Ms. Haiyan Qian

IMG_7544 Ms. Haiyan Qian, devoted wife, loving mother, and dedicated International Civil Servant for the United Nations, died on the morning of 18 February 2013 at the age of 57 after a heroic battle with cancer.

During the past 33 years, Ms. Qian dedicated her career to global public policy, governance, public administration and development. Since joining the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Ms. Qian has served as Chief Manager of the United Nations Public Administration Network (UNPAN),  Chief of the e-Government Branch (formerly known as Knowledge Management Branch) before becoming the Director of the Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) on 1 February 2009. Prior to joining UNDESA, Ms. Qian worked for other United Nations agencies, such as the Centre for Science and Technology for Development and UNEP’s Centre on Environmentally Sound Technology in Japan. Before joining the United Nations, Ms. Qian worked for  the Chinese Government in the area of science and technology for development and served in the Chinese Permanent Mission to the United Nations based in New York, covering the United Nations Second Committee on Economic and Social Affairs.

At the United Nations, Ms. Qian has left behind a legacy founded on hard work, dedicated service and loyalty. Ms. Qian was a visionary leader that was admired and respected by all her colleagues and others in the field of public administration around the world.

Ms. Qian received her Bachelor of Arts in Beijing, China and her Master in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA.

[click here to read this text in Chinese]

[click here to read the thank you letter from Ms. Haiyan Qian’s family]

332 Responses

  1. Marion Barthelemy
    Marion Barthelemy
    at · Reply

    I think a lot about Haiyan and her family. To her family, I wish a lot of strength to go through this terrible period. Haiyan has been a wonderful colleague and friend. She was the one who smiled and laughed in the Directors’ meetings when everyone else was a bit stiff. She spoke her mind. Yet, she was gentle and respectful to each and everyone of us. She was the kind of person who encourages you to do the best and makes you feel/think that you are actually doing great. She fought a terrible disease and yet she exuded energy and fun. We are missing her thoroughly. To Haiyan, I say adieu mon amie. Tu nous manques beaucoup.

  2. Khaled SELLAMI
    Khaled SELLAMI
    at · Reply

    I was really sorry to learn that Ms. Haiyan Qian, has passed away .
    In this sad occasion I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to all colleagues and friends in UNDESA and to all her family and freinds.
    Khaled SELLAMI
    E-Government Unit
    Presidency of the Government

  3. Rachid Benmokhtar Benabdellah
    at · Reply

    I have just answered to a kind invitation she sent me two weeks ago when i received this terrible news!
    No doubt that UNDSA and the UN community lost a brillant and trustfull servant whose human and professonal qualities were broadly recognized by all those who have had the chance to work with her.
    I have had this chance when I served at the CEPA and have the opportunity to know her.
    At this moment it’s with emotion and the deepest sorrow that I would like to present my sincere condoleances to her family and to her coleagues and friends. I am sure that her example is valuable assset for all.

    Rachid Benmokhtar Benabdellah
    Former Minister of Education of the Kingdom of Morocco and CEPA member,
    Chairperson and President of the National Observatory of Human Development, Rabat, Morocco.

  4. Maria Bovey
    Maria Bovey
    at · Reply

    It is with great sorrow that I heard of Haiyan’s illness and later of her passing. She was a true inspiration and I was priviledged to work for her for a few months while in New York. She taught me so many skills and was instrumental in not only sharpening those skills but also in helping me to discover others. She had a heart that was even more brighter than her talents and mind. I will always be indebted to her kindness for many reasons and she will always be remembered not only as the Director, but as a true friend.

    I express my heartfelt condolences to her family and pray that her soul may rest in peace.

  5. Ziad Ismail Asfour
    Ziad Ismail Asfour
    at · Reply

    I am writing to extend my deepest sympathies to you regarding the upsetting news of Haiyan Qian loss which have truly saddened us to receive, shocked and indeed moved us.

    Haiyan Qian was a passionate, pleasant woman who have worked with Bahrain eGovernment Authority since the authority’s establishment in 2007. She was highly supportive in the eGovernment development of the country, constantly generous in offering indispensable inputs and recommendations which have contributed in the authority’s achievements.

    Everyone who knew Qian would undoubtedly agree that she was an example of perfection, eager and hard-working who loved her job; even though she strongly fought her illness. She owned a kind heart with every person she dealt with – regardless of their level or status.
    Her influential work will certainly be remembered and not forgotten for all the years to come.

    Please accept our sincere condolences and may her soul rest in peace.

  6. Jose Urquilla
    Jose Urquilla
    at · Reply

    I just learned the news about the passing of Haiyan and I want to tell you that my thoughts are with you and send you my condolences on the loss. 

