2016 Annual Report

From the President & CEO

Looking Back at 2016

As the Pacific Council’s 21st year concludes, we have much to be proud of both as an organization and as a community of individuals who are passionate about global affairs.

We also know there is much that remains to be done.

This year, we witnessed the tragedy in Syria get worse at the expense of its most vulnerable citizens; global terror shook the western world with attacks in France, Belgium, and elsewhere; and Colombia finalized a landmark (but contentious) peace deal. World leaders faced a deepening migrant crisis, the global threat of a Zika pandemic, and new political trends that had previously seemed unimaginable. We saw decades-old tensions diminish as President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba in over 85 years. And we watched as a divisive American presidential race and the Brexit vote in the U.K. projected an unpredictable future onto the global stage.

Meanwhile, the Pacific Council continued to evolve as an organization. In 2016, we elected our first-ever member class with a majority of women, and we hosted our first Members Weekend conference without a single all-male panel. Throughout the year, we welcomed prominent leaders with diverse policy orientations to provide insights into our changing world, and sent delegations of members on fact-finding visits across the country and around the world.

We improved our digital sophistication and reach, expanding our web platform to provide up-to-date news and ideas from the Council, livestream video of some of our most important events, and connect members around the world. Members Weekend brought with it a new mobile app with real-time participant polling, agenda-setting, feedback, and messaging abilities.

Throughout the year, our members continued to put their expertise into action: the Guantánamo Bay Task Force released a report of its recommendations in February; members in Seattle, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Los Angeles helped develop our new water scarcity project over six months with support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; and in December, experts weighed in on the new administration’s foreign policy agenda in the First 100 Days series.

As we look ahead, we see a Pacific Council poised for greater impact and growth. In 2017, we will advance our water scarcity project and our Mexico Initiative. We will host a special “State of the Global City” address with Mayor Eric Garcetti, supported by the RM Liu Foundation, and a half-day “SeouLA” conference in partnership with the Korea Foundation. Members will lead international delegations to Doha, Abu Dhabi, Brussels, The Hague, and Mexico City. Indeed, 2017 promises to be a momentous year as we track the first year of President Donald J. Trump’s administration and the resulting changes to U.S. foreign policy.

We look forward to working with you for years to come. As ever, we are humbled and grateful for your support.

Warm regards,

Dr. Jerrold D. GreenPresident & CEO

What is the Pacific Council?

The Pacific Council is an international affairs organization.

We are more than a think tank: we work to make the U.S. West Coast a foreign policy powerhouse.

We are independent. We are non-partisan.

Members are at the heart of what we do. We bring together leaders from different industries and sectors to share ideas, keep up on foreign affairs, and effect change on issues that are important at home and abroad. Our community is built on a shared commitment to international affairs, dialogue, and collaboration.

Our Values

The Pacific Council is a non-profit committed to furthering constructive, sophisticated discourse on complex global issues. We believe that dialogue leads to innovation, while inflammatory, polemical, or hyper-partisan perspectives hinder efforts to find common ground.

We believe in the transformative power of a community of leaders whose experiences are wide and varied, but who are bound together by a shared commitment to improved global outcomes. No one at the Pacific Council is a spectator. Together, we develop the ideas that inform and drive global progress.

Building a Member Community

The Pacific Council is first and foremost an organization of people: members are at the heart of what we do.

Our membership spans business, civic, and political leaders, policy and issue experts, and qualified individuals with demonstrated interest in and commitment to international affairs. We are a community of thoughtful, concerned global citizens whose experience informs smart policy and discourse.

“Smart” Growth

The Pacific Council’s growth is gradual and deliberate: every Pacific Council member is nominated by another member and elected by the board of directors.

Our Smart Growth plan ensures that as the Pacific Council community grows, we balance the perspectives, backgrounds, and identities represented within that community, meet our financial imperatives, and recruit experts and practitioners that can help us make an impact on international affairs.

