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2014 National Conference: America and the World 2015

The World Affairs Councils of America will host its 2014 National Conference, America and the World 2015, on November 5-7 at The Fairfax at Embassy Row Hotel.

Held annually for over two decades, the World Affairs Councils of America's National Conference engages our regional leaders and members drawn from the business, civic, and education communities with leading policy-makers and experts. 

The Conference helps to frame and guide our national network of Councils to plan programming for the coming year on critical global and U.S. foreign policy issues identified by our network leadership across the country. 

In March, we asked Council membership to select 10 topics/regions from among 40 topics. The results of this poll revealed several new themes in addition to some from previous Conferences that remain compelling. These topics and related issues will inform the 2014 National Conference agenda:

  • China, the U.S., and Asia
  • Russia / Eurasia
  • Cybersecurity
  • Future of Education
  • Youth, Jobs, and Social Unrest
  • Food and Water
  • Global Economic Realignment
  • Future of Energy
  • Africa
  • Climate Change

Last year's conference kicked off with Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) at Wednesday evening's opening dinner and closed with a keynote from former First Lady Laura Bush. Past conferences have featured distinguished speaker and panelists including Zbigniew Brzezinski, former CIA Director General David Petraeus, Singaporean Ambassador to the U.S. Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and many more. Click here to see our 2013 speakers and agenda.

Staying at The Fairfax 

We have secured a special group rate at The Fairfax at Embassy Row:

Superior King: $234 per night (Single/Double Occupancy)

Superior Two Doubles: $254 per night (Single/Double Occupancy)

Reserve Room Here

The Fairfax at Embassy Row is a historic Washington, DC hotel is located in the Dupont Circle area. A Washington, DC landmark, the hotel has an intriguing history that spans more than 80 years.

When The Fairfax opened its doors in 1927, distinguished guests were instantly drawn to its stately elegance, and more than willing to part with the outrageous sum of $4.00 per day for a double occupancy suite with a parlor, bedroom, and full bath. Colonel H. Grady Gore and his wife purchased the historic D.C. hotel in 1932, and it was during this decade that congressman, senators, and ambassadors began to make the hotel their permanent residence. More Information

Cover to Cover

Join us on Thursday, July 31, at 2:00 PM ET for our monthly author series with Anand Gopal, New America Foundation fellow and journalist, on his new book No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes.
RSVP to to receive dial-in information.
Acclaimed journalist Anand Gopal traces in vivid detail the lives of three Afghans caught in America's war on terror. He follows a Taliban commander, who rises from scrawny teenager to leading insurgent; a US-backed warlord, who uses the American military to gain personal wealth and power; and a village housewife trapped between the two sides, who discovers the devastating cost of neutrality. "A brilliant, incisive work of storytelling and analysis. Of all the recent books on Afghanistan, this one stands out like a bright shining light, revealing the truth of the war from the ground up. Breathtaking and magnificent, this is a must read," says Ahmed Rashid, noted author of Taliban.
Anand Gopal is a fellow at the New America Foundation. He is a journalist by trade, covering Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, and other international hot spots. He has served as an Afghanistan correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and The Christian Science Monitor and has reported for Harper'sThe NationThe New Republic, and Foreign Policy, among other publications. Author Website

1918 Society Conference Call on Human Trafficking

The World Affairs Councils of America hosted Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, for a 1918 Society Conference Call on June 30.
The U.S. Department of State recently released its Trafficking in Persons Report 2014. The report provides an in-depth look on human trafficking across the globe, its victims, its survivors, and actions that the U.S. government is taking to combat modern slavery. The report, along with other resources, can be found on the State Department's website.
As you may know, WACA is currently in the second year of its Combating Human Trafficking education program, which is made possible by a generous grant from Carlson & The Carlson Family Foundation. The 2014 program includes over 30 events at World Affairs Councils. Click here for more information.

