Message from the President

As I enter the final quarter of my two-year term as President, I reflect on everything this wonderful organization has done, not only in the last two years, but over its 27-year history.

Starting with a handful of people in 1988, we are now an organization with over 500 members, producing 24-plus programs a year featuring some of our nation’s foremost thinkers and do-ers in world affairs, and representative of foreign countries. In the past two years alone, we have been addressed by, and have had the opportunity to question, three former United States Ambassadors; assorted deans, professors, and journalists; and former State Department, White House, and World Bank officials.

On tap for our next annual dinner is Ambassador Kathleen Stephens, our former Ambassador to South Korea, and recent U.S. Chargé d’Affaires in India. We also hope to have a former general counsel for the CIA and NSA speak at a 2016 program.

We don’t get speakers like this by accident. For years, we have been blessed with dedicated leaders and members of a fabulous Program Committee. Leanna Breese, who chaired the Committee for a dozen years, and Susan Standish, who did the lion’s share of speaker research and co-chaired the committee for four years, deserve our special thanks.

However, life happens, and Leanna and Susan have had to step down from their leadership roles and curtail the time they spend on WAC affairs. The same is true of some other members of the Committee. While we have had a few welcome additions, we are having difficulty attracting the number of volunteers we need, and developing seasoned members to assume leadership positions on the Committee.

Operating on hope alone, our handful of founders was willing to put in the time and effort needed to incorporate and launch this organization in 1988. We now have a large and hugely successful organization under a full head of steam. But the engine running WAC needs a constant supply of energy to keep moving forward. The energy comes from the “givers” among us. We need you to step up. If you value our programs, I say unto you: ask not what your Council can do for you; ask what you can do for your Council.

I thank you for the joy this job has given me, and for the support of our wonderful volunteer leadership team. But as Mort Sahl said, “The future lies ahead.”

Paul Willihnganz

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