In 2016, the board elected 236 new members, increasing our ranks to nearly 1,100 leaders based in Southern California, the Bay Area, the Pacific Northwest, and around the world.

For the first time in our 21-year history, we elected two membership classes (out of four) with more women than men.

Our sustaining member community also grew in 2016 – by 10 percent. Sustaining member support year over year ensures the Pacific Council’s strong future, and we are humbled by their commitment and vision.

How Are We Doing?

We are proud that members are happy with the services the Pacific Council provides. Around 90 percent of members renewed their membership in 2016. In response to an April 2016 survey, 88 percent of members said that they were likely to recommend the Pacific Council to friends or colleagues.

Balance Initiative

Launched in 2016, our Balance Initiative seeks to recruit more women to the Pacific Council and feature their expertise as members and as speakers.

We know that women are underrepresented in foreign policy and national security positions in government, academia, and think tanks. Our own membership consisted of only 22 percent women in 2008, and with significant effort since then, today women represent 35 percent of all members. With that number we already outpace peer organizations, but we aim to do much better: we seek to set the gold standard on representation of women leaders in our male-dominated field.

In 2016, we pledged in an open letter to all members to never again feature a panel of all men at a Pacific Council conference.

There are other, less-heard voices that have just as much authority and expertise. Members Weekend 2016 was a milestone in that effort as our very first conference without a single all-male panel.

Paying It Forward

Our inclusivity efforts are not cosmetic: diversity in thought, experience, and worldview strengthens the Pacific Council as a membership community and as a foreign affairs thought leader on the West Coast. With every new perspective, our community grows stronger.

In that spirit we launched the Pay It Forward campaign at the end of 2016. Contributions to the new campaign support organization efforts to bring a rich diversity of perspectives into our global affairs work.

By the end of the year, individual donations totaled over $115,000, including a generous $50,000 matching gift from an anonymous donor. Nearly 100 members participated, voting with their wallets to make inclusivity a key component of our international affairs work.

The funds raised will help the Pacific Council offset the cost of participation for young people and not-for-profit professionals, bring in more women as speakers and members, and invest time and resources into actively recruiting from other underrepresented groups in the coming year.

Leading the Global Affairs Conversation on the West Coast

Every year, the Pacific Council holds a series of events and meetings for members to stay up-to-date on issues of global importance. Our delegations travel to domestic sites that are of global interest, and to international destinations with special relevance to U.S. policy. The discussions feature global leaders, thinkers, and policymakers who offer insider perspectives or innovative outsider opinions.

We also: host regular Situation Briefing teleconferences on breaking developments in international affairs; work together with members to develop and share op-eds and analysis on our web Newsroom; and maintain a strong presence on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. We keep the conversation flowing.

Members Weekend 2016

The Pacific Council connects a network of people from different industries and sectors to share ideas, keep up on foreign affairs, and effect change on issues that are important at home and abroad.

Members Weekend is a centerpiece of that effort. Our 2016 conference convened 265 of the best and brightest in business, government, academia, and beyond.

The event in October came during the last month of a heated U.S. presidential campaign season. Yet despite the challenging and divisive rhetoric that dominated the airwaves, members and guests of the Pacific Council bridged industries, ideologies, and party lines to engage in lively, thoughtful discussions and intelligent debates over the course of two days.

Marquee speakers at Members Weekend 2016 included U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who argued forcefully for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and trade agreements like it, and U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson together with her counterpart, Mexican Ambassador to the United States Carlos Sada, discussing what effect the “build the wall” rhetoric will have on U.S.-Mexico relations.

Other discussions during the weekend included the refugee crisis, the fight against ISIL on social media, the race for a Zika vaccine, California’s drought and its connection to global water scarcity, the changing trade and investment climate in African nations, and more. Experts from the U.S. Department of State, the Council on Foreign Relations, RAND Corporation, the Los Angeles Times, and many other institutions participated in plenary and breakout sessions.