  7. Izumi Aizu, IGF
    Izumi Aizu, IGF
    at · Reply

    I also like to join our colleagues to express the sadness and condolence to Ms. Qian. We all miss her a lot.

  8. Prof Wang Jianhua
    Prof Wang Jianhua
    at · Reply

    A special collection of photos were dedicated to late Chief Haiyan by one of her devoted partners Prof Wang. It is a modest effort to focus on Haiyan’s other side, “soft side,” apart from her hard work, diligence, industrialness, bravety and entrepreneurship. Begun with a few business pictures, and Haiyan’s vivid portraits, you’ll find more–all based on RCOCI’s activities at Shanghai and abroad. Please click to view:
    Wang Jianhua
    Retired professor, Institute of Information, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, CHINA
    Honorary chief editor, UNPAN-AP Editorial Department, RCOCI

  9. Prof Wang Jianhua
    Prof Wang Jianhua
    at · Reply


  10. Declan Gibbons
    Declan Gibbons
    at · Reply

    To Haiyan’s family, please accept my deepest condolences.

    I was so very sorry to hear of Haiyan’s passing. She was a great inspiration to all those who had the privilege to work with her. I also had the honor to work under Haiyan in the UNPAN Management Unit for 3 years. She was a very kind and supportive supervisor, a great mentor, an inspiring leader, and ultimately a true friend.

    May she rest in peace.

    Declan Gibbons,
    United Nations Office in Geneva

  11. Government CIO Office Japan
    Government CIO Office Japan
    at · Reply

    We are so sorry to hear of Ms. Qian’s recent loss.
    We would like to offer our sympathy and condolences to you and your family.
    We will continue to effort to share global effort to collaborative works with UNPAN.

    Government CIO Office Japan

  12. Koichi Endo
    Koichi Endo
    at · Reply

    I am very sorry to hear of Ms. Haiyan Qian passing.
    Please accept my deepest sympathy and condolence My thought and prayers are with you and your family at this difficult time.

    Koichi Endo, Government CIO Japan

  13. 王晓利 xiaoliwang
    王晓利 xiaoliwang
    at · Reply


  14. Mayumi Morita
    Mayumi Morita
    at · Reply

    My prayers are with you.

    This is to express my deepest sympathy and my condolences to her family and friends.

    In 1994 back when our UNEP International Environmental Technology Centre in Osaka and Shiga, Japan was established, I met with Haiyan for the first time. Her mission was to assist the UNEP Special Representative in starting the centre’s operations before the first Director arrived in September. Her stay with us was short but I learned a lot from her and I have never forgotten her smile. I respected her professionalism in the office. Personally when I suffered from the great hanshin earthquake in 1995, she immediately tried to reach me and sent me and my family a sweet message and expressed her worries about me, my husband and our son.

    I will miss Haiyan very much and I trust she is with me for good and all.



  15. Patricio OPORTUS Romero.
    at · Reply

    Querida Directora Haiyan Qian.

    Que Dios la acompañe.

    Manifiesto mi apoyo moral a la Familia.


  16. Patricio OPORTUS Romero.
    at · Reply

    Querida Directora. Que DIOS la acompañe.
    Manifestó mi profundo pesar y anhelo que la Familia, amigos y colegas puedan encontrar consuelo.

    Honestamente, hemos quedado anonadados.

    Un abrazo SIEMPRE

    Patricio Oportus Romero

    at · Reply

    To me, Haiyan was not just a colleague or Director, but a personal mentor and confidante. I was privileged to work directly for Haiyan ever since I joined UN. I very much value her trust in me and she commanded my full respect and loyalty. While visionary and dynamic, she pledged hard work and humility. She was the role UN model through day-to-day demonstration of principled and ethical behaviors. She led by example and always had the unique ability of building positive and genuine relationships at all levels, professional or personal. Working with her was always motivating and inspiring. In office and beyond, even after she was diagnosed with cancer, her energy, force of personality and work commitment always exemplified the true values of UN.

    Haiyan had led a life unfairly short-lived yet so fully lived. Her strong-will for life and her passion for UN’s work will be an enduring legacy.

    Saijin and Nisi – Haiyan had left her everlasting imprints on us as you see from all these messages before you, and what she said and what she did will never die. Yueming and I, first and foremost, send our thoughts and prayers to you, and to all those who loved Haiyan, with strengths that Haiyan had first given us selflessly.

    “It’s the little thing one does that makes one great” … this is one of Haiyan’s personal quotes and it will prevail in me.

