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United Nations 2023 Water Conference Side Event

Water and Climate for Healing, Justice and Action:
Building Blocks of a New Resiliency Paradigm

Dates: Friday, March 24th & Saturday March 25th, 2023

Location: Tzu Chi Foundation, 229 E 60th St, New York, NY 10022

and Baha'i International Community, 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 120, New York, NY 10017-1822

For registration queries please contact: copy to

About The Event

AHAM Education, NGO with consultative status to the UN Economic and Social Council, in partnership with the Tzu Chi Foundation are pleased to offer this side event to inspire cross-sector, holistic, innovative, and inclusive solutions to the Water for Climate, Resilience and Environment and Water for Health thematic focus areas related to SDGs 6 and 1, 3, 4, 5, 11, 13, 14, and 17. The current Water Action Agenda and the recent stakeholder consultation summary report incorporates the need for a grassroots approach, indigenous knowledge, and access to safe water and sanitation services for marginalized communities across the globe. 


By recognizing the role of history and the international development paradigm in exacerbating inequitable access to and pollution of water and natural resources, our goal is to provide a brave space for open interactive dialogue grounded in concrete experiences on: 

  • the importance of ‘decolonizing’ water access, restoring water rights and connections, and leveraging traditional and cultural knowledge on protection of water resources

  • evidence-based contemplative practices, faith-based and indigenous solutions that center water and nature as a catalyst for healing collective trauma while increasing water and climate justice for women, indigenous, and black and brown communities. 

  • innovative strategies for social and economic empowerment and employment of women, youth, indigenous and black and brown communities in water-related industries.

  • provide a model for building communities of practice to deepen and strengthen water culture and resilience 

All sessions will be moderated and follow the Chatham House rule.  Water and Be Nature story sharing circles will use the Circle Way sharing protocol to ensure equity of voice.

Schedule and Program of Activities

Friday, March 24, 2023, 8:30 - 9:30 am

Location: Tzu Chi Foundation, 229 E 60th St, New York, NY 10022

8:30 - 9:30 am

Session 1 – Water Justice - Decolonizing and Restoring Intergenerational Relationships to Water for Access, Safety and Post-Traumatic Healing.

Film screening of Emmy winning documentary Wade in the Water: Drowning in Racism.  


Moderator: Dr. Miriam Lynch 

Invited Panelists: Thaddeus Gamory, Director of Community Engagement, Partnerships and Programs, Diversity in Aquatics, USA; Cathleen Dean, Emmy Award-Winning Filmmaker on water justice, USA; Dr Shaun Anderson, Professor, Norfolk University, USA; Dr Carol Penn, Physician and Mind Body Medicine Facilitator, USA.

1:00 - 3:00 pm (optional lunch provided)

Session 2 – Elevating Indigenous Perspectives, Knowledge and Action for Water and Nature

Conservation in the Americas. 

Film screening of documentary short featuring La Moskitia indigenous community in Honduras The Shemelca Serpent.   JOIN VIRTUAL SESSION

Moderator: Alexander Easdale

Invited Panelists: Crystal Cavalier, Principal, 7 Directions of Service, USA; Wildres Wood, Miskito Indigenous leader and Biologist, Honduras; Luis Alvarenga, Producer, Honduras; Laura Bermudez, Filmmaker, Honduras; Youth Water and Climate Coalition Ambassador.

Friday, March 24, 2023, 1:00 - 3:00 pm

Location: Baha'i International Community, 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 120, New York, NY 10017-1822

Saturday, March 25, 2023, 9:30 am - 12:00 noon

Location: Tzu Chi Foundation, 229 E 60th St, New York, NY 10022

9:30 - 10:30 am

Session 3 – Eco-Affinity: Water and Climate Activism through Contemplative and Faith-Based Practice
Film Preview: Exposure Labs-funded documentary short by AHAM Education and BlackCat Media

Healing People Heal the Planet   JOIN VIRTUAL SESSION

Moderator: Rev. Dallas Conyers

Invited Panelists: Steve Chiu, Tzu Chi Foundation, USA; Knellee Bisram, CEO and Mindfulness Leader, Be Nature co-creator, AHAM Education, Trinidad/USA; Piero Falci, Be Nature co-creator, Mindfulness Meditation and Mindful Living, USA; Brahmakumaris NGO representative to the United Nations, USA.

