2017 Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative

The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) builds linkages between younger leaders across the hemisphere. YLAI will help address the opportunity gap for youth, especially women, by empowering entrepreneurs and civil society leaders with the training, tools, networks and resources they need to transform their societies and contribute more fully to economic development and prosperity, security, human rights and good governance in the hemisphere.

YLAI Professional Fellows Program

YLAI aims to empower Latin American and Caribbean business and social entrepreneurs to transform their societies and contribute more fully to economic development and prosperity, security, human rights and good governance in the hemisphere. Twenty-four Latin American and Caribbean entrepreneurs participated in a successful pilot YLAI fellowship program in spring 2016, creating the beginning of a vibrant network of entrepreneurs in the Western Hemisphere. Following the success of this YLAI pilot, an additional 250 YLAI fellowships were awarded to rising young business and social entrepreneurs in fall 2016. They traveled to the U.S. in October 2016 for a six-week exchange, which included an orientation in Dallas, Texas, placements with Fellowship Hosts at businesses and organizations in 21 city hubs across the United States, and a culminating YLAI Summit from November 9-11 in Washington, DC.

YLAI hopes to generate $1 billion for emerging business and social entrepreneurs by the end of 2017 by helping Fellows attract new investments and in-kind resources for their businesses or organizations each year.

YLAI Network

The YLAI Network is a vibrant community of young entrepreneurs and changemakers from Latin America and the Caribbean who are committed fostering economic development and prosperity, security, human rights and good governance in the hemisphere. The YLAI Network is a signature part of the U.S. government’s efforts to increase partnerships with future leaders to help promote economic growth and strengthen civil society.

Join the network and gain access to digital resources, training and networking opportunities, and the chance to connect with senior leaders in business and government as well as other young leaders working to create change in their communities.

Learn more about the YLAI Professional Fellows Program and YLAI Network.


The Un-Natural World: The Race to Remake Civilization


Free, Members
$10, Students
$20, Public

+$30 for included dinner

About this Event:

We now live in a world in which every year is the hottest year on record, in which Ocean levels are rising, species are dying, and pollution is growing. With the regularity of grim forecasts about the future of the planet it is easy to despair about impact of human progress. Imagine, however, drones that can count trees, a stove fueled by human and animal waste, extinct animals brought back to life, and rocks that can absorb greenhouse gas. If human beings are capable of destroying the environment, then we should also be capable of saving it.

Join us as David Biello examines the more hopeful side of human technological advancement. From Elon Musk and electric cars to the sewers of London, Biello will give an overview of the history of artificial environmental change. More importantanly though, he will look at the scientists, leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs today who are trying to engineer an environment better for both the world and the people who inhabit it.

5:30 Reception
6:00 Program
7:30 Dinner

David Biello is the current Science Curator for TED and an award-winning journalist who writes on issues of energy and the environment. In the past he was the Environment and Energy Editor at Scientific American, and is the host of PBS documentary shows Beyond the Light Switch and The Ethanol Effect.

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The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House


Free, Members
$10, Students
$20, Public

+$30 for included dinner

About this Event:

Zalmay Khalilzad is one of the most experienced and respected American diplomats today, having helped guide American policy in the Middle East through the most turbulent years of the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations. Raised in Kabul, Afghanistan, he spent time as a teenager in California as an exchange student and later received his PhD from the University of Chicago. In 2001 he was made Special Envoy to Afghanistan by George W. Bush and was later appointed as Ambassador to Afghanistan, Ambassador to Iraq, and Permanent US Representative to the UN, becoming the highest ranking Muslim American in the Bush Administration.

He still maintains close ties with high-level leadership throughout the Middle East and Central Asia, and is regularly called upon to provide strategic advice to numerous heads of state. He appears frequently on US and foreign media outlets to share his foreign policy expertise.

Join us as Former Ambassador Khalilzad discusses his childhood in Kabul, his experiences moving to the United States, his extensive foreign policy experience and role in post 9-11 Middle East policy, and his insights into the state of Middle East politics today.


