In 2020, the International Relations Council marked 65 years of growing a global perspective in the Kansas City community. While our programming and members have changed over the years, critical conversations around international affairs and global issues remain central to our mission and as important now as ever. Read on to learn more about our founder and past programs.

Eliot Berkley, IRC Founder and Champion

The 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.

A Prism of Perspectives

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 joining us in Kansas City or online in the coming weeks and view our complete list of past speakers for a fuller sense of where the IRC has been.

Past IRC Speakers
Award Recipients

IRC Past Presidents

A remarkable, committed line of board presidents has contributed enormously to the longevity and vibrancy of the International Relations Council through the years. We value the continued involvement of many long past their term of service.

2020 · Jeffrey Bell
2019 · Jeffrey Bell
2018 · Lyn Lakin
2017 · Lyn Lakin
2016 · Bob Rebori
2015 · Brad Kleindl
2014 · Mithra Amaran
2013 · Chad Bettes
2012 · Joy Stevenson
2011 · John Watson
2010 · Erik Bergrud
2009 · Gary Armstrong
2008 · Paul Savastano
2007 · Dianne Hofner Saphiere
2006 · Joseph Melookaran
2005 · Keith Alm
2004 · Keith Alm
2003 · William Eckhardt
2002 · William Eckhardt
2001 · Carolyn Kadel
2000 · Roger Hiatt
1999 · Roger Hiatt
1998 · Kathie Allison
1997 · Janet Kannard
1996 · Janet Kannard
1995 · Janet Kannard
1994 · Mel Adam
1993 · Mel Adam
1992 · Rick Poccia
1991 · Rick Poccia
1990 · Rick Poccia
1989 · Robert Cushman
1988 · Robert Cushman

1987 · Robert Cushman
1986 · Robert Cushman
1985 · James Lanoue
1984 · James Lanoue
1983 · David Knuti
1982 · David Knuti
1981 · Ross Lillard
1980 · Ross Lillard
1979 · Mike Wood
1978 · Mike Wood
1977 · Mike Wood
1976 · Virginia Calkins
1975 · William Linscott
1974 · William Linscott
1973 · James E. Kelly
1972 · James E. Kelly
1971 · James E. Kelly
1970 · David Hawley
1969 · Anthony Nugent, Jr.
1968 · Anthony Nugent, Jr.
1967 · Moulton Green, Jr.
1966 · Moulton Green, Jr.
1965
1964 · Richard Ong, Walter La Brunerie
1963 · Robert Steinbach, Richard Ong
1962 · Robert Steinbach
1961
1960 · Charles A. Dailey
1959 · Eugene T. Detmer
1958 · Eugene T. Detmer
1957
1956
1955 · James D. McBride