Humanitarian Pernille Ironside (JD ’99) to be honoured at the 2018 Bryden Alumni Awards

Pernille Ironside is an international civil servant with the United Nations. Since January 2017, she has been serving as UNICEF’s deputy representative in Nigeria, which is among UNICEF’s largest programs for development and humanitarian response.

An alumna of Osgoode, Ironside is being honoured on Nov. 20 at the Bryden Alumni Awards in the category of Tentanda Via for her exemplary work with the United Nations. She has led the development of a new five-year country program (2018-22) for UNICEF as well as a new UN Strategic Development Partnership Framework (2018-21) for the UN Country Team with the Government of Nigeria.

“When it comes to humanitarian work, there is no option but to try our very best,” said Ironside. “It’s really about making sure that we try all avenues, and in that sense, York’s motto Tentanda Via is so applicable to the work that I’ve been involved in.”

Since joining the UN in 2002, Ironside has also served in Tacloban leading UNICEF’s emergency child protection response in the immediate aftermath of super-typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Philippines in 2013; in Yemen as chief of child protection; in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, as a child protection specialist; and in UNICEF’s global headquarters in New York, during which time she advised UNICEF child protection staff and management working in 20 countries affected by armed conflict and/or natural disaster involving frequent deployments to the front lines. She specializes in negotiating the release of children associated with armed forces/groups and supporting their community reintegration.

In addition to her work with UNICEF, Ironside has held positions with the UN peacekeeping mission in Goma (MONUSCO), with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in New York, with the Canadian Human Rights Commission and with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Now in its 18th year, the Bryden Alumni Awards celebrate outstanding York University alumni who have achieved the extraordinary and made remarkable contributions in their fields and communities and to the University. Learn more about our 2018 Bryden Award recipients and purchase tickets or corporate tables for this year’s event at

Ironside will be giving a talk, titled “Human Rights in Practice: Protecting children in conflict and post-conflict situations,” on Nov. 21. RSVP here.