Members Weekend is supported each year by corporate, foundation, and individual sponsors who are passionate about global affairs. We are grateful to Goldman Sachs Gives, Cedars-Sinai, Dr. Nina Ansary, ManattJones Global Strategies, Bryan Cave, Sunrider International, and the USC Center on Public Diplomacy for their generous support of Members Weekend 2016.

Members Leading the Discussion

At the Pacific Council, members are the experts. Throughout the year, members helped to shape public discourse by sharing thoughtful perspectives on current international events, issues, and trends in the Pacific Council Newsroom. We published analysis of the refugee crisis, trade, food security, terrorism, and so much more.

During 2016, the online Newsroom also became the official place for members to catch up on summaries from events, dispatches from our international delegations, and our weekly “Global Beat” roundup of important news stories around the world.

Following the U.S. presidential election in November, Council experts weighed in on the top foreign policy priorities for the next administration in our “First 100 Days” interview series. They counseled:

Meetings and Events

In 2016, we welcomed prominent leaders with diverse policy orientations to provide insights into our changing world. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker addressed the current backlash against free trade. U.S. Ambassador Roberta Jacobson and Mexican Ambassador Carlos Sada discussed the U.S.-Mexico relationship and its connection to damaging campaign rhetoric. We also heard from CIA Director John Brennan, Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, former Afghanistan, Iraq, and UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and numerous other thinkers and doers who shape our world.

All in all, members took part in 70 total discussions with more than 180 experts over the course of the year.

Mary Robinson: Winner of the 2016 Warren Christopher Award

The Pacific Council presents the Warren Christopher Public Service Award to those who demonstrate commitment to international and domestic affairs, to the highest ethical standards, to promotion of the common good, to equality and fairness, and to government service as a noble pursuit.

Former president of Ireland Mary Robinson became the second recipient of the Christopher Award in January 2016, following the inaugural award to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2013.

Robinson’s career includes service as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa and as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change. Today she leads the Mary Robinson Foundation—Climate Justice as president. In 2009, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation’s highest civilian award – from President Obama. The Pacific Council’s Warren Christopher Public Service Award honors the lifetime achievements of former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, the former longtime chair of the Pacific Council’s board of directors.

“This means a great deal to me because I knew Warren Christopher,” Robinson told the Pacific Council as she accepted the award. “I met him on a number of occasions, and he impressed me as the ultimate person who served the public well in governmental office. He just knew, in a very particular way, what it meant to have the honor to serve. That is leadership. I am honored to receive this award.”

Described by President Bill Clinton as a man who had “the stamina, steel and judgment to accomplish things that were truly extraordinary,” Warren Christopher was an exemplary public servant. His distinguished career spanned service as a young Naval officer, an attorney at O’Melveny and Myers, the nation’s top diplomat, and the head of what came to be called the Christopher Commission in the wake of the Rodney King incident. As deputy secretary of state, he was awarded the Medal of Freedom—the nation’s highest civilian award—by President Jimmy Carter on January 16, 1981, for his role in negotiating the release of 52 American hostages held in Iran for 444 days.


Pacific Council members traveling on our Country Dialogues, National Delegations, and Local Field Forays learn firsthand about the issues, people, events, and trends that shape our world. In holding discussions and fostering closer ties with leaders and partners around the globe, delegates serve as ambassadors representing the Pacific Council during the visit and bring back new ideas upon their return.

In 2016, our international delegations traveled to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to explore the region’s oil and gas economy, its unique culture, and political environment.

Here at home, Council delegations met top tech industry leaders in Silicon Valley; talked to security, military, and Asia experts during a visit to the U.S. Pacific Command in Honolulu; explored challenges in Middle East policy during a visit to Washington, D.C.; visited the naval base at Point Loma in San Diego; toured the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro; and participated in an embark on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson aircraft carrier at sea.

