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Who We Are

Convening the public affairs community for 70 years

We’re Here to Help You Manage Your World.

In fact, the Public Affairs Council is the leading international association for public affairs professionals. Both nonpartisan and nonpolitical, our mission is to advance the field of public affairs and to provide members with the executive education and expertise they need to succeed while maintaining the highest ethical standards. 

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., and with a Europe headquarter in Brussels, the Council is a prominent association in the U.S. and internationally.

Our Story

The Public Affairs Council was launched in 1954 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower convened a meeting of corporate executives to encourage them to become more active in their communities and in the political process.

Read more about our history

First incorporated as the Effective Citizens Organization (ECO), the association changed its name to the Public Affairs Council in 1965. The Council has continued to build on these roots to provide exceptional services to the profession. 

As the business community began to take corporate citizenship seriously in the 1960s, the Council led the way with the launch of major forums on corporate social responsibility and strategic philanthropy. When political scandals, including the Jack Abramoff case, cast a negative light on political Washington, the Council expanded its compliance training and conducted dozens of media interviews with foreign and domestic journalists who wanted to understand the ethics of lobbying. 

When serious crises — such as the 9/11 attacks, the global financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic —  struck the U.S., the Council was a voice for businesses that wanted to help Americans in need. 

Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic greatly altered the way public affairs professionals do their jobs. In response, the Council developed virtual training programs, promoted innovative strategies and conducted research specific to how public affairs professionals were navigating the pandemic.  

It’s All About Our Members

From Fortune 100 companies to nonprofits, the Council boasts a diverse membership that includes over 750 leading corporations, nonprofits, associations, consultancies and universities. These organizations represent nearly 12,000 individuals working in public affairs.

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One of the Council’s greatest strengths is its ability to bring together professionals from across industries, career levels and locations to share ideas, learn from one another and shape strategy

The Public Affairs Council is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of approximately 190 top executives in the corporate, association and nonprofit worlds. Nominations are accepted each spring, with members serving a two-year term.

Count on Our Expertise

The Council’s staff and members have direct experience in corporate and association public affairs management, lobbying, digital advocacy, global public affairs, corporate responsibility and ESG, PACs and campaign finance, crisis communication and a host of related functions. We also retain a political attorney to provide complimentary legal guidance. 

Because of the Council’s research role, expertise and reputation for being nonpartisan, its leaders in Washington, D.C., and Brussels are quoted widely in the national and international media. Council President Doug Pinkham is often called upon to addresses business, academic, government and association audiences throughout the world. 

Programs & Services

Each year the Council hosts nearly 100 conferences, seminars, webinars, forums and social events.  
Our signature conferences include The Advocacy Conference, the Public Affairs Institute, the National PAC Conference, the Government Relations & Policy Conference and the Digital Media & Advocacy Summit. Through our European office in Brussels, the Council provides expertise and programming to European professionals. Annual events such as the European Public Affairs Forum and European Digital Advocacy Summit draw top executives and experts in the region. 

Read more about our programs, including our extensive research, certificates, and workshop and webinar offerings.

The Council sponsors research on emerging issues, public affairs trends, innovations and best practices, the leading benchmarking surveys for corporate public affairs and PAC management, and salary surveys for government affairs, PACS and grassroots. Professional networks convene members working in political involvement, state and local government affairs, corporate responsibility, international public affairs, association advocacy and more. The Council also offers certificate programs for individuals looking to expand their knowledge and connect with their community. 

We provide a host of benefits exclusively to our members. Membership Plus+ members have free access to 45-plus workshops a year for their entire team, and all members can participate in our 20-plus live webinars each year for free, as well as access an extensive library of past recordings. 

Inside Elections’  Nathan Gonzales provides political insights exclusive to members and contributes to articles and events analyzing the political landscape. Members also have access to a political attorney who provides complimentary legal guidance. Council staff are on-call to answer questions and share advice. 

Advancing the Profession

In recent years, the Public Affairs Council has become renowned for its seminal research on digital politics, the role of business in society and corporate involvement in social issues. 

Read more, including our annual Pulse Survey, Impact newsletter and the programs of the Foundation for Public Affairs.

In 2011, the Council launched the Public Affairs Pulse Survey, an annual opinion poll examining American attitudes and expectations for business and government. This research has been covered widely in the media

The Public Affairs Council’s flagship monthly digital newsletterImpact  is a unique publication serving the profession. It doesn’t compete with daily print and digital publications that cover breaking news; rather, it provides in-depth analyses of the issues of most interest to public affairs professionals spanning business and politics

The Foundation for Public Affairs – the charitable arm of the organization – invests in the future of the profession through workforce development initiatives. Many of these initiatives focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. In 2023, the Foundation launched the Hogans Fellowship, a program developed to focus on the retention and advancement of diverse leaders in public affairs. The 12 Fellows selected from nearly 100 applicants have diverse backgrounds, identities and professional experiences, each bringing unique skills to help strengthen the profession. 

Succeed with the Council

Featured Event

The leading annual event for digital comms and advocacy professionals. Hear new strategies, and case studies for energizing grassroots and policy campaigns.

Washington, D.C. | June 10, 2024