<p>CIFAL Board of Trustees Chairman Craig Lesser, left, looks over an agreement with Kennesaw State University President Daniel Papp.</p>

CIFAL Board of Trustees Chairman Craig Lesser, left, looks over an agreement with Kennesaw State University President Daniel Papp.

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CIFAL Atlanta, a United Nations institute that trains government and civil society leaders from around the Western Hemisphere, has relocated to Kennesaw State University from its downtown Atlanta location. 

An agreement signed between the institutions Feb. 11 makes Kennesaw State the first university to host one of the nine CIFAL centers sanctioned by the United Nations Institute of Training and Research, or UNITAR.  

According to the agreement, CIFAL and Kennesaw will work together on programs to help government leaders promote the related fields of science, technology, engineering and math education, widely known as STEM education. 

Georgia leaders hailed the move as a sign of the state's growing and innovative profile in international education. 

"Our partnership is a unique integration of education efforts to benefit government officials and leaders around the world," said Craig Lesser, CIFAL Atlanta's board chair and managing partner of Pendleton Consulting Group.

"Leaders from countries around the globe will come to Kennesaw State to participate in training programs, while KSU students and faculty will have the opportunity to interact with these international visitors,” he added. 

Kennesaw State President Daniel Papp welcomed CIFAL's arrival on campus. 

"Kennesaw State is honored to be the first university to enter into a comprehensive agreement with UNITAR and CIFAL Atlanta,” Dr. Papp said in a news release. 

CIFAL has held many signature programs in Atlanta since its establishment here in 2004. The organization has used its relationship with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to train hundreds of visiting airport professionals through conferences and meetings. 

It also birthed the Americas Competitiveness Forum, which brings together leaders from most of the 34 countries across the hemisphere to discuss economic and societal issues. The event was incubated in Atlanta during its first two years, then went to Chile, back to Atlanta and on to the Dominican Republic and then Colombia. It will be held in Panama this September, according to Estrella Merlos, CEO of CIFAL Atlanta. 

Ms. Merlos told Global Atlanta that the organization has a variety of events planned for the year, including a conference on airports and economic development in May and one on education and innovation in August. While the primary audience will be leaders from governments and multilateral organizations, CIFAL also welcomes participation from the local community, she said.

Walter Bastian, deputy assistant secretary for the Western Hemisphere at the U.S. Department of Commerce, visited Atlanta from Washington to speak at the Feb. 11 launch event.  

Visit www.cifalatlanta.com for more information. 

Learn more about the Americas Competitiveness Forum here

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