Continuing the Conversation: Social Media

Every day, the Pacific Council shares news and exchanges ideas on Twitter and Facebook. Our updates keep members and other followers in the loop, cluing them in to recommended resources and smart analysis by Council experts.

Over the course of the year, we sent 2,416 tweets and published 388 Facebook posts. We were mentioned 3,345 times, liked 7,352 times, and retweeted 1,512 times. That’s more than 30 interactions each day with members, followers, and informed people who care about international affairs.

Pacific Council Live

For the first time in 2016, the Pacific Council began live-broadcasting some of our most important events on our website to engage non-local members and foster an active online community. Two generous donors underwrote the pilot effort for the first year, enabling us to produce one event video each month.

Our live-streamed videos featured U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson, Mexican Ambassador to the United States Carlos Sada, and CIA Director John Brennan.

Other videos included discussions with U.S. Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, and former U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.

Taking Action: Beyond the “Think Tank”

At the Pacific Council, we foster thoughtful, intelligent debate in the events, conferences, and delegations we convene.

Then we seek to transform that spirit of collaboration and innovation into action. Throughout the year, we work with member experts, working groups, and task forces to develop new, nonpartisan ideas that inform and drive global progress.

Up to Speed in Guantánamo Bay

The Pacific Council’s GTMO Task Force released the report Up to Speed in February 2016, calling on the United States to fairly and transparently expedite the Guantánamo trials by putting federal judges in charge.

The week before the report’s publication, U.S. President Barack Obama presented a plan to close the base at GTMO, pointing out that the military cases being tried there had “resulted in years of litigation without a resolution.” Justice would be swifter and surer, he suggested, if detainees could be prosecuted in federal courts.

The GTMO Task Force provided a new, bipartisan option, recognizing that trying detainees on U.S. soil is enormously contentious. Their report argued that the United States could achieve a similar result – and avoid a political impasse – by simply bringing federal judges to the base at Guantánamo.

Pacific Council members Richard B. Goetz, a partner at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, and Michelle Kezirian, a director of litigation and policy advocacy at a public-interest law firm, served as co-chairs of the task force. Together with Pacific Council President and CEO Jerrold D. Green and RAND Corporation’s K. Jack Riley, Goetz and Kezirian published an op-ed in Newsweek (“How to Fix Guantánamo’s Broken Justice,” March 7, 2016) that highlighted the report’s recommendations.

Between 2013 and 2016, the Pacific Council sent 17 members to the Guantánamo proceedings as official nongovernmental observers; together, they spent 90 days on the island.

“Guantánamo Bay may be only a few hundred miles from the U.S. mainland, but its isolation, dated infrastructure, and exclusive military control make it a uniquely cumbersome place to conduct a trial—let alone some of the most complex, politically sensitive cases in our country’s history.”Up to Speed

The Task Force’s recommendations remain under active review and consideration by members of the U.S. Congress. Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA 28) publicly announced his support.

Water Scarcity: California and the World

Water is one of the world’s most precious resources, and access to water and adequate sanitation pose major challenges across the globe. Water shortages – exacerbated by demographic pressures – threaten the global economy, public health, political stability, and food supply. The United Nations estimates that within 10 years, nearly two-thirds of the global population could be living under water-stressed conditions. Without concerted action, water shortages will accelerate instability and constrain economic development, hitting the world’s most vulnerable populations hardest.

Thanks to an initial planning grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, in 2016 the Pacific Council was able to develop a bold five-year strategy and operating plan for a new global water scarcity project that will address these important challenges – to launch in 2017. We believe that as a water-scarce state that is also a global leader on environmental conservation and watershed restoration, California brings special experience and expertise to the table.

The strategy, developed in cooperation with Pacific Council members in Seattle, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Los Angeles, reasons that the most important contribution California can make to resolve the issue of global water scarcity will be to determine ways to turn around its own water situation, drawing from international experience and sharing its experiences with others as it learns.