Ambassador Luis CdeBaca
 was appointed by President Obama to coordinate U.S. government activities in the global fight against human trafficking in May 2009. He serves as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and directs the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, which assesses global trends, provides training and technical assistance, and advocates for an end to modern slavery. Mr. CdeBaca formerly served as Counsel to the House Committee on the Judiciary, where his portfolio included national security, intelligence, immigration, civil rights, and modern slavery issues. Full Bio

Hot Topics Call on ISIS in Iraq and Syria

With Iraq thrust back into the American foreign policy spotlight, the World Affairs Councils of America hosted Prof. Joshua Landis for a network-wide Hot Topics Conference Call on the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria on June 19. Listen to a recording of the call here 

Joshua Landis
 is Director of the Center for Middle East Studies and Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma's College of International Studies. He writes Syria Comment, a daily newsletter on Syrian politics that attracts some 50,000 readers a month. It is widely read by officials in Washington, Europe and Syria. Dr. Landis travels frequently to Washington, DC to consult with government agencies and speak at think tanks. He has won the best teacher prize at his university; raised over $1 million for a new chair in Iranian studies, and helped bring the government funded Arabic Flagship Program to OU. Three Fulbright grants, the SSRC and other awards have helped support his research. He has lived over 14 years in the Middle East. Full Bio

Weekly World News Update

The World Affairs Councils of America's National Office is pleased to share with you Weekly World News Update every Wednesday. An initiative of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, this weekly digest of thought-provoking pieces from respected global sources has become very popular with the Pittsburgh Council's members, as well as colleagues across our network, since its launch over 18 months ago. We believe that all 92 World Affairs Councils will find value in this free weekly service.

Read Weekly World News Update for July 16, 2014

2014 Academic WorldQuest National Competition

The 2014 Academic WorldQuest National Competition took place Saturday, April 26 at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center in Washington, DC. The World Affairs Councils of America is proud to present the winners of the 2014 Academic WorldQuest National Competition!



First Place
Plano West Senior High School
World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth
Defending Champions
Jeffrey Chang, Sidharth Kapur, Qianqian Yang, Catherine Zhang, and Coach John Scott (not ordered above)
pictured with Bill Clifford, President and CEO of the World Affairs Councils of America

Online subscription (12 months) to Rosetta Stone Language Learning.
Four students can each choose from over 30 languages.


Second Place
Keystone School
World Affairs Council of San Antonio
Nabil Kabasi, Katie Mansfield, Emily Ye, Chris Zu, and Coach Raymond Boryczka

Online subscription (six months) to Rosetta Stone Language Learning.
Four students can each choose from over 30 languages.


Third Place
Georgetown Day School
World Affairs Council - Washington, DC
Adam White, David Bergreen, James Stenger, and Alex Samaha



Thank you to Rosetta Stone for their generous prize contribution. Read about Rosetta Stone's sponsorship.

Special thanks also to Bill and Judy Wheelock, Michael Phillip, and Johnson Sterling, Inc. for their generous financial support, the Embassy of the Republic of Singapore for opening their doors and generously hosting a reception for students and chaperones, and the ONE Campaign for promotional support.

Last but not least, Academic WorldQuest would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of students, teachers, parents, chaperones, and all World Affairs Council staff and volunteers across the country. Thank YOU for helping to make the 2014 Academic WorldQuest National Competition a great success.

More Information

Program Announcement: Combating Human Trafficking

Carlson & The Carlson Family Foundation has officially renewed funding of the World Affairs Councils of America's national program on combating human trafficking. More than 30 World Affairs Councils participated in the 2013 program, which featured screenings of the documentary film Not My Life. The 2014 program will feature discussion forums as well as film showings. Up to 35 Councils will be selected to participate in the 2014 program. The application deadline has passed and selected Councils will be notified in the coming weeks.

As you know, WACA's 2013 National Conference in November featured a keynote address by Marilyn Carlson Nelson, former Chairman and CEO, Carlson, Inc. U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Co-chairs of the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking, joined the keynote discussion. It is both an honor and a responsibility that WACA embraces to advance public dialogue on this critical topic.

