World Affairs Councils of America
The World Affairs Councils of America represents and supports the largest national non-partisan network of local councils that are dedicated to educating, inspiring and engaging Americans in international affairs and the critical global issues of our times. The network consists of almost 100 councils in over 40 states. Each non-profit, non-partisan council is autonomous with respect to their governance, financing and programming but share certain common values. Founded in 1918, it has grown to become the United States' largest non-profit international affairs organization. In June 2012, S. Todd Culpepper became President and CEO. He previously served as the Executive Director of the International Affairs Council of North Carolina, Raleigh's World Affairs Council. In mid-February 2011, Chairman of the Board Ambassador Marc Grossman stepped down to become the United States Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, replacing Richard Holbrooke. In June 2011, WACA announced that Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky would fill the position of Chair of the National Board.
The World Affairs Councils of America has a long and storied history that stretches back some 90 years. Two groups, the Foreign Policy Association (FPA) and the World Affairs Councils worked together in the same organizational system from 1918 until the early 1950s. The FPA was begun in the spring of 1918 by a small group of individuals who worked with President Woodrow Wilson that included journalist and social reformer Paul Kellogg, who also served as FPA's first president. The founding members were concerned that at the end of World War I, Americans would choose an isolationist foreign policy over one of engagement and worked to nurture grassroots citizen involvement in international affairs. By 1947, these two groups operated as a national organization that was composed of a network of independent community councils.
In 1986, the National Council of World Affairs Organizations national office was established in Washington, D.C. This office evolved into the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA). Today, WACA is the country's largest non-profit organization promotes grassroots understanding and engagement in international affairs and seeks to involve as many citizens as possible in an exchange of ideas, knowledge and understanding of global issues.
The national office of the WACA works to develop new program opportunities to distribute to member councils. This includes a variety of national program series, an annual national conference, five flagship programs, Leadership Missions to other countries, and other opportunities.
In addition to providing program opportunities, the WACA acts as the central hub for the council network, connecting councils with resources, opportunities, and of course, with each other. Councils often turn to the WACA for assistance with capacity building and organizational development. The WACA staff visit several councils every year and work hard to help councils accomplish their goals.
The World Affairs Councils of America is a national association of world affairs councils that supports a group of 98 Councils who present programs annually. The 98 Councils that are part of this network sponsor international exchanges, school programs, teachers’ workshops, foreign policy discussions, national opinion polls, travel programs, young professionals’ programs, conferences, and corporate programs.
The national association organizes an annual conference, leadership missions to other nations, a speaker referral system, international speaker exchanges, people-to-people diplomacy missions, educational workshops, book tours, subscription discounts, operations workshops, and videoconferences. It has also run national program series such as World Bank Town Meetings, Two Koreas, Future of Russia, Western Hemisphere, Human Rights Worldwide, the EU, Rising Anti-Americanism, American Security, UN Reform, and The People Speak.
Council programs reach more than a half million people every year.
WACA has eight flagship programs: Academic WorldQuest, Great Decisions, the NPR radio program "It’s Your World," Leadership Missions, National Conference, Travel the World, World in Transition.
Councils are funded through membership dues, corporate sponsorships, grants, in-kind donations, fundraising events, and fee-for-service activities. Over 2,000 corporations, foundations, and individuals help support council work.
Academic WorldQuest is an annual team-based international affairs, geography, history and culture competition sponsored by the World Affairs Councils of America. WorldQuest, held every year since 2003, has two different levels open to competitors - high school and adult.
WorldQuest was created in 1995 by Jennifer Watson Roberts of the World Affairs Council of Charlotte. The national competition began in 2003.
In order to compete at the national competition, held each spring in Washington, D.C., teams must first win at their regional council level (usually held in January or February). The 2013 National Academic WorldQuest Competition will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at the Georgetown University Hotel & Convention Center.
World Affairs Councils of America