degree, Clopton double-majored in health, medicine, and society and political science, and minored in sustainable development and environmental studies. Now, as a Presidential Scholar, she is completing her master’s in the environmental policy program.

She received the choral arts scholarship for her excellence in this area, and is involved in Lehigh’s choir, Dolce Women’s Choir and the Lehigh Melismatics a cappella group

Dr. Sirry Alang, an associate professor of sociology and health, medicine, and society, said Clopton is able to excel because she is a critical thinker.

“She has an eye for the big picture,” Alang said.”She has a perfect balance between focusing on small aspects that matter in people’s lives and the bigger structures and institutions that make decisions that ultimately affect people.”

Alang said Clopton is humble. Clopton’s work is focused on social justice, and she cares about inequalities and inequities. 

This sentiment translates to her collaborative work on building a Lehigh Union.

“It is a way to get underrepresented and underserved clubs into the Student Senate,” Clopton said. “Right now, the Senate is split into Greek, athlete and everyone else. We want to coalesce the Lehigh community in a way that there is equitable representation around campus.”

In the future, Clopton wants to help major institutions, businesses, philanthropies, NGOs and governmental entities by infusing the values of equity and sustainability into their practices.

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