5:30 Reception
6:00 Program
7:30 Dinner

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2017 Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program – Youth Activism in Civil Society

The U.S. Department of State, World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana, and World Learning once again present the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program!

Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program: Louisville, Kentucky

Exchange Dates: August 3 – September 3, 2017

Host Community Dates: August 13 – 27, 2017

Participant Numbers: 12 – 13 Iraqi students / 1-2 Iraqi Adult Mentor(s)


The goals of the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program are to:

  • promote mutual understanding, respect, and collaboration between the people of the United States and Iraq;
  • develop a cadre of young adults in Iraq who have a strong sense of civic responsibility, a commitment to community development, awareness of current and global issues, and strong interpersonal leadership skills;
  • foster relationships among youth from different ethnic, religious, and national groups in Iraq;
  • include significant interaction with American peers and/or families; and
  • prepare youth leaders to become responsible citizens and contributing members of their communities.

In addition to the primary goals mentioned above, each program will also have one of following three sub themes:

  • Peacebuilding, Dialogue, and Reconciliation
    • Topics may include: political reconciliation, dialogue among diverse groups, interfaith dialogue, innovative peacebuilding methods, bipartisanship, pluralism, conflict transformation, conflicts within school settings, teen courts.
  • Youth Activism and Countering Violent Extremism
    • Topics may include: youth mentorship, gangs and drugs, youth councils, community centers and interventions, education initiatives, youth employment, sports, LGBTQ support centers, race and identity.

The programs has a three segment structure. During the first segment in Vermont, students will focus on large program themes and concepts, teambuilding, leadership skills, cross cultural communication, and program educational expectations.

The second segment, for which Host Communities will be responsible, will provide opportunities for students to practice their leadership and cross cultural communication skills, and experience program themes. This should be achieved through site-visits, practical hands-on training and skills building sessions, home stay placements, volunteer opportunities, and cultural activities.

During this period, the participant objectives are as follows:

  1. Participants will develop and model leadership, problem solving, public speaking, organizing, and critical thinking skills through hands-on experience
  2. Participants will strengthen understandings of civic engagement, the subtheme, and the role of various actors in society (local government, NGO’s, businesses, citizens)
  3. Participants will further expand their tolerance and empathy for diverse cultures and perspectives, strengthen their cross-cultural skills, and extend their comfort zone
  4. Participants will develop strong relationships with host families, youth in the host communities, and within the cohort
  5. Participants will be exposed to “real life” in the U.S. and further break down stereotypes

The final segment of each exchange takes place in Washington, DC and will focus on synthesizing the initial program segments and developing community project plans that the students will implement when they return home.

Please contact the World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana if you would like to volunteer as a host family for one of these amazing young students!

The Rise of Fake News


Free, Members
$10, Students
$20, Public

+$30 for included dinner

About this Event:

Public distrust of the media is at the highest it has ever been, and the recent election has brought the term “Fake News” to the forefront of the American political consciousness. It seems as though every news source from every part of the political spectrum has at some point in the last year and a half been accused of advancing an agenda or publishing fake news. How did this climate of distrust and disinformation emerge? What are the standards which make a news organization credible? Can news be unbiased? What is the difference between between bias and credibility? What comprises journalistic ethics and does that ultimately blur or clarify the line between the two?

Join us as Colleen Nelson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, tackles these questions and others as she explores the drastically changing landscape of American news.

5:30 Reception
6:00 Program
7:30 Dinner

Colleen Nelson is the Editorial Editor for the Kansas City Star. From 2012–2016 she was the White House Correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and with them covered both the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections. In 2010 she and two others at the The Dallas Morning News won the Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Writing for their work exploring and exposing economic disparity in Dallas.

