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Robert Griffiths Completes Term as International Society President

After more than seven years of dedicated service, Robert Griffiths is completing his term as president of the International Society, leaving behind a lasting impact on the organization and its members. With a deep commitment to embracing diversity, fostering cultural understanding, and expanding global connections, Griffiths’ tenure has been marked by countless accomplishments and cherished memories. The International Society, hosted by the Kennedy Center and supported by the BYU Law School and Marriott School of Business, is a professional organization for global Latter-day Saint professionals and friends. It hosts a notable annual conference and launched a new online platform in 2021 which includes a directory of professional worldwide events, learning opportunities, and proceedings from the past 33 years of conferences.

Griffiths’ extensive overseas experience, which totaled 23 years as a US diplomat, uniquely positioned him for this role with the International Society. He highlights the importance of appreciating diverse cultures and perspectives—an appreciation obtained by working and living abroad with his wife, Jeannie, and family—observing that “we came to the International Society very much aware of how much the rest of the world had to offer." He adds, “Living abroad, we learned to appreciate the contributions and perspectives of people from different cultures. I also developed invaluable skills in committee work during my time in the Foreign Service. These experiences provided a solid foundation for leading the International Society effectively.”

In 1983, during his second assignment in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Griffiths met Bill Atkin who, at the time, was still forming the idea of creating a platform dedicated to connecting professionals around the world and offering mentorship for students and young professionals who sought an international career. Atkin never forgot Griffiths and his family and eventually asked them to join the International Society’s board in 2014. It was during a board meeting Griffiths did not attend that Atkin suggested he be president. “It is dangerous to miss board meetings!” Griffiths jokes.

Griffiths reveals that his greatest contribution to the society as president was organizing impactful conferences. By curating diverse panels of speakers, the society succeeded in enriching the membership experience. Griffiths emphasizes their commitment to inclusivity: “There are many different contributions that people all over the world have to make to the human experience. We wanted more diversity in terms of men and women and people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds." The conferences not only facilitated knowledge sharing but also celebrated the accomplishments of Latter-day Saint women in global affairs, exemplifying the society's commitment to equality.

Griffiths says that during one of the conferences, a woman from Mongolia shared a lesson she learned from her mom: never lock the door at night in case a stranger passing by during the cold winter months needed the warmth their home provided. “Contrary to what we would think prudent here, in Mongolia you keep your door unlocked at night. Now, where else are we going to learn things like that?” Griffiths says. It was one of many moments when the International Society created a unique environment for him to learn things that couldn’t be learned anywhere else. He hopes that the society can eventually grow big enough to hold conferences throughout the country and the world, inviting experts from all over to present on panels.

Reflecting on his tenure, Griffiths expressed a desire to strengthen the International Society's mentoring program, recognizing its potential to shape the future of international Latter-day Saint professionals. "I would like to see the International Society having more student involvement," Griffiths says, adding that they can do more to broaden their media presence to reach more students. “I think there is a lot of student interest in what we are doing for international Latter-day Saint professionals. We need to reach out to have more students become members of the Society for the mentoring program and the networking opportunities.”

Griffiths expresses deep gratitude for his transformative experience as president. He praises the camaraderie and dedication of the board members, whose unwavering support enriched his journey: “It was just a delight to work with great people willing to contribute so much—and then the chance to interact with people who came to the conferences, and who spoke, was a great opportunity for me to expand my horizons and get to know interesting people from around the world. I will be forever grateful.”

Learn more about the International Society here.