10:45 - 11:45 am (optional lunch provided)  

Session 4 – Community-Based Water and Climate Transformative Action   JOIN VIRTUAL SESSION

Moderator: Steve Chiu

Invited Panelists: Alexander Easdale (Executive Director) and Dallas Conyers (International Liaison), Southeast Climate and Energy Network (SCEN), USA; Idelma Quintana, City Commissioner Hollywood Florida, USA; Youth Ambassador, Women and Water NGO Representative, AOSIS Youth Fellow Representative.

Day of Action- Saturday March 25, 2023, 2:30 - 4:30 pm

Location: Evander Childs Educational Campus, 800 E. Gun Hill Road, Bronx, NY 10467

2:30 - 4:30 pm

Blue Mindfulness Practice

Facilitated by Thaddeus Gamory, Blue Mindfulness Creator and Director of Community Engagement, Partnerships and Programs, Diversity in Aquatics.  Join us for an experiential blue mindfulness activity, practicing trauma-sensitive healing in water with Blue Mindfulness founder from Diversity in Aquatics. Co-hosted by MVP Swimmers.


Speaker Bios

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Shaun M Anderson


Dr. Shaun M. Anderson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Exercise Science at Norfolk State University. He has served as a consultant for numerous aquatics organizations such as the American Red Cross and USA Swimming where he serves as the Senior Advisor of Community Outreach & Engagement. Dr. Anderson has championed numerous aquatic programs, swim lessons, water safety seminars, research projects, camps and clinics throughout the country as well as abroad including co-founding International Water Safety Day and Diversity in Aquatics Inc., and became part of the United States permanent congressional record when he was recognized in congress for these accomplishments. He received a B.S. in Kinesiology from Penn State University and MBA in Finance from California State University and Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He currently serves as co-chair of the Water Safety, Water Competence & Swimming Lessons working group developing the National Water Safety Plan.

Knellee Bisram

Knellee Bisram is CEO and Founder of AHAM Education, a transnational NGO leading multi-sector partnerships that build mindful, resilient communities. Serving as Lead NGO Representative to the United Nations, she leverages regional, national and global multi-stakeholder partners to bring a nature-based, mindful approach to meeting 21st century global challenges affecting children, women, marginalized communities in education, water and climate justice, and women's well-being. Knellee is a Certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) instructor and Certified Center for Mind Body Medicine (CMBM) facilitator and is the co-creator of the Be Nature program. She holds a BA in languages, and a MA in International Relations and Latin American Studies. 

Crystal Cavalier-Keck 

Crystal Cavalier-Keck is co-founder of Seven Directions of Service with her husband, and citizen of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation in Burlington, North Carolina. She is a board member of the Haw River Assembly, the Women's Resource Center in Alamance County, and Benevolence Farm. Crystal is an alumnus of the Sierra Club's Gender Equity and Environment Program and Women's Earth Alliance (WEA) Accelerator for Grassroots Women Environmental Leaders and recently earned a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership focused on the Social Justice issue of Missing Murdered Indigenous Women in Gas/Oil Pipelines in frontline communities. Her current projects center on burden, exposure, risk, and health disparities among American Indians in environmental justice communities, and dismantling inequities in BIPOC communities to achieve sustainable food systems and food justice.

Steve Chiu

Steve Chiu serves as Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation’s Representative to the United Nations. In alignment with Tzu Chi’s work in disaster relief, climate action, education for global citizenship, sustainable development and gender equality, Steve works to build relationships, share best practices and develop programs with other organizations to make tangible impacts on the ground, with the mission of alleviating the suffering of those in need. With over 23 years of experience in community based development and local interfaith partnership, Steve seeks to connect the importance of grassroots action to policies that are being developed on the international level.