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WACA-American Academy of Diplomacy 2017 America’s Diplomats Film Screening and Discussion

2017 America’s Diplomats Film Screening and Discussion – Presented by the World Affairs Councils of America and the American Academy of Diplomacy, and featuring Ambassador Margaret Scobey.

The objective of this program is to examine and analyze what the American public wants to know about foreign policy, what they expect from foreign policy, and what makes people comfortable or uncomfortable with the conduct of American foreign policy. The program features a screening of the PBS film America’s Diplomats, followed by a discussion of the role of U.S. diplomacy with Ambassador Margaret Scobey.

The Academy will provide a copy of the film for screening and also will make available a former ambassador to speak on the importance of contemporary American diplomacy. The event will include a Q&A session with Council audiences. The program also consists of ancillary community outreach activities, including media interviews and a separate roundtable discussion (60 to 90 minutes in length) with a small, diverse group. During these roundtables, Ambassador Scobey would like to hear from local Council membership in order to better understand the foreign policy views and concerns of communities across the WACA network.

IVLP: Multi-Regional Project – Change Makers: Women in Social and Political Sectors

The World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana is pleased to welcome an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP)  Multi-Regional Project to Louisville under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State!

The program, titled, “Change Makers: Women in Social and Political Sectors,” will take place from June 11th through 15th, 2017. WAC has partnered with Global Ties U.S. and the Institute of International Education to bring the delegation to Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

The Department of State has outlined the following specific objectives for the project:

  • Examine the U.S. political system and the participation of women leaders at the local, state, and national levels;
  • Explore programs and initiatives that encourage young women to get involved in civic activities including politics, run for office, and run effective campaigns;
  • Introduce the role that women’s organizations take in shaping political dialogue and gain an understanding of effective interaction and support among women across various sectors;
  • Highlight legislation and programs that promote equal pay and fair treatment for women in the workplace and promote the value of women’s contributions in the home and as caregivers for the young and the elderly; and
  • Introduce initiatives and legislation that address women’s needs in the social arena including health care and education.

FIVE WARS: A Soldier’s Journey to Peace


Join the World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana on Thursday, May 25th at the Tim Faulkner Gallery in Louisville, Kentucky for a Memorial Day special edition of the ‘World @ Home’ Monthly Speaker Series. This May, we’ll be welcoming COL Fred Johnson, USA (Ret.).

Event Description:

This free WAC exclusive book pre-release and lecture will discuss Fred Johnson’s book, “FIVE WARS: A Soldier’s Journey to Peace” and will be followed by a book-signing.

Media Sponsor: 89.3 WFPL NEWS

Discussion Moderated By: WAC Vice Chair and Retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Rob Givens

Event Agenda:

5:30 P.M. | Event Registration and Networking Reception
6:00 P.M. | Program Commences
7:00 P.M. | Conclusion of Program and Book Signing


General Public (Non-WAC Members and WAC Free Network Members) | Presentation  = FREE
World Affairs Council Paid Members* | Presentation = FREE

*[Members include: Student Backpackers ($25 level), World Travelers ($100 level), & Global Leaders ($250 level)]


To register for this event:

WAC has recently transferred to a new online ticketing service! You will now be able to register for events and/or purchase tickets online all in the same place with a lower transaction fee. With this change, all WAC paying members (Student Backpacker, World Traveler, and Global Leader members), free network members and non-members will register and/or purchase tickets through the same webpage. Complimentary tickets for paying members can be claimed on the same page. If you have any questions or concerns about this new process, please feel free to contact our office at 502-561-5422 or at contact@worldkentucky.org. Thank you!


WAC Paying Members, Free Network Members and Non-members alike — please click below to register for the event:





Meet our Featured Guest:

Fred Johnson is a retired Infantry Colonel who served 29 years in the United States Army.

