September 23, 2010 Board Meeting

Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for September 23, 2010

Attendees: Hudnut, Adams, Gonzalez, Bogage, Husain, Foxman, Cameron, Mooers, Nance

Bill Hudnut, Chair, called the meeting to order at 4:30 p.m. in the CAO conference in County EOB in Rockville.  The board approved the minutes for the June 17 meeting.

Mier Wolf updated the board on recent developments involving other possible partners for county sister cities besides El Salvador and Beit Shemesh.  The Lugansk Region sent a letter to Ike Leggett suggesting that the county explore a sister city partnership with them in areas including economic, agricultural, educational and sports.  Ike Leggett responded with a letter drafted by Mier Wolf that the county was very grateful to receive the inquiry from Lugansk.  He also mentioned that our sister cities program would look into the interest of our county Ukrainian and Russian residents in forming a partnership.  Board member Boris Foxman is coordinating communications between Lugansk and the county.  Also, Lily Qi, Office of Community Partnerships Asian American liaison recently traveled to China.  Her visit included a meeting in Suzhou, a city in the same province as Shanghai, to explore their interest in partnering in the sister cities program with our county.  Ike Leggett visited Suzhou in 2008 and the county entered into an economic agreement with them.  Now it appears that both Suzhou and the county will look into broadening that relationship into a sister city partnership.

The board members who traveled to El Salvador in August reported on their trip.  It was a great success in every way.  Evelyn Gonzales reported that the volunteer travel group made her extraordinary planning efforts very worthwhile because the group was so positive and engaged on the trip.  She divided the travelers in categories of leadership, education and youth and women’s issues outreach.  Sometimes the groups met together, but mostly had their own agendas in learning about Morazan.  Morazan has already formed a sister city committee to work with a committee our organization will appoint.  Don Mooers offered to head the county El Salvador sister cities committee which will be comprised of one half El Salvadoran county residents and then other residents from different ethnicities as well.  Evelyn Gonzalez will serve on the committee as will Bill Hudnut and Mier Wolf ex officio.  The board decided that we should develop project ideas and offer them to non-profits in the county to implement. These efforts should enable El Salvadorans to stay in their home country with improved living conditions.  This is a people to people program mostly instead of government to government.  The county and E1 Salvador committees need to define ways in which Morazan can contribute to our county understanding of El Salvador.  Morazan is a good partner for being safe, interested in the program and has some schools with technological capacity.

The board discussed what kind of fund raising needs to occur now.  The board members are contributing $100 each to reimburse Mier Wolf for the costs he incurred in incorporating the organization and obtaining non profit tax status.  The board decided that it needs to fund raise for the basic administrative costs preliminarily.  Later the board will look into individual projects and will possibly establish an endowment.  Mier Wolf was instructed to define the immediate administrative costs for which funds must be raised.  They will include some form of blog or website creation as well as the creation of a brochure explaining our organization and its activities.  A Founders contribution group may be formed.  Theresa Cameron volunteered to chair a contributions committee.

Bill Hudnut suggested that we need to expand our board membership.  He offered to head that initiative along with Mier Wolf.  They will define the needs of the board in making recommendations to the board of new members to appoint.  It will most likely include more business people.  It will also focus on diversity.  Bishop Johnson is leaving the board, but has recommended an interested parishioner for us to interview to replace him.  There was discussion of possibly adding an educator to the board.  If that occurs, Maria Sprehn, a professor at Montgomery College, who went on the El Salvador trip seemed a likely candidate according to the board El Salvador trip travelers.

Morazan leaders will visit the county most likely in March or April.  There was some thought of sooner except that the planning, holiday distractions and cold weather made it seem better to delay their trip here.

Evelyn Gonzalez-Mills

Secretary