Alex TankAlex Tank (download high-resolution photo)TRAVERSE CITY — Alex Tank, an International Affairs Forum staff member since 2020, has been named IAF’s new director effective July 1.

IAF’s mission is to advance understanding of the world and its critical issues through education and public dialogue. Topics during the 2023-24 season included indigenous sovereignty, international coordination of freshwater resources, China dynamics, policy cooperation on AI, the Israel-Palestine conflict, global population trends, and the struggle for victory in Ukraine.

During Tank’s tenure IAF’s programming has gained significant momentum, evolving into a fully hybrid program with viewers and supporters from several states and overseas. As a local, regional  and global program, IAF exemplifies NMC’s vision to be a global community. Specific achievements include:

  • Increased participation in Academic WorldQuest, a quiz competition on world affairs for high school students, from 65 students at 6 high schools to 93 students at 7 high schools.
  • With the support of the IAF Advisory Board membership committee, increased the number of supporting memberships 16% from 2022–23 to 2023–24.
  • Added a livestream viewing option at the Old Art Building in Leland for IAF’s flagship monthly lecture series, offered in person and online.
  • Expanded and established partnerships with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Economic Club of Traverse City, Traverse City Central and Traverse City West High Schools, Interlochen Public Radio and Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

“I am humbled and thrilled to help guide the International Affairs Forum into its fourth decade, building upon the dedication and impactful work of so many past leaders,” Tank said. “With the integral support of our volunteer advisory board, we craft content and experiences that impact students’ academic trajectories and broaden attendees’ collective knowledge base.”

Tank succeeds Jim Bensley, who was director until July 1, 2023, in addition to his role as director of International Services and Service Learning at NMC. Bensley now serves as a member of the IAF Advisory Board, representing an integral connection between IAF and NMC faculty and students.

Over the last year Tank has helped lead IAF through its 30th season with the significant support of IAF Advisory Board co-chairs Major General Mike Lehnert, USMC ret., and Stan Otto, former senior U.S. diplomat.

IAF’s 31st season of programming will begin in September 2024. The lineup of fall events and topics will be shared later this summer. Tank foresees Academic WorldQuest expanding again. He also hopes to encourage the region’s business community to engage in global affairs education through a new membership opportunity.

“We’re open to new ideas and new modes to engage our community, including a WorldQuest competition for the general public, discussion groups based around critical issues, and student-driven programming,” he said.

Find out more, including how to become a supporting member or sponsor, at


Release date: July 8, 2024

For more information:

Cari Noga
NMC Communications Director
(231) 392-1800 (Call or text)



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