Since retiring from the Army, Fred has continued his service, now in the Louisville, Kentucky, as the Development Officer for Kentucky Educational Television. Prior to his role at KET, Johnson was the director of workplace giving at Louisville’s Fund for the Arts, served as chief operations officer for Let’s Grow! Kentucky and was also the director of recruiting operations at the U.S. Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Before launching his career in fund development, Johnson – who holds a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pa. – enjoyed a 29-year career in the U.S. Army, during which time he was promoted to colonel and recognized with two Legions of Merit, a Bronze Star with valor device and three Bronze Stars for service.

He first went to war in 1991 during Desert Storm and participated in the liberation of Kuwait. In 1996, he participated in Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia, which helped end Serbian genocide of Bosnian Muslims. In 2006-2007, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and at the height of the Surge, Fred received the Bronze Star for Valor during Operation Arrowhead Ripper and the liberation of Baqubah from Al Qaeda. In his last combat deployment, Fred was the advisor to the most senior military officer in the Afghan National Army, the Afghan Army Chief of Staff, as part of a NATO training mission. Prior to that, he commanded the Accessions Support Brigade at Fort Knox and commanded the Brigade Troops Battalion and served as the Deputy Commander for 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Mosul, Baghdad, and Baqubah, Iraq. Johnson also served in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm and in Bosnia during Operation Joint Endeavor.

Johnson is an active supporter of the arts in Louisville and is the co-founder and development manager of Shakespeare with Veterans, a Kentucky Shakespeare program dedicated to helping veterans deal with the challenges transitioning from military service and overcoming combat trauma and PTSD.

Fred is from Centralia, Illinois, received his undergraduate degree in government and sociology from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina and holds two Master’s Degrees in military arts and science from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He is married to Dr. Laura Johnson and his daughter Madelyn attends DePaul University in Chicago. He recently completed and published his memoir, titled “Five Wars: A Soldier’s Journey to Peace,” which is scheduled for release on Memorial Day 2017.

2017 U.S.-Mexico Police Professionalization Exchange Program

The World Affairs Council of Kentucky and Southern Indiana is proud to announce we’ve partnered with Global Ties U.S. and the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) to bring a cohort of Mexican Police to Kentucky in 2017, 2018 and 2019 for a Police Professionalization Exchange Program!

For this year’s program, the Mexican cohort of Police will be in Kentucky from May 13-17th, 2017, and will conduct a program on “Best Practices in Internal Affairs,” meeting with local, state and federal officials and organizations.


Specific topics to be addressed include:

  • Internal Investigative Processes
  • Relations between Internal Affairs Departments and Prosecutors
  • Role of Civilian Review Boards and Public Oversight
  • Public Communication and Media Relations
  • Professional Ethics


World Affairs Council Pre-Derby Luncheon with Cuba’s Ambassador to the United States

This Event is Now Sold-Out

To be placed on the waiting list for this event, please contact mckenzie.nalley@gmail.com.


$50 Public
$30 Paying Members

About this Event:

Join Ambassador José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez for a luncheon and an exclusive look at the current state of U.S.-Cuba relations, and the cultural, educational, and economic opportunities in Cuba. The Ambassador will be accompanied by Mr. Miguel Alvin Vélez Mederos, the First Secretary of the Economic and Trade Office at the Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C.

Ambassador José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez is the first Cuban Ambassador in over half a century of stalled US-Cuba relations. Hehas been the Chief of Mission of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C. since November 2012. He received a PhD in Political Sciences from the Havana University (2009). Currently, he is a Senior Professor at the “Raúl Roa García” Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana. During his 30-year career, he has participated in numerous international events and has been a member of high-level Cuban government delegations. Several of his articles on International Relations have appeared in publications in Cuba and abroad.

Miguel Alvin Vélez Mederos currently serves as First Secretary of the Economic and Trade Office of the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC. His previous experience includes serving as a foreign affairs officer in charge of the economics issues at the US Affairs General Division of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Vélez previously served as Second Secretary of the Embassy of Cuba in Venezuela.  Mr. Vélez graduated from the “Raúl Roa García” Higher Institute for International Relations and has a Masters Degree on International Relations.

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