Meet Jim Falk, president and CEO of the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth; a non-partisan organization focused on raising the citizens' Global I.Q of national and international matters and boosting the area's trade and economic potential.
Appointed Honorary Consul of Morocco for Texas in 2013, Falk has led World Affairs Council trips overseas and hosted political dignatories like former U.S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and rock stars, like Bono right here in North Texas.
We wanted to get to know Falk a little better and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about himself, the World Affairs Council and the communities it is educating.
Dawn Tongish: Can you tell us about the World Affairs Council?
Jim Falk: The World Affairs Council is a dynamic organization that brings international awareness and cross-cultural understanding to our community. We work to enhance our region’s global stature and to prepare North Texans to thrive in a marketplace that is more global every day. We present distinguished international figures and experts year-round for in-depth interpretations of global events, and our events are open not only to our members but almost all are open to the public. Just within the next few weeks alone, we have programs that you can attend on China, fracking, Brazil, Cuba, Iran, the national debt, and drones vs. boots. We have a film festival and international standup comedian Maz Jobrani coming up, too. We handle international dignitaries and delegations, and for the last ten years we have taken our robust education program directly into 92 of the region’s school districts.
DT: What are your duties at the World Affairs Council?
JF: As president and CEO, my position includes management of our wonderful staff, program development and fund raising, which as a not for profit is a critical component of the job. I also devote considerable time meeting with international visitors and dignitaries who may be here to explore business opportunities.
DT: How did you become involved with the World Affairs Council, and why are you so passionate about the work being done at the organization?
JF: Due to my father’s work, much of my childhood was spent overseas, mostly in Tunisia where I attended French schools. Later I did graduate work in Middle Eastern studies and have always enjoyed bringing people together. Through people-to-people diplomacy, lasting friendships are established leading, I hope, to a more peaceful and tolerant world. Children today do live in a globalized society and we have a responsibility to give them every advantage and opportunity to learn about it so that they can have a better future.
DT: Why do you work in the non profit sector?
JF: I love the variety of work, the privilege of working with others on our staff and board who share a passion for the Council’s mission. We are making a positive difference on our community and encourage our members to think about critical issues. Our members share our curiosity and commitment, and that makes the job exciting and important.
DT: It can be difficult for any non profit to pay the bills. How do you stay afloat?
JF: Our membership is our foundation. Membership in the Council is relatively inexpensive, $75 for a basic membership. Among our 4,300 members, hundreds support us at higher levels for the added benefits and because they want to make a greater financial contribution. Each year, we also hold two fundraisers, a luncheon honoring our International Educator of the Year, and a dinner in the fall, which recognizes an individual who has made a major impact on DFW’s international position. In 2014, we are honoring Exxon Mobil Corporation’s Chairman & CEO Rex W. Tillerson. We also receive grants from corporations and foundations.
DT: How can the people of Dallas County and beyond help you meet your needs for 2014? What are your biggest needs?
JF: Become a member! Together we can help each other. Our population and economy are becoming increasingly international and the DFW region is on a track to become one of – if not the most – important global city in this hemisphere. The World Affairs Council provides opportunities and information across a very wide spectrum that will enhance your knowledge, understanding, and give you an edge – in your company or in your classroom. If you become an active member, the Council is strengthened while at the same time you are connecting with the world in unique ways like hosting international visitors in your home or hearing the story behind the story from a history-maker or diplomat. If you’re not a member, you are going to miss knowing about all of the great events we have going on.
DT: What is the most memorable moment in your experiences at the World Affairs Council?
JF: Personally, it was when I had the privilege of interviewing two U.S. Secretaries of State, James A. Baker, III and Condoleezza Rice in front of an audience of over 1,000. A close second was when the Council presented the singer/activist Bono at the Dallas Music Hall. His remarks on Africa still resonate to those who were there that day.
DT: What is the first thing you do when you walk into work each day?
JF: It is never the same: sometimes I reply to email, meet with staff but just as often I will be meeting with a visiting ambassador or speaker. There is no routine to this job and that is why I love it!