October 17, 2017


History of the BCFR

The Birmingham Committee on Foreign Relations was founded in 1943 by Charles Zukoski, Jr., an attorney, political leader and businessman. Mr. Zukoski, who for most of his career was affiliated with the Trust Department of what is now AmSouth Bank, was active in a number of civic and leadership organizations. For a time, he was Mayor of the City of Mountain Brook. Our Committee was formed in 1943 when the importance of world affairs was at its height during World War II. Charles Zukoski led the group for 20 years. We owe much of our current success to his excellent leadership and vision.

Mr. Zukoski was followed as chairman by Alex Lacey, an attorney and executive with Alabama Gas Corporation. Alex helped build the program from 1963 to 1985 when he was succeeded by Henry R. Vermilye, an Executive Vice-President at SouthTrust Bank. "Terry," as he is called, led the group from 1985 to 1996. In 1996 David L. Carder, an executive with Vulcan Materials, took over and led the group through the year 2001. Under Dave’s outstanding leadership the committee was revitalized. Ties were strengthened with the American Committees on Foreign Relations, new members joined and the leadership was strengthened. Most importantly, the quality and depth of the speaker programs improved dramatically. Frank M. Young, III succeeded Dave Carder as Chairman in 2001. Frank, an attorney in Birmingham with Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker, devotes a portion of his practice to international law. The Committee has continued to grow and prosper under his leadership.

When the Birmingham Committee was initially founded in 1943, it was affiliated with the Council of Foreign Relations, an organization headquartered in New York, New York. This relationship continued until the early 90's when it was terminated by mutual agreement. Thereafter, the association with the American Committees in Washington, D.C., was established. Because the American Committees is headquartered in Washington, rather than in New York, which is a hub for foreign affairs the quality of our speakers has vastly improved.

We are proud of our affiliation with the American Committees on Foreign Relations. Our Committee has taken a positive leadership role in the organization. David L. Carder, a former Chairman, was a member of the Executive Committee of the American Committees for a number of years, and served as ACFR's President from 2005 to 2007. Herb Sklenar was named a Distinguished Advisor at the Annual Meeting in May of 2003. Since 2001, Frank Young, the current Chairman of the Birmingham Committee, has been a member of the Board and served as ACFR's President from 2007 to 2009. Our Committee's three active members involved with the leadership of the American Committees ensures close and meaningful ties with that organization for the future.

- Frank M. Young, III, Chairman



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