Guided by Our Mission through a Century of Global Change



The Cleveland Council on World Affairs (CCWA) has been promoting international engagement in the greater Cleveland area for over 100 years. CCWA was founded in 1923 to foster greater understanding of world affairs amongst citizens of Cleveland, with the notion that better international understanding would help promote world peace.

World peace remains at the heart of our aspirations. Today, we deliver a range of programs that offer international affairs education and build global awareness in the three program areas reflected in our mission: global education and student programs; speaker programs; and international exchanges.

Our Impact


To some, CCWA means a community of internationally aware and engaged citizens. To others it is a way to empower students, a resource to international information, or a partner in international initiatives. Over 3,500 people engage with CCWA each year through our international visitor programs, speaker forums, professional development initiatives, and education programs.

CCWA is affiliated with two national network organizations, Global Ties U.S. and World Affairs Councils of America, that help amplify the work that we do locally in the Cleveland area.




For more about the Council's work – including statistics about our local and international impact – visit our Annual Reports section.

CCWA Public Positions Policy

The mission of the Cleveland Council on World Affairs (CCWA) is to inspire engagement in international affairs and world cultures through education, citizen diplomacy, and public dialogue. In fulfilling its mission, CCWA – as an independent, non-political organization – serves as an educational resource and convener for the Greater Cleveland community to advance discussions on matters related to international issues, global dynamics, and U.S. foreign policy. It is the policy of CCWA to not take positions or issue statements, individually or with other civic organizations, on international or domestic matters.

CCWA Centennial

2023 marked the hundredth year of the Cleveland Council on World Affairs. Throughout the year, we celebrated a century of service to the local and international community.

Watch the video highlighting our year of celebration and learn more about two of the marquee events below:

Play Video

Cleveland and the World


To celebrate and demonstrate gratitude to the community that has supported it for the past 100 years, CCWA convened a special civic forum. Leaders in areas including arts, business, the environment, culture and more led conversations to gauge views the value and potential for international engagement for greater Cleveland.

Centennial Celebration


This celebration of CCWA’s centennial, mission, and program impact in the community took place at the Cleveland Museum of Art in October 2023. The evening's program included special guests and speakers, plus the presentation of the Centennial Global Impact Award and the Dr. Wael Khoury Award for Emerging Leaders.

Our History


Our founding stems from an organization created in 1923 by a group of women interested in promoting international peace which later merged with a men’s international study group.

Together they took on a broader role in keeping citizens of Greater Cleveland informed about major international relations under the strong board leadership of Newton D. Baker, former mayor of the City of Cleveland and Secretary of War under Woodrow Wilson. During the inspired leadership of Brooks Emeny, beginning in the mid 1930’s, the Council greatly expanded its public programs and speaker forums and provided education classes in collaboration with Cleveland College.


Many of our programs were established in the period of strong U.S. international involvement that immediately followed World War II. The Council held its first Model United Nations conference for high school students in 1945; we continue to organize Model UN conferences today. In 1948, when Congress first authorized a State Department program designed to build ties with emerging leaders from countries around the world, CCWA began programming visits to Cleveland for international visitors. Today, we welcome about 400 visitors a year.

For more detail on the decades of the Council's history, explore the timeline below, which will be updated throughout the year as part of our centennial celebration.


A Century of the Council


The Council's Beginnings

The Council's Beginnings


On the first anniversary of Armistice Day, Mrs. L.J. Wolf begins a discussion group in Cleveland to provide leaders and speakers to further the cause of international peace. In May of 1923, several similar groups merge with the Discussion Group to form the Women's Council for the Promotion of Peace. In 1927, the Council associates with the Education Extension Council, ending the 'women only' tradition –shortly thereafter, Newton D. Baker, former Cleveland Mayor and Secretary of War in Woodrow Wilson's cabinet, becomes president of the Council.


A Growing Community

A Growing Community


The Councl becomes a part of the newly-founded Cleveland College, and adopts the name Foreign Affairs Council. In 1935, Dr. Brooks Emeny moves to Cleveland to take on the directorship of the Foreign Affairs Council – at the time an unpaid position. In 1938. Dr. Emeny forms the Cleveland Committee on Foreign Relations, a by-invitation-only group of prominent Cleveland businessmen and civic leaders. Founders include many Cleveland notables, such as Eliot Ness.

The next chapters are coming soon – check back to track the Council's century!

Centennial Publication



Contribute to Global Connections


For a century, the CCWA has brought diverse perspectives on issues of international import to Cleveland. Much of our programming is made possible by the the support of our members and the generosity of our donors. Will you help us continue to create global connections?