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Our History


The World Affairs Councils of America is the largest nonpartisan, non-profit grassroots organization in the United States dedicated to educating and engaging the American public on global issues. Over 500,000 people a year benefit from the network programming, including members and participants.

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 dedicated to fostering 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.

 

World Affairs Councils of America Wins DANDI Award

The World Affairs Councils of America is pleased to announce that it was honored with the 2014 Diversity and Inclusion (DANDI) Award in the international category.

Accepting the honor at the 3rd Annual DANDI Awards Ceremony in New York City on December 1, 2014, WACA President and CEO Bill Clifford said:

"The World Affairs Councils of America believes everyone benefits when we create a public environment where a diverse community is challenged to share ideas about international issues while considering other points of view. For our Councils, which put a premium on civil dialogue, the commitment to the values of inclusion and diversity of thought and perspective makes us better learners, employees, leaders, and citizens."

For more on the DANDIs, visit their website here. Read the press release here

 

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1918 Society Members

Carlson & The Carlson Family Foundation

Carnegie Corporation of New York

Chevron

The Claremont Group

The Coca-Cola Company

Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) 

DailyChatter

Delegation of the European Union to the United States

Eden Hall Foundation

ExxonMobil

Foreign Policy Association

The Gambrinus Company

Global Ties U.S.

Goldman Sachs

Google

The Holmes Organisation

Johnson + Sterling

Mr. Michael Phillip

NATO

Orbital ATK

Rational Middle Energy Series

Raytheon

Rosetta Stone

Shell

Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center  

Thomson Reuters

Tomassian, Throckmorton & Inouye LLP

Turkish Cultural Foundation

UPS