Executive Director Announcement

A number of months ago, Dixie Anderson, our Executive Director, came to us to discuss her retirement plans (more specifically, her plans for “her next adventure”). Our current Council is largely the creation of Dixie, who has led it for 22 years, and replacing her will indeed be a significant challenge.


Her passion for our mission of promoting community awareness and understanding of global issues, as well as her excellent leadership, has grown the organization into the major community resource it is – valuable for businesses, educational institutions and the general community through offering a wide range of very successful and highly acclaimed programming.


More recently the Board of Directors appointed a Transition Committee that began planning the process of identifying a new Executive Director to present to the full Board for approval. We also worked with Dixie as she finalized her desired timeline. With full Board input, we then worked through identifying the skills and personal competencies we needed in our next Executive Director and are now moving forward with the actual search process.


Our objective is to have a new Executive Director on board by October 1 of this year, allowing a short transition period with Dixie still actively engaged at the Council. The Board, the Transition Committee of the Board, and Dixie and the rest of the staff and volunteers of the Council are all committed to working together to make this transition both successful and as seamless as possible.

Below this note is the Job Position Announcement, which includes information about the Council, the responsibilities and required qualifications of the Executive Director, and how to apply for the position. The members of the Transition Committee will of course use their best efforts to maintain the confidentiality of all applications. In conjunction with this criteria an applicant’s approval will be needed before his or her name will be shared even with the full Board or the staff of the Council.


We encourage interested persons to apply, or, if you know of someone who might be interested, to encourage them to look at these materials to determine whether to apply.


This is a unique, yet challenging and exciting, opportunity for the right person.

Craig Meurlin
President of the Council

Position Announcement
POSITION TITLE: Executive Director
REPORTS TO: Board of Directors
RESPONSIBLE FOR: 2 Employees plus 20-30 volunteers


The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan (the “Council”) is a non-partisan organization committed to bringing information, programs, events and speakers on matters of foreign policy and international interest to the people of West Michigan. We are committed to presenting these issues in an environment of civility and reasoned discourse. We are also affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America, a national umbrella organization based in Washington DC dedicated to educating and engaging Americans on global issues with nearly 100 councils across 40 states reaching more than half a million people a year.

Our mission is to provide a forum to discuss issues of national and international importance and how they impact our West Michigan community. Information about our programming (which occurs from September through May) can be found at our website, Of particular note are our:

• Great Decisions Lecture Series, conducted weekly throughout March and April of each year. Topics and a resource book come from the Foreign Policy Association based in New York City. These lectures feature in person speakers of note, often from think tanks or universities from around the country. The lectures are also “livestreamed” to certain of our educational partners and are available on our website after the events. Every lecture has significant time for questions and answers, which we think is critical to a full exploration of the issues being discussed.

• Our Annual Event luncheon or dinner where we have particularly distinguished speakers present to audiences of around 500 people, again with a question and answer period to follow. Our last five annual speakers have been David MacNaughton, the new Canadian Ambassador to the US, former US Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, former US Secretary of Defense William Cohen, General David Petraeus and former President of Mexico Vincente Fox.

• We are also alert to opportunities to host other particularly distinguished guests from time to time. Just after 9/11, we hosted Ehud Barak, the former Prime Minister of Israel. We have also hosted Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, former President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan (for his first US speaking appearance after leaving office in 2008), and, in 2007, we were honored to host the sitting President of the United States, George W. Bush, for a significant foreign policy speech on Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Council staff finds most of our speakers. In addition, programming opportunities can come through referrals from other World Affairs Councils throughout the country and from the national office of the World Affairs Councils of America. A number of ancillary programming (webinars or call-in conference calls) can come directly from these other World Affairs Council resources.

We have three key target audiences – the general public, students and faculty at colleges and universities in the region and our corporate members. Our general programming is open to anyone, with price points established to make it easily accessible to the public at large. We also have a corporate programming track for member companies. Certain of the programming is also provided (in addition to the general public) to our educational partners for use as a part of their programming and, in particular with our Great Decisions Lecture Series, for credit at colleges in and around West Michigan. We believe that this mix of audiences builds a unique network of citizens, businesses, civic groups, students and government leaders and significantly enhances the international cultural and informational resources of the region.

Financially, we are a membership-based organization, relying for financial support principally on our 50 corporate members and 11 educational partners (colleges, universities and library systems). We also have over 3000 individual members (again, in general priced at easily accessible price points). We also receive sponsorship support and grants for various programming. The two pie charts below provide a snapshot of our budgeted source and use of funds for fiscal 2017 (the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017).


The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan is a Michigan non-profit corporation and is exempt from US federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Council is governed by a board of Directors of up to 25 members, generally from the business community. There is also an Educational Partners Council with representatives of each of the educational partner members. The Council has three full time staff members – the Executive Director, a Director of Programming and Events and a new Office/Events Coordinator.

