Career Foreign Service Officer reflects on work in Africa, Caribbean

As a career foreign service officer, Regina Dennis-Nana was often the person on duty at the embassy when Americans traveled to the Caribbean and Africa.

Her perspective on the importance of the State Department and diplomacy was practical and impassioned, especially when describing the role of the U.S. embassy when earthquakes struck Haiti in 2010.  By having built relationships over time in the country, she was able to find and work effectively with a wide range of colleagues in a chaotic, frantic time.

The presentation also included “The State of the State Department”, a video produced by the Foreign Policy Association.  The message: During the Trump administration, the usual ways of conducting diplomacy have been upended. Many positions in the State Department have never been filled, and meetings with foreign leaders such as Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin have been undertaken with little advance planning. What effect are these changes having now, and how will they affect ongoing relationships between the United States and its allies and adversaries?

Great Decisions is presented every Thursday at the St. Louis Ethical Society and on April 4 at Venture Cafe.  It is made possible through UMSL’s International Studies program.

Great Decisions: Best Nuclear Strategy is Dialogue

Brent Shapiro discusses nuclear strategy

Brent Shapiro outlined the challenges around nuclear arms and the choices confronting policy makers in the Great Decisions lecture series March 21.  Noting that everyone in the room had lived the majority of their lives under the threat of nuclear war, he observed that a combination of luck, communications and good judgment had kept “the genie in the bottle.”

For leaders of nuclear-armed countries, the lessons of Libya and Iraq stand clear, he said.  Once their country gave up nuclear weapons, their grip on power dissipated.  The only country to give up their nukes peacefully, Shapiro noted, was South Africa as a prelude to the end of Apartheid.

When considering nuclear strategy, Shapiro said, the key is to put one in the shoes of a nuclear-owning leader and ask what they fear most – a neighbor, their own population, or a superpower.  By addressing those fears, disarmament may be possible.

As to Russia’s threatened development of hypersonic nuclear weapons, Shapiro expressed skepticism of their reliability.  “It does’t matter how many bullets you have,” he said, “it’s whether you have a way to deliver them.”

Please join UMSL’s International Studies & Programs Department and the World Affairs Council for the fourth segment of the Great Decisions Lecture Series on March 28, 2019. In order to provide insight and perspective on the topic: State of the State Department. Longtime Foreign Service Officer Regina Dennis-Nana  will be moderating the session.

The Great Decisions Lecture Series is free and open to the public. The series entails eight weekly sessions moderated by local experts on the most critical challenges to United States foreign policy. For the complete list of topics, please click here.

This event runs for eight consecutive Thursdays in March and April from 12 – 1:30 PM. Great Decisions will be held at the Ethical Society in Clayton at 9001 Clayton Rd – St. Louis, MO 63124.

Just added! Join us at Venture Cafe on April 4 for a special presentation of “Cyber Conflict and Geopolitics” presented by Kurt Aubuchon of Maryville University.

Russian delegation in St. Louis for review of Journalism and Women’s Issues

Open World Leadership Center, a legislative branch agency, will send a delegation of Russian journalists to St. Louis, MO March 22-30, 2019. While in St. Louis, Open World delegates will be hosted by the World Affairs Council of St. Louis.

The delegation of five includes Ms. Anna Sakharova (freelance journalist, Takie Dela (Such Things)), Ms. Darya Serenko (department head, Peresvetov Lane Gallery), Ms. Elina Ibragimova (Freelance Journalist), Ms. Galina Mosalova (creative producer, Takie Dela (Such Things)), and Ms. Sofya Shimanskaya (self-employed blogger). The group is accompanied by Ms. Polina Nozdrina-Plotnitskaya a bicultural facilitator, and Mrs. Irina Bronstein LaRose, a bilingual translator.

Prior to their arrival in St. Louis, delegates completed an orientation in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill.

In St. Louis, delegates will collaborate on best practices for transparency in journalism, protection of women’s rights, coverage of the #MeToo Movement, and the HIV crisis in Russia. Delegates will meet with staff of Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri, and local leaders in the St. Louis area. Additional activities include KWMU-St. Louis Public Radio, Washington University, St. Louis American newspaper, and other prominent organizations. The delegation will stay in the homes of local residents serving as hospitality hosts.

More than 27,000 current and future leaders from post-Soviet era countries have participated in an Open World exchange program. Open World offers one of the most effective U.S. exchange programs to promote mutually beneficial options for depolarized engagement between future national leaders.

About the World Affairs Council of St. Louis
Founded in 1948, the World Affairs Council of St. Louis is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization that connects the citizens of the Gateway region to the world. The Council’s mission is to sponsor programs that promote understanding, engagement, relationships, and leadership in World Affairs. To learn more, visit

About Open World
Open World Leadership Center, a legislative branch agency, supports Congressional outreach for Members of Congress and conducts exchanges that establish lasting professional relationships between emerging leaders and their U.S. counterparts in democratic institutions. Delegates are provided with extensive exposure to American politics, civic life, and are hosted by American families. In 1999, Congress established Open World. Since then, more than 27,000 Eurasian leaders are alumni of Open World. To learn more about Open World, please click here:


Meet Our Spring 2019 Interns

Each semester, WAC-STL is privileged to host talented students from our local partner universities and colleges.  From designing programs for international visitors, to administrative work, to planning events, we depend on the interns to improve our efficiency, offer new ideas and perspectives and to energize all of us.  

