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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

Lauren Swartz

President & CEO

World Affairs Council of Philadelphia

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Founded: 1949

Industry: Nonprofit

Lauren Swartz is a leader in the nonprofit sector, with a commitment to fostering global connectivity and understanding in her role as the president and chief executive officer of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.

Under Swartz’s leadership, the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia not only survived the pandemic but flourished. Swartz navigated the organization through the necessary pivot to virtual programming and then orchestrated an early return to in-person events. Her strategic approach resulted in a 70% increase in staff and over 30% growth in revenue.

Swartz’s passion for international affairs and education is rooted in her diverse background. She began her career in Copenhagen, working in international education and designing European study tours. She then spent 15 years in international trade, focusing on the food and agricultural sector, where she helped to launch American Lobster in China.

Swartz was instrumental in driving Philadelphia’s international engagement efforts, covering areas such as global business, trade, investment, diplomacy, delegations and foreign affairs.

In her current role, Swartz leads all aspects of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, including finance, development, speaker programs, education, travel, membership and operations. The council has become a nonpartisan international affairs nonprofit with over 70 years of knowledge in connecting Philadelphia to the world. The organization advances Philadelphia’s understanding of global affairs and nurtures the next generation of global citizens, the nonprofit said.

Swartz envisions the council continuing to grow and solidify its position as the region’s largest, oldest and strongest international organization. The next five years will present opportunities to rebuild global connections post-pandemic and create economic impact through international trade and investment, the nonprofit said.

As Philadelphia prepares to welcome the world in 2026 for the nation’s 250th birthday and the World Cup, the council will provide professional training, diplomatic protocol, youth ambassadors and speaking opportunities for the numerous international visitors the city will host.

“Focusing my career on international in a region that does not view itself as particularly international was a risk,” Swartz said. “I moved to Philadelphia from Europe in my 20s and hadn’t intended to develop a career focused on global opportunities, but that was the differentiated skill set I could offer employers. My expertise in trade, international business, diplomacy, foreign direct investment, global education and foreign affairs continued to grow, doubling down on this differentiated skill that isn’t often prioritized in the region.

“The risk has paid off through the hard work of building my own networks, digging for talent in unexpected places and carving my own leadership path. My center of excellence is international connectivity for our region. It may be viewed as niche by some but is clearly shaping the world and city we live in today and is a key driver of our growth and opportunity.”

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Did you know?

Lauren is the Honorary Consul of Sweden for Pennsylvania, serving as the Swedish government’s liaison to the state. Also, she has traveled for work and pleasure to over 25 countries. She also doesn’t consume any caffeine!


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