All About Me

Credit: Chrystia Chudczak

Credit: Chrystia Chudczak

 
 

ALL ABOUT ME...

Someone once said - I think it was a Wall Street Journal columnist - that everyone should strive to have at least three careers in their lives. Well, not everybody is so lucky to mix it up to that degree. But I've been extremely blessed.

My professional life can basically be divided into two pillars: journalism and humanitarian aid/public affairs.

As a journalist I've had the privilege of having my work published in some of the finest media outlets in the world - as a staffer and as a freelancer. I've punched the clock at the Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press and The South China Morning Post. In the 1990s I was part of the launch teams at Eastern Express in Hong Kong and at Asia Times in Bangkok - neither survived, at least as a printed newspaper, but we had a heck of a time building something from nothing with some of the best people in the business and with proprietors with deep pockets! In and around that heady era I have had news and opinion pieces published in The Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Newsweek and MSNBC.com

In my years as a correspondent, I was one of the few journalists to have been granted several interviews with the founder of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew. My  interview roster includes prime ministers and presidents from Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Ukraine, Lithuania and Canada. Being a journalist allows you to sit on the frontlines of history. I've covered the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine, the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre in China, the explosion of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines, the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China, the Tahrir Square uprising in Egypt, and the World Cup in South Africa. 

I have worked as an emergency spokesperson and communications expert with numerous relief organizations in over 15 countries affected by war and disaster, including Sudan, South Sudan, Pakistan, Egypt, Burundi, Lesotho, Nigeria, Turkey, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Laos, Myanmar, Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia.

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“Since I spend so much time flying, I do try to make the best of it. And as far as I’m concerned, the ‘best of it’ means meeting new people.”

- New York Times

Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, I was invited to join the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in its interventions on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border. That led to several more deployments around the world - including as Communications Chief in UNICEF's East Jerusalem offices and as global spokesperson in Geneva. I've also worked several emergencies with UNICEF: the South Asia earthquake in Pakistan in 2005, Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008 and the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake in Van, Turkey.  For two consecutive years I was immensely privilege to manage UNICEF's flagship photography project for children, supported by SONY and called Eye See, in Pakistan, Rwanda and Liberia.

Promoting immunization and fighting polio have kept me engaged in many countries. I've also supported the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization.

In 2014, just after Crimea was invaded by Russia, I joined the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as a spokesperson for its Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. It was during that deployment that I was part of the first international team to arrive at the crash site of MH17 on July 17, 2014. We, in effect, became de facto spokesperson for the tragedy and, by extension, the eyes and ears of the world. Around that time, I told myself: "Life may never be the same again." You can read more about my experience with MH17 here, in my CNN.com OpEd.

Late one night, standing on the hotel rooftop waiting to go live on TV with CNN’s Erin Burnett, the sound of automatic gunfire sent me and the Turkish crew rushing for cover. I ended up speaking to Erin crouched down near a protective wall.

Currently, as a global affairs analyst, I am a frequent commentator on BBC World, CNN, CTV, CBC and Al Jazeera. My commentaries on global affairs and humanitarian issues are published regularly on CNN Opinion. In the wake of Hurricane Irma in September 2017 my analysis on 'Building Back Better' was published by CNN Opinion and picked up by several broadcast outlets. 

One of my proudest associations is with the New York-based The OpEd ProjectI am a volunteer mentor-editor and we work to support aspiring writers to place their written pieces into the opinion pages of major newspapers. As the saying goes: "Whoever tells the story writes history."

As you might have guessed all of this work entails plenty of travel. A long time ago, after many requests by friends, I started an online travel platform to assist people to travel in a more savvy way. Hence the website, My Savvy Traveller. Ive also been featured by The New York Times as a travel influencer!

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I love delivering impactful talks. You may have seen me at the Halifax International Security Forum, the World Communications Forum in Istanbul and Geneva, the Oxford University Alumni conference in Vienna, the Atlantic Council (Washington, DC) and London’s Frontline Club regional series. In March 2016 I moderated the pitch stage at the SXSW Festival in Austin. And in December 2017 I did a marathon run of talks and moderating -including at the annual Tiger Conference in Kyiv.

By now I've delivered two TEDx talks: evangelizing about collaboration at TEDxUW in Canada and sharing advice on how to make the best choices in life at TEDxCoE Natolin in Poland.

Increasingly, technology and its impact on people is becoming a major field of study for me. When I wrote an OpEd piece for CNN.com on smartphone addiction, the article went viral almost immediately. Stay tuned to learn more about how technology - especially devices such as smartphones - are changing our lives, brains, relationships and more.

Some breaking news at this point: In spring 2018 I dived into my latest work called 'Digital Crack.' It will focus on the many different aspects of smartphone and social media addiction. Watch for it later in 2018!

Finally, my academic credentials: I've studied mass communications, international politics and TV News at Carleton University, Columbia University and George Washington University . I'm proudly Canadian/British Columbian and of Ukrainian heritage.

I hope you enjoy learning more about me in the following pages!

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