Coral Alonso  is a Mexican student currently enrolled in the last semester of Lindenwood’s MBA program. She completed her BA in International business from LU as well. She used to be a Synchronized Swimmer and belong to Mexico’s National Team where she traveled and visited several countries. That is when she found her passion for International Affairs and economic development research for developing countries. Before this internship, she was an intern for the International Institute where she gave classes to immigrants and refugees. In this new internship, she hopes to learn more about US international relations.

Margaret Kenney is a sophomore at Saint Louis University from St. Paul, MN. She is studying Political Science and International Studies with a minor in Spanish. After she receives her bachelor’s degree, she plans to continue her education by pursuing either a J.D. with a concentration in International Law or a Ph.D., in Political Science. Alongside interning with the World Affairs Council, Margaret participates in Model United Nations, Presidential Scholar Society, and the Honors Program at Saint Louis University. She looks forward to expanding her understanding of international relations, particularly in the St. Louis area, during her internship at the World Affairs Council. 

Sierra Taylor is a senior at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She is studying International Studies and has a minor in French. Sierra is also a resident assistant at Southern Illinois University. After graduating from SIUE, she plans to start her own translation business. She is originally from the south suburbs of Chicago. She studied Spanish in high school, but French has always been one of her favorite languages. She decided early on in high school that she was going to learn French in college. When she’s not working, Sierra likes to study languages and read. In the future, she hopes to travel to other countries to increase her fluency in French.

Marina Vela is from Barcelona, Spain, but currently studying at Lindenwood University, St. Charles Missouri. She is majoring in International Relations, Political Science, and Public Administration. Currently she is on the water polo team at Lindenwood and loves traveling. She hopes to travel after she finishes her degree.

To learn about interning with WAC-STL, visit our “Get Involved” page.


200 Ring in Year of the Pig

With a sumptuous feast, dancers, musicians and kung fu students, nearly 200 people joined WAC-STL at Mandarin House. 

Thanks to our sponsors and our donors for the silent auction: Jeff and Dayna Morris, Waterway, Rosalita’s Cantina, Bentley Photography, Missouri Botanical Garden, Kaldi’s Coffee, AAA, Parkway Hotel, Purina, Top Golf, Sheldon Concert Hall: Bernstein and Barber, Amp Up, Crystal Barker, SugarFire, Donna Kirtian, Corporate Transportation, Dewey’s Pizza, Omaha Steaks, Flamingo Bowl, Pieology, Chase Park Plaza, Pierce Powers, Cyrano’s, Lona’s Lil Eats, St. Alban’s Country Club, Repertory Theatre, St Louis Regional Chamber, Linda Kurz, Burt Follman, The Hatfield Family, Victor Wang, Schlafly Bottleworks, Parker’s Table, Cheshire Inn, Hi-Pointe Drive-In.

  Check out pictures on our Facebook page and learn about upcoming events at

Also, we depend on membership to help us bring international programming to the community and to develop custom itineraries for international visitors.  Joining as an organizational member or as an individual, retiree, couple or student, is super easy and makes a difference for us all.

Chinese New Year Celebration Features Four Entertainers, 10 Courses

More than 150 people are already planning to join the World Affairs Council of St. Louis to celebrate the Chinese New Year, Year of the Pig at The Mandarin House on Feb. 8.

Highlights will include a 10-course Chinese tasting menu served family style, more than 40 silent auction items and entertainment from:

Yiqing Zhang (playing Guzheng) “Melodies From The Night Fisherman”
Jiajing Lin (playing Erhu): first piece:” Horse Racing” and Step by Step”.
Kung Fu Performance by Master Qi Kungfu School
Lion Dance performed by the International Shaolin Wushu Center

For WAC members, the 10-course meal with food and drink included, is just $88. 

For non-members, the price is $98.  (The number 8 is considered beneficial in the Mandarin language.) 


We have special corporate rates as well; please contact

To sponsor at the Platinum level, a table of 10 is $2,500; the Gold level is $2,000 and the Silver level is $1,500. All sponsors get promotional recognition and premiums table location.

This event provides us with the necessary funds to continue our engagement of the St. Louis community in a globalized world through educational programming and community outreach.


World Affairs Council: 26th Annual Celebration

WAC-STL hosts Hungarian Ambassador

WAC-STL and Lewis Rice host Hungarian Ambassador Dr. László Szabó January 25.

The World Affairs Council of St. Louis and Lewis Rice welcomed Hungary’s Ambassador to the United States, Dr. László Szabó, to a business roundtable Jan. 25.