  18. Alexandre Navarro Garcia
    at · Reply

    It was with great disappointment that we received the news of the death of our esteemed conductor Haiyan Qian.
    We remember very well the capacity, competence and dedication of Ms. Qian, at first developing her work alongside Mr. Bertucci, and after assuming the leadership of the work in United Nations Division for Public Administration and Development Management, building public policies, with the capacity to promote world socioeconomic equality, under the aegis of practice and ethical choices in the management of local government.
    This date of February 18th 2013, will be remembered as one in which the discussions to expand the foundation for democratic governance, with equal opportunities to extract all countries and people have gotten smaller, we can even say, less promising.
    The debate, surely loses, but the people who shared her day-to-day and, in each moment, had the opportunity to assimilate her always open acquaintanceship to listen and share, in best ways, divergent opinions.
    To family and friends, our higher feelings in reason of the passing of Haiyan.

    Alexandre Navarro Garcia
    Deputy Minister
    Ministry of National Integration

  19. Nadine Manket
    Nadine Manket
    at · Reply

    Dear Haiyan,
    I expected anything on Tuesdaymorning when I arrived at work but this terrible news of your passing. I still remember our last conversation in your office and your thoughtfulness. How you allowed me to travel to visit my ailing father even though we had a mandatory training for the division. I will keep your reply as a remembrance of your kindness. I also remember the 2-month period I worked under your direct supervision when you were still in what was known as KMB. I will always remember your daily encouragements and appreciation as I tried to update the list of UNPAN friends.
    I pray that your family finds comfort in knowing that you are now in a better place where we will all meet one day. I have kept you in my prayers since I learned of your battle with cancer and know that the Lord has welcomed you with open arms and you will tell him: ” I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”…
    Rest in perfect peace and from there, watch other your family, friends and colleagues that you left behind.

  20. Elida Reci
    Elida Reci
    at · Reply

    Dearest Haiyan,

    It was known to all of us your heroic battle with cancer, but we had hopes that you would keep it at bay and will manage to stay with us much much longer. Unfortunately the sad news of February 18th cut that hope off of all of us, forcing to accept the truth that you will no longer be physically with us.

    The very same day we start learning on how to start celebrate your life and legacy. You will always be with us, as a dear friend, colleague, a role model of a UN staff and above all as a world leader on governance and egovernment, a subject very dear to your heart.

    We will always recall the beautiful lessons on how to be there for everyone, independently from their level, background, origin, standing, but just treat them all equally as your friends and colleagues. You tough all of us what it means to offer a helping hand to a colleague in need, to generate great ideas and share them in a humble way, and above all how much persistance and hard work is needed to bring ideas to life, to materialize them and give the outcome to all those who need it, always always for a better world.

    On a person note, I felt the warmth of your heart and the wisdom of your mind from my very early days at the UN, and I am not quite sure if I ever thank you enough for a sisterly, friendly, colleagial support that you have given to me, always with a smile and your beautiful saying ” we are more than co-workers here, we are a family” . Yes Haiyan we are a family, and you replaced to many of us that close of part of the missing families we left home when we joined UN.

    That’s why when we join the development world in mourning your loss as a leader, our lost if felt even deeper because you were our family. Rest in peace my dear friend and thanks for having given us a great life to celebrate and a legacy of values to be followed. Elida

  21. Christine Arida, IGF
    Christine Arida, IGF
    at · Reply

    This is indeed sad news ..
    I join other colleagues in expressing my deepest condolences to Ms.
    Qian’s family and to all DESA family.

  22. Tulika Pandey, IGF
    Tulika Pandey, IGF
    at · Reply

    I would like to offer condolence to Ms Qian’s family and to say that her work and her courage will be cherished by the IGF family forever.

  23. Qusai AlShatti, IGF
    Qusai AlShatti, IGF
    at · Reply

    I would like to join my colleagues in expressing my sadness and deepest condolences. I met Ms. Haiyan Qian in different occasions and she was energetic, helpful and encouraging. We will miss her indeed. My God rest her soul in peace.

  24. Peter H. Hellmonds, MAG
    Peter H. Hellmonds, MAG
    at · Reply

    As a MAG alumnus and (usually) silent observer, I break my silence to express my feelings of sadness on the passing of Haiyan Qian. I met her several times and found her deeply compassionate and resourceful. She will be missed.
    My condolences to the family, to friends and colleagues of Ms. Qian.

  25. José Castelazo, INAP
    José Castelazo, INAP
    at · Reply

    I would like to express my sincere condolences for the passing away of Ms. Haiyan Qian. As a regular observer to the Annual CEPA Meetings, I got to know Director’s Qian commitment to the mission of DPADM/DESA and to the development of administrative disciplines, public policy and governance from a global scope.  Her empowered spirit was present in her interventions and on the dedication imprinted on her staff.
    On behalf of the National Institute of Public Administration of Mexico, please accept our deepest sympathy and make this condolence message extensive to the Division team.

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