Engaging the public to better understand the world

Get to know us

Meet and learn from the people who shape our world

As a World Affairs Council member, you join a diverse group of individuals who are passionate about expanding international awareness. Members participate in world class events featuring speakers who provide the stories behind the headlines as well as special receptions and gatherings.

As a member you will have the opportunity to build relationships with other liked minded individuals and professionals that in the local international affairs community. Your membership is valuable in supporting World Affairs Council programming and student outreach in the community.

Distinguished Speaker “Soft Power” Series – Stephen B. Nix – “Ukraine’s History and European Future”

The World Affairs Council of Orange County presents the “Distinguished Speaker” Series Stephen B. Nix Regional Director, Eurasia – International Republican Institute* Presenting: “Ukraine’s History and European Future”  Thursday, 27th January, 2022, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. (PST) Speaker Bio: Stephen Nix joined the International Republican Institute (IRI) in October 2000, as regional program director for Eurasia.  In that position, he oversees programs in Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Armenia, and Ukraine.  Nix joined IRI after serving for two years as senior democracy specialist at the U.S. Agency for International Development.  Nix is a specialist in political party development, and judicial and legal reform in the former Soviet Union. Nix resided in Kyiv, Ukraine, for more than three years.  During that time, he served as outside legal counsel for the Committee on Legal Reform in the Ukrainian Parliament.  He also assisted in the drafting of crucial reform legislation in Ukraine, including the constitution of Ukraine, the presidential and parliamentary election laws, and the law on the constitutional court of Ukraine.  Nix also served as a member of the Parliamentary Special Committee on the Law on the Election of Deputies in Ukraine.  He has lectured in several law schools throughout Ukraine on such topics as election law and judicial reform. Nix served as legal counsel to the International Foundation for Electoral Systems in Ukraine and Russia, and has written extensively on legal and political reforms in the region. Among his publications is The Compendium of Election Laws of Central and Eastern Europe (1994). Nix received his juris doctorate from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1989.  He worked in the litigation section of the law firm of Baker & Hostetler in Washington, DC from 1989 to 1994, where he specialized in election law and international law. Prior to entering the practice of law, Nix served as Midwest field director for the National Republican Congressional Committee and was the campaign manager for the Republican candidate in Indiana’s Second Congressional District. Nix served on the litigation team for the 2008 John McCain for President Campaign and was posted to Columbus, Ohio.

“China’s Rising Authoritarianism: Implications for Vulnerable Ethnic & Religious Groups & Uyghur Genocide”

The World Affairs Council of Orange County proudly presents: “China’s Rising Authoritarianism: Implications for Vulnerable Ethnic & Religious Groups & Uyghur Genocide””  with Rushan Abbas — A Zoom Webinar Event Monday, February 14, 2022 at 1:00 PM PST Speaker Bio: Ms. Rushan Abbas was born, raised, and attended university in Urumchi, the capital city in East Turkistan (AKA Xinjiang). She has been an activist since her days at university in East Turkistan, where she co-organized pro-democracy protests in the mid and late 80s. Since coming to the United States in 1989, she has been a tireless advocate for Uyghur rights. Recently, after Beijing accelerated the genocidal policies in East Turkistan, in 2017, she established the Campaign for Uyghurs to advocate for her people among the government officials and lawmakers, interfaith organizations, universities and think tanks and as well as the grassroots movements. In September 2018, her own sister, Dr. Gulshan Abbas was abducted by the Chinese regime and illegally sentenced to prison in retaliation for Ms. Abbas’s activism. Today, Ms. Abbas continues to advocate for her release and the freedom of millions of other Uyghurs as well as delivering remarks at national and international forums. She frequently testifies at the Congress, briefs, and advises on policy and legislative response. Ms. Abbas received a Freedom Fighter 2019 Award for her work raising awareness on the current Uyghur Genocide. She resides in Virginia.

“Challenges of Leadership in Our Democracy” with Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta

The World Affairs Council of Orange County presents: “Challenges of Leadership in Our Democracy” With Sec. Leon Panetta  (Secretary of Defense, 2011-2013 Director of the CIA, 2009-2011) A Zoom Webinar event Tuesday, March 8th, 2021 at 1:00 PM PST Conversation moderated by Dr. Richard Downie — Speaker Bio: The son of Italian immigrants, born and raised in Monterey and graduate of Santa Clara University and Santa Clara University School of Law, Secretary Panetta began his long and distinguished public service career in 1964 as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army, and upon discharge went to work in Washington as a legislative assistant to United States Senate Minority Whip Tom Kuchel of California. In 1969, he was appointed director of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare’s Office for Civil Rights, where he was responsible for enforcing equal education laws. Later, he served as executive assistant to the mayor of New York City. He then returned to Monterey, where he practiced law until his election to the United States House of Representatives in 1976. Serving in Congress for sixteen years, Secretary Panetta was a key participant in agriculture, healthcare, ocean and federal budget issues. From 1989 to 1993, he chaired the House Budget Committee. He authored a wide range of legislation, including the Hunger Prevention Act of 1988, Medicare and Medicaid coverage for hospice care for the terminally ill, and numerous measures to protect the California coast, including creation of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. In 1993, Secretary Panetta left Congress to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Clinton administration. There, he was instrumental in developing the policies that led to a balanced federal budget and eventual surpluses. In 1994, he accepted appointment as the president’s chief of staff, and immediately brought order and focus to White House operations. Upon leaving the Clinton administration in 1997, Secretary Panetta joined with his wife Sylvia to establish and co-direct The Panetta Institute for Public Policy, based at California State University, Monterey Bay. Reflecting Secretary Panetta’s own ideals and personal example, the nonpartisan, not-for-profit study center seeks to attract thoughtful men and women to lives of public service and prepare them for the policy challenges of the future. Returning to public service in the Obama administration as director of the CIA, he ran the operation that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, and, as Secretary of Defense, led the effort to develop a new defense strategy, helped bring two wars to an end, and opened up opportunities for everyone to serve in the military. Secretary Panetta returned to the Panetta Institute as chairman on February 27, 2013 and resumed his role as moderator of the renowned Leon Panetta Lecture Series. He chronicles his life in public service in his best-selling memoir Worthy Fights, which was published in 2014.

