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Celebrating 100 years, World Affairs Council provides ‘bridge that connects the world’ to this vibrant region

By Andy Furman
NKyTribune reporter

It’s a fair and honest question – so we’ll ask it.

What does The World Affairs Council actually do?

Melissa McDonald, a Covington native, is the Director of Global Education for The World Affairs Council of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky and was preaching her message at the Covington Rotary Club luncheon at the Raddison Hotel recently.

Melissa McDonald (Photo by Andy Furman/NKyTribune)

“We’re the bridge that connects the world to one of America’s most vibrant regions,” she told the Northern Kentucky Tribune. “Through global education, international exchange, and cultural awareness initiatives, the council strengthens Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky’s international identity and engages individuals with foreign affairs.”

McDonald got her taste of connecting with the world at a rather young age.

“I was a 15-year-old student at Holmes High School,” she said, “When I had the opportunity to travel to France. It opened my perspective to the world.”

An Honors graduate from Berea College, she traveled to Denmark while attending Xavier University.

The travel – and preparation – paid off.

Her current role includes coordinating and advancing international; programming for over 5,500 children, adults and community partners in the region.

And she wasn’t doing those travels for vacation.

She’s an experienced international leader with over 20 years of professional accomplishments as an international Baccalaureate educator, education committee chair, and professional development workshop facilitator in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas.

“My passion in education,” she said, “is centered on developing globally-minded lifelong learners with a focus on inclusion, equity and diversity.”

The World Affairs Council is hosting a delegation from Kazakhstan – April 7 -15 – traveling on The Open World Leadership Center’s exchange program to discuss date-driven prevention policy on public health.

“We bring in international groups,” McDonald said, “To share with the local community.

“We like to highlight this region as much as possible.”

Last year The World Affairs Council hosted 20 events, according to McDonald, with some 254 volunteers.

“We offer a Global Summer Camp,” she said, “An International Summit for High School students, and Educators/Professional Development.”

The council strengthens Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky’s international identity and engages individuals with foreign affairs, McDonald says.

This year, The World Affairs Council celebrates its 100-year anniversary.

“It’ll be April 20th,” she said, “at the Drees Pavilion.”

Last year, The World Affairs Council was voted Non-Profit of the Year, by Cincinnati Magazine.

Not bad for a 501©3 nonprofit with a full-time staff of just three, with offices at Northern Kentucky University.

“What we really try to do,” said McDonald, “is how to think globally, while acting locally.”

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