World Affairs Council of Philadelphia Celebrates 75 Years of Connecting Philly to the World

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Lauren Swartz holds citation from the City of Philadelphia, while Pierre-Olivier Lugez speaks at the podium.
Image via Jensen Toussaint.
In celebration of its 75th anniversary this year, the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia received a citiation from the City of Philadelphia. President & CEO Lauren Swartz holds the citation while Pierre-Olivier Lugez of the Philadelphia Commerce Department speaks.

This year, the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia is celebrating its 75th anniversary of opening doors between Philadelphia and the rest of the world.

It stands as the largest and longest-running international experience provider in the region, and provides speaker programs, youth education, travel, and professional exchanges. 

To celebrate its latest milestone anniversary, the organization debuted its new Center City office, and unveiled a new logo and design to officially usher in a new era.

“We’re here in Center City, adjacent to all of the history, the birthplace of modern democracy, helping so many immigrants and diverse communities,” said Lauren Swartz, President and CEO of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, during its anniversary press conference. “That’s part of the fabric of who we are and what drives us to continue our mission to connect Philadelphia to the world.” 

Councilmember Michael Driscoll can speak to the impact the organization can have on others, crediting it for helping shape his career. 

While a student at Cardinal Dougherty High School, he was recruited to the World Affairs Council by his history teacher. 

“And I really think that inspired me to go into public life.” said Driscoll.

After beginning his career as an English teacher, Driscoll became drawn to government and public service and was eventually appointed to the Department of General Services by Governor Bob Casey.

The experience helped him learn about the executive branch, and fast forward to today, Driscoll is the councilman for Philadelphia’s 6th district – one of the most diverse in the city.

The World Affairs Council partners with numerous organizations to move Philadelphia’s international agendas and opportunities forward, including the Philadelphia Department of Commerce.

Pierre-Olivier Lugez, senior director of international business & global strategy at the commerce department, was present at the press conference to issue a citation on behalf of Mayor Cherelle Parker and the City of Philadelphia.

“Philadelphia strives to have a significant impact on the global business sector on the city’s economic development. Organizations and other entities that support our global business sector have a direct and positive effect on our city’s success, and we’re tremendously grateful for their efforts. The World Affairs Council is one such organization contributing to our city’s economic health and fostering global understanding,” the citation read in part.

Another key component of the World Affairs Council is invest in youth and give young students the chance to experience the world.

Fittingly, students from Bodine High School for International Affairs and Parkway Center City Middle College were also in attendance to share in the impact of the 75-year-old organization. 

“Young people need to know what their world looks like outside of their four block radius and what this organization does is it really helps our young people and other citizens understand that everything that we do as a society impacts us globally,” said Councilmember Anthony Phillips

“So when we do something incredible in the city of Philadelphia, it has an impact not only nationally but it impacts the rest of the world because the rest of the world is watching,” he continued. 

The focus on youth was another point highlighted by Associate Superintendent of High Schools at the School District of Philadelphia, Tomás Hanna

In celebration of its 75th year of inception, the World Affairs Council will be hosting a series of events throughout the year to highlight its global reach.

To learn more about the World Affairs Council and its rich, 75-year history, visit its website

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