Who We Are

Our Mission & Vision

The International Relations Council (IRC) brings a global perspective to our community through strategic partnerships with businesses, universities, community organizations, and K-12 schools. We bring world leaders and dignitaries to the metro region, host forums for high-school students to interact with and learn from foreign-policy experts, and create opportunities for area business leaders to strengthen relationships abroad. We believe that by promoting global awareness and understanding, we support and strengthen our community.

Organizational History

Eliot Berkley with Eleanor RooseveltThe International Relations Council was founded in late December 1954 by Eliot Berkley, who served as executive director of the IRC for nearly forty years and, later, as chairman of the IRC Academy and lifetime board member of the IRC. After graduating from Harvard University in 1947, Eliot earned an M.A. (1949) and Ph.D. (1952) from Princeton University. Returning to his hometown, Eliot taught history and government at the University of Kansas City, now UMKC. He then taught social science at the Kansas City Art Institute, where he later served as vice president for development from 1960 to 1961 and dean of the college from 1961 to 1965. For many years, his wife Marcia worked side by side with Eliot, hosting dinners and meetings in their home. Eliot passed away in 2012 but is still remembered fondly by business, community, and academic leaders for his inspirational passion for global issues.

The IRC welcomed Eleanor Roosevelt as our first speaker in January 1955. Since then, a wide range of legislators, professors, journalists, diplomats, and other global-affairs experts have visited Kansas City to share their perspective and expertise. These notable guests include Henry Kissinger (1975), Jim Lehrer (1986), Robert J. Eaton (1993), Madeleine Albright (2006), Condoleezza Rice (2010), and Janet Napolitano (2014). We invite you to review our calendar of upcoming events to find which speakers will be in Kansas City in the coming weeks.

Today, as a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan educational organization, the IRC works with a range of businesses, universities, organizational partners, K-12 schools, and other interested individuals around the Kansas City metropolitan area to grow a global perspective and find international connections within our community. We warmly welcome your involvement; please check out the different sections of our website and feel free to contact Matthew Hughes for more information.

Our National Network

The IRC is one of more than 90 organizations in the U.S. affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA)WACA is the largest non-profit organization in the United States dedicated to fostering grassroots understanding of, and engagement in, international affairs.