WACA is pleased to announce that our Council of the Month is the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts, for bringing the largest delegation of local Council representatives to the WACA 2017 National Conference. A total of 13 WAC Western Massachusetts leaders, board members, and members attended the WACA Conference this year.
The Council is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. It traces its roots further back, to February 1926, when the presidents of Smith and Mount Holyoke colleges established the Connecticut Valley chapter of the Foreign Policy Association to present local programs "directed against prejudice, ignorance, and apathy" and in favor of cultivating: "an open mind, an intelligent interest in foreign affairs, a willingness to face facts, and a sympathy with the general aims of the association." The passion continues today!
No Council of the Month
The WACA National Office is proud to recognize the Naples Council on World Affairs as Council of the Month for October.
WACA is particularly appreciative of Mimi Gregory, NCWA's Vice President for Programs, for playing an integral role as Chair of the WACA 2017 National Conference planning committee. Thanks to Mimi's leadership and contacts, WACA is proud to bring you its exciting 1918 off-site visit to the National War College.
Additionally, Naples has been chosen as one of the three Councils to participate in the WACA-USIP Engage America speaker program this October 30.
The WACA National Office is proud to recognize the World Affairs Council of Atlanta as Council of the Month for September.
The Council celebrated its 7th anniversary on August 30 with a reception hosted by SunTrust Banks and keynoted by David Abney, Chairman and CEO of UPS and a WACA 2016 National Conference keynote speaker. Nearly 200 Council members attended to celebrate the founding of the Council, the organizations and people who made it possible, and the importance of global engagement.
Since its establishment in 2010 at Georgia State University's Robinson College of Business, the World Affairs Council of Atlanta has grown rapidly to over 1,200 individual members and 60 corporate and organizational members. During FY2017, the Council organized 65 programs with a reach of over 5,000 participants. The Council is working on a new strategic plan to ensure it evolves as Atlanta grows and the international environment changes.
The Council also offers unique travel opportunities, hosted by Ambassador Charles Shapiro, WAC Atlanta's president. Upcoming trips include Colombia and Cuba.
No Council of the Month
The WACA National Office is pleased to recognize World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth as Council of the Month for its new staff-sharing initiative with the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston.
Amy Miller, Director of Education at WAC Dallas/FW, spent two days in Houston recently with Amanda Renee Rico, WAC Greater Houston's Senior Education Manager, to share best practices, discuss how to enhance the Junior WAC programs and how to better collaborate in the months ahead. In 2018, the Councils plan to collaborate on an educational study tour to Africa.
In September, the two Councils will continue the staff-exchange, with Amanda visiting Amy in Dallas. WACA encourages Councils to collaborate within states and regionally in order to build a stronger, more influential, and cohesive national network. WAC Greater Houston receives an honorable mention for Council of the Month.
We commend WAC Dallas/FW also for arranging the June 25-30 visit of students from its local Junior World Affairs Councils to help non-profit Isla Urbana install rainwater harvesting systems near Mexico City. Visit dfwworld.org - now more mobile-friendly than ever - to learn more!
No Council of the Month
The WACA National Office is proud to recognize the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville as Council of the Month for its selection as a Jacksonville Business Journal 2017 Innovators in Education honoree. The Council was awarded this honor for its Great Decisions program, a year-long high school enrichment series on foreign affairs that fosters academic achievements, critical thinking, community engagement, and communication skills.
Each year, The Jacksonville Business Journal honors individuals, businesses and organizations in Northeast Florida that have visibly improved the education sector and have positively impacted the lives of learners, young and old. Nominated by area high school teachers and college professors for the Business Partners in Education Category, the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville has increased participation and geographical locations in the Great Decisions Program by expanding internationally into four counties over the past 12 years to demonstrate the substantial interest, need and demand for this series. An awards luncheon honoring the Council will be held on Tuesday, May 2, at Jacksonville University.
The WACA National Office is proud to recognize the International Affairs Forum as Council of the Month for the 2,600-word profile published by Michigan's Bridge Magazine: Retired Diplomats Bring the World, and a Dose of Civility, to Traverse City.
"A dispassionate analysis of political and world events has been a guiding force for former U.S. diplomats Jack Segal and his wife, Karen Puschel, since they took over the International Affairs Forum of Traverse City in 2012," the article makes clear.
"The lectures that IAF sponsors routinely sell out and, in a region that can be fiercely divided in its politics, the couple and the speakers they bring in have managed to be at once fair-minded and thought-provoking in ways that promote discussion rather than shouting," the piece continues. " That's important in a place like Northwest Michigan, which brings together the mostly progressive community of Traverse City with a Trump-supporting region that surrounds it."
With the new administration, IAF has increased its programs. Recent speakers include: Steven Simon, former White House director for the Middle East; retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral David Titley, who discussed challenges to U.S. security linked to climate change; Sally Howell, director of the University of Michigan-Dearborn Center for Arab American Studies; and Robert Ford, former U.S. Ambassador to Syria.
