Op-Ed: Why I am voting ‘No’ on the proposed LAWAC merger

- Jay Maharjan, March 15, 2012
I am a relatively newer member of Los Angeles World Affairs Council. Though I haven’t been a member for decades like  my fellow members, I always felt since day one of joining that Los Angeles World Affairs Council (LAWAC) shared my values and this was the organization that I wanted to be a part of. I always thought that at some point I would help nurture the organization and grow in its current form.
I feel that time is now. Having started my own entrepreneurship, leadership forum with over 20,000 followers via social media and having traveled around the world for panel discussions at colleges and forums to advocate entrepreneurship and American leadership values, I strongly believe that open forums like LAWAC has and will always have a critical role to play in our communities. It is important to keep on encouraging, including members from all walks of life. This is not the time to discourage lower fee level membership. Instead, collectively, we should have an inclusive plan within LAWAC to pursue, leverage on open media platforms to include more young leaders and continually foster International socio-political awareness among our members.
One other aspect of this merger that caught my attention was  the removal of the term ‘education’ from the charter document of the proposed organization compared to the original charter document of LAWAC. I believe the historic success of LAWAC had and will have a lot to do with the educational portion of the mission of the organization. I am a strong believer in educating for masses without charging substantial fees. I have always been a strong supporter of free forums such as MIT Open and Stanford eCorner. Non-profit management guru Peter Drucker was my professor and a mentor. Peter Drucker has influenced me immensely on my views towards non-profit organizations. As International trade dynamics and the face of knowledge based entrepreneurial leadership is rapidly transforming, it is important to keep LAWAC tradition alive and keep the forum active for all members and continue on the tradition of having face-to-face dialogue with global leaders.

From my own experience producing, interviewing notable world leaders, local activists as well as the new generation of creative entrepreneurs, the value that I find that all of us share deep down is the human need for learning and educating ourselves – in return making all of us stronger, knowledgeable and empowering us to give back to the communities we live in.

Though I believe that some form of reform is necessary to attract youth and creative entrepreneurial leaders as a part of ongoing internal strategy, I do not find the merger necessary nor is in the best interest of LAWAC members.

I look forward to helping LAWAC to grow and being a part in its current form for many years to come. Please join me in voting ‘No’  on this merger.

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