WHAT IS ACFR? Membership & Support

In 1995, ACFR was newly incorporated as a nonprofit association dedicated to facilitating debate on international events--primarily as they relate to the formulation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy--between Washington and the heartland(s) of the United States.

In their previous life, the committees were affiliated with the Council on Foreign Relations, which created them in 1938 to the same ends that the new association affirms. At present, ACFR is not affiliated with any other entity, but has productive relations with the broadest range of government officials (both U.S. and foreign) and foreign affairs related think-tanks and associations in Washington and beyond. ACFR's national office is located at historic DACOR Bacon House, just west of the White House in Washington, D.C



What we mean by "American foreign relations" is changing. Over the past several decades, localities and economic regions across the United States have been dramatically internationalized. Foreign trade and investment have wholly altered local economies. In a world made infinitely accessible by the Internet, Americans conduct all manner of international business ventures from small-town and even more remote bases.

Americans who once looked primarily to the coasts for assistance in their dealings abroad now look more and more to one another. “The national interest” has become a sum in which the interests of the whole and the interest of localities and regions are close to being equal in magnitude in many places.

The American Committees on Foreign Relations is adapting to these new circumstances. Its affiliates, some of which have been in existence since 1938, remain dedicated to a dialogue between civic leaders and policy makers. And we still believe that American foreign policy depends, ultimately, upon the strength of the public consensus that underlies it.

But the participants in the dialogue can no longer be conceived as only “Washington” and an undifferentiated American public. Accordingly, ACFR aims to broaden the conversation on American foreign relations to serve both the needs of the whole and the needs of its parts. IF consensus on national policy and appropriately resonant local and regional policies toward the outside world are to be achieved, heartland Americans must be regarded and embraces as international actors as well as concerned citizens. Accordingly, ACFR means to be a foreign relations organization for our times.


The membership of ACFR Committees has traditionally been built on a by-invitation basis; however, the programs and other activities of the Committees frequently serve broad local and regional audiences and reach out to schools, colleges, and the media.

While our individual membership and nomination processes are varied, all ACFR Committees follow similar guidelines in building their membership bases. They accept as members persons with a demonstrated knowledge or commitment to international relations who have the capacity and inclination to participate effectively in meeting discussions and to do so in a serious and civil manner.

ACFR Committee members most frequently have demonstrated records of leadership in international relations and/or positions as opinion-makers in the community and beyond, ideally enhanced by an informed view of international issues. Taken together, ACFR represents a membership of more than 2,500 individuals in 30 communities across the nations—people who play a key role in informing local debates about international matters.

Our members include active and retired leaders such as:

  • executives and board members of key industries;
  • senior partners in major law firms;
  • editors and publishers of newspapers and other media professionals;
  • presidents, administrators, and faculty of colleges and universities;
  • members of Congress and state legislators, executive officers, and local government officials; and
  • senior policy officials, diplomats, and military officers.


ACFR and its member Committees are dues-based organizations. Fully half of the income necessary for ACFR's operation comes from member dues.

Committee members, members of our Board of Advisers, and others also make personal donations, on a yearly basis, to ACFR's Annual Giving Campaign. The AGC accounts for another quarter of our annual income.

The final quarter of ACFR's annual income comes from foundation grants.
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