World Affairs Council mourns loss of Robert Fischer

The World Affairs Council of St. Louis mourns the loss of Executive Director Emeritus, Robert Fischer and celebrates his many contributions to the St. Louis region and all those he met.

January 3, 1937-April 28, 2019

Robert A Fischer, Emeritus Director of the World Affairs Council of St. Louis (center), displays a proclamation from the Mayor of St. Louis proclaiming March 2, 2018 as “Robert A Fischer Day” in the City of St. Louis. At left is WAC-STL President Pierce Powers, Jr., and at right is Past President Keepak Kant Vyas.

Robert A. Fischer Sr., a native of St. Louis, dedicated himself to improving the world around him, through industry, philanthropic service and the advancement of understanding among people across cultures.

Bob graduated with a degree in Business from Washington University in 1959 and was a lifetime member of the Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity.

For 16 years, Bob served as the Executive Director of the World Affairs Council of St. Louis, a program operated through the U.S. State Department and supported by many leading St. Louis businesses, which connects citizens of the St. Louis region with leaders from across the globe to promote “citizen diplomacy” as well as improving global understanding. Through his efforts at the World Affairs Council, Bob directed a host of programs designed to benefit high school and college students, teachers and college professors, as well as retirees and those of modest means living across the St. Louis region. A central part of these efforts included hosting events for ambassadors from other nations to the United States of America, among whom he has helped forge positive and lifelong friendships.

“Bob was a man for others,” recalled WAC-STL President Pierce Powers. “He never met a stranger and was passionate in keeping St. Louis connected to the world for the greater good. A true friend who contributed greatly to our council, region and country.”

Under Bob’s leadership, the St. Louis Chapter of the World Affairs Council also awarded the “International Humanitarian of the Year” award, recognizing an individual or institution from the St. Louis region that accomplished extraordinary work to favorably impact a global humanitarian crisis. Throughout his work, Bob consistently kept the focus on advancing the prestige and recognition of others rather than drawing the spotlight to himself. In 2018, Bob was named Emeritus Director of the World Affairs Council of St. Louis and March 2, 2018 was declared “Robert A. Fischer Day” by the Mayor of St. Louis.

“Bob Fischer was a dedicated family man who focused his career on representing some of America’s leading companies in Asia,” said Dr. John Lewington, a member of the WAC-STL board.  “After his corporate career, Bob became a dedicated and caring Executive Director for the World Affairs Council in Saint Louis. Bob was a trailblazer whose guidance and advice will be sorely missed.”

Throughout his career before taking over the St. Louis Chapter of the World Affairs Council, Bob served as a leader in cutting-edge industries both in St. Louis and across the nation. Bob rose to the level of President of McDonnell Douglas Automation Company and, within McDonnell Douglas, also served as chairman, CEO and of a member of the executive board of the Information Systems Group, all based in St. Louis. Bob was the corporate vice president for the South Carolina-based Computer Sciences Corporation, corporate vice president for the Ohio-based Structural Dynamics Research Corporation, president and general manager of the Massachusetts-based Computervision, and senior vice president for Dun & Bradstreet in Wilton, Connecticut. Bob spent more than 18 years in sales and marketing for International Business Machines in St. Louis and elsewhere across America where he consistently earned the company’s “Golden Circle” award for outstanding achievements.

Upon graduation from Washington University, Bob joined the Armed Forces, serving in the U.S. Army from 1959 to 1961 as a Captain and Nike Hercules Missile Officer.

Among the organizations he served as a member of the board of directors are:

• The World Affairs Councils of America (Board of Directors)
• The World Affairs Councils of South Carolina (Board of Directors)
• Missouri Baptist Hospital, St. Louis (Board of Directors)
• St. Luke’s Health Corporation, St. Louis (Board of Directors)

Bob enjoyed traveling the world—Paris and Tokyo were among his favorite destinations—as well as fishing and building model railroads.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Ervin R.G. Fischer and Minnie (van Berg) Fischer, and brothers, Ervin George Fischer Jr. and Richard Fischer. He is survived by his beloved wife of 59 years, Annabelle (Cole) Fischer, their five children—John Douglas Fischer, Robert A. Fischer Jr., Gregg Fischer, Holly A. (Fischer) Kramer, and Nancy (Fischer) Gavett—six grandchildren—Virginia “Ginni” Fischer, Erin (Fischer) Turberville, Robert Kramer, Sarah “Bobbi” Fischer, Michael Bradford and Alina (Kramer) DiRito—as well as two greatgrandchildren.