No Council of the Month
By Carol Engebretson Byrne and Tim Odegard.
In 1949, Minnesota welcomed a 22-year-old law student named Josef Mestenhauser, a refugee fleeing political persecution in Communist Czechoslovakia. Four years later, he co-founded the organization that today is known as Global Minnesota, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to promoting international understanding through education and citizen diplomacy.
For more than 60 years, Global Minnesota has connected Minnesota communities, educators, schoolchildren, political leaders, business executives, and everyday citizens with visitors from around the world. Thanks to these professional and educational exchanges, international diplomacy happens right here in Minnesota, conducted by Minnesotans, and it makes a meaningful difference in our lives and in the lives of people around the globe.
Today's ill-conceived barriers place that mission of person-to-person diplomacy at risk, precisely at the moment our nation and our state need it most. In the past year alone, Global Minnesota has hosted dozens of emerging leaders from the Middle East and Africa through the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program.
Minnesota journalists and social-media specialists have met with their Middle Eastern counterparts to discuss the First Amendment and protection of free speech.
Arab women leaders from government and non-profit sectors shared strategies with local organizations working to address youth radicalization and learned about judicial and legislative practices that protect women and children.
Iraqi and Sudanese disability advocates discussed how Minnesota's public and private sectors respond to the need for greater accessibility.
Middle Eastern and North African security officers responsible for their countries' cooperation in the global effort to combat international crime shared best practices with Minnesota law enforcement and justice officials.
Under the new travel restrictions announced by the Trump administration, many of these valuable exchanges would never have taken place. We would certainly never have been able to host the group of Iraqi women parliamentarians who at this very moment are applying the knowledge they gained in Minnesota to promote women's political participation in Iraq. Nor would we have been able to host the two inspiring "International Women of Courage" award winners who visited Minnesota in April, a Yemeni lawyer who is drafting her country's new constitution, and an Iraqi physician working to heal the physical and psychological wounds of Yazidi women brutalized by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
We are better, stronger, and, yes, safer because of our personal engagement with these individuals - through the friendships we've forged, the knowledge we've gained, and the values we've shared.
Global Minnesota, together with our many members and supporters, will continue to reject the pessimism and fear that tempt us to shut ourselves off from the world. Minnesota's gift to the world - and to ourselves - will continue to be the enthusiastic and optimistic engagement that builds bridges and opens doors, and says to international visitors, researchers, refugees, scholars, business partners, and immigrants: "Welcome, friends."
Yezidi activist Dr. Nagham Nawzat Hasan from Iraq poses with a Minnesota second grader.
Over the last several days, there has been a swell of voices around the world. People from all walks of life are calling out for equality, peace, and freedom.
The World Affairs Council of Oregon is listening. This is a watershed moment in history-for the world, for our country, and for Oregon. We are excited to see our amazing local community continue to show the world what we value, through our words and actions. Thank you.
Since 1950, our work has affirmed that the most powerful way to help grow a more equal, more prosperous, more compassionate world is here in our hands. It starts when we open up our minds, our homes, and our businesses to the larger world.
We strive to:
Start with the belief that every voice has value. Every experience, every story has something to teach us - from the farthest reaches of the planet to our own backyard.
When we truly listen, we truly learn. We need to continually ask ourselves: Is our geography, our culture, or our bias keeping us from seeing an opportunity for growth? How can we seek common ground-solutions where we all win?
Beyond ideas and rhetoric, it's time to forge real relationships with individuals outside of our day-to-day circles. The World Affairs Council of Oregon provides events and opportunities for firsthand engagement with citizens from across the globe, both abroad and close to home.
Now more than ever, your support is invaluable. With your voice, your time, and your talent, you continue to tell the world that we are not afraid to look outward, to clasp hands across divisions, and to support an Oregon and an America that knows: our ability to connect globally is an essential investment in a better future.
Thank you from all of us at the World Affairs Council of Oregon!
The WACA National Office is proud to recognize Tennessee World Affairs Council for programming excellence.
Operating 100% by volunteers, the Council will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. It relocated to Nashville two years ago from the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee and recently moved onto the campus of its partner, Belmont University. The impressive schedule of town hall and public affairs briefings during 2016 included: Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak; Irish Ambassador Anne Anderson; Japanese Consul General Masami Kinefuchi; U.S. Ambassador (ret.) Thomas Pickering; Kurdish Government Representative Bayan Abdul Rahman, and many others. Most visiting speakers are further made available for guest lecture school visits and presentations at civic groups, expanding the Council's community outreach and impact.
Tennessee WAC reaches youth across the state through its year-round use of Academic WorldQuest, offering practice matches, online resources, and quizzes to engage students and teachers. Tennessee WAC included WorldQuest teams from Alabama and Georgia in its programs when competitions were not locally available. The Council also offers a very popular international careers panel twice a year.