December 2, 2023

Mitchell Reiss Takes over as Chairman of the International Churchill Society


Ambassador Mitchell Reiss of Williamsburg, Virginia, the former President and CEO of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and before that President George W. Bush’s Special Envoy to the Northern Ireland Peace Process with the rank of Ambassador, was elected Chairman of the International Churchill Society (ICS) this year. Founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill’s death, ICS is the world’s premier member’s organization dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

I asked Mitchell Reiss, what made him accept this position: “I accepted it because the mission of the International Churchill Society—preserving and promoting the life and legacy of Sir Winston Churchill—is more important today than ever before given the state of the world, and because of my personal friendship and deep admiration for the former Chairman, Laurence Geller, who wanted to step down in 2023 after more than twenty years leading the Society.”

Responding to my question about how he sees his role leading the organization, Reiss explained that he intends to build on the remarkable work that the Churchill family, Geller, the Board and the global membership have performed in keeping Sir Winston Churchill’s memory green over the years. “My goal,” Reiss said, “is to educate new generations about the courage, resilience, and ongoing relevance of Sir Winston’s life to today’s leadership challenges. And to encourage people to support our work by becoming members of the Society and participate in our programs and events.”

2024 International Churchill Conference

Join us for the 41st International Churchill Conference. London | October 2024

Reiss noted, the aim of the Society is constant. To preserve and promote Sir Winston’s legacy of leadership. It plans to do it partly by collaborating more closely with other organizations like Bleinhem Palace, where Churchill was born, Chartwell, the National Trust property that was Churchill’s home, and the War Rooms museum in London from which Churchill worked during the Second World War. Reiss intends to mobilize the Society’s global network to celebrate the 150 anniversary of Sir Winston’s birth next year. A whole year-long celebration, rich with special events, will be taking place in the US and the UK.

I asked Reiss whether he sees any parallels between the roles he played in international politics, being a peacemaker in the Northern Ireland Peace Process, or as Director of Policy Planning at the US State Department, and the one he is playing now as the Chairman of ICS: “My experience working with world leaders has given me some insight into those who have what might be termed ‘Churchillian’ qualities and those who don’t,” Reiss said, “which gives me greater appreciation for Sir Winston’s enormous contributions, especially during the dark early days of the Second World War.”

Churchill was famous for his many quotes. Now that Reiss has taken on the leadership of ICS, I asked him, which one is his favorite. He said, “Success always demands a greater effort.”

Frank Shatz lives in Williamsburg, Virginia. This article originally appeared in The Virginia Gazette and is reprinted with permission.

A tribute, join us




Get the Churchill Bulletin delivered to your inbox once a month.