Understanding Muslim Societies

The World Affairs Councils of America, with the generous support of Carnegie Corporation of New York, continues its very successful Engage America Series Understanding Muslim Societies. The program will be held throughout 2014 and focuses on countries in the Middle East, as well as Afghanistan/Pakistan, and those relevant rising economic powers that are competing globally with the United States, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. More Information

Freedom and Power in the Digital Age

The World Affairs Councils of America is pleased to announce a new Engage America Speaker Series in partnership with Google:

Freedom and Power in the Digital Age
Eight councils were selected to host the program, which feature notable Google experts as speakers and is supported by a grant from Google. The program also includes an Educators Seminar with a separate team of Google experts who will address how teachers and students can best leverage the tools of the new digital age to further their educational missions. Click here for more information.

Spotlight on Turkey 2014

The World Affairs Councils of America is pleased to announce its eighth year of collaboration with the Turkish Cultural Foundation on the national Spotlight on Turkey program. The program runs a full calendar year and focuses on giving an overview of the history of Anatolia and Turkey with a special emphasis on Turkish culture to American educators and the general public.

With a Teachers Workshop in the spring, a Teachers Study Tour in the summer, and public cultural programs in the fall, the program emphasizes classroom learning and public education about Turkey and its contributions to the global community. More Information

"Not My Life": U.S. Awareness Campaign

The World Affairs Councils of America has received a grant from Carlson & The Carlson Family Foundation to bring attention to the critical issue of human trafficking and modern slavery. The program series features screenings of the documentary film Not My Life by Robert Bilheimer and Worldwide Documentaries in all participating council communities. More Information

Not My Life, directed by Oscar nominee Robert Bilheimer, probes the dark, hidden, and often unspeakable realities of human trafficking and modern-day slavery-- multi-billion dollar global industries that earn their profits, as the film's narration says, "on the backs and in the beds of our planet's youth." The film is part of a global awareness campaign on modern slavery. Watch the Trailer

2014 European Union Outreach

Using the time period on or around May 9, Europe Day, as a focal point, this Engage America program is designed to raise awareness, knowledge, and understanding about EU policies, the EU's role as an international actor, and the value of the EU-US relationship. Events will have a wide European scope rather than focusing exclusively on one Member State of the EU, or bilateral relations between the US region and one Member State. Activities will highlight local and regional economic, social, and cultural connections to Europe and the local and regional impacts of those connections. More Information

Future of Korea 2013-2014

We are pleased to announce continued collaboration with the Korea Economic Institute of America on the Future of Korea program series. The speaker program focuses on the economic and political situation on the Korean Peninsula as well as U.S.-Korea relations.

The centerpiece of the program is a panel discussion consisting of one representative each from the U.S. Department of State, the Korean Embassy, KEI, or other relevant institutions. The panel participants typically offer a general overview presentation (approximately 60-90 minutes in length), followed by a Q&A period. The speakers address political, security, economic and financial issues pertaining to the Korean Peninsula and U.S.-Korea relations. 


The application deadline has passed. Participating councils will be informed of their selection shortly.

WACA Virtual Library

Even though the policy discussion concerning the Mexico-U.S. border is often focused on security and illegal immigration issues, the amount of commerce that occurs on a daily basis between these North American neighbors has been described as “staggering.” In this edition of CONTEXT, you’ll hear from two members of their respective country’s national legislatures. They provide cross-border perspectives on what can be done by both countries to enhance an already productive relationship.

CONTEXT is distributed in partnership with the World Affairs Councils of America. For more CONTEXT episodes, visit our Virtual Library.

The WACA Virtual Library also contains recordings from the World Affairs Councils of America National Conference, sponsored programs, and recordings from our Hot Topics Conference Calls.