Services are private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the World Affairs Council of St. Louis.

Price: $ 0.00

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.

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:


STL Connects With National World Affairs Councils Annual Meeting

Speaking on “Breaking Out of Orbit: Trends in Space Policy” are Laura Delgado López’ the Advocacy Lead, Harris Corp. Space; Intelligence Systems and Editor-in-Chief, Space Policy Journal; Audrey M. Schaffer, Director for Space Strategy and Plans U.S. Department of Defense; Victoria Samson, Washington Office Director at the Secure World Foundation; and Theresa Hitchens, Senior Research Associate, Center for International Security Studies, University of Maryland

For nearly three decades, the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA) National Conference has brought World Affairs Council leaders and members to engage with top government officials, diplomats, business executives, innovators, journalists, educators, and students on the most pressing global issues and policy choices that impact our lives. 

The World Affairs Council of St. Louis was represented by President Pierce Powers, Jr. and Executive Director Robert Foster.  

Highlights of the meeting included the membership meeting of WACA, which represents more than 90 councils nationally.  Major programs include Academic WorldQuest, Great Decisions discussion series, ambassador visits and discussions and events.

Amb. Roman Popadiuk, chairman of the WACA Board, WAC-STL Executive Director Robert Foster and President Pierce Powers, Jr.

During the meeting, Powers and Foster met with former Ukraininan Ambassador Roman Popadiuk, now board chairman of WACA, regarding potential Ukrainian interest in the St. Louis agribusiness and technology scene.

The two attended a reception at the Organization of American States, featuring a salute to the 75th Anniversary of the Foreign Policy Association and observance of the 100th Anniversary of the conclusion of World War I.  Powers and Foster also met with officials from Global Ties, the primary administrator of the International Visitor Leadership Program, which brings nearly 200 visitors to St. Louis.

WACA Executive Director Bill Clifford moderates a panel at the American Enterprise Institute, one of five briefings at prominent Washington DC think tanks



James Knight remembered for legacy of citizenship

James Knight, 3rd from left, is honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Affairs Council of St. Louis International Humanitarian of the Year 2016 gala event Oct 27, 2016. WAC President Deepak Kant Vyas, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton were also honored.

Tributes to James S. Knight were offered by leadership of the World Affairs Council of St. Louis upon news of Mr. Knight’s passing.  The only person to be awarded WAC-STL’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Mr. Knight distinguished himself with his dedication to civic leadership and international outreach.

“The dear friend of many of us, longtime stalwart supporter of the World Affairs Council of St. Louis and the only person to have attained WAC’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Jim was a true gentleman and model citizen,” said WAC-STL Executive Director Robert Foster.

“We send our condolences to his wife, Janet, and to his family.  He leaves a wonderful legacy and will be terribly missed,” Foster said.

In Mr. Knight’s acceptance speech for the Lifetime Achievement Award, he said, “The World Affairs Council was founded in 1948, after World War II, by community leaders concerned that isolationism could return to the U.S. Their concern is still a valid issue today. I am very proud to be part of an organization whose mission is to inform citizens about international affairs, so that we can all navigate a better, more peaceful future.”

He summed some of his core beliefs in a closing statement:
“I love working with non-profits. The ones I have chosen to work with all have loosely related missions to enhance the human condition through education, training, or research. Among them are John Burroughs School; Crossroads College Preparatory School; COCA, which is the most successful example of cultural and financial integration I know of; the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center; the Weidenbaum Center at Washington University; the World Affairs Council of St. Louis; Jobs and More of STL in Ferguson. They are all builders of the moral and ethical capital of St. Louis — core values needed more than ever today.   I am so proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to serve these wonderful organizations and the city of St. Louis.  It has been a great joy.”

In 2016, presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Jim Knight, Pierce Powers, WAC-STL president, said, “Newell S. Knight Jr, JIM, and his wife Janet have not only opened their window, but their front door to the world in the 65 years that have celebrated together. They are proud of their four children, their children’s spouses and three grandchildren. They are also proud of the many visitors they have adopted through the  St. Louis World Affairs Council sponsorship of the US State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program .

“Amongst Jim’s greatest attributes is the generosity he exudes with his huge, engaging, effervescent and irresistible smile.  He began his business career in 1950 with Ralston Purina as a grocery store contact person. He later oversaw sales and marketing in the United States, Mexico, Canada and Great Britain with Warner- Jenkinson to then retire from the business world in 1984 as Vice President, the 7-Up company, a division of Phillip Morris.

