The World Affairs Council of Sonoma County

The World Affairs Council of Sonoma County (WACSC) is a  non-profit, non-partisan  organization whose purpose is to promote study and public education  in world affairs and to contribute to improved international understanding and relations. We feature speakers such as Ambassadors, international figures, journalists, academics, and business  professionals. 


Council programs provide participants the opportunity to meet and ask questions of people who shape world events in a variety of formats. Regular programs are sponsored by the Council and are open both to members and the general public.


P.O. Box 1433
Santa Rosa, CA 95402
Phone: (707) 573-6014

If you are a WACSC member and have a change of name, address, phone or email, please notify Brantly Richardson by clicking your mouse arrow on the mailbox.




Upcoming Events




Thursday, February 26, 2015, SYRIA, IRAQ, AND ISIS: Are There Any Good Options? Reese Erlich, Award-winning Journalist and Author



Friday, March 13, 2015, WHAT IS GLOBAL HEALTH? Jerome H. Chin, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.


Thursday, March 26, 2015,

DEVIANT GLOBALIZATION, Nils Gilman, Associate Chancellor, University of California, Berkeley, California



Read more >


The World News Weekly Update is a collection the past week's top news stories. Every week, the Pittsburg WAC Council gathers articles, reports, and op-eds from various domestic and international information outlets in order to provide wide-ranging and balanced perspectives on pressing global issues.

Click here for the latest update!


News Items:
Perspectives Newsletter

PERSPECTIVES, our full color quarterly newsletter, is distributed by email to members with email addresses registered with the Council.  The current seven page edition of PERSPECTIVES can also be viewed by placing your mouse arrow on the logo below and click it.


Members who do not provide us with email addresses receive a one color, 2-page Program Mailer with complete information about upcoming programs and reservation forms. It is mailed several days after e-publication of PERSPECTIVES.

New Members

In January, 2015, new WACSC  members were: Susan Nowacki, Lane Olson and Ed Silverman.


Officers and Directors

The Board Nominating Committee, consisting of Bob Kirk (Chairman), Bill Anderson, Pat Givens, Mike Morrison, and Paul Willihnganz (ex-officio), presented a slate of nominees for open Officer and Board positions at the October 2014 meeting, as dictated by the bylaws, and the nominees were voted on and unanimously elected at the November meeting. Those newly elected are Treasurer, Perry Ritenour; Secretary, Judy Burness; and Board member in charge of Hospitality, Pat Lewis. Those officers remaining in office for another year are President, Paul Willihnganz, and Vice-President, Mike Morrison.


Leaving the Board, but staying active on the Program Committee and with the Great Decisions program, is Barbara Fry. Leaving the long-held position of Treasurer, but staying on the Board, is Dale Schmid. We are fortunate to have had and continue to have his committed service.


Program Committee

A transition has occurred within the Program Committee. Vice-President Mike Morrison has assumed the Chairmanship of the Committee, succeeding long serving Co-Chairs Leanna Breese and Susan Standish, who have rendered invaluable service to the Committee and Council for many years. We are fortunate that both will remain on the Program Committee and will continue to offer their experience and counsel as the Committee seeks speakers and arranges for meeting venues. 


Program Committee: Serendipitous or Lucky?

Our marvelous Program Committee has scheduled speakers on subjects that are relevant and topical to current world events on several occasions this year. Speakers are normally engaged several months before the program date. A hot topic at the time of making a speaker commitment may be stale by the time the program is held.  On the other hand an interesting topic at the time of commitment may be red hot on the speaking date. We have had the experience of having speakers with hot topics several times this year. Lucky, perhaps, or serendipitous. In order to bring more speakers with relevant and current events topics to us on a timely basis the Program Committee has developed a “hot topics” plan by which special programs, not on the published schedule, may be announced by email blast for a late afternoon presentation. Speakers can be available on a last minute basis because they are traveling in the area for a variety of reasons and can be persuaded to come to Santa Rosa for a short visit, presentation and bottle of wine. Kudos to the Program Committee for bringing “hot topics” speakers to us in a timely manner and allowing our members the opportunity to be the best informed world affairs residents in Sonoma County.


Spring Lake Village (SLV) Notes for WACSC Members.

With our return to Spring Lake Village for evening meetings in their beautiful new auditorium, we need to be aware the auditorium has a maximum guest capacity of 220 people. With our increasing membership and the expansion of Spring Lake Village, we may reach that number for popular speakers and topics.


Parking Advice: To assist our members in finding parking spots at Spring Lake Village, we are posting a map of the facility. Click your mouse arrow on Map to review it or print it: “Montgomery Center”--the auditorium where our programs are held. The “Front Lot” is the road directly from the Main Entrance to the “Village Center” (the main building), and is the main lot for Visitor Parking. “Lot A” is to the right of the Front Lot, adjacent to Building “A” on the map. It is also a visitor lot. Otherwise, our members may use spaces designated for Visitors, including designated handicapped spaces (with a handicapped tag), and Unassigned spaces.


