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William J. Flynn invests in our nation’s future leaders

William J. Flynn“The more IWP grows, the better our country’s statecraft is going to be.”

William J. Flynn has a passion for international affairs – and he has made numerous investments of time and financial support in this area. 

He is currently heavily involved with the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP), where he serves as Chairman of the Board.  Through the auspices of this group, Mr. Flynn and his associates meet with principals in other nations where there is a need to work towards peace. 

For instance, the group has a committee which for a number of years has worked towards a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan-China question.  Also, since the early 1990s, Mr. Flynn has been personally involved in the peace process in Northern Ireland.  Over a period of many years, he has met officials on every side working upon an agreement satisfactory to all parties.  These efforts culminated in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.  He continues to be involved with efforts for continued resolution and peace in Ireland.  He received several awards for his work in Ireland’s peace process, including NCAFP’s Initiative for Peace Award. 

He learned about IWP through Bernadette Smith and her husband Owen, who serves as IWP’s Chairman, and Mr. Flynn was impressed by the Institute’s principles and mission.

Mr. Flynn, having had many dealings in international affairs himself, understands the need for a school like IWP.  He explains that, “Too many people in the our State Department seemed not fully prepared for the challenges our country has faced.”  IWP seeks to ensure that professionals in international affairs do have the proper preparation.

Mr. Flynn particularly liked the fact that, “IWP emphasizes having a good understanding of international realities, ensures that its students understand the basic principles of American political life, and works to instill the understanding and practice of ethical conduct in its students.”  He is also pleased with the caliber of students that attend the Institute; he comments, “The types that go to this school – it’s simply incredible.”

A former professor at Fordham University and teacher at Regis High School in New York, Mr. Flynn advises IWP students, “Study, study, study!  Knowledge is so important, and it is an ethical imperative to have detailed knowledge of foreign affairs if you are working in this field.  So many errors can come about just because of ignorance.”

In addition to his interest in international affairs, Mr. Flynn has a strong background in business.  He has worked for Mutual of America and has served as its Chairman and CEO for nearly three decades. 

Mr. Flynn’s other affiliations, over the years, include the International Center for Religion & Diplomacy, where he served as Chairman, and Flax Trust America, of which he served as President.  For a number of years, he served on the boards of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, the Ireland America Economic Advisory Board, the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation, the New York Foundling Hospital, Boston University, and the U.S. Army War College. 

He is also associated with the University of St. Thomas in Houston, TX, where they just named the William J Flynn Center for Irish Studies.

IWP is grateful to Mr. Flynn for his investments in our students through the 1947 Club, which supports student scholarships, and for his gifts over the years which have helped make possible the work of our school. 



William J. Flynn joined Mutual of America as President in 1971.  He served as Chief Executive Officer from 1972 to 1994 and Chairman of the Board from 1982 to May 2005 when he was named Chairman Emeritus.  Previous to joining Mutual of America, Bill Flynn served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War before embarking on his professional career, which began in 1953 with the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States.  Mr. Flynn served as Chairman of the Board of the Life Insurance Council of New York, which named him the most outstanding CEO of the life insurance industry for the last 25 years in 1994.

Bill Flynn’s devotion to and recognition by the Irish community are particularly outstanding.  In 1994 the Irish Taoiseach Albert Reynolds honored Mr. Flynn’s efforts on behalf of Northern Ireland.  In that same year he was selected “Irish American of the Year” by Irish America Magazine and was honored by the American Ireland Fund.  He served as Grand Marshal of the 1996 New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  In March 2000, Mr. Flynn and John Cardinal O’Connor were the first recipients of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Medals.  In March 2001, Mr. Flynn served as Grand Marshal of the Rockville Centre St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  In September 2005, the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding presented Mr. Flynn with a Special Peacemaker in Action Award “for a lifetime devoted to conflict resolution.”  In October 2007, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern honored Mr. Flynn for his tireless work over the years in fostering peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Flynn has been awarded an honorary CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by Her Majesty the Queen in recognition of his exceptional contribution to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.  He received this award at an investiture ceremony at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. in June 2009.

In November 2010, the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas announced the establishment of the William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies in recognition of his significant contributions to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.  In February 2011, Mr. Flynn was inducted into the Irish Hall of Fame sponsored by Irish America Magazine.

Bill Flynn serves as Chairman of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy.  He is a former Chairman of the International Center for Religion & Diplomacy and former President of Flax Trust America.  He is also a member of the Racquet and Tennis Club, The University Club and The Garden City Country Club.  His past board service includes The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation, The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, the U.S. Army War College Board of Visitors, The Ireland America Economic Advisory Board to the Taoiseach, The United States Holocaust Memorial Council, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Foundation, Boston University, Fordham University, St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center and New York Foundling Hospital.

Born in New York, William J. Flynn graduated from Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception and received a Master of Arts degree in Economics from Fordham University.