Mexico Initiative

During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, the Pacific Council launched a new Mexico Initiative.

Michael C. Camuñez, the chair of the Mexico Initiative, wrote an open letter to Pacific Council members announcing the initiative, saying, “This is an important moment in the U.S.-Mexico relationship. As we watch the U.S. presidential campaign unfold, the conversations about Mexico and its citizens continue to focus on narrow and distorted issues related to illegal immigration, narcotrafficking, and violence. Despite our close proximity and shared history and culture, this harsh and inaccurate rhetoric persists.”

“One talking point that needs to be much louder and much stronger from the United States is that Mexico does have our back. It’s a point that is very poorly understood.” - Roberta Jacobson, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico
“One talking point that needs to be much louder and much stronger from the United States is that Mexico does have our back. It’s a point that is very poorly understood.” – Roberta Jacobson, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico

In the Initiative’s inaugural year the Pacific Council held several events and produced regular commentary on the website. We convened a working lunch in February with the Mexican Ambassador to the United States. In the spring, we co-hosted a special event on the politics and economy of Mexico together with ManattJones Global Strategies and the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, featuring Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Port of Los Angeles Chair Vilma Martínez, and other distinguished speakers and guests. At Members Weekend 2016 we discussed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), security cooperation, the U.S. presidential election, and more with U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson and Mexican Ambassador to the United States Carlos Sada.

A Path Forward for U.S.-China Relations

The relationship between the United States and China is more important than at any time in history. At the China-U.S. Diplomacy Summit held at Renmin University in Beijing on June 19, 2016, Pacific Council President and CEO Jerrold D. Green submitted a report on the important role of public diplomacy in improving the complex bilateral relationship.

Green argued that the central issue is whether or not the two countries can successfully manage their relationship in a manner that advances strategic mutual trust and allows for increased cooperation on security issues in the Asia-Pacific; this question, he said, weighs heavily on diplomats and generals across the globe.

Further, he wrote that minimizing costly and dangerous rivalry, especially in the military sphere, is in everyone’s interest. No longer can Beijing and Washington rest upon the laurels of economic interdependence as the primary guarantor of peace; far too many countries throughout history have forsaken economic interests in order to protect strategic ones.

Instead, Green suggested that the United States and China must take a path that advances mutual understanding and respect at every level – a path that can be immeasurably smoothed by public diplomacy. Public diplomacy is an avenue dynamic enough to reverse decades of rivalry while garnering popular support in both countries, reaffirming alliances abroad, and reinforcing mutual trust between Americans and Chinese writ large and not just between Washington and Beijing.

Making an Effective Ambassador

“A United States Ambassador is the ears, the voice, and the face of Washington abroad.

“A successful ambassador is a powerful asset for U.S. diplomacy: the right person can improve a foreign public’s perception of America and can establish critical business or trade relationships, or turn a foe into an ally. An unprepared or unfit diplomat, on the other hand, can damage U.S. credibility with international partners.”

So begins The Effective Ambassador, a practical handbook researched, written, and published in November 2016 by the Future Leaders Task Force, a group of young business and legal professionals from the Pacific Council. The handbook aims to provide useful guidance and best practices to potential candidates for U.S. ambassadorships.

The report’s insights come from the authors’ interviews with numerous distinguished individuals with experience and expertise in politics, international relations, and diplomacy, including nine current and former U.S. ambassadors, two foreign ambassadors to the United States, a former Chair of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, a senior-ranking member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a representative of the Office of White House Counsel.

The Future Leaders Task Force was chaired by Adam Nathanson, President and CEO of Mapleton Investments, LLC.  

Institutional Health

2016 was the Pacific Council’s strongest financial year in its 21-year history, thanks to the support and vision of the individuals, foundations, and corporations whose donations make our work possible.


The following are the Pacific Council’s audited Statements of Financial Position and Activities for the years ending December 31, 2016, and December 31, 2015.


Who We Are

This report was published in April 2017.

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