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George Mason UniversitySchool of Business

Engaging with the United Nations

Written by Jennifer Anzaldi on .

C. Kat GrimsleyC Kat Grimsley, director of the MS in Real Estate Development program, has made international engagement a central part of her professional career. She currently serves as an advisory member of the Real Estate Markets (REM) advisory group to the Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Land Management of the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). In 2019, she was elected by this international body to serve as the group’s 2020 vice chair.

The intergovernmental committee is the highest policymaking body of the UNECE in housing, urban development, and land management. Within the committee’s umbrella of operations, REM comprises 27 members from 18 countries.

“As an advisory member and vice chair,” says Grimsley, “I manage special projects and contribute subject expert advice in policy areas that support the mission of the committee and provide guidance to UNECE Member States (national governments as well as their local governments).”

Grimsley’s recent involvement is not the first time she’s worked with the United Nations. She served as the working group lead to update previous guidance and create new material for the UN related to condominium housing. “In this role I helped to provide current policy and organizational guidance to UNECE Member States for use at national, regional, or local levels, depending on existing legal frameworks,” says Grimsley. Grimsley presented this guidance to international audiences including to foreign ministry leadership of UNECE Member States and to the committee.

Grimsley’s latest project is the drafting of the #Housing2030 report in cooperation with UNECE, UN Habitat, and Housing Europe. She is a member of a six-person team whose goal is to improve the conditions of persons living in poverty by creating a “tool kit” focused on raising awareness of best practices and innovative solutions in affordable housing policy that can be used by governments in Europe and beyond.

Grimsley says she first became involved with the UNECE in 2012 while pursuing her doctorate. “I offered to be a research resource to support their needs,” says Grimsley. “That relationship evolved over time into quite a productive collaboration. For younger professionals trying to become involved with a particular group, my advice is to support the organization to the best of your ability and build long-term relationships you never know what future opportunities will come from your efforts.”