Our  Team

Dixie Anderson

Executive Director

Michael Van Denend, M.A.

Michael has always been interested in world events and issues—and is a strong advocate of non-partisan grace-filled discourse.


He’s fond of Richard Mouw’s description of “convicted civility”—which is “combining a civil outlook with a passionate intensity about our convictions.”


Along with wife Loni, he’s been on a number of global adventures—and they’ve served numerous times in Haiti, before and after the devastating 2011 earthquake.

He graduated from Calvin College (now University) with a degree in English and holds a master’s degree in higher education from Michigan State University.


Michael came to the World Affairs Council after 33 years as the executive director of the Calvin College Alumni Association, where he interviewed and wrote stories about alumni all over the globe.


In addition, he’s an on-air radio programmer at WYCE 88.1 FM (Saturdays from 8-10 a.m.) where he presents folk, blues, jazz, rock and a lot of WORLD music.

Erica Kubik

Director of Programming

Erica Kubik, Ph. D.

With a background in higher education, Erica taught at various institutions in West Michigan. She earned her Ph. D. in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green University and is certified in the Cultural Intelligence (CQ) curriculum—which gives those who participate a better understanding of and skills in cross-cultural communication.

Erica is responsible for ensuring that the Council’s presentations are led by credible and engaging global experts. Her contact list is long and includes ambassadors and other diplomats, highly regarded think-tank researchers, and academics from coast-to-coast that know their subjects well and can help our members think carefully—and in a non-partisan manner—about world affairs and foreign policy.


She chairs an excellent planning committee of local educators to make the Council's "Great Decisions" program each February and March a meaningful global-education experience, one that has received kudos from the national World Affairs Councils of America organization.


Communications and Events Coordinator

Rachel Brooks, M.A., CFRM

Rachel has extensive experience in event planning, marketing, and communications. She served as the executive director for the Munson Manistee Hospital Foundation and in this role was responsible for all event planning, communications, and constituent development for the foundation.  She also has instructed public speaking and communication courses at the college and university level.  


Along with her husband Bill, she enjoys traveling abroad, hosting social gatherings, and attending live music events throughout the country.  She spent a month in Portugal as a participant in a professional exchange program learning about the country’s healthcare system, history, and culture.   


Rachel received a Master of Arts in Communication and Multimedia from Saginaw Valley State University and a Certificate of Fundraising Management from the Fundraising School at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. 

Dixie Anderson

Executive Director Emeritus

Dixie Anderson

Dixie has had the time of her life building one of the nation's most successful Councils over the last 20 years.


She's had the privilege of hosting a sitting President of the United States, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Prime Minister Pervez Musharraf, President Lech Walesa, Tom Friedman and many others. 


Dixie has had some great adventures:  She's presided over a discussion on water and sustainability with the Saudi Minister of Water in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and she was one of only 100 Americans to observe a Presidential Election in Taipei, Taiwan, to just mention two. 

She's passionate, as all World Affairs Council members are, about using conflict resolution and diplomacy to solve global problems. Violence and war are never the best solutions.