Inspiring words, tying the quote above to programming and outreach activities this month

ICFRC's two programs this month explore connections far away and close to home. In the first, we are fortunate again to host our annual panel of Mandela Washington Fellows with facilitation by ICFRC board member and UI Tippie College of Business Professor Dimy Doresca. I had the good fortune in late June to attend the opening reception for this year's cohort, and I can tell you firsthand that the 25 fellows are inspiring and they are excited to be in Iowa. It will be a real treat to hear from the selected panel about their work in their home countries and how their six weeks in Iowa will help shape their work and the futures of people in their communities.

In the second program--one day later--ICFRC will co-sponsor a film screening with the Muscatine, Iowa-based Stanley Center at FilmScene as part of the national grand opening of Oppenheimer, directed by Christopher Nolan. To preview the film, two Stanley Center experts will offer brief remarks on the history of nuclear weapons as well as their place in the cinematic imagination since these weapons were first used during the Second World War. The introduction and the film are timely; North Korea and Iran are advancing agendas to develop nuclear capabilities, tensions between nuclear powers India and Pakistan are persistent, and Russia, with the world's second-largest stockpile, has threatened use of these weapons in its war with Ukraine. This film event, then, offers the opportunity for important (re)learning.

We look forward to seeing you at one or both of the events this month. Each is a chance to build community around shared values centered on international understanding and engagement. With the full cohort in attendance, I hope you will take the opportunity to strike up a conversation with some of the Mandela Washington Fellows. And, of course, I hope you will share with me and with your neighbors your thoughts about the difficult themes presented in Oppenheimer.

Thank you to all of you, our members, supporters, and partners, for helping make possible ICFRC excellent programming! As a small organization, we rely on our growing community to do this important work. And when you have them, do let us know about topics or speakers you would like us to cover. The best programs are co-created!

Peter Gerlach

Executive Director


ICFRC is proud to announce that it has been awarded a major grant of $5,000.00 for the program series “Glocal Connections Across Iowa” by Humanities Iowa.

This project will harness a growing spirit of “globalism” across Iowa by connecting diverse international speakers with local audiences to create community around pressing “glocal” issues and develop informed, thoughtful, and empathetic citizens newly inspired to create positive social change. The series will consist of six free educational programs featuring students, scholars, and artists to discuss issues that affect daily life in communities around the world.

Bringing the Student Perspective to ICFRC Programs


University students are working to help launch the GLOCAL VOICES podcast (global and local) to provide commentary and analysis about what these topics mean from the perspective of their generation and how to make an impact within the context of fellow students' daily lives. 

ICFRC is putting together a team of student volunteers to host an episode breaking down the programs and speakers for the month. 

Learn More
Learn More


The Iowa City Foreign Relations Council (ICFRC) has opportunities available each academic year for university students who are passionate about international affairs and committed to promoting international understanding and cooperation through high-quality international programs, relationship building, community outreach, and engagement. 

Candidates will join a community passionate about learning, connecting, and engaging with international issues that unite individuals and ideas through conversations with leaders and advocates worldwide.


Janet Lyness is our incoming board president, a longtime member, and supporter of ICFRC. She has a personal background on international issues from hosting foreign exchange students and involvement with the international community in Iowa City.

"Knowledge about and connections with others are the best way for our world to move forward peacefully. The ICFRC promotes both of these. Being on the Board has helped me support the organization to continuing to provide the exceptional programs as well as looking as how ICFRC can reach more people. The mission of promoting international understanding is what I am passionate about."


The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the U.S. Government’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). YALI was created in 2010 and celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2020.

Established in 2014, the Mandela Washington Fellowship has brought nearly 5,800 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa to the United States for academic and leadership training.

The Fellows, between the ages of 25 and 35, are accomplished innovators and leaders in their communities and countries.

Register Here


For Iowa, 1979 stands out as a time of exceptional global moral leadership. Republican Governor Robert D. Ray was at the forefront of efforts to rescue Vietnamese refugees and rush desperately needed food and medicine to Cambodian victims of the Khmer Rouge genocide.

Both lifesaving humanitarian efforts featured significant involvement by Iowans and Iowa institutions, making them a clear example of "citizen diplomacy."

Ambassador Kenneth Quinn was directly involved in both endeavors, which drew Iowans together across sharp political differences just four years after the conclusion of the deeply polarizing Vietnam War.

Watch Here


For more than 65 years, the Stanley Center for Peace and Security has brought together members of the global community to exchange ideas, foster innovation, and take collective action.

Today, the Stanley Center pursues impact in three main issue areas where policy progress is vital in order to realize their vision of a secure and just peace. Mass violence and atrocities fundamentally disrupt societies, creating spillover effects into neighboring countries and regions. The use of nuclear weapons—whether through accident, miscalculation, or deliberate act—could cause human harm on an unimaginable scale. Climate change, while directly threatening more people than perhaps any other global challenge, is also a threat multiplier.

Learn More


Get Your Tickets Here

Join us Thursday, July 20, at Film Scene - The Chauncey, for a special screening of Oppenheimer, with a reception presented in partnership with Stanley Center for Peace and Security and the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council. 

Reception at 6pm | Screening at 6:30pm with a special introduction from nuclear weapons experts Ben Loehrke and Luisa Kenausis.

Physicist J Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) works with a team of scientists during the Manhattan Project, leading to the development of the atomic bomb in Christopher Nolan's big screen, action epic.

Interested in Partnering with ICFRC?


Are there topics and speakers you would like to see brought to your community during ICFRC speaking events? Share your ideas with us by completing this short survey!

Complete the Survey


Our programming is made possible by support from our members, who have helped us reach communities across Iowa for nearly 40 years. Learn more about how your support is helping uplift communities and raising awareness about issues affecting our world.

Learn More
Facebook        Twitter        Instagram        LinkedIn