What an exciting and great year it has been! I hope you are as pleased as our Board members and officers are with this year’s program. Hard work and dedicated research by our Program Committee, under Joan Deery’s leadership, have allowed us to recruit first rate speakers. Our membership is at an all time high of 970. You invited 465 guests to attend during the year and 60 of them became members. Our average attendance has significantly increased, with several speakers drawing more than 650 attendees.
May is traditionally the month we begin our Membership Drive for the coming year. Why should you renew your membership in the World Affairs Council? Why should you ask your friends to consider joining the World Affairs Council of Hilton Head?
First and foremost, speaker recruitment for our 2015-2016 program year is well underway. Seven Confirmed Speakers already include: Dr. Evan Ellis (China in Latin America); David Goldwyn (U.S. energy foreign policy); the Polish Ambassador to the United States, Ryszard Schnept (Poland); Ellen Laipson, (the Middle East); Ambassador James Jeffrey (Turkey’s Strategy in the Middle East); Dr. Aaron David Miller on (the challenges of the Presidency); and Dr. Jeremi Suri (the legacy of World War II).
Secondly, the benefits of membership continue to provide you with intellectual stimulation:
- Attendance at each of the 14 speaker programs during the year
- Free admission to the Great Decisions Discussion Groups, the Fall Forum and the Summer Forum
- Access to our state-of-the-art website with information about speakers and events
- Free access to audio transcripts for all speakers
- Free access to WAC HH News cast, including News Sources from Europe, News Sources from the Middle East, News Sources from Asia, US Finance news, and News Analysis
- Access to World Affairs Councils of America activities with participation in any of five flagship programs, including Travel the World, eligibility to attend the annual conference (worldaffairscouncils.org), and discounted rates for a number of periodicals, including: The Economist, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The New Yorker, Stratfor, and World Affairs Journal
- Sponsor guests to any of our programs for $10 each
- Discounted rate for purchasing books by speakers
- Discounted rate for the Great Decisions briefing book
- Free admission to the Academic WorldQuest competition.
Our Evening Series Speaker Program has also been a success. We have oversubscribed this small plate buffet and cash bar event which was originally designed to appeal to professionals who are unable to attend our Friday morning events, but, nevertheless, seek to hear stimulating speakers on global issues. We will be tweaking this self-contained program, based on your suggestions, before resuming it next year. Many of you are participating in the Great Decisions Discussion Groups and the Fall Forum, programs open only to WAC HH members. Our eighth Summer Forum beginning in June promises to keep you engaged during the summer months.
As with every other organization supported by member fees, we are experiencing an increase in the expenses of presenting our speaker program. If you’ve traveled at all during the past few months, you know how the cost of transportation has increased. The Board of Directors is committed to keeping membership in the Council affordable to all our members. We are keeping the annual modest $95 membership fee for the 2015-2016 program year. But to continue our first-rate speaker program, we need to ask those who are able to supplement this amount with contributions above the membership fee.
In addition to our Speaker Programs, our Community Outreach efforts continue to thrive. The participation of five Beaufort County High Schools in the Academic WorldQuest competition and of Bluffton High School’s award winning Model UN program were highlights of our year. Again, this spring, the winning team from Beaufort High School travelled to Washington, D.C. to compete in the national AWQ competition. We believe very strongly that it is paramount to engage our young people in learning more about the global environment in which they live. These outreach efforts are funded solely by member contributions above the cost of membership.
On your Membership Renewal Forms you will see a space to contribute above and beyond the annual membership fee to Program Support and Outreach. We recommend that you support these programs as generously as you can, but with a suggested contribution of $20 to each. As WAC HH is a tax exempt organization under the IRS code 501(C)3, our members and friends in the community may help finance the Council’s Outreach and Program Support.
As my mandatory term as a Board member and as President of WAC HH draws to a close (six years as a Board member and three and one-half years as President), I want to thank you for continuing to make this organization the premier intellectual hub of the Hilton Head area. My wife, Lynne, and I moved to Hilton Head Island ten years ago, in part, because we thought we would enjoy its intellectual and cultural activities. We are proud and humbled to have helped in some small way to enhance that intellectual/cultural foundation of our community. Our prime goal has been to open the doors of WAC HH to all of those folks who, like us, are intellectually curious about our global environment. Thank-you for being a part of this journey.
Blaine Lotz, President