Visit the Virtual Library

Six Top Issues 2014

The World Affairs Councils of America conducts a yearly survey asking the World Affairs Councils regional leadership to select the Six Top Issues for the president in the coming year. The annual National Conference in November launches the National Network discussion of the Six Top Issues and frames the yearly national programming. The issues selected for 2014 are Cybersecurity, U.S. Energy Independence, Global Economic Realignment, Middle East, Global Environment Issues, K-12 Education.

World Affairs Council Travel Programs

Travel the World from the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia
Just Announced: Council Leaders to Lecture on Travel the World tours!

L.J. Stambuk, President & CEO, World Affairs Council of Charlotte, Croatia and Slovenia:  September 7 – 20.

Ambassador Marilyn McAfee, Chair, World Affairs Council of Jacksonville, Inside Iran:  October 5 – 19.

Dr. Steven Sokol, President and CEO, World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, Turkish Treasures:  October 17 – 31.

Ambassador Heather Hodges, President and Ambassador in Residence, Cleveland Council on World Affairs, South American Tapestry:  October 16 – November 2.

Ambassador Mark Johnson, Founder, World Affairs Council of Montana, Landscapes of the Mediterranean:  October 23 – November 6.

Maria Wulff, President, World Affairs Council of Oregon, Best of Tanzania: November 1-11.

Maria Zammit, World Affairs Council of Hampton Roads, Sri Lanka: February 4-18

Contact or call 800-942-5004 x 209 or 217.

These are highlights from the more than 40 events happening in July around the national network.

July 1 – The Cleveland Council on World Affairs hosts Otto Orf, Jose Sola, and Tom Mueller Bueno for The Costs of the Cup: FIFA, Brazil and the Big Questions in International Sports. Details

July 1 – The World Affairs Council of Oregon hosts Douglas M. Johnston, Jr., president and founder of the International Center for Religion & Diplomacy, for “Faith-based Diplomacy: Bridging the Religious Divide”. Details

July 3 – The World Affairs Council of San Diego hosts Dr. Farouk Al-Nasser for “The ISIS Movement and the Iraq Crisis”. Details

July 3 – The World Affairs Council of San Diego hosts “SimCenter: Building Resilient Cities”. Details

July 8 – WorldDenver hosts Fletcher T. Newton, the Principal of New World Consulting, LLC, for Understanding Russia's Actions in Ukraine: What should the U.S. do?"

July 8 – The World Affairs Council of Maine hosts “World Affairs Member Coffee and Discussion Group - U.S. Foreign Policy”. Details

July 8 – The World Affairs Council of Pittsburg hosts Dr. Scott Kofmehl, Senior Vietnam Desk Officer U.S. Department of State for “U.S.-Vietnam Relations and the Rebalance to Asia”. Details

July 8 – The Columbia World Affairs Council hosts Julia McKay, Columbia native and current information officer for the U.S. Embassy in Panama, for the Panama Diplomat Luncheon. Details

July 9 – The World Affairs Council of San Francisco hosts UC President Janet Napolitano for “Global Challenges for California”. Details

July 9 – The World Affairs Council of Oregon hosts Nawzad Othman, CEO of The Othman Group, founder and former CEO of Otak and chair-elect of the World Affairs Council’s Board Trustees, for Between Iraq & a Hard Place: ISIS and the US - Turning Crisis into Opportunity. Details

July 9 – The World Affairs Council of Harrisburg hosts the “Baha’i Faith Seminar”. Details

July 10 – The World Affairs Council – Washington DC will screen Not My Life, a film by Robert Bilheimer, which depicts the practices of human trafficking and modern slavery. 

