About OTR

Mission

Off-the-Record is the longest running women's foreign policy lecture series in the United States. Created under the aegis of the Foreign Policy Association in New York City in 1938, OTR today has some 600 members. Public discourse has always been an essential element of America's democratic traditions. Led by a volunteer Board of Governors, OTR is a part of that tradition and provides a unique forum for businesswomen, academics, diplomats and educators to hear and question renowned foreign policy practitioners and thinkers on a regular basis.

As the name implies, the Off-the-Record Lecture Series does not allow lectures to be recorded or reported.

 

History

1918—From the League of Free Nations Association, organized to support international peace after World War I, the Foreign Policy Association forms and begins monthly lectures at the Astor Hotel in the 1920s. Female members find themselves at a disadvantage in the large setting. 

1938—A group of 19 prominent women, led by Eleanor Robson Belmont, start a series of lectures for women only, to be conducted in smaller groups and off the record, so that speakers are not quoted in the press. The first speaker is Leland Stowe, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, October 19, at the Hotel Pierre.

1940—The FPA and the Women’s Group set up office and meeting space at Midston House on Madison Avenue.

1946—The Women’s Group organizes more formally and elects Elinor Miner Lamont as Chairman.

1950—The group is officially named the Off-the-Record Luncheon Series and adjusts its program to attract a larger foreign policy audience.

1954—OTR moves its lectures to the Carnegie Endowment International Center on East 46th Street, across from the United Nations Headquarters.

1958—OTR splits its lectures into two groups, Series A and B, as membership approaches 300.

1960s—OTR formally affiliates with FPA and gains board representation through its Chairman, Mildred Adams Kenyon.

1975—OTR hosts Margaret Thatcher four years before her rise to British Prime Minister. Membership reaches 1,000.

1978—The Elizabeth French Hitchcock Memorial Lecture is endowed by family members of the former OTR Chairman, to serve OTR and FPA members. The first speaker is Bridget McCall Oppenheimer, founder of the South African organization Women for Peace.

1979—OTR moves to a larger facility, the auditorium of St. Vartan’s Cathedral at 630 Second Avenue, to accommodate a membership of 1,300.

1990–1995—OTR eliminates the second series and reduces its membership.  Lunch purchase becomes optional after a catered meal causes a tragic food poisoning, in October 1992. The series adopts a new name, the Off-the-Record Lecture Series.

1996—OTR moves its lectures to the Association of the Bar of the City of New York on West 44th Street.

1998—OTR celebrates its 60th anniversary with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata.

2001—OTR creates a new category of membership, Patron, to provide additional evening events and lunches with speakers.

2001—Journalist Fareed Zakaria speaks on “Terrorism in the Age of Globalization,” one month after the terrorist attacks of September 11.

2003—OTR celebrates its 65th anniversary with historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

2005—The OTR logo is redesigned and modernized.  OTR’s website, www.off-the-record.org, goes live.

2008—OTR celebrates its 70th anniversary with historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

2009—One month after receiving the Nobel Prize in Economics, Paul Krugman speaks on the world financial crisis.

2013—OTR celebrates its 75th anniversary. View 75th Anniversary booklet here

Board of Governors

Chairman - Nadia S. Malik
Vice Chairman - Susan Reiss Walsh

Secretary - Elizabeth Littlefield

Treasurer - Cynthia Ogden

 

Communications Committee

Celeste Ford

Janet Olshansky

Susan Reiss Walsh

 

House Committee

Anne Louvel

Cynthia Ogden

Bonnie Pinkham, Ph.D.

Erika Sauer, Ph.D.

Marilyn Wyatt, Ph.D.

 

Membership Committee

Janet Olshansky

Jeri Sedlar

Suzanne Thompson

Midge Woolsey

 

Nominating Committee

Kimberly Engelbert

Susan Nitze

Patti McGrath

Monica Voldstad

 

Speakers Committee

Bridget Foley

Ute Braun, Ph.D.

Courtney Slatten Katzenstein

Elizabeth Littlefield

 

Young Patrons Council

Amber Cleary

Jonathan Cristol, Ph.D.

Danielle Gram

Vanessa Grellet

Sarah Hardman Byun

Teagan Judd

Diane Louvel

Carolyn Simmons

 

Past Chairmen

Elinor Miner Lamont - 1946-1948
Mary Hand Darrell - 1948-1961
Mildred Adams Kenyon - 1961-1970
Elizabeth French Hitchcock - 1970-1976
Doris C. Halaby - 1976-1979
Mary L. Belknap - 1979-1983
Grace "Gay" Sloane Vance - 1983-1987
Donna Dillon Manning - 1987-1991
Judith L. Biggs - 1991-1995
Jacqueline M. Garrett - 1995-1997
Anne Sitrick - 1997-2003 
Ann J. Charters - 2003-2008
Jacqueline Adams - 2008-2010
Wendy E. Dietze - 2010-2012

Rory Hayden - 2012-2014