The informal discussion among business leaders, Lewis Rice senior attorneys and World Affairs Council of St. Louis leadership, was part of the Ambassador’s first visit to St. Louis, which also included delivering the 2019 Boeing Distinguished Guest Lecture at St. Louis University and a visit to Zoltek.

Ambassador Szabó, was appointed to the post in 2017 and is based at the Hungarian Embassy in Washington, DC. He discussed Hungary’s tax and investment policies, role within the EU and long tradition of innovation and invention.

WAC-STL President Pierce Powers Jr., and Hungarian Ambassador Dr. Szabo.

Among Hungary’s innovations include the world’s largest test facility for autonomous vehicles, due for completion later this year, and transforming its embassy into a tech-innovation incubator.

Guests at the luncheon included Ambassador Dr. Szabó; his wife Dr. Ivonn Szeverényi; Dorottya Martonffy-Nagy, Hungary’s Trade and Investment Attache’ at the Embassy of Hungary; András Juhász, Hungary’s Commercial Attache’ from the Chicago Consulate, Joszef Szamosfalvi, Managing Director, Interlink Capital Strategies;  Con McGrath, Thompson Street Capital Partners; Liane Constantine, International Liaison, International Studies and Programs, UM-St. Louis; Tamas Javor, Assistant Director of UMSL Accelerate; Robert Foster, Executive Director, World Affairs Council of St. Louis; Pierce Powers, Jr., CEO of Powers Insurance and President of the World Affairs Council of St. Louis; Donna Kirtian, Director, JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.; Dr. Seung Kim, Emeritus Director, Boeing Institute of International Business at Saint Louis University; Mrs. Sue Powers; Dr. Hadi Alhorr, Director, Boeing Institute of International Business at Saint Louis University; Larry Taylor, President, Aziotics; Annamaria Szakonyi, Research Lead, Saint Louis University; Fatima Khan, Attorney, Lewis Rice; Kirk Damman, Attorney, Lewis Rice; Sonette Magnus; Attorney, Lewis Rice; Justin McKinney, Chief Executive Officer, Ivani; Matthew Wooton, Chief Technology Officers, Ivani; Drew Smith, President, Nardo Agribotics; Mr. Dan Pollman, President, Happy Medium;  Dr. Damon Broyles, Vice President,  Clinical Innovation at Mercy Technology.

Dr. Szabo presents the 2019 Boeing Distinguished Guest Lecture at Saint Louis University.

Join us for Chinese New Year at Mandarin House Feb. 8

Plan to attend!  February 8, 2019 at The Mandarin House

The World Affairs Council of St. Louis’s signature fundraising event is our Annual Chinese New Year Celebration.

For more than twenty years, the World Affairs Council of St. Louis has welcomed the Chinese New Year with a wide variety of reception activities, stunning entertainment, an exquisite Chinese banquet, multiple raffles with exciting prizes, and a silent auction.

Early Bird Pricing is now in effect!  For WAC members, the 10-course meal with food and drink included, is just $88. 

For non-members, the price is $98.  (The number 8 is considered beneficial in the Mandarin language.) 

We have special corporate rates as well; please contact

To sponsor at the Platinum level, a table of 10 is $2,500; the Gold level is $2,000 and the Silver level is $1,500. All sponsors get promotional recognition and premiums table location.

This event provides us with the necessary funds to continue our engagement of the St. Louis community in a globalized world through educational programming and community outreach.

World Affairs Council: 26th Annual Celebration


World Affairs Council: 26th Annual Celebration

Fiji Journalists discuss press freedoms with St. Louis experts

Robert Patrick, reporter with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, meets with journalists from Fiji at the World Affairs Council of St. Louis office Dec. 14, 2018.

Media professionals from Fiji were in St. Louis in mid-December to learn about the rights and responsibilities of a free press, part of a program developed by the World Affairs Council of St. Louis.

The visitors include the Deputy Managing Editor of the Fiji Sun; a  journalist/news presenter for Communications Fiji Limited; a teaching assistant from the Journalism School at the Universityof the South Pacific; the Desk Editor for the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation; a senior journalist for The Fiji Times; and multimedia journalist for Fiji TV.

During the three-day program organized by the World Affairs Council of St. Louis, the group met with legal experts, journalists and educators:     

  • Mark Sableman, a partner at Thompson Coburnwho helps news media clients gather and publish news, and business clientsbuild their brands, and fight infringement and false advertising.
  • From the St. Louis American Newspaper, they met with Editorial Director Chris King
  • From St. Louis University, they met Dr. Dan Kozlowski, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Coordinator for St. Louis University’s Department of Communications. 
  • From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the group met with reporter Robert Patrick and photojournalist David Carson, who discussed the responsibilities of journalists and their experience covering major news events in St. Louis.
  • From Webster University, they met Larry Baden, Associate Professor and Program Facilitator – Media Law and Ethics

The visit is part of the International Visitors Leadership Program, overseen by the U.S. State Department.  In 2018, the World Affairs Council of St. Louis hosted more the 150 visitors and provided an economic impact to the region of $453,719.