  • He was born in Evanston Illinois in 1927
  • He graduated St. Louis Country Day in 1945
  • He served as a US Navy Seaman 1945 to 1946
  • He then graduated Yale with a BA in 1950

These past 32 years he served,  in accumulation, at last tally on 21 not-for-profit boards, and seven business, university or civic boards.

Mr. Knight’s obituary and details about an Oct. 27 memorial service are here.


WAC Welcomes its New Fall Interns!

We are proud to announce our two interns that will be with us through the fall semester.

Hannah Voudrié is a senior at McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois. She is majoring in International Relations and has a minor in Religious Studies. Alongside interning with the World Affairs Council, Hannah participates in Model United Nations at McKendree and is in several honor societies. In Model United Nations she acts as the General Assembly president for the high school conference and also as the Security Council delegate during college conferences in Chicago and St. Louis. Her passion for international relations began during Model UN in high school and grew while attending the National Youth Leadership Conference for National Security in 2015. Hannah will be continuing her education in the fall at Webster University to receive her masters in International Relations.

Angel Moss is a senior at Lindenwood University. She is studying Business Administration with a double emphasis in Human Resource Management and Marketing.  After she receives her bachelor’s degree, she plans to continue her education and pursue a master’s degree in Business Leadership. Currently, she lives in St. Charles County, where she was born and raised. In her free time, She enjoys riding bicycles on the Katy Trail with her son. She also loves to travel. She has traveled within the U.S., Germany, and the Czech Republic. If given the opportunity, she would love to return to Germany so that her son could learn and experience the culture of her family. She is excited and grateful for the opportunity to intern here at the World Affairs Council of St. Louis and looks forward to learning more about global culture and international matters as they relate to the St. Louis area.

Please contact if you want to be a part of the World Affairs Council of St. Louis internship program!

Fischer lauded, named Emeritus Director

Robert A. Fischer, director emeritus of the World Affairs Council of St. Louis, displays a proclamation from St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, recognizing him for 16 years of service to the St. Louis community and declaring March 2, 2018 as “Robert A. Fischer Day”. At left are WAC-STL President Pierce Powers, Jr. and at right is Deepak Kant Vyas, past WAC-STL president.

At the association’s 27th Annual World Affairs Council of St. Louis observance of the Chinese New Year, retiring Executive Director Robert A. Fischer was recognized for 16 years of service by the World Affairs Council of St. Louis. Honors included appointment as Emeritus Director by the WAC-STL board and recognition of March 2 as Robert A. Fischer Day in St. Louis by Mayor Lyda Krewson.

The mayor’s proclamation reads in part “Mr. Fischer has served his hometown well and has done much to connect St. Louis to the world his entire career.”

In naming Fischer Emeritus Director, the WAC-STL Board recognized Fischer for nurturing “a relationship with the State Department’s Global Ties program, and hosted many guests from distant lands as part of the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). This hospitality projected Saint Louis as one of kindness and willingness to promote economic and social development for other nations.” Other initiatives spearheaded during Fischer’s term included:

  • the WorldQuest program, which includes high school students to learn more about the world outside their borders and advanced lives of academic excellence and personal achievement.
  • the International Humanitarian of the Year award, which enabled Saint Louis to recognize organizations and individuals for their acts of kindness, compassion, and charity in times of disaster and difficulty.
  • the Great Decisions program to promote learning and discussion on international affairs for students, adults, and senior citizens in the Saint Louis region

Fischer became executive director of the World Affairs Council of St. Louis on January 2, 2002. From 1995 through 2001, he served as Vice President, International with Policy Management Systems Corporation (PMSC) located in Columbia, South Carolina; a publicly traded company that was the largest supplier of insurance industry software in the world.

Fischer began his business career in 1961 as a salesperson for IBM. After several highly successful years, he worked in national marketing and held several sales management positions. In 1973, Fischer became IBM’s Industry Director responsible for IBM’s global business within the insurance industry; a position he held until 1979. In addition to IBM, and PMSC, he held executive management positions with Dun & Bradstreet, McDonnell Douglas, Prime Computer, and Structural Dynamics Research Corporation. From 1982 through 1986, Fischer was the Group Executive of McDonnell Douglas Information Systems Group (MDISG); a business with annual revenues in excess of US $1 billion and that employed about 10,000 people.

Fischer is a native of St. Louis and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis with a B.S. in Business Administration. He also served two years on active duty as a Captain in the United States Army. He is married and has five children and six grandchildren.