“Academic WorldQuest 2022”

We are beginning to prepare for the 2022 Academic WorldQuest competition and would like to extend an invitation to students to participate in this great opportunity that comes along with a chance to win a fully funded trip to Washington D.C.  Last year we had a great turn out and looking to have the same atmosphere. As a refresher, the World Affairs Council of Orange County works to foster global citizenship by engaging our community in discussions about current international affairs, and we strive to incorporate high school students into this discussion. Each year, alongside 90 other World Affairs Councils across the United States, our Orange County chapter hosts a local academic competition for high school students regarding international affairs called “Academic WorldQuest.” A group of four students and their adviser would represent your school as they strive to correctly answer the most questions related to international affairs, current events, geography, world history, and culture. The World Affairs Council of Orange County awards the winning team with a fully sponsored trip to Washington D.C. to compete in the national Academic WorldQuest competition. There is no cost to your school. The local competition will be held on Saturday March 19, 2022.  A study guide will be distributed from the national World Affairs Council board to the participating schools a couple days after registration. We are hoping to confirm participants as soon as possible so that students have adequate time to prepare. Please note that the deadline to register your team is January 31, 2021. 

POSTPONED: “An Intelligence Officer’s View of the World” with Former Acting Director of the CIA Michael Morell

The World Affairs Council of Orange County proudly presents: “An Intelligence Officer’s View of the World”  with Michael Morell  (Acting Director of the CIA, 2011, 2012-2013  Deputy Director of the CIA, 2010-2013)  — Tickets:  TBA Covid Protocols: Please note that due to COVID-19 concerns, the World Affairs Council of Orange County will be requiring proof of vaccination or a 24-hour negative test to be presented at the door. We appreciate your cooperation. — Speaker Bio: Michael Morell, the former Acting Director and Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is one of our nation’s leading national security professionals, with extensive experience in intelligence and foreign policy. He has been at the center of our nation’s fight against terrorism, its work to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and its efforts to respond to trends that are altering the international landscape—including the rise of China, a revanchist Russia, and the cyber threat. Politico has called Michael the “Bob Gates of his generation.” During his 33-year career at CIA, Michael served as Deputy Director for three-and-a-half years, a job in which he managed the Agency’s day-to-day operations and analysis, represented the Agency at the White House and Congress, and maintained the Agency’s relationships with intelligence services and foreign leaders around the world. Michael also served twice as Acting Director, leading CIA when Leon Panetta was confirmed as Secretary of Defense and again after David Petraeus left government. Michael’s senior assignments at CIA also included serving for two years as the Director of Intelligence, the Agency’s top analyst, and for two years as Executive Director, the CIA’s top administrator—managing human resources, the budget, security, and information technology for an agency the size of a Fortune 200 firm. Michael has been a witness to history on multiple occasions. He is the only person who was both with President Bush on September 11th, when al-Qaida burst into the American consciousness, and with President Obama on May 1st, when Bin Laden was brought to justice. Michael played a major role in the Bin Laden operation. Michael was known inside the CIA for his leadership. He inspired individuals and work units to perform beyond expectations. He mentored many Agency officers into the senior leadership ranks, including a significant number of women and minorities. When he departed the CIA, thousands of officers wrote Michael notes of thanks. Michael is the recipient of many awards. He received the Presidential Rank Award for exceptional performance – the nation’s highest honor for civilian service. He also received the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the CIA’s highest award, for his role in the Bin Ladin operation. Michael is also the recipient of the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and the Department of Defense Service Medal. Today, Michael is involved in a wide range of activities. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Fortress Investment Group; a member of the Board of Directors of Orbis Operations; a member of the Board of Directors of Presage Security, Senior Counselor and Global Chairman of the Geopolitical Risk Practice at Washington’s fastest growing consulting firm, Beacon Global […]

Thank you to our Supporting Partners

Join the WAC of Orange County

The World Affairs Councils of America was founded in 1918.

It is the largest nonprofit international affairs organization in the United States.

Get to know us

Impacting American Foreign Policy

Welcome to Orange County’s Premier Forum
on World Affairs

Cultivating Political Discussion

We are part of the World Affairs Councils of America, a nonprofit and nonpartisan national organization based in Washington, DC. See what’s happening around America.

JOIN THE WACA AND PARTICIPATE IN HIGH QUALITY POLITICAL DIALOG.