July 10 – The World Affairs Council of San Diego hosts Irving Tragen for “Argentina: Queen of the Rio de la Plata”. Details

July 10 – The World Affairs Council of Harrisburg hosts former NPR and Radio Free Europe Editor Joyce Davis, Middle East Expert Dr. Mehdi Noorbaksh and other experts, for “Iraq Revisited”. Details

July 10 – The World Affairs Council of San Diego hosts “SimCenter: Building Resilient Cities”. Details

July 10 – The World Affairs Council of Sonoma County hosts Rory Carrell, U.S. West Coast Correspondent for The Guardian, for “Venezuela After Chavez”. Details

July 13 - The Northern Nevada International Center will be hosting a delegation of 3 visitors, accompanied by one English Language Officer from the U.S. Department of State, from Turkmenistan. Details

July 14 – The World Affairs Council of Monterrey Bay hosts OLLI Discussion Group for “Great Decisions”. Details

July 15 – WorldDenver hosts Joseph Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation, for “Nuclear Nightmare.”

July 15 – The Columbus Council on World Affairs hosts Ty Cobb, Director of Global Engagement for the Human Rights Campaign, for “State of the World’s LGBT Community”. Details

July 15 – The World Affairs Council of Oregon will screen the film “Tall as the Baobab Tree”. Details

July 16 – The World Affairs Council of San Francisco hosts Mustafa Akyol for “Turkey: Between East and West”. Details

July 16 – The World Affairs Council of Hilton Head hosts Eric Esquivel, Publisher of La Isla Magazine, for “Know Your Neighbor, the New Face of America”. Details

July 17 – The World Affairs Council of Dallas and Fort Worth will screen the film “Wadjda”. Details

July 18 – The Pacific and Asian Affairs Council hosts the PAAC Golf Classic.

July 21 – The World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana hosts the “Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program”. Details

July 22 – The World Affairs Council of Monterrey Bay hosts Professor Christopher O’Sullivan for “Today’s U.S. Policy in the Middle East: Can We Learn from FDR?” Details

July 22 – The World Affairs Council of Orange County hosts Øystein Noreng, Former Professor of Petroleum Economics and Management at BI Norwegian School of Management, Oslo, Norway. Details

July 22 – The Santa Fe Council on International Relations hosts Champagne Brunch and Film: Welcome. Details

July 22 – The World Affairs Council of Oregon hosts Rachel Stohl for “The Future of US Drone Policy”. Details

July 23 – The Cleveland Council on World Affairs hosts PKNnovate: 20 Slides 2 Change the World. Details

July 23 – The World Affairs Council of San Francisco hosts “Modi’s India: Thinking About the Future”. Details

July 23 – The Young Professionals of the World Affairs Council of Oregon host “International Trivia Night: Think you have what it takes?” Details

July 23 – The Minnesota International Center hosts GlobalSocial with State Dept. International Visitors. Details

July 24 – The World Affairs Council of Dallas and Fort Worth host Eric Bing for “Pharmacy on a Bicycle: Innovative Solutions for Global Health and Poverty”. Details

July 24 – The Peoria World Affairs Council hosts Madeline Sposato, a student at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Affairs, for “Choosing Turkey's Future: 2014 Upcoming Elections”. Details

July 25 – The World Affairs Council of Sonoma County hosts Ed Harrington, Member of the Board of Greenpeace International, for “Greenpeace: What In The World Are They Doing In The Name Of Saving Us?” Details

July 28 – The Minnesota International Center hosts enRoute to a Global Mindset - Intercultural Competence. Details

July 29 – The World Affairs Council of Dallas and Fort Worth host John Shiffman, reporter and author, for Operation Shakespeare: The True Story of an Elite International Sting. Details

July 29 – The Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy hosts “Setting your table” for friendship and peace. Details

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.

Log-in for WACA Leadership and Staff: Access the Discussion Board, Resource Materials, Available Authors, Event Calendar Administration, and post your recommended speakers.


1918 Society Members 

Carlson & The Carlson Family Foundation

Carnegie Corporation of New York


The Claremont Group


Delegation of the European Union to the United States

Duke Energy


The Gambrinus Company

Goldman Sachs


Johnson + Sterling

Mr. Michael Phillip



Rosetta Stone

Steelcase, Inc.

Thomson Reuters

Tomassian, Throckmorton & Inouye LLP

Turkish Cultural Foundation

Van Andel Institute