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Everything you need to know about the Council on Foreign Relations

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The Council on Foreign Relations – which is also commonly referred to as the CFR – is an independent and non-partisan organization that acts as a think tank and publisher dedicated to being an aggregate of experience and resources on foreign relations in the modern world.

The organization helps people better understand foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries around the globe. This organization also provides government officials and business owners important resources with the goal of helping them make better decisions.

Having experienced, respected, and educated CFR members is crucial to the functionality and credibility of the organization.

The CFR has a reputation for being an educational and political resource for government workers, business executives, owners, educators, students, and religious leaders.

Originally, the organization was founded with the goal of helping citizens better understand the world as a whole, with a focus on foreign policy decisions and their impact. The CFR consists of important and influential members with expertise in foreign relations, government, finance and economics, and business.

Such members include the likes of John Abizaid, former Commander-in-Chief of the United States Central Command, Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State, and Martin Feldstein, a well-known Harvard University economics professor.

The most recent members welcomed as fellows to the David Rockefeller Studies Program are Justin Muzinich, former Deputy Secretary of the US Treasury Department, and Roger W. Ferguson Jr., former president and CEO of TIAA.

CFR history

The Council on Foreign Relations was first created in 1921, as a ‘think tank’ to help citizens become more aware of foreign policy and how other countries’ decisions impact the United States.

The first president of the CFR was John W. Davis, and the first issue of the Foreign Affairs publication was produced in 1922. In 1928, the CFR began to publish the Political Handbook of the World, a publication that would be annually produced until 1987.

The CFR was also instrumental in publishing the United States in World Affairs. The CFR continued with important work in the 1940s, organizing conferences to discuss conflicts during World War II, opening a headquarters in New York, creating post-war study group projects, and establishing the Fellowship for Foreign Correspondents.

The 1950s saw the CFR focus on communist aggression, while the 1960s brought the International Affairs Fellowship program and the U.S. Navy Fellowship.

The following decade brought more inclusivity, with the CFR welcoming women as part of the highly prestigious and influential group. Moreover, 10 youth membership programs were created to promote a greater global understanding.

During the 1980s, the CFR aired its first television program, established the Marine Corps fellowship, and began co-producing “America and the World” with NPR. In the 1990s, the Council on Foreign Affairs developed its first international publication, created the International Advisory Board to help foster collaboration between various foreign institutions, and created various programs and subsets of the CFR to build awareness for diversity and minority involvement in foreign policy.

At the turn of the 21st century, the CFR launched the Campaign 2000 website to bring awareness to foreign policy issues in the US election. It also created the ‘America’s Response to Terrorism’ program after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2021, formed the Academic Outreach Program, and launched its first podcast.

In the most recent decade, the CFR established the Coast Guard Fellowship, launched the ‘Global Conflict Tracker’ to analyze ongoing conflicts around the world, created the IAF in Canada, and created World101, a free online course and program for high school and college students.

About Justin Muzinich

Justin Muzinich is an American businessman and former Deputy Secretary of the Treasury with extensive experience in financial intelligence, domestic finance, national security, financial policy, and terrorism.

Prior to his Treasury position, Muzinich served as policy director for Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign and was president of Muzinich & Co., an international investment firm focused on corporate credit. He began his career at Morgan Stanley.

Justin’s CFR role will center around national security and the country’s economic policies with the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies. This center was founded in 2000 and focuses on promoting a greater understanding among policymakers, academic leaders, and citizens of how political and economic policies affect world affairs.

About Roger W. Ferguson Jr.

Roger W. Ferguson Jr. was the President and CEO of TIAA, driving it to become one of the world’s top asset managers. TIAA is the leading provider of financial services in the academic, research, medical, cultural, and governmental fields. Prior to his role with TIAA, Ferguson was the Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the United States Federal Reserve System.

Roger’s CFR position will be around researching, writing, and convening meetings on topics related to economics and the intersection of economics with the foreign policy with the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies.

Story by Brad Bernanke


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