Gillian Sorensen is currently a 2014 Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow. Prior to this, she had a long career with the United Nations serving as Assistant Secretary-General; Senior Advisor and National Advocate at the United Nations Foundation; and New York City Commissioner for the UN and Consular Corps. An experienced public speaker, she has addressed audiences as diverse as Rotary International and the United States Air Force Academy; university students; journalists and leaders of civil society. In recent years, she has made nearly 800 appearances, speaking about the United Nations and all related issues.
Sorensen worked for the United Nations Foundation from 2003-2013 as Senior Advisor and National Advocate on matters related to the United Nations and the US-UN relationship.
Sorensen served in the United Nations as Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations, from 1997 - 2003, on appointment by Secretary-General Kofi Annan. She was responsible for outreach to non-governmental organizations and was the contact point for the Secretary-General with parliamentarians, the academic world, religious leaders and other groups committed to peace, justice, development and human rights.
From 1993-1996, Sorensen served as Special Adviser for Public Policy on appointment by Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali where her duties included directing the UN’s global Fiftieth Anniversary observances in 1995. She led the planning of conferences, debates, documentaries, concerts and exhibits; the preparation of books and curricular materials, and the coordination of the UN50 Summit at in which l80 Presidents and Prime Ministers participated.
Sorensen earlier served from 1978–1990 on appointment by Mayor Edward I. Koch as New York City Commissioner for the United Nations and Consular Corps, head of the City’s liaison with the world’s largest diplomatic community. Her responsibilities included matters related to diplomatic security and immunity, housing and education, and other cultural and business contacts between the host city and over 30,000 diplomats. She secured Federal reimbursement to New York for the costs of diplomatic protection, which continues to this day.
As a role model to campus leaders for her activism, Sorensen was invited by the Millennium Campus Network (MCN) as a national keynote speaker and honored as a Global Generation Award winner alongside US Secretary of State John Kerry and fellow global leaders at MCN events in 2011.
She is a graduate of Smith College and studied at the Sorbonne. In the fall of 2002, on leave from the UN, she was an Institute of Politics Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and many other organizations. Previously, she served on the Board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting on appointment by the President of the United States. In addition to her public service, she has been active in politics and was a delegate to three national Presidential conventions.
She is the widow of Theodore C. Sorensen, who served as President John F. Kennedy's speechwriter and Special Counsel in the White House and later had an international law practice. They are the parents of a daughter, Juliet Sorensen.
- "United Nations Foundation Senior Adviser to Speak on 'Controversy and Opportunity'". Kansas City infoZine. November 9, 2005. Retrieved December 13, 2010.
- "'The U.N. bashing has got to stop,' said Gillian Sorensen". Daily Record. March 20, 2005. p. A9.
- Pacque, Peter (April 5, 2004). "Public forum to address U.N.-U.S. relationship". Richmond Times-Dispatch.
- Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (September 20, 2011). "Dushku honored at Global Generation Awards". The Boston Globe.
- Mouat, Lucia (December 19, 1989). "Diplomats' den mother: She's '911' for New York City's UN community". Chicago Tribune. p. C1.
- "Happenings". The Gazette. March 25, 2004. p. 1D.
- "WEDDINGS; Juliet Sorensen, Benjamin Jones". The New York Times. August 20, 2000. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
- NAFSA United Nations Foundation Advocate Gillian Sorensen to Headline Third Day of NAFSA Conference
- "USC" USC Public Diplomacy Fall Speaker Series Public Diplomacy Fall Speaker Series: Gillian Sorensen