Board of Directors

President, Ana Margarita Cobiella-Olson, M.S., [Medical Educational Consultant]

Secretary, Mari Grace Byrne, MSW/MA [International Political Economy & Development]

Member, Micaela Prendergast Bennett, Esq., JD./MSW [Legal Counsel, Public Interest: Civil Rights & Non-Profit]

Member, Diesa Eléonore Seidel, MPA candidate [Women's Studies & Non-Profit Management]

Member, Myrdith Leon-McCormack [Business Planning & Professional Outreach]

Member, Christopher Dietrich Seidel [Information Technology & Strategic Partnerships]

Meet the Founder

            Diesa Eléonore Seidel is a dynamic, hands-on transformative leader who stands as a pillar for social change, peaceful activism, education and women's rights for the world's under- privileged. Her innovative global philosophy and programs have matured and progressed through her life-experiences and initiations as a collegiate scholarship athlete, professional athlete, private school teacher, coach, and ultimately as the founding director for the accredited non-profit United Initiatives for Peace.

            After a distinguished athletic career at Red Hook High School (Red Hook, NY), Diesa graduated cum laude from Marist College (Poughkeepsie, NY), receiving her B.A. in Psychology/ Public Relations. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Public Affairs at Rutgers University (Newark, NJ) with a concentration in Women's Studies and Non-Profit Management.

            Diesa's father, Dietrich, and mother, Elisabeth, are natives of Austria and France respectively. She and her brother, Christopher, were born in Toronto, Canada and hold tri-citizenship with France, Canada and the United States.

            Before founding UIP, Diesa participated in numerous international service projects, completing over 15 programs in 13 countries with 4 organizations. Through her experiences, she has honed a keen interest in global issues, specifically those invoking gender equality.

            Diesa is bi-lingual in English and French and has traveled and served in over 58 countries in 5 continents. Her untiring commitment to positive social change has been recognized worldwide. A short-list of her accomplishments includes:

  • Official Appointment as a UN Representative for Women's & Girl's Global Initiatives by the Foundation for Support of the UN (2011)
  • Received the "Woman of Vision" Award by the Women's Federation for World Peace (2010)
  • Guest Speaker at the United Nations Associations Dinner in Washington DC (2010)
  • Recognized as an "Inspiring Woman" by the WNBA (2010)
  • Received the "Excellence in Leadership" Award from the 7th Annual Ambassador for Peace Banquet (2009)
  • Honored as an "Ambassador for Peace" by the Universal Peace Federation (2003-2008)

Diesa lives, serves, and plays on Planet Earth.

Athletic Bio:

            As a high school athlete, Diesa lettered in tennis, cross-country, track & field, and basketball. She excelled in basketball and became her high school's all-time leading scorer (scoring over 1500 points), was named "New York State Player of the Year" in 1997, and was recruited nationally to play Division I basketball.

            Following high school, she was granted a full basketball scholarship to Marist College. She has been recognized both regionally and nationally for her accomplishments, being named an "Academic All-American." At Marist, she became the all-time leader in blocked shots in a single game, season, and career. Despite injuries, she scored over 1200 points, ranking her amongst the top offensive players in the conference. In 2002 she was named "Marist Sports Person of the Year" and graduated cum laude.

            Throughout her summers in college, she earned a spot playing on the French Junior and Senior National Teams, where she competed in the Jr. European Championships (Turkey, 1998) and in the Francophone Games (Canada, 2001). After her collegiate career, Diesa played professionally in both France and Italy. While overseas, she played at the National Pro A level and competed in the Euroleague (top professional European league). During her rookie season, her team reached the French National Finals and was awarded the silver medal.

            Today, Diesa is a born again runner and has completed two marathons and one Olympic distance triathlon, finishing in the top 5% for females and top 10% overall in each competition.