The World Affairs Council of Jacksonville has grown into new office space and could soon grow in scope.
The nonprofit, nonpartisan urganization with a mission to "promote an understanding of the world and its people" by engaging Northeast Florida residents moved its headquarters from Ponte Vedra Beach to Downtown effective June 1. It's now housed in WJCT Studios at 100 Festival Park Ave.
"We love our new digs," said Trina Medarev, council executive director.
Medarev leads the day-to-day operations of the organization, interacting with the board and prospecting and researching potential speakers for the council's numerous events.
She took over in 2004 when the organization had about 400 members and has overseen growth to more than 1,000 members.
The council hosts its Global Issues Evenings, a flagship series delivered by recruited speakers who discuss hot-topic issues and engage members afterward with question-and-answer sessions.
Some issues Medarev said have been trending include the Middle East conflict, cybersecurity and China.
"We're here to really engage the community in understanding what's going on the world," said Sandra Cook, council board of directors chair.
Cook said that today, many people receive news and information through mediums that offer "more heat than light." The Council, she says, aims to offer "more light than heat" on the global issues.
It also hosts Global Business Luncheons that feature similar speakers for the business community other events.
Medarev said work begins to select speakers in January and the lineup needs to be finalized by July.
The evening programs are often held at the University of North Florida Herbert University Center, which seats just under 800 people. For larger anticipated audiences, like those for upcoming speaker Bob Woodward on Jan. 21, a change of venue, such as the Arena, is necessary. The Arena event featuring Woodward will have about 3,000 attendees, she said.
The council is member of the World Affairs Councils of America and is funded through its members and sponsors.
The Jacksonville council takes part in an annual meeting, where leaders such as Medarev meet to discuss issues and share best-of practices. Medarev said several other organizations seek to create what the Jacksonville council has done in attracting younger crowds as part of its Young Professionals Group.
There are about 100 in the group, or about 10 percent of overall membership.
The council board also is establishing a five-year strategic plan that will determine how the organization should grow. Those meetings have started, with the results expected next summer.
"We have some decisions to make," Cook said.