Martha Gardner to leave U.N. Observer's office

May 13, 2009

Martha Gardner, who has served since June 2008 as special assistant to the Anglican Communion Observer at the United Nations and director of programs, will leave on May 15, the observer's office announced.

The position was suspended "due to financial reasons," wrote the Anglican Communion Observer, Hellen Wangusa, in an e-mail noting that Gardner's "skills, knowledge, and abilities have had an entirely positive impact on this office and those who interact with it."

In an interview, Gardner said that the worldwide Anglican Communion (which encompasses some 77 million Anglicans in 164 countries) "brings a needed voice to an international forum like the UN. We're on the ground and they need to hear from us. The work has been inspiring and I will stay in touch forever with many of the people I have met."

In her work at the observer's office, Gardner was a liaison for the office at the Lambeth Conference last summer of Anglican bishops; planned a day of events last September at the United Nations in support of the Millennium Development Goals for social progress and coordinated the Anglican delegation to last spring's UN Committee on the Status of Women.

She said she will continue with such volunteer work as serving on the board of directors of Church World Service, an ecumenical relief and development agency based in Elkhart, Indiana. Last week, she was elected to the Episcopal Church's Executive Council as a representative of Province II, which includes dioceses in the eastern U.S.

From 1996 to 2008, Gardner served as a part time consultant to the Episcopal Church, working on programs in the areas of peace, justice, women's ministries and the environment.

The Rev. Canon Brian Grieves, director of the church's Advocacy Center, noted in an e-mail that Gardner is also "an enthusiastic ecumenist and participated in many ecumenical meetings for us, especially at the National Council of Churches, and in a host of others, offering her enthusiastic networking skills wherever she went." He added, "She has been and will continue to be an invaluable resource."

Before coming to the Episcopal Church, Gardner directed community and college programs at the Foreign Policy Association, a non-profit organization that seeks to educate the public about foreign policy. In the 1980s, she developed and managed several programs in the areas of welfare reform and family services for the City of New York's Human Resources Administration.

She holds a master of arts degree in international relations from the University of Chicago and a bachelor of arts degree in government from Georgetown University.