The Council was formed in 1949. We believe that the Council is well positioned in terms of brand recognition and financial and human resources for growth by expanding its geographic, demographic and digital footprint in the region. This will take a leader thoroughly committed to this growth and able to motivate staff, board, Council supporters and other members of the western Michigan community to achieve it.


Reporting directly to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director is responsible for leadership of the Council and its finances, staff, programs, development, and planning. Key duties include raising funds through various memberships and sponsorships, community outreach, marketing and media relations, strategic planning, financial management and Board relations.


Leadership and Strategy
• Ensure that the organization has a long-range strategy which achieves its mission, and toward which it makes consistent and timely progress. Work with the Board to define, develop and implement strategic plans as adopted by the Board.
• Lead the Council to engage members, volunteers, directors, committees, educational partners, collaborating groups and supporters.
• Create and promote a positive, multicultural work environment that supports consistency throughout the organization’s strategy and operational methods.
• Clearly understands the non-partisan and non-advocacy nature of the Council and advocates our philosophy of civil discourse, conducted always in a respectful manner to all parties.
• Continue to build the Council’s reputation for excellence in programming and educational outreach by delivering quality programs reflecting timely topics and informed speakers, including consideration of new formats while evaluating and improving existing formats.

• Develop realistic, ambitious fundraising plans.
• Consistently meet or exceed established revenue targets.
• Lead the development and execution of all membership and sponsorship initiatives (i.e., Annual Event, Corporate Giving, etc.).
• Develop a stewardship plan for all levels of the organization. Establish positive relationships with all funders and donors.
• Develop corporate and educational partner prospect solicitation strategies and proposals. Partner with the Board for this support from corporations, educational partners, foundations, individuals and other sources.
• Provide leadership and professional staff support for member-centered and special events fundraising programs.

Management and Operations
• Maintain the fiscal integrity of the Council through rigorous controls, thorough reports, and constant oversight.
• Develop and submit to the Board a proposed annual budget and periodic financial statements that reflect the financial condition with clarity and sophistication.
• Manage Council finances to operate within the Board-approved budget, while maintaining the integrity of reserve funds.
• Attract the resources to support the Council through fund raising, membership retention and growth, and grant applications.
• Determine hiring needs of the organization and ensure the team is comprised of qualified and competent staff.
• Drive employee and volunteer engagement, retention and development.


Marketing and Community Outreach
• Increase the Council’s presence in the community by strengthening existing collaborations and building new ones among other professional, civic, academic, business, educational and governmental groups.
• Develop and execute a media strategy for the Council and its programs, and serve as the voice to the media.
• Promote the work of the Council throughout the region and nationally.
• Develop and maintain working connection to other Councils around the country.


Board of Directors
• In leading the Council, adhere to the policies adopted by the Board directly and through the executive committee.
• Cultivate a strong and transparent working relationship with the Board and its Committees.
• Keep the board fully informed with prompt, precise information – financial, operational, and contextual – so that the Board may meet its responsibilities.
• Help maintain and support an inclusive Board, representative of the community, that is engaged and willing to leverage and secure resources.

• Forward thinking with strong overall leadership abilities. Strong executive presence to represent the Council professionally and as a leader in the community at large. Ability to select, motivate, develop and retain a high performing team.
• Relentless commitment to and focus on the Council’s mission, with demonstrated passion, integrity and positive/enthusiastic approach. Must have the ability to remain non-partisan, with a sensitivity to issues of global and cultural diversity and a general understanding of global and community affairs.
• Demonstrated success in membership/sales development, and fundraising in today’s digital environment. Successful grant writing abilities helpful.
• Excellent written and verbal communication skills, presentation skills and public speaking abilities. S/he should be effective at clearly articulating the Council’s message and earning the respect of his/her audience.
• Ability to establish and maintain highly effective, collaborative working relationships with all stakeholders.
• Ability to influence effectively; political and community savvy. Sound judgment and decision making abilities. High integrity and ethical behavior.
• Ability to lead and operate at both the strategic and tactical levels. Ability to formulate, execute and evaluate short and long term strategic plans. Strong marketing abilities. Previous strategic planning and marketing experience is highly desirable.
• Financial acumen; experience in budget development, preparation and financial reporting, as well as the ability to manage a budget effectively.
• Non-profit experience and successful grant writing abilities helpful.
• Knowledge of the West Michigan community is desirable.
• Bachelor’s degree is required, along with minimum 10 years working experience, with at least 3 years in a managerial role.


Resumes can be sent to:

World Affairs Council of West Michigan
Attn: Gail Hammontree