Cathleen Dean

Film producer, director, and photographer, Cathleen Dean, creates innovative work inspired by her experiences in South Florida. Dean’s surroundings help fuel her work, and her subjects, translated through her storytelling abilities, engage her audience to ask questions about their surroundings. Dean approaches her work from an anthropological point of view, aiming to uncover historical truths that have been lost, forgotten, or hidden with time, and illuminate their consequential presence in a contemporary environment."

Alexander Easdale

Alexander is the Executive Director of the Southeast Climate & Energy Network (SCEN), where leading a network of 78 organizations across 11 Southeastern states. Alexander has previously served as Associate Campus Director of Ana G. Mendez University System - South Florida Campus, Foundations Director at the Democracia USA project of the National Council of La Raza, program manager of economic development projects in the U.S. and Latin America at Hispanics in Philanthropy, and international trade negotiations consultant at the Argentine Consulate General in Miami. Alexander is an expert in building multiple stakeholder networks, a dual-language college professor and keynote speaker on topics such as leadership, fundraising, organizational development, and network management.

Piero Falci

Piero Falci is an author and an educator. He teaches Mindfulness Meditation and Mindful Living. He has written several books, including the highly praised 3-book series “Mindfulness for a Better Mind, Life and World,” and has created a variety of courses on how to apply mindfulness for the improvement of overall well-being, enjoyment of life, and preservation of life on Planet Earth.

Thaddeus Gamory

Thaddeus Gamory is Faculty/Special Law Enforcement Advisor with the Center for Mind Body Medicine. After retiring from the NYPD, he founded Mind Body Aquatics LLC and created the Blue-Mindfulness Training method, a trauma-informed, anxiety-sensitive, and culturally-competent approach that focuses on restoring ancient mindfulness healing water traditions for Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities. He is a former a educator and current High School Swimming and Athletic Coach, he is Director of Community Engagement and Projects for Diversity in Aquatics, and a trainer with Equity Consulting Network. Thaddeus currently serves as co-chair of the DEI Subcommittee of the Water Safety, Water Competence & Swimming Lessons working group developing the United States National Water Safety Plan. Thaddeus earned his BA in Public and Government Administration from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where he studied the science of swimming under Dr. Jane Katz.

Dr. Miriam S. Lynch

Dr. Lynch is an advocate for water safety education and equitable resource access in aquatics, and is the Executive Director of Diversity in Aquatics. Miriam has served as a coach for one of the top clubs in USA Swimming, Nation's Capital Swim Club under the mentorship of National Team Coach Mr. Pete Morgan, and in various roles within USA Swimming as a board member of the USA Swimming National Diversity Committee and the Eastern Zone, and Potomac Valley Swimming (PVS) Diversity and Inclusion Chair. Miriam is a public school educator and is part of the leadership team at West Springfield High School as a Software Based Technology Specialist in Fairfax County where she supports over 2550 students and 240 teachers at the school.

Dr. Carol Penn

Dr. Carol Penn is double board certified in Family Medicine and Obesity Medicine, Founder/Activist of Penn Global Visions and Penn Global Medical Group, two time best selling author, international speaker and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging advocate, content creator and program designer and arts advocate.

Idelma Quintana

Idelma Quintana is a City Commissioner in Hollywood Florida. She brings with her 30 years of experience in public service as a public-school teacher, facilitator of diversity programs and as a community organizer. She is a member of the local mindfulness community of practice and a student of permaculture. Idelma’s experience as an Afro-Latina immigrant woman informs her approach to policy making on environmental issues and addressing the impact of those policies on traditionally marginalized groups.

Lic Wildres Wood

Born in Brus Laguna, Gracias a Dios Department in Honduras, Wildres is the daughter of a fisherman and homemaker from the Miskito indigenous community. She is an elementary school educator and the very first Miskito community member to earn a Bachelor degree in Biology and become a biologist. Wildres is a passionate defender of indigenous human rights as well as the rights for women and children. She is an expert in traditional fishing practices and a researcher studying the flora and fauna in the Rio Platano biosphere in Honduras. Most recently, her story and her work as a water and climate activist is featured in the documentary short “The Shemelca Serpent.”


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