On 3 March, The John Adams Society was formally launched at a briefing at the US Embassy. The announcement was celebrated with a reception at Winfield House, the London residence of US Ambassador Louis B Susman.
Inaugurated in November 2010, the John Adams Society is the Alumni Association for the US Government Exchange Programmes for England and Wales. It is named after John Adams, the second president of the United States, who was also the first American ambassador to the UK from 1785-88.
At the launch, Ambassador Susman offered a congratulatory message: ‘I believe these initiatives are crucial to a strong bilateral relationship. There is no substitute for a first-hand, “warts and all” exchange experience in strengthening the foundation of trust between two nations. Exchanges give aspiring leaders a deeper understanding of America that stays with them for life…. In today’s tumultuous world, we need that kind of understanding more than ever…. I look forward to a busy schedule of activities that will strengthen the bonds between our two countries, based on our fundamental devotion to human dignity and democratic freedom.’
Membership of the John Adams Society is only open to those who have participated in professional and educational exchange programmes run by the US Embassy in London. These include the International Visitor Leadership Programme (IVLP), the Fulbright Classroom Teacher Exchange Programme and the British-American Parliamentary Group (BAPG).
High-profile alumni include Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Hamid Karzai, Morgan Tsvangirai and Nicolas Sarkozy. Current Cabinet members Defence Secretary Liam Fox and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke have also participated in the programme, along with leaders in the arts, industrial, media and the civil service sectors. The society seeks to bring alumni of the programmes together and to strengthen mutual understanding between the US and UK through its meetings, symposia and conferences, to which it intends to invite guest speakers.