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, March 26, 2015,

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




Friday, April 10, 2015, VIETNAM: NEW ALLY OR OLD ENEMY, Perry Ritenour, Ph.D., Adjunct College Professor and Lecturer on Foreign Affairs


Thursday, April 16, 2015, YOUR FATWA DOES NOT APPLY HERE, Karima Bennoune, Professor of International Law at University of California, Davis, School of Law; author



Sonoma Academy Debate Team: Team Captain Sierra Maciorowski; Logan Noel; Team Captain Squid Tamar-Mattis; and Karishma Bottari


Friday, May 8, 2015, WILL THE “NUCLEAR SPRING” EVER ARRIVE?, David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle reporter; journalist


Thursday, May 21, 2015, WHAT IS HAPPENING TO NEWS – AND WHY, Jack Fuller, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist; author; former editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune, and president of the Tribune Publishing Company


Friday, June 12, 2015, NEW LIGHT ON WORLD WAR II AND THE ORIGINS OF THE COLD WAR, Dr. Christopher D. O’Sullivan, Professor, University of San Francisco


Thursday, June 18, 2015, HAVING FAITH IN DEMOCRACY: Politics, Islam, and Identity in Contemporary Indonesia, Darren Zook, Ph.D., Institute for South Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley



Read more >


The World News Weekly Update is a collection the past week's top news stories. Every week, the Pittsburgh 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 last and previous weekly updates.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 February, 2015, new WACSC  members were: Alan & V. Dreifus, Chris & Nancy Nelle, Thomas & Lois Shelton and Charles & Dora Lou Stice.


Dale Schmid Retires as Treasurer

Dale Schmid, WACSC treasurer since 1998, has retired from that position but remains on our board as a consultant. After 17 years of dedicated stewardship of our Council finances, Dale has turned over that responsibility to Perry Ritenour.


Dale was uniquely qualified to handle the treasurer’s position thanks to his background and experience. He has a B.S. in Accounting/Law from the University of North Dakota and took executive courses at Fairfield, Northwestern, and Harvard Business Schools. From 1960 to 1994 he was associated with Deloitte, the international accounting and consulting firm, in its Seattle and San Francisco offices. He was the client partner for such firms as Clorox, Longs Drugs, Safeway, C&H Sugar, Gallo, and Sun-Maid. After retirement in Sonoma County with his wife Susan in 1994, Dale served on the Sonoma County Grand Jury, as board treasurer for the Sonoma County Museum, and WACSC. We have been fortunate to have had Dale’s expertise in finance over the years, as well as his wise counsel on management practices. Thank you, Dale!


Perry Ritenour, Treasurer

We are indeed fortunate to have Perry Ritenour back on the board after an absence due to health concerns, and to have his services as treasurer, succeeding Dale Schmid. Perry and his wife Lee joined WACSC in early 2010, and he soon volunteered for an open board position. As vice-chair of the Program Committee, he was actively engaged in finding speakers and managing committee activities. He moved on to membership chair before having to restrict his activities because of health concerns. Perry has a B.A. in history from the Virginia Military Institute, a master’s in Asian studies from Georgetown University, and a Ph.D. from Georgetown, with a dissertation on “Banking in China.” He served as an intelligence officer in the Army’s Special Forces in Southeast Asia, stationed on Okinawa. After leaving active duty as captain, he had a career in commercial and international banking from offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara. We now have the good fortune of having a former banker in charge of our finances.


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.


Did you know?

Because WACSC is an Internal  Revenue Code Section 501(c) (3) organization, contributions to WACSC, including dues, are tax-deductible, subject to normal IRS rules for substantiating contributions. Regular dues should be paid by check; your cancelled check serves as your receipt. We provide written receipts for Sustaining Member dues and other contributions over $75.00. Because payments for luncheon and dinner programs are for meals, they are not tax-deductible.


Spring Lake Village (SLV) Notes for WACSC Members.

We need to be aware that the maximum seating capacity of the beautiful new Spring Lake Village Auditorium is 250. The Fire Marshall insists that no more than 250 people can occupy that room. With our increasing membership and the expansion of Spring Lake Village we can find ourselves exceeding that capacity when a speaker and/or topic interests a large number of members, residents and the general public. To be sure of a seat, try to arrive early. After the room is full of seated people, entry will be cut off. No standing and no extra seats will be allowed. If this inconveniences people, we are very sorry and hope that you will be understanding and cooperative.


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.


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. 


Full-Service No-Host Bars Are Now History at Some Venues

We have had a full-service no-host bar in or near our banquet room at most of our past luncheons, but that luxury has now ended due to insufficient patronage. A couple of our luncheon venues have told us that our members have not purchased enough to justify staffing a bar at no cost. The Hilton Hotel suggests that members walk down the hall from the banquet room to the Nectar Bar in the same building. Other venues will continue to provide a no-host bar in our banquet area, restricted to wine, beer, and soft drinks. In most cases, other alcoholic drinks may be purchased at the venue’s public bar. We hope this change will not inconvenience members.


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.


Former WACSC President is also a teacher 

WHY WORLD WAR I STILL MATTERS is the title of immediate past president Bob Kirk's Community Education course at Santa Rosa Junior College this summer.  Bob, whose Ph.D. is in modern European history, will show how the roots not only of World War II and the Cold War, but of horrendous problems in the Middle East are a direct result of  World War I.  The class is an eight hour version of the twelve hour class Bob taught recently for Life Long Learning.  The four-evenng course is not military history, but will fully explain the origins of the war, why the US got in and Russia dropped out, and the political consequences of the peace.  The offering will appear on the SRJC Community Ed website April 10 and after -- four Mondays 6-8 p.m. in Emeritus 1607 on the SRJC campus.  No homework, no papers, no grades!  Information <>


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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