The roster of past speakers at the World Affairs Council of Delaware reads like a "who's who" of U.S. and international foreign policy: U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair J. William Fulbright, Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger, Iranian-American academic and former Tehran prisoner and academic Haleh Esfandiari.
Like its counterparts around the nation, the World Affairs Council of Delaware hosts top-tiered speakers and connects them to local audiences hungry to listen and interact with D.C.'s international movers and shakers, and better understand the implications of foreign policy issues at home.
"We're small, but we're able to punch above our weight class," said Fletcher King, president of the Delaware World Affairs Council, on the council's ability to draw key players. "The basic idea is to bring issues around world affairs "¦ to a grass-roots America. In it's broadest sense it's dissemination of what goes on in Washington and worldwide to key cities."
As the organization celebrates its 50th anniversary, King said it will continue its mission to connect international thought leaders with Delaware business through lunch and dinner events, and he hopes to attract a new generation of engaged members to its core of more than 350.
"We've brought a lot to the table over these 50 years," said King. "But just as all other Delaware institutions are challenged by the changing economy and demographics, so is World Affairs Delaware. We will have to become more digital, more flexible and more accessible for everyone, yet we do not want to "dumb down" the topics or the speakers."
The fall roster includes former director of the National Security Agency and four-star general Michael Hayden, and Antony Blinken, deputy assistant to the president and national security advisor to the vice president during the Obama administration.
"Employers should be significant supporters and encourage their employees to attend these events," said King. "It's not just a perk, but an education that raises the knowledge, awareness and global perspective of all of their employees.
"Whether we like it or not, we live in a globally interconnected world - economically and politically. And, like it or not, the world is complex, dangerous, attractive and necessary for Delaware businesses to survive. We deliver a unique opportunity in Delaware to better understand how the world works. No one else consistently brings this level of access and understanding to Delaware. We've been doing it for 50 years."