Designated parking spaces for Visitors are color coded Green on the map. Designated Handicapped spaces are color-coded Orange. Currently Unassigned spaces are color coded in Blue.  These spaces may be used for parking at our events unless and until they are assigned. When a spot is assigned to someone, the parking stop will have a name on it.  WAC Members MAY park in any of these unassigned spots on event evenings as long as there is no name on the parking stop. A Parking Stop looks like this:

Please do NOT park in any spot that has a name on the parking stop. They belong to residents of SLV.


When inspecting the map, note that most of the available spaces are for diagonal parking (Visitor spaces in Front lot and Lot A), or for right angle parking (on the frontage road west of the main entrance). However, only parallel parking is permitted on the 5 visitor slots adjacent to the auditorium, and on the unassigned spots against the north curb of the frontage road east of the auditorium. Finally, please note that the available spaces are not reserved for us. Inevitably, other visitors will occupy some of these spots. After December 4 there will be over 100 spots available.


Kathleen Stephens in India

Kathleen Stephens, our former Ambassador to South Korea, who spoke to us so engagingly at a La Gare luncheon in April, was appointed by President Obama shortly thereafter to lead the U.S. diplomatic mission in India pending Senate confirmation of a new permanent Ambassador. She continues as United States Charge d’Affairs in India. We have invited her to be our guest at our Annual Dinner in February, and she has accepted, providing she is able to return to California by then.


World Affairs Councils of America (WACA)

It is timely to remind ourselves that our Council is part of something bigger, WACA, the World Affairs Councils of America, headquartered in Washington, D.C. We are one of 92 Councils in the United States and one of 9 in California. We are also one of the 20 to 30 Councils totally managed by unpaid volunteers.


The World Affairs Councils of America has a long and storied history stretching back some 90 years. Two groups, the Foreign Policy Association (FPA) and the World Affairs Councils, worked together in the same organizational system from 1918 until the early 1950’s. The FPA was founded by a small group of individuals who worked with President Woodrow Wilson and were concerned that at the end of World War I Americans would choose an isolationist foreign policy over one of engagement. They worked to nurture grassroots citizen involvement in international affairs, and by 1947 the two groups operated as a national organization composed of a network of independent community Councils.


In 1986 the National Council of World Affairs Organizations national office was established in Washington, D.C. This evolved into the World Affairs Councils of America which today is the country’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering grassroots understanding and engagement in international affairs.


The Foreign Policy Association, headquartered in New York City, is now a leading public forum for foreign policy presentations and educational activities, including the annual Great Decisions programs that engage many of our members each spring.


International Membership of WACSC Members

Those who attended the September 26 luncheon meeting at the Quail Inn were given the opportunity to fill out a member survey presented by the Program Committee. Fifty-six of you filled out the survey, and the compiled results resulted in some good and interesting news. The good news is that 7 people volunteered to assist with programs, and 23 persons said that they would help occasionally. The interesting news is that we learned that many of the responders have lived abroad. Germany and Japan tied with 5 each; South Korea and the U.K. 4 each; Canada, France, Morocco, Switzerland 3 each; Australia, Chile, PR China, Chile, Egypt, Italy, Iraq, Mexico, Spain 2 each. In addition, 20 other countries were mentioned by individuals. We have over 480 dues-paying members currently, so we must have many more people who have lived in or were born in other countries and who could share experiences with us. We are truly an international and world affairs organization.


Meal Costs in 2015

As the economy improves, meal prices go up. The Santa Rosa restaurant venues used for our speaker meetings are feeling comfortable about raising their prices after several years of keeping them in check, despite rising costs. After serious negotiations with our principal venues over meal pricing in 2015, we will be seeing increased costs for lunch meetings. Our policy of charging members only the actual cost charged to the Council by the venue remains unchanged. Our attendance at luncheon meetings has been ever increasing over the past two years. We expect to see that trend continue this year. 


WACSC Speakers Bureau 

An officer of our Council will gladly visit a service club or civic organization to present a 20-minute talk on the many benefits of the World Affairs Council of Sonoma County.  We want to inform the community of what we are doing and how we can help them keep informed about international relations.  If you belong to a club that might like a speaker, please give contact information to Bob Kirk at or 538-9294. 


WACSC “Hotline” Now Designated a “Lukewarm Line”

As members of WACSC you are encouraged to call our Council phone number, 573-6014, for general information and to make and cancel meal reservations. We have generally referred to this phone number as the WACSC “hotline.”


However, please be advised that we have downgraded the “hotline” designation to the “lukewarm line” to clarify that this phone line does not have 24/7 coverage with operators waiting to take your call. We check for messages on a regular basis and attempt to respond to all calls promptly. However, some responses may take more time. As an all-volunteer-managed Council, it takes the time and commitment of a volunteer to monitor this phone. Your understanding and patience will be appreciated.



Searching for a World Travel Opportunity?

WAC of Philadelphia continues to offer wonderful travel experiences for WAC members and their friends. Their 2014 Travel Tours are available for our members to view, consider, inquire and reserve. You can reach the WAC Philadelphia website at You can call toll free to their Travel Department at 800-942-5004, Ext. 209 or 217. You may reach their VP of Travel, Joan Russell, directly at WAC Philadelphia has been arranging world tours for many years and is highly recommended by our national parent organization, World Affairs Councils of America.



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