Networks, Airbnb, and the United Nations
How one question with many answers solves the equation

Summer at UNICEF Innovation NYHQ has been great. We’ve had sunny office days and great weather fueling new ideas, and recent visits from many members of our global team. This summer we also got to welcome talented fellows who lend their expertise to support us on current and future projects. Over the past three months, they’ve enriched our team’s work and culture through sharing their fresh perspectives, unique personalities, and creative ideas.

Instead of keeping them all to ourselves, we’d like to introduce them to the world. For they have all the capabilities to make significant contributions to the areas of design, educational technology, UAVs (drones) and our work for children.

So, world, watch out for…


Karina Davila @keekst3r on Twitter, Facebook,and Instagram – I am a graphic designer originally from sunny Miami, FL and completing a Master’s program on Social Innovation at School of Visual Arts (SVA) Design.

On joining the (Office of Innovation) madness: I’ve decided to intern at UNICEF Innovation because I’ve wanted a real world experience working in an organization that focuses on social innovation.

My mission: As a design fellow, my main project focused on improving the current onboarding experience and creating one that is all encompassing not only digitally, but physically as well. I was also working on several projects — from creating presentation decks to designing one-page case study designs.

Designing the onboarding process
Designing the onboarding process
Welcomed with swag
Welcomed with swag

My game plan: I’ve put my knowledge of design thinking into practice. I asked team members to share their onboarding experiences. Through their insights, I’ve realized that there are more things to be done aside from just improving the website and adding information. I’ve included testing additional items like onboarding guides, animated emails sent ahead of time, and giving out a care package to new team members so they could have SWAG and feel special on their first day.

A challenge I’ve encountered: Since the team is so diverse and fast moving, onboarding requirements of new people varied and changed quickly. To address these, I’ve created an adaptable and flexible ‘Onboarding DIY’ sheet giving team leads the option to choose and select materials fitting to their new team member’s needs.

Channeling robots

My contribution: A great onboarding experience is essential as it is the first interaction of a new team member to the organization. Having a good onboarding experience can make new members feel welcomed, supported and motivated to do well and contribute greater things to the work required.

Five words to describe my experience: Curious. Madness. Unexpected. Friendships. Diverse.

What’s next: I’m going on a diet because I ate too much at UNICEF, haha. I’ll also be going back to school to complete my last year of grad school and finish my thesis. My thesis is about sea level rise and how it affects the community in Miami. And, after that…Machu Picchu! I can’t wait.


Naphish Lashba Raj @beatboxalien77 on Twitter, @thenaphworld on Instagram  I’m a graduate student from the University of Toronto currently pursuing my Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering specializing in Space Robotics. I am an artsy soul with a deep infatuation for automation, robotics and basically anything that flies.

On joining the (Office of Innovation) madness: I decided to intern at UNICEF Innovation because I wanted to spend my summer contributing my technical knowledge to improve and enhance drone applications on humanitarian aid projects. One of which is using drones to find efficient ways to transport medical supplies to isolated communities.

My mission: The main project I was working on was about identifying and researching the regulations and policies required for UAV corridors around the globe and the necessary resources needed for setting up a drone corridor in Malawi. Additionally, I was cataloging drone hardware startups around the world (independent and mainstream) to identify potential collaborations with UNICEF on drones in the future.

My game plan: Using my previous experience in working with drones in South Africa, I was able to compare the drone rules and regulations established in South Africa and adapt it to the current guidelines required for Malawi.

My work station
My desk at UNICEF Innovation NYHQ

A challenge I’ve encountered: The lack of information about UAVs for humanitarian use cases was a challenge. As most of the information needed to create these guidelines is relatively new and unavailable, I needed to read and research a lot of papers and conduct more in-depth research than I expected.

My contribution: The first report on drone policies/regulations is now used as a foundational guideline for setting up the first drone corridor in Africa in collaboration with the government of Malawi.

Five words to describe my experience: In 5 words → This. Was. One. Epic. Summer. 😀

What’s next: After three amazing months in New York, I’m heading back to Toronto to complete my Master’s Degree. I’ll still be in touch with UNICEF on their projects and hope to cross paths with the innovation team again – this time in a larger capacity.

FatimaFatima Rizwan –  I am currently a graduate student at the University of Toronto, specializing in International, Comparative and Development Education. I am also a proud alumna of the Teach for All network, having worked as a fellow for two years with Teach For Pakistan.

On joining the (Office of Innovation) madness: As a graduate student, it’s easy to forget what it means to be working in an actual workplace and put yourself through the test. The kind of work the Office of Innovation does – which I learned from stalking their blog posts – seemed to make a real impact on the field through technology. I wanted to see it for myself.

My mission: I worked as a research fellow for the Innovation Fund at the UNICEF Office of Innovation. Simply put, I was brought on board to bridge the gap between technology and education and help our unit understand what innovation in learning looks like.

My game plan: Most of my time was spent going through the 120 or so learning proposals that the Innovation Fund received earlier this year. I’ve also worked with an army of experts from various backgrounds including but not limited to venture capitalism, educational support and teaching, digital content creation and real-time data management. Together, we were determined to crack the code on the best education innovations to pursue, and though it was a tedious and lengthy process, magic happened.  

A challenge I’ve encountered: The most challenging bit was staying cognizant of the big picture and to not get lost in details. To address this challenge, adhering to UNICEF Innovation’s nine core Innovation Principles helped keep me on track.

My contribution: My work thus far could be used as a starting point to build the unit’s strategy towards EdTech. Through these proposals, we were able to realize the main challenges of this space collectively. We made a few mistakes but most importantly, learned from them all.

Five words to describe my experience: Insanity. Persistence. Can-do-attitude. Insightful. Rewarding.

What’s next: Equipped with a real understanding of the challenges faced when combining true innovation with education, I am ready to finish graduate school this fall. To complete my course, I am required to write an entire book for my thesis. Wish me luck!


Networks, Airbnb, and the United Nations
How one question with many answers solves the equation