World Affairs Council programming highlights

As we wind down for the summer, we want to share some of the highlights from this year.

Celebrating the retirement of Dixie Anderson, Executive Director of the Council for 22 years, we hosted three of her favorite speakers, Reza Marashi from the National Iranian American Council; Dr. Lori Esposito Murray, from the Council on Foreign Relations; and Ambassador John Beyrle, former Ambassador to Russia. Dr. Murray’s analysis of the top 5 security threats facing the nation was fascinating, and dovetailed with Marashi’s focus on Iran and Beyrle’s focus on Russia (2 of the 5 threats Dr. Murray identified).

We were also delighted to host sitting President of the Republic of Palau, His Excellency Tommy Remengesau Jr. at our anniversary event this fall. His words on the importance of global partnerships to respond to complex issues like climate change and national security was a great reminder of how small countries can have a big impact on the global stage.

In December, we hosted Hank Meijer for a presentation and book signing of his biography of Arthur Vandenberg, the U.S. Senator from Grand Rapids who inspired the Council’s founders, Edgar Orr and Douglas Hillman to start our organization.

Great Decisions kicked off this winter with NPR editor, Will Dobson, who focused on dictators and the media. The series also highlighted among other topics Turkey, China, and South Africa and we were delighted to host Susan Glasser, from POLITICO, to hear her assessment of President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s relationship with the U.S.

Our spring series in partnership with Kent District Library focused on “Civil Discourse.” Held at KDL’s Wyoming branch, the audience heard from Notre Dame’s Dr. David Hooker; Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry; and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding’s Sarrah Buageila.

We also held several luncheons on trade for our corporate members throughout the year, highlighted by a visit from Canada’s Deputy Ambassador to the U.S., Kirsten Hillman, who focused on NAFTA. This luncheon was part of West Michigan World Trade Week in May.

Our international trivia game, WorldQuest was held the next week—congratulations to our winners, the Aquinas Saints and Sinners, who were first place winners last year as well.

Our final events of the season included a visit to Grand Rapids by the Norwegian Ambassador to the United States, Kåre Aas, as part of a delegation initiating dialogue on the transatlantic relationship, hosted by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) in Washington, D.C.

With over forty programs a year focused on foreign policy and global issues, we encourage you join us next fall when we begin our programming again. In the meantime, join us on Facebook where we celebrate world music every Wednesday.