Like the true, grass-roots organization that it is, ACFR activities are conducted variously in each of the city committees and at the headquarters of the association. As has been the case for more than 50 years, local committee activity focuses on entertaining distinguished speakers from the international affairs community in off-the-record discussions. Other local activities vary, as the committees work cooperatively with a broad range of civic and educational entities to promote better understanding of, and debate regarding, international relations. ACFR committees regularly shares their speakers with local media outlets and colleges, universities, and schools.
The Washington office of ACFR annually recruits, schedules, and arranges travel for six eminent speakers for each of the city committees, and ACFR will meet the travel costs of up to 8 speakers per year for them. The headquarters also works to develop relationships with other institutions and organizations with similar interests that will result in a high-quality and diverse speakership for the committees, and it encourages program coordination among the committees and builds cooperation among them.
ACFR speakers are drawn from the highest levels of the policymaker, diplomatic, academic, media and opinion-maker communities. They are more often at the ready edge of responsiblity for, and expertise regarding, timely issues. ACFR recruits speakers for their ability to speak substantively and acutely on difficult subjects and for their commitment to civic dialogue.
ACFR does not have a finite pool of potential speakers. In attempting to be timely and to meet the particular interests of its member committees, ACFR is continuously in the process of recruitment. Suggestions of potential speakers are always welcome.
Annual National Conference
ACFR also conducts an annual conference in Washington, D.C. The annual conference draws eminent policymakers and other experts for a day and a half of addresses and substantive discussion for its members and their guests.
From time to time, ACFR will sponsor and conduct fact-finding study trips abroad. Its first such trip occurred in June 1999, when 25 members visited Panama. The purpose of this week-long visit was to met with Panamanian officials (current and recently elected), civic and political leaders, the Panamanian and international media, and U.S. military and diplomatic officials in discussion of the issues surrounding the turnover of the Canal. The group was led by then-ACFR Executive Director Ken Jensen and St. Louis Committee director and senior Latin American scholar Richard Millett. It had the benefit of the expertise of a number of other scholars who are members of ACFR and business members with ties in Latin America.
In June 2000, a delegation of ACFR directors went to Taiwan on the invitation of the Institute on International Relations in Taipei. This trip was designed to engage with the new administration in Taiwan that took office on May 1.
In June 2004, ACFR Past President and Russia expert Bob Donaldson and then-ACFR Executive Director Ken Jensen led a delegation to Russia and Lithuania. The trip came on the occasion of the opening of the Khodorkovsky ('Yukos') trial in Moscow and Lithuania's entry into the European Union.
In the future, ACFR study trips will most often be conducted as conferences abroad, with ACFR setting the agenda and chosing its interlocutors. Such events will be wholly funded by members who participate. Occasionally, ACFR will have the good fortune of foreign sponsorship, as in the case of the Taiwan trip.