July 1, 2020

Dear Members & Friends of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall,

The COVID-19 pandemic created chaos as schools, colleges, universities and other instructional institutions pivoted their operations to provide remote classroom instruction. This global experiment with remote teaching enters a new phase as schools begin to reopen next month for the fall term.

Our organization’s own foray into the virtual webinar space has been educational, enlightening, and, most of all, has offered new touch points with LAWACTH members and webinar followers as lifelong learners.

Webinar technology has opened the door to an immense number of thought leaders from all time zones in the world. Closer to home in Southern California, we will continue to feature local experts and community leaders on current affairs.

Recent programs featuring higher education as panelists or moderators have been favorably received. We are grateful for the participation by LAWACTH members – Cal Tech, Pepperdine University and the University of California, Los Angeles. I look forward to a soon-to-be-announced program in late August with Loyola Marymount University President Timothy Snyder.

Students have been integral to our public forum mission since 1978. Public high school students now watch our webinars and participate in the Q&A. These students reflect the diversity of Los Angeles and Southern California, and their participation in our programs — whether in-person or digital — bring fresh ideas and invaluable perspectives to our adult audience and speakers. We are continuing to explore compelling ways to engage students in this new learning environment.

For example, in March 2019, we convened a youth diplomacy forum to celebrate International Women’s Day. Attended by 275 high school students, the luncheon program featured the Consul Generals, all female, from Ecuador, Egypt and Greece, in a discussion moderated by Maryam Zar, LAWACTH member and Los Angeles City Commissioner on the Status of Women. We’re hopeful of offering programs like this one in an online format.

In our virtual office, students from local Los Angeles universities augment their studies with internships at LAWACTH. For this semester, we acknowledge the three interns – Aneri Parikh (UCLA), Ira Phatak (UCLA), and Justin Feng (LMU) – who, like our staff, pivoted to complete their projects. They describe their experiences as: I gained a stronger appreciation for global citizenship; I value this internship because I value learning; and I gained first-hand exposure to the planning behind these important discussions.

And, it is particularly gratifying when an intern who is passionate about international affairs and public diplomacy can join the LAWACTH team.  Membership Coordinator Krystsina Shabanava, UCLA Bachelor of Arts ‘19, is your go-to person for questions about new memberships, upgrading a current membership, and our high school program. She can be reached at krystsina@lawacth.org. There’s more information about LAWACTH memberships here. We are humbled by the webinar attendees who have joined as new members – thank you for your support. 

Our webinars will continue through the summer months and our doors to virtual learning and online engagement remain open! 


Kim McCleary Blue
President & CEO
Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall