Attendees: Bruce Adams, Tracey-Alexis Dixon, Michael Gruenberg, William Nance, Nan Qiao and
Phone Participants: Lorna Forde and Clemmie Solomon
Excused: Mumin Barre and Dianne Smith
Absent: Ram Konda and Darwin Romero
Staff: Daniel Koroma, Cynthia Morris and Diane Vu
Visitors: Wonro Lee and Yasin Yasim
The meeting was called to order by Bill Nance at 6:50 pm with reading and corrections of the minutes from the 20 October meeting. Once corrected, they will be posted on the website. Bill asked board members to introduce themselves and announced that Larry Colbert has resigned due to health concerns.
County Committee Reports
Gondar: Daniel told the group that information about the situation is still sparse though residents can call friends and family in the country to get updates. He is hoping someone will travel to Gondar soon to provide first-hand information. Clemmie reported there have been administrative changes at the University of Gondar though he didn't think that was the reason for scholar Molalign Belay's cancellation of a planned trip. He also said the Montgomery College Ethiopian students group is still engaged and the school continues to support the Tahitu Cultural Centre. Yasin thanked volunteer Karl Protil for his leadership in collecting about 500 books for the University which he continues to store. There is an acute need to get the books to Gondar and they are looking for a benefactor to cover the cost. He is also exploring ways to get more volunteers engaged in the committee. Ideas include sponsoring cultural evenings/presentations/coffee ceremonies. Those who planned to join the delegation to Gondar remain on the mailing list and will be invited to any planned activities.
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Meeting
Korea: Wonro Lee is working on a contract for the first leg of the 20-28 October trip to Daejeon, South Korea and Xi'an, China. A coordinator for the China leg of the trip is still being sought. Wonro hopes to get 45 travelers who will travel by air from DC to Seoul and from there by bus to Daejeon (two hours) for the Sister Cities signing ceremony, meetings on the 23rd and 24th and leaving for Xi'an on the 25th. Lily Qi and David Peter of the Montgomery Economic Development will spearhead economic development for meetings. Wonro has worked for several years with Montgomery County, managing a major partnership/exchange with Montgomery County Public Schools where 17 teachers from South Korea have worked in the county. A second cohort of 15 teachers is planned. They are especially pleased that the template for this work has been duplicated in several cities around the county. A meeting about this will be held on Monday 27 February at 6 p.m.
Xi'an: The committee is working collaboratively to build the delegation for the October trip to Xi'an. Nan reported that in addition to several Lunar New Year celebrations the Neighborhood Association continues to sponsor the weekly Tai Chi classes. They also sponsored a U.S. citizenship information session. The association is still hopeful of pursuing a successful economic/cultural exchange project and restarting the program at Churchill High School.
Hyderabad: While the committee has not been very active, it was reported that Montgomery College is taking a group of 15 faculty members on a Global Humanities tour to Hyderabad. The group will include Dr. Sanjay Rai of Montgomery College.Bruce emphasized the need for re-energizing the committee and selecting a representative for the board.
Morazán: Roman reported the committee is sponsoring a Habitat for Humanity trip from 15-23 July in Morazán and hopes to get a group of at least 14 people. He encouraged board members to consider joining them. The hospital (San Francisco de Gotera) that received funds raised by Councilman Leventhal opened its new post-natal care wing and Cynthia is waiting for photos and details to include in the Sister Cities newsletter.
The committee continues to explore ways to provide scholarship support for college students in Morazán, including partnering with a non-profit that is currently pursuing such projects.NEW BUSINESS
Annual Meeting: The event takes place Thursday 30 March from 6-8 pm at the Silver Spring Civic Building. County Executive Leggett will attend and speak and each committee is asked to make a
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Meeting
very brief presentation about their work. Daniel suggested recognizing Terrance Dupree, a volunteer for the Ethiopian Committee who facilitated a gift from Kaiser Permanente as well as Karl Protil for his efforts to collect books for Gondar University. All board members are expected to attend. It is an excellent venue for volunteer recruitment as well as distributing flyers for the Habitat for Humanity and Daejeon/Xi'an trips.
Finance: Roman presented the 2016 balance sheet and income statements. Bill needed some clarification on the relationship of the two documents. Cynthia will get back to him as soon as she can get information.
Website: Cynthia reported that she is in discussions with a website designer and will keep the board informed of the progress. The designer will set up a template to enable staff to update the site and Nan has agreed to maintain the website on a volunteer basis.
Bruce and Diane are developing a list of most frequently asked questions about immigration that will be on the county website. In response to Yasin's question, they will ensure that the document is offered in Amharic.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:00
Cynthia Morris, Senior Fellow
Attendees: Bruce Adams, Mumin Barre, Tracey-Alexis Dixon, William Nance, Dianne Smith and Clemmie Solomon
Excused: Lorna Forde, William Kaschak and Nan Qiao
Absent: Ram Konda
Staff: Cynthia Morris
Guests: Sabrina Hsu (for Nan Qiao), Darwin Romero and Roman Santillan
The meeting was called to order by Bill Nance at 6:45 pm and introductions were made by those present. Minutes from the March meeting were reviewed, approved with corrections and will be posted on the website.
Nominating committee chair Mumin Barre proposed a slate of new officers: Chairman, Bill Nance; Vice-Chair, Dianne Smith and Secretary, Tracey-Alexis Dixon. The position of treasurer remains open and the committee will continue to explore prospective candidates. The slate was approved unanimously.
The board welcomed Darwin Romero and Roman Santillan who were nominated to join the board by the Morazán committee.
Mumin shared that there are several candidates for board membership and their bios/resumes will be distributed as soon as possible for consideration for voting the next board meeting.
The annual Sister Cities meeting was held at the Silver Spring Civic Building Thursday 24 March. The event was well attended with approximately 105 guests, including County Executive Ike Leggett and Mari Carmen Aponte, former United States Ambassador to El Salvador.
County Executive FY17 Grant Application
Cynthia reported that the application was approved and the required contract signed by Bill Nance. Bill pointed out to the board that this grant remains the primary funding for Sister Cities, and that additional sources must be identified. He reminded the board to contribute their annual gift as soon as possible with a minimum donation of $100 and more if possible. Cynthia will follow up with reminder e-mail and submission instructions.
Councilmember Leventhal's request for Gifts and Expenditure ReportResponding to a request from Councilmember George Leventhal, Bruce sent a report listing all major donors ($250 or more) to Sister Cities. He explained that the request came as a result of Mr. Leventhal's
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Meeting
concern about county contributions to events, particularly to the Montgomery County Arts Ball and County Executive's Hispanic Gala. Councilmember Leventhal also requested financial information regarding Montgomery sister Cities and the World of Montgomery Festival. Bruce suggested the board consider how financial information should be formatted and presented for the website. Cynthia will explore formatting and content and make suggestions.
Board Goals for FY16 and 17
The priority for the board is identifying sustainable income streams which may include individual and corporate sponsorships. The idea of generating a fundraising plan was suggested. Ideas such as coordinating an international fair partnering with existing events was also mentioned, though it was pointed out that previous attempts in that area hadn't been successful.
The board needs to focus more and increase engagement in the work of the committees and their projects. The upcoming delegation trip to Gondar is a perfect opportunity to gather support for proposed projects. Projects currently being considered by the committee include creating a park near the University, painting the maternity ward of a local hospital or assisting in outreach efforts by FootWork, a US based non-profit that works to alleviate the foot disease Podoconosis, common in Ethiopia.
Clemmie reminded the group of the University's great need for text books, though he realizes transportation presents a challenge. Tracey explained that the current plan was for members of the delegation traveling to pack as many books as possible into one of two bags allowed for travel. Sabrina informed the group of a registry through the Library of Congress to receive surplus books as well as a possible opportunity to transport materials under the guidelines of the Denton Amendment. She will send a link to Cynthia to register Sister Cities for the program.
Bruce strongly suggested the board focus on helping the Gondar committee make their service project successful.
Gondar: The plans for the September trip are on track though deposits are coming in slowly. Montgomery College is sponsoring seven faculty members, and at least eight travelers from Kasey Kaseman's faith group are expected to participate. The Gondar committee anticipates an additional 13 reservations from the Sister Cities committee or their associates. The committee is considering fundraising activities to support service projects during the trip where they will do more out reach for participants.
Morazán: The committee is planning for their annual Fiesta to raise funds for scholarships for students in Morazán. The event will take place Friday 4 November at the Silver Spring Civic Building.
Hyderabad: Diane Vu met with Sanjay Rai, Vice President of Academic Affairs for Montgomery College and others regarding a County Executive led delegation trip in 2017. More details will follow.
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Meeting
Xi'an: Diane and Bruce hosted the foreign affairs chief from Xi'an in April and the new mayor of the city is planning a visit to Montgomery County in August. Sabrina shared the committee is excited about the County Executive's planned trip in 2017. She also told the group about the success of the annual Tai Chi event attended by 300 people in Cabin John Regional Park.
The committee is currently focused on the annual summer camp program for middle school students, replacing the effort with Winston Churchill High School because of logistics. Students who can pay for their travel to the city will receive room and board during their stay as they study the language, history and culture of Xi'an. The committee also sponsors up to nine Ph.D. or Masters candidates who can cover their travel as room and board will be covered for the duration of their stay as well.
Korean Sister City Status
Two RFPs have been submitted and Bill Nance and Dianne Smith volunteered to join Bruce, Diane and Cynthia in the review process in early July. A report will be made to the board at the next meeting.
Darwin Roman agreed to serve as chair of the finance committee and Mumin Barre agreed to continue chairing the nominating/membership committee. Bill suggested addition of a fundraising committee comprised of board members and a representative from each of the Sister City committees. He will give that more thought for further discussion at the next meeting.
2016 Meeting Calendar
Monday 25 July 6:30 at Office of Community Partnerships Thursday 20 October at Office of Community Partnerships
We have received two proposals from a local broker referred by former board member Tom Raffa. Dianne Smith, Darwin Romero and Roman Santillan will review and make recommendation.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:20pm.
Cynthia Morris, Senior Fellow
Attendees: Bruce Adams, Mumin Barre, Tracey-Alexis Dixon, William Nance, Nan Qiao Excused: William Kaschak, Clemmie Solomon and Dianne Smith Absent: Lorna Forde, Rom Konda, Darwin Romero and Roman Santillan Staff: Cynthia Morris and Diane Vu
The meeting was called to order by Bill Nance at 6:35 pm with reading and corrections of the minutes from the 21 June meeting. Once corrected, they will be posted on the website.
Bill shared that a board of directors insurance policy has been purchased effective immediately.
Following up on information sent electronically by nominating chair Mumin Barre, it was confirmed that board membership of both Darwin Romero and Roman Santillan was approved unanimously. The board then approved membership for Larry Colbert and Michael Greuenberg. Cynthia will notify them of the approval and they will be included on board communications going forward.
Gondar: Due to unrest in Gondar, the tip has been cancelled. While the committee is hopeful that a new date will be scheduled, they are not able to set a new date at this point. Diane Vu will place an update on the website.
Morazán: The committee continues to plan for their annual Fiesta to raise funds for scholarships and other programs on Friday 4 November at the Silver Spring Civic Building. They also approved donation of three sets of books about El Salvador for Montgomery County libraries to be coordinated by Roman Santillan.
Xi'an: Nan followed up on the report by Sabrina Hsu at the June meeting about the success of the annual Tai Chi event held in Cabin John Regional Park and attended by 300 people. The committee is looking forward to the 15 August visit by the Mayor of Xi'an and his meeting with County Executive Ike Leggett. Lily Qi will also attend.
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Meeting
The committee continues to search for partners for a sister school relationship as they have made little progress with Winston Churchill High School. Despite this situation, the committee is able to continue their successful summer camps in Xi'an for Montgomery County middle school students.
The Northwestern Chinese Association of Greater Washington will hold its annual summer picnic on Sunday 28 August and Nan will send information to Cynthia to distribute to the board.
Seoul Korean Sister City Status
Diane Vu summarized the meeting attended by board members Bruce Adams, Bill Nance and Dianne Smith along with Diane and Cynthia to review two RFP proposals from South Korean groups wanting to be considered for Sister City status with Montgomery County. Proposals were received from the cities of Goryeong and Daejeon and there was consensus that the Daejeon proposal was the better of the two. Diane explained that Wonro Lee, the community lead for their proposal, has a track record of success in organizing Maryland and Montgomery County trips to South Korea and already enjoys strong relationships to the county.
After formal preliminary approval to recommend Daejeon, Diane agreed to proceed with necessary follow up procedures for approval by the city with Mr. Lee after a meeting with the County Executive.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:00pm.
Cynthia Morris, Senior Fellow
Attendees: Bruce Adams, Mumin Barre, Michael Gruenberg, William Nance, Nan Qiao, Darwin Romero, Roman Santillan and Clemmie Solomon
Excused: Tracey-Alexis Dixon, Lorna Forde, William Kaschak
Participated by phone: Dianne Smith
Absent: Rom Konda
Staff: Cynthia Morris and Diane Vu
The meeting was called to order by Bill Nance at 6:40 pm with reading and corrections of the minutes from the 25 July meeting. (Members had been introduced at the new board member orientation held immediately before the board meeting). Once corrected, minutes will be posted on the website.
Nominations chair Mumin Barre proposed Roman Santillan for the office of board treasurer who was elected unanimously. It was decided that Vice president Dianne Smith will share check signing privileges with Bill Nance and Cynthia will continue maintenance of the checking account.
Year to date through September balance sheet and profit and loss statements were reviewed without corrections or additions.
World of Montgomery
Bruce reported the annual festival, held again at Montgomery College in Rockville was attended by over 8,000 people. Sister Cities volunteer committees, funded by the Fund for Montgomery through KID Museum each had 30 foot x 30-foot tent where food was served and presentations focusing on education about home and hearth were offered. The festival will be held again in October 2017.
Morazán: Roman reported that in addition to the tent at World of Montgomery, the committee sponsored a scholarship at the annual Hispanic Gala for a Montgomery College student. The committee also continues to explore ways to offer scholarship assistance to students in Morazán. The committee is also researching ways to offer books on Salvadoran history and culture through Montgomery County libraries.
The annual fundraiser Fiesta will be held on Friday 4 November at the Silver Spring Civic Building and board members were asked to support the event and attend.
Gondar: The committee participated in the annual Ethiopian Day 15 September in Silver Spring. The committee held an update session at Addis Ababa restaurant 26 September for those who had planned to
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Meeting
travel to Gondar in October. While there is certainly great disappointment about the inability to travel now, the committee will continue to monitor and re-evaluate the situation in the future.
Clemmie reminded the group that 27 students, faculty and staff from Montgomery College experienced a very successful trip in January, 2016 and he continues to maintain dialogue with his University of Gondar faculty contact, Dr. Desalegn Mengesha who was the recipient of the Nelson Mandela award presented at Montgomery College on 19 August.
Hyderabad: While the committee has not been very active, there is an effort underway by a group at Montgomery College to plan a trip in early 2017. A Diwali (Festival of Light) featuring traditional Indian dance is planned from 6-8 pm on 2 November and Diane will get the information to Cynthia for distribution.
Xi'an: A delegation from Xi'an led by the mayor met with County Executive Ike Leggett and Montgomery County Economic Development staff members for the first time to explore ways to enhance business opportunities in both areas. The committee is excited about continuing some of the dialogue during the planned delegation to Xi'an after the fall 2017 trip to Daejeon, South Korea.
The Hometown Association continues to sponsor a Tai Chi session each Wednesday at Quince Orchard High School and Tuesdays at Gaithersburg Library.
South Korean Sister City Status
Diane Vu reported that after reviewing to the RFP from Goryeong and Daejeon, the latter was chosen because of its long-established relationship led in great part by Mr. Wonro Lee and Ms. Lily Chi with the county through programs in two high schools and other economic development projects. Mr. Leggett has signed a friendship agreement with Daejeon and received a letter of interest from that city's mayor. A delegation led by Mr. Leggett will travel 21-28 October to the city for signing of the Sister Cities agreement and followed by a trip to Xi'an.
Cynthia reported the need to update the website with funding requested in the County Executive grant. Nan agreed to assist in identifying a vendor and will volunteer to maintain the website.
It was agreed that a winter board meeting will be scheduled in early 2017.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:05pm.
Cynthia Morris, Senior Fellow
Attendees: Theresa Cameron, William Nance, Dianne Smith, Bruce Adams, Lorna Forde, William Kaschak, Nan Qiao and Carol Rhees
Staff: Cynthia Morris
Absent: Mumin Barre, Neftali Granados, Ram Konda, Thomas Raffa and Solomon Teklai
The meeting was called to order by Chair Theresa Cameron at 6:35 pm with a welcome of the new senior fellow, Cynthia Morris. Introductions of board members followed and minutes of the December 2014 and January 2015 board meetings were reviewed. They were approved unanimously following motion and second by Dianne Smith and Bill Nance.
Bruce led the discussion centered on the 31 December 2014 balance sheet showing equity balances for each group. It was noted that the Ethiopia group has a debit balance of $3,127.65 and the India group's zero balance is because their trip funds went through a travel agent.
Bruce shared that the application for a $33,000 County Executive grant will result in funding of $25,000. He and Theresa suggested that board members email thank you messages to members of the county council.
The FY14 County Executive grant was summarized by Bruce who reported a balance of nearly $5,000 that must be spent by 30 June. Ideas for use of the funds included contracting a consultant to develop a strategic fundraising plan, including event planning and committee fundraising ideas. This raised the issue of developing a case statement and it was agreed that research into best practices of sister city organizations is a good first step. The executive committee will decide which board committee should conduct the research and make presentation to the board. Lorna suggested consideration of a session with successful sister cities groups, particularly because Sister City International is in the District and its executive director Mary Kane is a Montgomery County resident.
An alternate use could be upgrading the website, though a few questions should be answered before, including web "hits," (this information could be provided by Diane Vu). Theresa suggested that more input is needed, including executive committee discussion which will be shared at the May board meeting.
Dianne Smith presented the final draft for board approval (Motion and second by Bill Nance and Carol Rhess. They were accepted unanimously, and Cynthia is to follow up by filing them with the appropriate source.
The annual meeting held 13 January was a big success, with very good, informative presentations by the country committees. Suggestions for the 2016 annual meeting included an alternative month (not January!), more specific time guidelines for speakers, larger facility and more food. One suggestion for a venue was the new Silver Spring Library.
Sister City subcommittees: Fundraising, board development
While each of the country committees hold events throughout the year, more structure/guidelines would be helpful in addition to a master calendar and increased communication between the committees and the board. Cynthia will follow up with country committees through community liaisons as well as contact board members to determine country assignments.
A draft budget for 2015 was briefly discussed and it was concluded that the executive committee should also review, make suggested changes and present at the next board meeting.
While the report/brochure developed for distribution at the annual meeting provides a good overview of the work of Sister Cities, there was consensus that continuation of this effort is needed to build awareness and engagement. The website is linked to the county website, which is helpful in meeting this goal. In addition to the pins offered for a $20 membership contribution, Bruce noted first electronic newsletter went to donors as well as to the 2,500 people on the Office of Community Partnerships mailing list in December 2014.
El Salvador Trip
Bruce continues to work with the committee to settle on a date for this trip and define the mission, hampered in part by the need to better define the mission of the trip. He will provide updates as soon as possible, aware that time is of the essence and the office of the country executive is anxious for a final date. Bruce reminded the board of the prints that were generated for presentation to sister cities visited.
Previous discussion about needed guidelines and board engagement with the committees was reiterated and Cynthia will follow through in order to report at the next board meeting, and begin developing a master calendar of committee meetings and events.
Report on Sister Schools
A report on exchange programs is being prepared by Sean Thomas Gilmour, a graduate student working with Bruce, and there was general consensus that the development of a collaborative arrangement with Montgomery County Schools he is researching could present several challenges. While establishment of a community college branch in El Salvador generated excitement, the financial limitations make this unlikely for the time being. Emphasis was placed on the need for specificity of city needs before reaching out to prospects such as those identified by Bill Kaschak's research on Montgomery County businesses with ties to the sister cities. Bill agreed to draft a template.
The next board meeting will be TUESDAY 19 MAY AT 6:30 PM AT THE OFFICE COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS. A dial in number will be provided for board members unable to attend in person.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:10 (Smith/Rhess)
Attendees: Bruce Adams, Mumin Barre, Theresa Cameron, Nefali Granados, William Kaschak, Ram Konda, Nan Qiao, Thomas Raffa and Dianne Smith
Staff: Cynthia Morris
Excused: Lorna Forde, Bill Nance and Carol Rhees
The meeting was called to order by Chair Theresa Cameron at 6:40 with brief introductions by each board member. Minutes from the April 2015 meeting were reviewed and approved unanimously (Smith/Kaschak).
The Year To Date (January-April 2015) Profit & Loss statement and balance sheet were reviewed with no change from the April meeting, with total assets $12,315.40. Bruce explained that the financial arrangements with the artist for the paintings commissioned for Sister Cities are complete on a break-even basis and final transactions will be reflected in the May statements. He also explained that the deficit shown on the balance sheet for the Ethiopian committee will hopefully be eradicated by their planned July fundraiser.
County Executive FY14 Grant There is a surplus totaling about $4,800 from the FY14 County Executive grant. After some discussion, it was decided that the funds will be used to cover the annual dues to International Sister Cities ($2,250) and the quarterly fee for the Greenberg Accounting Firm ($750). At Cynthia's suggestion, the balance will be used to produce outreach materials (specifically, rack cards) for Sister Cities and each of the city committees. We were reminded that there had been some discussion about upgrading the website, but it was agreed that this could be addressed with funds in the FY16 grant.
El Salvador 2015 Trip
The trip to Morazán led by County Executive Ike Leggett will take place 7-11 November, and all board members are welcome to join. Nestor Alvarenga has made great progress towards finalizing the package at less than $2,000, and the target number of participants is 40. County Council president George Levanthal is leading an effort to identify sources of contributions of medical supplies. Bruce has met with Evelyn Gonzalez and other volunteer committee members to finalize specs and logistics of contributions of county surplus computers. Tom Raffa may have 20 computers, and will make adjustments to meet provided specs. Bruce will follow up once the specs are provided.
Bruce is hoping to have a "ribbon cutting" at one of the schools receiving the computers. Nestor is preparing a one pager for the website and will send it to those who have attended previous events.
Board responsibilities/committee structure and assignments Theresa and Cynthia met to discuss board responsibilities and Cynthia is continuing to have conversations with board members. At Theresa's suggestion, the executive committee will hold follow up discussions. Tom, Bill Kaschak and Theresa all offered to provide committee templates to facilitate the process. Findings and suggestions will be presented at the next board meeting.
Mumin Barre reminded the board that Solomon Teklai informed him that his current schedule makes it impossible for him to continue to serve, and he will get together with Daniel Koroma to work with the committee to identify a replacement.
Bruce advised the board of a trip to Gondar, Ethiopia tentatively scheduled for January, 2016. The trip will be led by the Ethiopian Sister City Committee and faith leaders led by Mansfield Kaseman, Interfaith Community Liaison. The trip is scheduled to coincide with major festivals held in January as well as a scheduled trip of Montgomery College students. While Bruce has had some discussion with Mr. Leggett about leading the delegation, his schedule presents some challenges that must be resolved before a final decision is made about his participation.
The Ethiopian Committee is planning a fundraising event 5 July and hopes to raise about $4,000 which will erase their deficit with some residual.
Sean Thomas Gilmour presented his research on "Educational Best Practices and Strategic Planning" focusing on international educational exchange programs, with emphasis on best practices and programs. He explained the nuances that distinguish exchanges from delegation trips (students requiring more stringent focus on host placements, etc.) and a lengthy discussion continued from there. As part of the discussion, the board was reminded of the expressed interest in establishing a Korean sister city, though there is consensus that 2017 would be better timing for such an addition. Board members were encouraged to read Mr. Gilmour's impressive work, and assured him that his work will serve as a valuable resource for future program planning.
Theresa will advise the board of the next meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:00 (Kaschak/Smith)
Attendees: Bruce Adams, Mumin Barre, Tracey Dixon (Yasin Yimam), Lorna Forde, Neftali Granados, William Kaschak, Ram Konda, William Nance, Dianne Smith
Excused: Theresa Cameron, Carol Rhees and Thomas Raffa
The meeting was called to order by Treasurer William Nance at 6:40 who explained Chair Theresa Cameron was unable to attend. Bruce added that Senior Fellow Cynthia Morris was also unable to attend due to a family emergency. Bruce introduced Trace-Alexis Dixon, a member of the Ethiopian volunteer committee who was attending on behalf of board member Yasin Yiman who was unable to attend. Minutes from the May 2015 meeting were reviewed and approved unanimously.
Bruce reported the receipt of the last reimbursement check for the Country Executive FY14 grant and that the FY16 grant contract has been signed by Theresa Cameron and submitted.
El Salvador 2015 Trip
Neftali and Bruce explained that retired computers from Montgomery County will be donated and sent during the Morazán trip to be led by County Executive Ike Leggett will take place 7-11 November. He also shared that the University of San Salvador approved moving forward with a Morazan program by granting 25 acres of land. Bill Kaschak added that the school will begin as a technical training school.
Country Committee Responsibilities
Bill Nance asked for reaction to draft distributed by Theresa and Mumin suggested sending the draft to the country committees for review for the next meeting. Diane pointed out that language of the draft was inconsistent with the by-laws and will work with Theresa to correct before distribution to country committees.
Bill Nance asked board members to submit an annual gift of at least $100.
After some discussion on the topic of the $3,000 deficit carried by the Ethiopian committee, there was a unanimous vote to forgive the amount due to the unusual circumstances that led to the situation, with the stipulation that this would not be considered a procedural precedent.
Country Committee Reports
El Salvador - Naftili announced the 24 October Fiesta from 6-11 at the Silver Spring Civic Building and urged all members to attend. He also offered each board member a ticket to the event.
Ethiopia – Tracey asked for support for the 11 October fundraiser from 6-10 at the Silver Spring Civic Building.
India – Ram Elections will be held in December for (WHAT???), they are working on student exchanges.
Bruce shared thtr a community member expressed interest in another sister city in China which led to a meeting with the MAYOR OF Gaithersburg. Interest has also been expressed in a sister city in South Korea and a sister schools agreement is in the works with Montgomery County Public Schools.
Bruce asked board to support the World of Montgomery Festival 18 October at Montgomery College where all sister city countries will be represented.
Mumin invited board to the Friendship Picnic 20 September at Wheaton Regional Park.
The meeting was adjourned at 8pm
Cynthia Morris from notes provided by Bruce Adams
Attendees: Bruce Adams, Lorna Forde, Neftali Granados, Daniel Koroma (Yasin Yamim) Ram Konda, William Nance, Nan Qiao, Carol Rhees and Dianne Smith
Excused: Mumin Barre, William Kaschak, Yasin Yamim and Thomas Raffa
Staff: Cynthia Morris
The meeting was called to order by Chair Theresa Cameron at 7:15 pm. Bruce acknowledged the attendance of Daniel Koroma on behalf of Yasin Yiman on behalf of the Gondar volunteer committee. Minutes from the 17 September 2015 meeting were reviewed and approved unanimously. Bruce asked Cynthia to get them posted to the website.
Treasurer William Nance explained that he preferred to distribute the financial statements after getting clarification of a few items from the accountant, including an entry to reflect erasing the deficit shown in the Gondar committee account. He reported that there is around $19,000 in the bank, excluding deposits made from PayPal for the fundraising campaign for the San Francisco de Gotera Hospital in Morazán. Through the leadership of County Council president George Leventhal, a little over $11,000 was raised for the hospital and the funds will be wired to the hospital in January. Cynthia reported that an invoice for $6,500 was submitted against the County Executive grant for reimbursement of several items, most related to the Morazán delegation trip and the fundraisers of the Morazán and Gondar committees.
Gondar Committee Fundraiser
Daniel thanked the committee for its decision to erase the committee deficit and for its support of the fundraiser held 11 October. While they did not get the crowd they wanted, they did clear a small amount ($600), and feel it positioned the committee to plan for more events and activities in 2016. He encouraged board members to attend the committee meetings and events in order to stay connected with the committee work.
In other news, Daniel said the trip to Gondar by a group from Montgomery College in January of next year will be followed by one with Gondar committee members and other community groups, including a faith based community group. They hope that they will have an opportunity to donate computers for elementary schools and tour the University of Gondar. They also hope to deliver more medical supplies and shared that the group that helped during the last trip is still active and looking forward to the return of the Montgomery County delegation. The trip will probably be about ten days, and the cost will be less than $3,000.
Neftali shared that the event held 25 October was a big success and that he would like board members to make a special effort to come to next year's event. The committee will try to secure a date for next year's event soon.
El Salvador 2015 Trip
Neftali and Bruce reported that despite the very full agenda, the trip was very productive. County Council president George Leventhal led the delegation in place of County Executive Ike Leggett who was recovering from back surgery. With the collaboration of COTSA, 150 computers retired by Montgomery County and medical supplies solicited from local hospitals and medical organizations were delivered. The delegation included five or six nonprofit executive directors and Ana Sol Gutierrez. The $11,000 raised under Mr. Leventhal's leadership will go to the neo-natal unit at the hospital. A ribbon cutting for the first school to receive the computers was held as well as a visit to the area where 25 houses are being built by our local Habitat for Humanity. The committee still hopes to find a way to create opportunities for accessible higher education.
Board members were reminded to submit an annual gift of at least $100. Bruce reminded the board that a date must be set for the annual meeting, hopefully with more space than the 2015 event at the Library. Suggestions were made for the County Executive Office Building, Montgomery College and a fire station in Wheaton. Theresa will work with Bruce to identify a site and date. Bruce will work with Cynthia to generate an annual report for 2015. Theresa reported that Mumin Barre will chair the nominating committee, and he will be reaching out to board members to serve. Theresa asked board members to contact Mumin to confirm their intention to continue on the board and to express interest in serving as officers. There was a brief discussion about a proposed board manual that Theresa had circulated before the meeting, and she committed to completing the manual while she is still serving in her current position. She will also explore the topic of board insurance. The meeting was adjourned at 8:10 pm
Cynthia Morris Senior Fellow
Approved by Montgomery Sister Cities Board at April 14, 2015 meeting.
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for December 8, 2014
Place: County Executive’s Conference Room, Executive Office Building
Attendees: Chair Theresa Cameron, Treasurer William Nance, Secretary Dianne Smith, Bruce Adams, Mumin Barre, Evelyn Gonzalez-Mills, Ram Konda, Tom Raffa, Carol Rhees, and Solomon Teklai.
Absent: Lorna Forde, Neftali Granados, William Kaschak, and Nan Qiao.
The meeting began at 5:40 p.m. with a welcome from Chair Theresa Cameron and introductions. Ram Konda, our newest Board member representing the India Sister City committee, was born and raised in our new Sister City of Hyderabad, India. He is a founder and now serves as chair of the 1,000 member Capitol Area Telugu Society. Evelyn Gonzalez pointed out that Monica Delgado should be the Board representative from the El Salvador Sister City committee. Dianne Smith said that the bylaws leave plenty room for new members and that Neftali Gonzalez could stay on the Board and need not be replaced.
Approval of Minutes for September 17, 2014 Board Meeting The Board unanimously approved the minutes of the September 17, 2014 Board meeting.
Theresa Cameron explained that the County Executive had been called away to the site of a tragic plane crash that occurred earlier in the day. She said that we would flip the agenda in the hope that he would be able to join us later.
Update on Indian Sister City (Dianne Smith and Ram Konda) County Executive Leggett led a Joint Sister City-Economic Development Mission to India November 11-22, 2014 and signed a Sister City agreement with the City of Hyderabad on November 14, 2014. Four Board members were part of the 42 member delegation – Bruce Adams, Lorna Forde, Ram Konda, and Dianne Smith. Dianne began the report by saying how inspiring the trip was with visits to rural schools, hospitals, historic sites as well as a grand signing ceremony. Ram explained that the trip was more productive than the Governor’s 2011 trip which did not result in a signed agreement. Bruce pointed out that we were able to get a signed agreement because of Ram’s connection to the Mayor and to one of the members of City Council. Ram explained that Hyderabad is known as the Pearl City. It is 30% Muslim and has strong interfaith relations. Hyderabad is India’s sixth largest city with 8 million people. It has a strong IT sector. Bruce said that the Mayor and Councilmember both expressed strong desires to visit Montgomery County in the near future. The Mayor is interested in briefings on transportation, infrastructure, solid waste and recycling, and storm water management. Theresa Cameron noted the importance of letters of thanks and other follow up to retain interest in the relationship. Bruce said Ike and Catherine Leggett have agreed to host a reunion for the delegation early in 2015.
Update on Ethiopian Sister City (Solomon Teklai) Solomon Teklai reported that the Ethiopian Sister City committee has adopted bylaws and created four subcommittees. The committee will hold a fundraiser in April 2015.
Update on Salvadoran Sister City (Evelyn Gonzalez) Evelyn Gonzalez reported that the Salvadoran Sister City committee held a successful Fourth Annual Fiesta in September. She said progress is being made to bring a university program to Morazán and that the committee is trying to bring a university vice president to visit Montgomery County. Evelyn said that the committee needs logistical and financial support from the county. She noted that the cost of renting the Silver Spring Civic Building ate up much too much of the money raised at their fundraiser. Carol Rhees suggested using the embassy to host the fundraiser.
Newsletter, Six Year Report, and Annual Meeting (Bruce Adams) Bruce Adams reminded the Board that former Senior Fellow Bob Levey sold Montgomery Sister Cities pins for $20 each with the promise of a quarterly newsletter. Bruce said that he is working to get an electronic newsletter out in December that will provide updates on the four Sister Cities and promote the January 13, 2015 annual meeting. Theresa Cameron asked each Board member to send us at least ten names and email addresses for the newsletter and annual meeting invitation. Theresa said that our bylaws require an annual meeting. She envisions this as a friendraiser, not a fundraiser but that it should lay the groundwork for future fundraisers. Evelyn Gonzalez said January is a terrible time to hold an annual meeting. The consensus was that this is long overdue and that we should stick with the January date. Acknowledging Evelyn’s point, Theresa suggested having another friendraising meeting in April. Bruce said that he believed this is a great time to do a substantive report to the community on our first six years. Theresa said that Text Design, our graphics firm, will do an outstanding job on the report.
Theresa asked all Board members to plan to attend the January 13 annual meeting and be ready to say a few sentences about why they serve on this Board. Ram asked that we write a clear statement defining what a Sister City is and why people should attend our annual meeting.
Update on Bylaws (Dianne Smith)
Theresa Cameron thanked Dianne Smith for her work updating the bylaws and said that she would email all Board members copies of the proposed revised bylaws. Dianne asked that members send comments directly to her.
Update from Board Chair (Theresa Cameron) Theresa said she had spoken with our accountant (Grossberg) and that we will get set up with Quick Books and have financial reports for the Board at future meetings. She asked Tom Raffa to get additional quotes for liability insurance for Board members.
Conversation with County Executive Ike Leggett County Executive Leggett thanked the Board members for their commitment to the Sister City program. He said that when he first suggested a Sister City program, he did not anticipate such a robust international engagement. He said we have created a groundswell of support. Now, he noted, we need to take stock and think hard about sustainability. We need to be careful that we sustain what we have and that we not undermine existing relationships. He said we cannot sustain this effort with the volunteer oriented approach that launched it. He said we need to enhance county financial support over time and seek private sector sponsorships.
We want to stay engaged with the people from our Sister City communities who live here. They are our most important ambassadors. We need to maintain and strengthen these relationships. We need to take a step back before we add additional relationships.
Theresa Cameron agreed that we need to build a stronger foundation. We need to tell our story better and get the word out about what we are doing. She told the County Executive that we need help with fundraising. Solomon Teklai said that his committee understands that Montgomery County will have only one African Sister City, but the committee members hope Takoma Park or other county municipalities will entertain Sister City relationships with some of the countries that competed for the African Sister City.
Evelyn Gonzalez said that she was glad we are all of the same frame of mind. She said the Salvadoran Sister City committee feels we need more county support. El Salvador, for example, could use computers that Montgomery College no longer needs. County Executive Leggett said that was a great example of his point. We could give the computers, but we would also need a plan to transport, install, and maintain them.
County Executive Leggett said that we will build financial support over time. Tom Raffa said we could provide ideas on the cost of the things we need.
County Executive Leggett explained that when we were in Xian, China last year, we had an engraved plate to give as a gift until we saw the magnificent model terracotta warriors and horse drawn chariot the Mayor gave us. He said he told Bruce Adams to come up with a better gift. Bruce suggested a limited edition print by local artist Joseph Craig English. County Executive Leggett said the print should feature Strathmore, and the artist came up with the idea of an orchestra to showcase Montgomery County’s diversity and our tradition of working together. He said the print was very well received in Hyderabad.
Solomon Teklai said that the Sister City committees need clear guidance on the relationship between the country committees and the Board. Theresa Cameron said the relationship is laid out in the proposed bylaws. Acknowledging Solomon’s point, she said this is an important topic for a future meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 7 p.m.
Minutes prepared by:
Bruce Adams, Director, Office of Community Partnerships
Approved by the Board at September 17, 2014 meeting
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for May 14, 2014
Place: Rockville Memorial Library
Attendees: Chair Theresa Cameron, Bruce Adams, Mumin Barre, Neftali Granados, Bill Kaschak, Bill Nance, Diane Smith, Solomon Teklai, and Beverly Walker-Griffea
Absent: Samim Ardeishar, Devin Doolan, Lorna Forde, Evelyn Gonzalez, Bill Hudnut, Tom Raffa, and Carol Rhees
Staff: Dave Robbins, Senior Fellow
Board Chair Theresa Cameron called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m.
The Board approved the draft minutes for the February 22, 2014 Board retreat.
Bruce Adams reported that we have filed the appropriate document in lieu of the IRS 990. Dave Robbins is in communication with the Maryland Secretary of State's Office to ensure that our nonprofit status remains in good standing. Bruce said we will set up a meeting with our accountant and Theresa and Board Treasurer Bill Nance. Dave Robbins will purchase QuickBooks. Theresa Cameron said we will have a financial statement for the Board at the next meeting.
Diane Smith agreed to check with the Maryland Secretary of State regarding the status of our bylaws. Theresa Cameron said she would take responsibility for getting directors and officers insurance. Mumin Barre said that our individual homeowners' policies will cover us in the meantime.
The Salvadoran Sister City Committee has scheduled its annual Fiesta fundraiser for Saturday September 13 at the Silver Spring Civic Building.
The Ethiopian Sister City Committee, with the support of a University of Maryland graduate student, has drafted bylaws to govern its operations. Solomon Teklai provided an update on activities including plans for a fundraiser. Beverly Walker-Griffea reported on the need to finalize the memorandum of understanding between Montgomery College and the University of Gondar.
The formal Xi'an-Montgomery County Sister City agreement will be signed soon. Theresa Cameron, Bruce Adams, Lily Qi, and Diane Vu represented Montgomery County at the Sister Cities International's celebration of 35 years of China-United States Sister City relationships at a March 26-28 conference in Washington, DC. (http://www.sister-cities.org/2014-us-china-sister-cities-conference-recap).
Plans for the County Executive's Joint Sister City-Economic Development Mission Trip to India November 11-22 are well underway. Hyderabad, India will become Montgomery County fourth Sister City.
Jess Haley, an intern from Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS), will be serving at the Office of Community Partnerships this summer to offer research support on best practices for Montgomery Sister Cities.
The Bethesda Big Train summer college baseball team will feature Montgomery Sister Cities as one of its Nonprofits of the Night on Wednesday June 11. It will be "The World of Montgomery Comes to Povich Field Night," and we will get 100 free tickets and an opportunity to showcase our work.
Bruce Adams thanked Diane Vu and Thuan Vu for an excellent job updating and upgrading our web page. Board members agreed that Diane and Thuan have produced a strong foundation for our webpage.
Mumin Barre announced that he will be resigning at the end of his third year on the Board. He said he will recruit a successor.
Theresa Cameron suggested that, in addition to an executive committee, we create three work groups – fundraising, bylaws, and goals. Diane Smith agreed to chair the bylaws committee. Bill Kaschak agreed to chair the fundraising committee. At 7:15 p.m., Board chair Cameron adjourned the full meeting of the Board so that the fundraising and bylaws work groups could have their initial meetings.
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Retreat Minutes for February 22, 2014
Place: Silver Spring Civic Building
Attendees: Chair Theresa Cameron, Bruce Adams, Mumin Barre, Lorna Forde, Evelyn Gonzalez-Mills, Neftali Granados, Bill Kaschak, Bill Nance, Diane Smith, Solomon Teklai, and Elsie Walker
Absent: Samim Ardeishar, Devin Doolan, Bill Hudnut, Tom Raffa, Carol Rhees, and Beverly Walker-Griffea
Staff: Dave Robbins, Senior Fellow; Diane Vu, Asian Liaison OCP; and Daniel Koroma, African Liaison OCP
Facilitator: Reemberto Rodriguez
Guests: Ram Konda, India Sister City Committee; Allison Ray, University of Maryland; and Nan Qiao, China Sister City Committee
Note: Bill Kaschak was elected to the Board by email votes after the December 12, 2013 Board meeting.
Facilitator Reemberto Rodriguez, director of the county's Silver Spring Regional Center, welcomed members as they arrived and asked them to place dots on a world map indicating where their favorite grandmother was from and a place they had lived a decade or more.
Chair Theresa Cameron opened the meeting at 9 a.m. by thanking Reemberto for facilitating the meeting and welcoming Board members, and asking new Board member Bill Kaschak to introduce himself.
Reemberto Rodriguez asked each Board member to identify places they have lived and to share the gifts they received from those places. Here are some of the gifts shared by Board members: dignity, beauty, welcoming, belonging, understanding, open mindedness, thankfulness, always being there for me, art, music, and dance, opening my mind to how people see poverty, how generous people can be, life beyond the beltway, sense of simplicity and community, sense of inclusion, how to treat others, and opportunity.
Solomon Teklai spoke of the feeling of belonging as the gift Montgomery County has given to him. Reemberto said that Montgomery County has intentionally sought diversity and that people come here to experience that diversity.
Chair Theresa Cameron explained that she had formerly been Chair of Maryland Nonprofits and pointed out the importance of staying aware of Board responsibilities. Theresa noted that some founder based nonprofits sometimes ignore the fundamentals of organization at their peril. She distributed copies of the Bylaws of Montgomery Sister Cities (attached) and noted that we are out of compliance with a number of items in the Bylaws. The Bylaws call for a youth member as well as representation from the County Council and Department of Economic Development. The Bylaws limit service on the Board to three terms and require members to live or work in Montgomery County. She pointed to confusion over the quorum rule.
Theresa Cameron noted the importance of Board members becoming more engaged in the work of the organization. She suggested the need for a calendar of upcoming meetings and events. She polled Board members and found support for weekday meetings to start at 6:30 p.m. and to be held in Silver Spring or Rockville. She asked Evelyn Gonzalez and Solomon Teklai of Montgomery College for help in recruiting one or two student members. Bill Kaschak suggested broadening the age of youth to 16 to 26.
Dianne Smith pointed out that the Bylaws require an annual meeting of members of the organization.
Theresa Cameron suggested we poll members on years served and clarify the quorum rules. She pointed out that the importance of keeping minutes up-to-date and noted that the Bylaws require us to have a Secretary.
ACTION: Dianne Smith volunteered to serve as Secretary and was elected to that position by the Board.
Bruce Adams asked the Board to clarify how the representatives of the country committees are to be selected. By consensus, the Board agreed that each active Sister City country committee would designate one representative to serve on the Board as a voting member.
Theresa Cameron suggested creating a Bylaws committee. Dianne Smith noted that she had helped write the original Bylaws. Theresa read the mission statement of Montgomery Sister Cities:
People have come to Montgomery County, Maryland from every corner of the globe. Montgomery County Sister Cities Inc. was established to connect Montgomery County to the world by encouraging and fostering friendship, partnership, and mutual cooperation through educational, cultural, social, economic, humanitarian, and charitable exchanges between the people of Montgomery County and people from various nations around the world. The organization's objectives include:
(a) Encouraging the people of Montgomery County, Maryland and the people of similar communities in other nations to acquire information about each other and to understand one another as individuals, as members of their community, as citizens of their country, and as part of the family of nations.
(b) As a consequence of such knowledge and information, fostering a continuing relationship of mutual concern between the people of Montgomery County, Maryland and the people of similar communities in other nations.
(c) Undertaking activities and programs as well as providing the appropriate cooperation, assistance, education, and mutual understanding between Montgomery County and similar communities in other nations.
(d) Participating as an organization in the promoting, fostering, and publicizing of local, state, and national programs of international cooperation. ACTION: Board members agreed to reaffirm the mission. Bill Kaschak asked how we measure progress against the mission statement. Bruce Adams said that he had just selected a summer intern from the Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS) program who will produce a critical analysis of the Montgomery Sister City program that concludes with recommendations for improving future mission trips and building strong and sustainable programs with our current and future Sister Cities.
Bruce Adams explained the background of Montgomery Sister Cities. Upon taking office in 2006, County Executive Ike Leggett established an Office of Community Partnerships (OCP) to help ensure that Montgomery County is an open and welcoming community to all of our residents and to strengthen our ties to ethnic minorities and nonprofit and faith organizations. One of the very first initiatives County Executive Leggett suggested to Bruce as the new OCP director was to establish a Sister City program. Bruce explained that Sister Cities International's webpage showed that many communities now have multiple Sister Cities and that Sister City programs are meant to be people-to-people, not government-to-government relationships. County Executive Leggett asked Former Member of Congress and Mayor of Indianapolis and the Town of Chevy Chase Bill Hudnut to chair a Board to establish a Sister City program. Bill Hudnut recruited a Board and incorporated Montgomery Sister Cities as a 501(c)(3) community-based nonprofit organization. By June of 2009, the Board hosted a community forum to seek public input on prospective Sister Cities. The clear message given at the forum was that Montgomery County's Sister Cities would come at the initiative of the residents, not the government.
The Salvadoran community demonstrated the most energy and initiative at the June 2009 forum, and the Board began consideration of a possible Sister City in El Salvador. El Salvador is the number one country of origin of Montgomery County's immigrant population. Morazán, the equivalent of a state in the north-eastern part of the country, was selected because many county residents had fled from there during the Salvadoran Civil War (1979-92). In August of 2010, a delegation of about twenty had a very successful visit to Morazán. On July 26, 2011, County Executive Leggett signed Montgomery County's first Sister City agreement with Governor Miguel Angel Ventura Argueta. Seventy-five county residents and officials witnessed the signing ceremony.
The County Executive's African Affairs Advisory Group expressed interest in identifying an African Sister City. Seven countries competed in a nine-month long process that involved 300 county residents and resulted in a recommendation to the Montgomery Sister Cities Board of Gondar, Ethiopia. Ethiopia is the number one country of origin of Montgomery County's African immigrant population. On September 27, 2012, County Executive Leggett signed Montgomery County's second Sister City agreement with Gondar Deputy Mayor Getinet Amare with nearly forty county residents in attendance.
In 2012, the Board was briefed on several possible Sister Cities in China and ultimately selected Xi'an. On September 20, 2013 County Executive Leggett and Xi'an Mayor Dong Jun signed a Letter of Intent as a first formal step toward becoming Sister Cities. More than eighty county residents accompanied County Executive on the joint Sister City and Economic Development Mission Trip to China.
Theresa Cameron noted that the Board members should be more engaged in the Sister City trips. Bruce Adams agreed and pointed to the tremendous value of having Board member Bill Nance on both the preliminary and signing trips to Ethiopia.
Evelyn Gonzalez explained that the Morazán committee meets every other month and that the group goes to Morazán once each year to refresh the relationship. Neftali Granados noted with pride that the group had passed leadership to a new generation. He also noted that Morazán has 26 municipalities and that the Sister City committee was responsible for getting the mayors to work together across party lines. Neftali described several of the committee's highest priorities including support of several Hometown Association projects, the purchase of computers for a computer lab for Morazán's new community college and Habitat for Humanity's commitment to build 45 houses and rehabilitate 45 others. He noted that the annual fiesta raised nearly $7,000 to support these programs.
Solomon Teklai explained that the Gondar committee raised $15,000 for the 2012 exploratory trip and $11,000 for computers for an elementary school and is developing a partnership with the International Medical Corps. He explained that one challenge is that not all Ethiopians want to work with the government and that the Gondar committee is working to overcome that. Daniel Koroma, African liaison in the Office of Community Partnerships, introduced Allison Ray, a graduate student at the University of Maryland who is working with the committee on a strategic plan. Daniel noted that Montgomery College has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Gondar and that a number of African Americans accompanied the County Executive on the 2012 trip.
Diane Vu, Asian liaison in the Office of Community Partnerships, explained that her predecessor as Asian liaison Lily Qi now serves as special projects staff in the Office of the County Executive. Lily worked with several Hometown Associations and ultimately recommended Xi'an as our Sister City. Lily organized the County Executive's Joint Sister City and Economic Development Mission Trip to China in September. Diane introduced Nan Qiao, chair of the Sister City Committee of the Northwestern Chinese American Association of Greater Washington (NCAAGW). Nan explained that his organization has 300 members and is the largest Chinese hometown association in the Washington region. He explained that he was part of an exploratory group that visited Xi'an in 2012 with Lily Qi. He said the Sister City committee held a very productive first meeting the previous weekend and will target economic development, education, and cultural exchanges. Diane noted that the Sister City process in China requires several steps, and that we have just received approval from the provincial level for a formal Sister City relationship.
ACTION: The Board unanimously elected Nan Qiao to the Board as the representative of the China country committee.
Diane Vu reported that Dr. Sanjay Rai of Montgomery College is the leader of our committee working to develop a Sister City in India. The committee, which includes Maryland Delegate Aruna Miller, has been meeting for nearly 18 months and has surveyed the Indian community and proposed Hyderabad in southern India because of its blend of modern and traditional, its bio tech industry, and its religious diversity. Diane introduced Ram Konda of the Indian committee. Ram explained that he traveled home to Hyderabad in December with a letter from County Executive to the Mayor asking about the possibility of becoming Sister Cities. The Mayor promptly replied expressing his enthusiasm for becoming our Sister City. This will require approval from the national government. The County Executive is planning a Joint Sister City and Economic Mission Trip for mid-November 2014.
Bill Nance suggested we need more definitive selection criteria. Solomon Teklai noted that there has been some confusion about the role of the Gondar committee vis-à-vis the Montgomery Sister Cities Board and the county government. Bruce Adams apologized for any confusion and said that each country committee is responsible for taking the leadership to develop the Sister City relationship in their country. Dianne Smith said Board members are too divorced from what is going on with the country committees. Bill Nance responded that the Board can not do all the work and that is why we created the country committees. Theresa Cameron suggested the Board should be giving more direction to the country committees. Elsie Walker asked if we should not limit our Sister City relationships to counties. Bruce Adams explained that other countries have very different governmental systems and that our flexibility has been very helpful in framing appropriate partnerships. Evelyn Gonzalez said the country committees really need support. Elsie suggested Board members should serve on country committees.
Theresa Cameron asked what our goals are for fundraising. She pointed out that fundraising helps engage more people. Bruce Adams pointed out that former Senior Fellow Bob Levey concluded that there is "no value proposition" for businesses to contribute to Montgomery Sister Cities. Bruce reminded the Board that Bob created a membership organization, Friends of Montgomery Sister Cities, that gives members a pin and promises them quarterly newsletters for $20. Theresa Cameron noted that the Board never discussed fundraising as a Board responsibility. But first, she said, we need to discuss what we would fundraise for – support the country committees? Support the World of Montgomery Festival? promote cultural awareness?
Bruce Adams pointed out that we have left fundraising to the country committees. Mumin Barre asked where that money goes and if it was sufficient to leave the fundraising to the country committees. Bill Nance noted that the Board has organizational responsibilities that go beyond the activities of the country committees – dues to Sister Cities International (SCI), newsletters, flyers. As Board members, our contributions merely cover our dues to SCI. We need to do more, Bill said. Dianne Smith asked what fundraising other Sister City organizations do. Bruce Adams pointed out that every member of the Board contributed $100 or more in 2013. Lorna Forde said the Board should support the country committees and not leave all the fundraising to them. Evelyn Gonzalez said the country committees need more from the Board than just money. They need expertise, for example teacher training.
Dianne Smith asked if our finances were centralized in one account. Bruce Adams explained that we have one bank account and that we keep records for each country committee. Dianne asked what oversight the Board should have over country committee fundraising. Theresa Cameron suggested fundraising for dues, materials, website, and part time staff. Reemberto Rodriguez reminded us that our fundraising should not compete with country committee fundraising. Theresa Cameron said membership is friend raising, not fundraising. She pointed out that events are labor intensive and that she is not interested in another annual fundraiser.
Diane Smith said board members should support the country committee fundraising. Mumin Barre asked if the country committees should pay dues to Montgomery Sister Cities. Evelyn Gonzalez said NO! Solomon Teklai suggested that if the Board supported country committee fundraisers, Montgomery Sister Cities could get a percent. Theresa Cameron raised the possibility of grants from the county or foundations. Elsie Walker said we should look into citizen exchange grants from the State Department. Bill Kaschak pointed out that federal and international grants are very labor intensive and very competitive. Theresa Cameron asked about raising money from groups of former Peace Corps, AID, and similar organizations. Bill Nance said we first have to raise the money to cover recurring costs and then move on to the next level of adding capacity. Bill Kaschak said we have to show the donor will receive value. Theresa Cameron said that is why we have to articulate our value clearly. Elsie Walker suggested approaching local foundations. Bruce Adams pointed out that some of the world's largest international consulting groups are based in Montgomery County. Ram Konda said that it should be easy to sell thirty tables at $500 each.
Theresa Cameron suggested we create a committee to establish goals, another to revise the Bylaws, and a third for fundraising. We need a calendar of meetings and events that includes an annual meeting. She warned the Board members that she is famous for annoying, follow-up emails. Solomon Teklai suggested we pick a theme for the year, perhaps education. Diane Vu reminded the Board that she is working with a volunteer to revamp the website and should have a draft by the end of March. She confirmed that she is looking into including on-line giving.
Theresa Cameron thanked all the board members, staff, and guests for a productive meeting. She said this was the first time she really felt connected.
A group photo was taken and the meeting adjourned at approximately 12:30 p.m.
Note: Soon after the retreat, Chair Theresa Cameron received an email from Elsie Walker thanking Theresa for hosting an excellent retreat but saying that work pressures require her to resign from the Board.
APPROVED by Board at May 14, 2014 meeting.
Approved by Montgomery Sister Cities Board at December 8, 2014 meeting.
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for September 17, 2014
Place: Rockville Memorial Library
Attendees: Chair Theresa Cameron, Treasurer William Nance, Secretary Dianne Smith, Bruce Adams, Lorna Forde, Neftali Granados, William Kaschak, Carol Rhees, and Solomon Teklai.
Absent: Samim Ardeishar, Mumin Barre, Evelyn Gonzalez-Mills, Nan Qiao, and Tom Raffa.
The meeting began at 6:35 p.m. with a welcome from Chair Theresa Cameron and introductions. Carol Rhees, attending her first Board meeting, introduced herself as a lawyer, teacher, and executive director and founder of Hope for Children US, a nonprofit serving children in Ethiopia.
Theresa Cameron opened by suggesting meeting dates for the next year (see Note #1 below) and promising that a full budget and accounting will be provided at the next meeting of the Board in December.
Approval of Minutes for May 14, 2014 Board Meeting
The Board unanimously approved the minutes of the May 14, 2014 Board meeting.
Update on Bylaws (Dianne Smith)
Dianne Smith led a discussion of possible amendments and clarifications to the bylaws that included: (1) Theresa Cameron volunteered to send Dianne language that would clarify that “members” are meant to be members of a “friends group” who would get newsletters and invitations to annual meetings and Sister City trips but not vote as Board members; (2) change from three Board members to represent Montgomery County Government to one; (3) clarify that a Board member does not have to be a Montgomery County resident; (4) amend the language regarding the executive committee; (5) clarify the annual meeting requirement; and (6) specify that each Sister City country committee would have one representative on the Board. Solomon Teklai asked that each Sister City country committee have a separate bank account. Theresa Cameron explained that our accountants prefer separate accounting for each country committee within a single bank account.
Update on Ethiopian Sister City (Solomon Teklai)
Solomon Teklai reported that the Ethiopian Sister City committee has four subcommittees and has scheduled regular meetings in the fall. The committee will hold a fundraiser.
Update on Salvadoran Sister City (Neftali Granados)
Neftali Granados reported that the Salvadoran Sister City committee held a successful Fourth Annual Fiesta attended by 200 on September 13 at the Silver Spring Civic Building. Thirteen members of the committee visited Morazán this past summer. The Habitat for Humanity project continues on pace.
Update on Indian Sister City
Plans are underway for County Executive Leggett to lead a Joint Sister City-Economic Development Mission to India November 11-22, 2014 and to sign a Sister City agreement with the City of Hyderabad.
Future Sister Cities (Bruce Adams)
Bruce Adams and Theresa Cameron shared their view that we should limit ourselves to the four excellent Sister Cities for awhile and work to strengthen the four relationships.
Lorna Forde and Bill Kaschak volunteered to serve on our Nominating Committee. Bill Nance reminded the Board of our desire to select a youth member.
New Business (Theresa Cameron)
Theresa pointed out that some Board members have still not paid their dues. She said she would get us set up on quick books and purchase directors insurance to cover Board members. She asked Bruce Adams to arrange for County Executive Ike Leggett to attend our December Board meeting and to arrange for a place for an annual meeting.
Bruce Adams reminded Board members that the Sixth Annual World of Montgomery Festival featuring our four Sister City countries will be held on Sunday October 19 at Westfield Wheaton. Bruce asked Board members to volunteer to help staff the Montgomery Sister Cities table and/or serve as volunteer Ambassadors to greet attendees.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:05 p.m.
Minutes prepared by:
Bruce Adams, Director, Office of Community Partnerships
Note #1: Subsequent to the Board meeting the suggested dates were modified as follows:
Monday December 8 (NOT December 3) MSC Board meeting with County Executive 5:30-7 p.m., second floor conference room, Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street, Rockville.
Tuesday January 13 (NOT January 14) MSC Annual Meeting 6:30-8 p.m., first floor conference room, Rockville Memorial Library, 21 Maryland Avenue, Rockville.
Note #2: Samim Ardeishar resigned from the Board stating her preference for serving as our accountant through her firm, Grossberg LLC, and not as a member of the Board.
Approved by Montgomery Sister Cities Board at December 8, 2014 meeting.
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for January 8, 2013
Attendees: Raffa, Adams, Barre, Nance, Smith, Levey, Ayele, Walker, Mitchell
In Bill Hudnut’s absence, Bill Nance acted as chair and led the meeting.
As the Secretary position remains vacant, Kelly Mitchell recorded the minutes.
Members of the delegation that visited China were in attendance, as were members of local Chinese associations to present an overview of the trip to China and the Chinese city recommended as the next Sister City.
Lily Qi presented the overview of the China trip. In total, the trip spanned two weeks and four cities. The trip began in Shanghai (Pudong). Shanghai is home to five million people, generates 25% of China’s GDP, 50% of foreign trade, 30% of foreign investment and attracts 70% of overseas returnees. Maryland has a longstanding relationship with China and is a sister state with Pudong. The state of Maryland funded the building of Maryland Center China ("MCC"), which is the first US Center in China. MCC facilitates investments and trade between Maryland and other states and China.
From Shanghai, the delegation visited Qingdao in Shandong, which is a major seaport and economic center. Qingdao is home to more than eight million people and is one of the top five cities from a business perspective. The delegation moved on to Benxi, Lianong, in northeast China. This city was similar to Pittsburgh in that it was China’s "Steel Belt" but is in transition. Within the city of Benxi is the development of a new city to be known as the Medicine Capital, where new universities are being constructed. The China Medical University here wants to partner with Johns Hopkins. They are also looking for hospitality partners, such as Marriott and Choice Hotels. This city could make a good economic partner, Qi said, but was not recommended as the next sister city.
Xi’an was the final city on the agenda and was recommended as the next sister city. Xi’an was the most "traditionally Chinese" city of all the places visited. It is where old China meets new China. It was home to 15 Capital Dynasties historically, has the third highest concentration in the country of colleges and students with 10 universities, is third in the country for science and technology, and the third largest international metropolis in China. The incoming Chinese president is from this area and it is expected that this city will gain more attention as a result. The city is in the process of growing from 3.7 km2 to 307 km2. The city has an educated work force and offers a low cost of doing business, Qi explained. The MD Port Authority is poised to partner with Xi’an for an international trade and logistics port.
Xi’an already has a U.S. sister city. However, that relationship has been inactive. The Montgomery County Chinese community was asked if it supports Xi’an as the Chinese sister city. All community associations in attendance confirmed that they were, and said they were excited about the partnership. They confirmed that they would be committed to making sure that embassy support and local fundraising would be available as well. Xi’an has also shown a commitment to the county by sending a delegation to visit in December, 2012, and planning a second visit in April, 2013. An official trip by the county to Xi’an is being organized for September. It will be led by the county executive.
The board unanimously approved Xi’an as the next sister city. The Chinese association representatives departed from the meeting after the vote.
Minutes from the October 3, 2012 board meeting were approved. Executive director Bob Levey gave an update on what has occurred over the last quarter and items in progress.
To date, approximately $1,000 in Friends of Sister City memberships have been sold. He has engaged a new volunteer who has been successful in booking speaking engagements and appearances. He is hoping that through these efforts he can generate enough support to garner $1,000 of membership sales monthly. Immediately upon receipt of the donation, Levey sends a letter of thanks. He also emphasized a need to do separate fundraising for the overall health of the organization and the individual sister cities. He is looking for ideas to meet the specific needs. The volunteer accountant will be leaving for three months for tax season, so Levey thought this was a good opportunity to bring in someone new to take over the accounting. He has found someone new that will be starting immediately—new board member Samim Ardeishar of Grossberg LLC.
There have been some issues with finances, Levey said, such as having to carry $20,000 in cash to Ethiopia to fund the delegation trip. He recommended creating a purchase order system from which only he and Bill Nance can approve expenses. The board was in support of the purchase order system, which will be one of the first tasks for the new accountant.
Levey is also creating a new brochure that will be published by sometime in the spring. He requested board members to provide testimonials to be included. Levey has also applied for a $25,000 grant from the county, which the organization has a good chance of being awarded, he said. The grant is typically awarded in late spring and paid in September. The money will be used to hire a new person (non-volunteer) to handle administrative work. Finally, Levey acknowledged the new board members in attendance, Elsie Walker and Solomon Ayele.
Levey also gave an update of the India sister city that is planned for 2014 in light of the negative press on the treatment of women. Levey and Bruce Adams met in early January with an Indian community group, which affirmed that there shouldn’t be any political fallout from choosing an Indian sister city. The group said that women are treated respectfully in the city and throughout the country. Nonetheless, due to the publicity, the organization will be watching the situation closely and delaying the choosing of the Indian sister city until a less turbulent time. The plan is still to have 10 sister cities over the next few years but this goal will be managed based on the capacity of the board. Both China and India are deemed important partnerships for the county, but timing will be important.
Kelly Mitchell gave an update of the new website, which is up and running. Board members were requested to provide updated biographies as soon as possible to be added to the site.
New board members were unanimously approved – Gene Lawson, formerly of Export-Import Bank, Samim Ardeishar of Grossberg LLC and Beverly Walker-Griffea of Montgomery College. The secretary position remains vacant.
Levey gave a financial report. He confirmed that the organization is current—it has no receivables and no payables. Questions arose concerning how expenses were reported. Levey stated that once the new accountant comes on board, some of the issues should be resolved. He and Ayele will sit down to discuss how they would like the income and expenses for Sister Cities to be reported, he said.
Discussion then ensued concerning the filing of taxes. It is unclear whether taxes should have been filed in previous years but it is believed that there will need to be a filing for 2012. The new accountant will also be tasked with figuring this out.
DRAFT for approval by the Board at May 14, 2014 meeting
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for December 12, 2013
Place: Rockville Memorial Library
Attendees: Chair Bill Hudnut, Bruce Adams, Mumin Barre, Theresa Cameron, Lorna Forde, Evelyn Gonzalez-Mills, Neftali Granados, William Nance, Diane Smith, Solomon Teklai, and Elsie Walker
Absent: Samim Ardeishar, Devin Doolan, Tom Raffa, Carol Rhees, and Beverly Walker-Griffea
Staff: Dave Robbins, Senior Fellow
Presenters: Diane Vu, Asian & Middle Eastern Liaison, Office of Community Partnerships, and Lily Qi, Director of Special Projects, Office of the County Executive
The meeting began at 6:30 p.m. with a welcome and introductions. Chairman Hudnut gave a special welcome to new Board members Lorna Forde and Solomon Teklai and our new Senior Fellow Dave Robbins.
Update on Finances and Friends of Montgomery Sister Cities (Bruce Adams and Dave Robbins)
Bruce Adams reminded the Board that one of the County government’s contributions to our Sister Cities partnership is to hire a part-time Senior Fellow to support the Sister Cities program. Dave Robbins, a former director of recreation at Montgomery County and a former federal official who worked for President Carter, has experience with Sister Cities from his service as an elected member of the Rockville City Council. Bruce explained that he has asked Dave to focus on two priority projects. First, Dave will work with Helen Buckley, the volunteer recruited by former Senior Fellow Bob Levey to setup a QuickBooks account, and Board member Samim Ardeishar of the Grossberg accounting firm to ensure that our books are in order and that the Board will receive regular financial reports at all future meetings. Bruce reported that every Board member had made a contribution of at least $100 enabling us to pay our annual dues to Sister Cities International. He reported that we have approximately $10,000 in the bank. Second, Dave will work to reenergize the Friends of Montgomery Sister Cities started by Bob Levey. Dave explained that for a $20 annual membership contribution, members get a MSC pin and regular email newsletters. Bill Hudnut recommended that we hold an annual membership meeting. Mumin Barre reiterated his recommendation at previous Board meetings that we bring all of the Sister Cities country committees together to share best practices.
Update on Webpage (Diane Vu)
Diane Vu reported that her father, Thuan Vu, is the information technology staff person in the County Executive’s office and that he has agreed to help us rebuild our webpage. We should have a draft ready for comments in January. Theresa Cameron recommended that we look at Sister City websites from other local and state communities. Bill Hudnut reminded us that minutes of Board meetings and notice of Board meetings must be posted on the web. He asked that each Board member prepare a short bio for the web. Bill suggested that we list the names of all members of the Friends of Montgomery Sister Cities.
Approval of Minutes for May 9, 2013 Board Meeting
The Board unanimously approved the minutes of the May 9, 2013 Board meeting.
Update on Salvadoran Sister City (Neftali Granados)
Board member Neftali Granados presented a detailed report of the accomplishments of the Salvadoran Sister City committee (attached). Neftali reported that he found his July 2013 trip to Morazan with the Montgomery County Habitat for Humanity group to be extremely rewarding. Habitat has committed to build 45 new homes and rehabilitate 45 existing homes in Morazan. Two trips are scheduled for July of 2014. Neftali also reported on medical equipment, instruments, and computers that have been donated. Montgomery College is helping the leadership of Morazan bring college level courses to Morazan. He pointed to the work of Montgomery College’s Global Humanities Institute. Neftali explained that Salvadorans of his and Evelyn Gonzalez’s generation came to the Washington area because of the civil war. There are now twenty active hometown associations represented in COTSA, the regional coalition of Salvadoran hometown associations. He spoke with pride about his generation’s ability to pass leadership of the Sister City committee to the next generation of Salvadoran leaders. Neftali reported that a November fundraiser held at the Silver Spring Civic Building raised $6,000 to support the Sister City program. Bill Hudnut remarked on the outstanding accomplishments of the committee and noted that we should get publicity for what is being done.
Update on Ethiopian Sister City (Solomon Teklai)
New Board member Solomon Teklai gave a brief report on activities of our Ethiopian Sister City committee, including a fundraiser to support a program of books for Africa, computers for elementary schools, instruments for a youth program, and a partnership between Gondar University and Montgomery College.
Update on China Sister City (Lily Qi)
Lily Qi, Director of Special Projects in the Office of the County Executive, reported on the September 15-24, 2013 mission trip to China. More than 80 people participated in the four city joint economic development/Sister City mission, including the top educators from MCPS, Montgomery College, Universities at Shady Grove, and Johns Hopkins University in Montgomery County. Productive economic development relationships were established in several cities including foreign direct investment into Montgomery County's economic development projects. A Sister Schools agreement was signed between Churchill High School and Xi’an #1 Middle School and a “Letter of Intent on Developing a Friendship City Relationship” was signed by the County Executive and the Mayor of Xi’an, a historic city of 8 million best known as the home of the famous Terracotta Army.
Since returning from the trip, the County Executive has written to the Mayor to invite him to travel to Montgomery County in March of 2014 in conjunction with a conference of Sister Cities International. We contracted with a travel agent to manage trip logistics and prepared a mission book with brief bios of all participants, two practices Lily recommends for all future trips. Diane Vu explained that we are working with the Northwest Hometown Association to build a country committee to support the Sister City relationship. Bruce Adams pointed out that we will seek representation for our Board from the Chinese and Indian Sister City committees. Here is the County's press release on the mission: Leggett Mission to China Advances County Business & Investment Aims.
Update on Process for Selecting Indian Sister Cities (Diane Vu)
Diane Vu, Asian and Middle Eastern liaison in the Office of Community Partnerships, reported that Dr. Sanjay Rai, Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Montgomery College, is leading a working group to make a recommendation for a Sister City in India. After surveying community leaders and discussing options, the group has recommended Hyderabad. Established in 1591, Hyderabad is a city of nearly 7 million people that serves as the capital of the southern India state of Andhra Pradesh. Maryland Delegate Aruna Miller and HHS director Uma Ahluwalia are from Hyderabad. The County Executive has written to the Mayor and has received a positive response. The County Executive’s trip is planned for mid-November 2014 and will include Delhi and Mumbai. Diane reported that we are working closely with the Department of Economic Development to ensure a robust economic development component to the mission. New Board member Lorna Forde is helping us with travel arrangements. Elsie Walker encouraged staff to work with the Indian Embassy.
Discussion of Strategic Planning and Future Meetings (Bill Hudnut and Bruce Adams)
Bill Hudnut reminded the Board that County Executive Leggett had asked him to establish a Board for Montgomery Sister Cities in 2008 and that he had served as Chair of the Board since its inception. Bill reported that Theresa Cameron, one of our original Board members, has agreed to serve as Chair. Mumin Barre moved election of Theresa as our new Chair. The motion was seconded by Bill Hudnut and unanimously approved by the Board. Theresa explained that in her former role as executive director of the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, she had been the Chair of the Maryland Nonprofits. To take our organization to the next level, Theresa proposed that we pick a Saturday in January for three hours of food, fun, and strategic planning. She will recruit a facilitator and will reach out to several Board members to help in planning the retreat. Theresa said it is important to define exactly what we are marketing before we attempt to hire a fundraiser. Bruce Adams reported that Keith Haller, who had initially proposed to help us develop a public relations and fundraising plan, had withdraw his proposal. Elsie Walker said that when we partner with prosperous cities, we should encourage community development projects. Evelyn Gonzalez said that it is important that the country committees have an opportunity to share best practices.
The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8 p.m.
Minutes prepared by:
Bruce Adams, Director, Office of Community Partnerships
Notes: By vote of the Board via email in November, the Board approved: (1) the election of Lorna Forde as a member of the Board; and (2) moving forward with a contract with Keith Haller of Potomac Inc. to help the Board develop a public relations and fundraising plan. As indicated above, Haller subsequently withdrew his proposal.
On November 26, 2013, Barry Bogage submitted his resignation as a member of the Board.
Approved by Montgomery Sister Cities Board on ________________.
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for October 3, 2012
Attendees: Hudnut, Gonzalez, Raffa, Adams, Doolan, Barre, Nance, Smith, Levey, Mitchell
As the Secretary position remains vacant, Kelly Mitchell recorded the minutes.
Chair Bill Hudnut began the meeting with a vote of the June 19 Meeting Minutes, which were approved with no changes. He followed this with a welcome to Bob Levey, the new Executive Director (as of July). He also implored all board members to pay (or get caught up) on their dues as soon as possible.
Bob Levey provided an overview of what he has accomplished since coming on board in July. He introduced Kelly Mitchell, his new volunteer assistant, and Helen Buckley, the new volunteer accountant. He reported that the banking relationship with Eagle bank was a good relationship but required some attention and told of a snag he experienced in requisitioning payment for the Ethiopia trip. He has worked with the bank and revised the signatories on accounts to himself and Bill Nance. The bank was very cooperative and he followed up by sending a thank you note, which prompted Tom Raffa to agree to provide stationary with the organization’s logo for future correspondence. He has also reestablished the organization’s relationship with the Maryland Secretary of State, which good standing will permit the organization to continue fundraising. He provided an update on plans for the organization to have a presence at the World of Montgomery Festival in Wheaton on October 21. Friends of Sister Cities memberships will be sold at a booth during the festival at the standard price of $20 and reduced price of $10 for students. The membership fee will provide a Montgomery Sister Cities pin (a photocopy of the logo pin was passed for the board to view) and access to a regularly occurring blog moderated by Bob Levey. He also brought to light that the organization is $1,665 in arrears on dues to Sister Cities International. The hope is to sell 500 memberships to raise money to pay the past due amount as soon as possible. Once paid, Sister Cities International will be notified of the two most recent sister cities – Morazan and Gondar. Finally, he gave an update on the website, which is being moved to a new URL. The board members gave feedback on the site’s URL, which is expected to be www.montgomeryMDsistercities.org. The board also gave feedback on the information they would like to be available on the site.
Bruce Adams and Bill Nance reported on the trip to sister city Gondar, Ethiopia. There were 38 people that participated in the trip (including 10 students from Montgomery College), which was described as sensational. The Montgomery College students filmed a video of the trip that will likely be available on the school’s web station. He emphasized the benefits of traveling with the organization is the opportunity to meet real people and discuss real-life issues, which is a different experience than with typical tourism. He also expressed a need to not judge a potential sister city on their political or human rights history, as they may have missed the opportunities that exist in Gondar had they not proceeded, since Ethiopia’s Prime Minister died shortly before the envoy’s trip was to begin. The hope is that the experiences of those that participated in this trip could be used as a marketing tool for Montgomery Sister Cities. Gondar University’s president provided a delegation of 10 and the Mayor of Gondar was fully engaged during the trip. The mayor also created and hired someone for a position specifically to act as a sister city liaison. Gondar is an historic community and home to two world heritage sites. It has benefitted from an explosion of construction, which is all government funded. There are development opportunities in Gondar that can be pursued, especially in technology and infrastructure. The envoy from Montgomery Sister Cities provided first-aid kits, musical instruments, and computers but due to shipping issues, the donations did not arrive prior to the envoy departing; however, the liaison will ensure delivery and communicate the shipment’s arrival. Discussion ensued concerning how to keep the momentum generated from the trip and it was determined that the local indigenous community should lead the endeavor. The Montgomery College students will be invited to the next meeting to discuss their experience. Dr. Pollard of Montgomery College will be contacted to discuss more interaction with the board and potentially an invitation to the board in the future.
Mumin Barre led a discussion of the organization’s bylaws. It was discussed that more specificity could exist in the bylaws. The board will review additions that may be necessary, as well. He also discussed the potential to partner with community organizations and business to become friends to Montgomery Sister Cities.
Evelyn Gonzalez reported on the need for the sister city committees to receive more help from the board. Specifically, access to resources and visibility are the primary needs. The board agreed that they were willing to help, as necessary.
The board voted in 3 new board members, two new positions, and tabled a third position to be voted on at the next meeting. Elsie Walker, Solomon Ayele, and Neftali Granados were unanimously voted in as Board members. Bill Nance was voted in as Treasurer. Kelly Mitchell was voted in as Assistant Secretary. There wasn’t anyone to accept the nomination of Secretary and this position remains vacant, to be voted on at the next meeting.
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for June19, 2012
Attendees: Hudnut, Adams, Nance, Barre, Cameron, Foxman,Doolan,Bogage
Since Evelyn Gonzalez is in El Salvador, Bill Nance was designated Secretary for this meeting with his approval
Chair Bill Hudnut initiated a board discussion about possible partnering with Beit Shemesh/Mateh Yehuda. The board praised the Chair for running an excellent community meeting at CountyEOB on the subject on March 13. The presentations by the attendees and subsequent dialoguing were impressively informative and civil. For now boardmembers Barre, Nance and Cameron suggested that the board needed more time to consider this partnering. The Chair reminded the board of the need to weigh matters including issues of human rights in Beit Shemesh as well as the 15 year history of good works there by the Jewish Federation. He said that there should be no “rush to judgment” so that the board taking more time on this subject was the way he recommended to go. Board members agreed to delay further consideration of partnering with Beit Shemesh/Mateh Yehuda with future information gathering and discussion on the subject.
Neftali Granados, Chair of the El Salvador Committee gave a report on progress of sister city activity in Morazan, our sister city partner in El Salvador. His report included information about Habitat For Humanity which is now active there. Habitat will build 38 homes with volunteers in the coming years. He mentioned the excellent efforts of Mover Moms led by Rebecca Kahlenberg which will go to Morazan again this summer to help in schools and community centers. The committee shipped $22,000 of donated medical supplies to clinics around Morazan . Finally the committee sponsored 11 teachers at a central America teachers’ conference in San Salvador related to improving teacher techniques in the classroom. The committee did some successful fundraising at a Fiesta event in December.
Soulelem Ayele , a leader in the Ethiopian Committee and Daniel Koroma, County liaison to the African American community, reported on developments in the county’s upcoming plan to partner with Gondar, Ethiopia. In January a small group of individuals including Ayele, Koroma, Adams and Nance traveled to Gondar to look for projects which in which sister cities and Gondar might partner. They met with officials from a major university there which looks promising especially since MontgomeryCollege has an interest in the Gondar program. There were other opportunities identified including computer labs, sports and waterworks. Around September 23 County Executive Ike Leggett will lead a sister cities delegation to Gondar for the signing of a partnership agreement. The trip will include visits to historic sites in and around Gondar as well as to its more modern developments in the education and other fields. The upcoming trip will cost the travelers approximately $2,000 for travel, accommodations, guides and other amenities. It is a very low price for this undertaking. Some travelers will extend their trips to see other sites in Ethiopia including some spiritual historic sites.
The board led by Adams honored Mier Wolf for his service to sister cities as he retires from his county senior fellow position at the end of June. The surprise celebration included a cake and spoken tributes by Adams and Chair Hudnut. Wolf thanked the board for its excellent efforts and reminded everyone that sister cities is succeeding because in Morazan, Neftali and Jorge Granados, Evelyn Gonzalez(board member), Karla Silvestre, county liaison to the Latino community, and for Gondar Soulelem Ayele and Daniel Koroma have made extraordinary personal commitments to this cause. They have made the “people to people” spirit of sister cities live in our county and in Morazan and Gondar.
Board member Foxman reported upon the continuing interest of Luhansk, Ukraine to partner with the county in the sister cities program. Luhansk governmental leaders have previously visited the county for that purpose and intend to return. He reported that a well known oncologist had gone from Maryland to Luhansk to supervise surgery in a hospital there which drew great interest in Luhansk. Foxman noted, however, that for Luhansk to proceed further in seeking partnership with the county, it needs to demonstrate strong interest and commitment from the local Ukrainian community which has yet to occur.
The board then heard an impressive presentation by several Chinese American county residents advocating the county partner with Xi’an China. Xi’an is noted for a remarkable display of ceramic soldiers which tourists from around the world visit. The presenters, however, emphasized the broad based benefits the county would enjoy by partnering with Xi’an. It is a strong biotech and high tech community. It is a university center in China with a number of higher education institutions located there including an national agricultural lab. They have contacts with the University of Maryland in College Park. Xi’an has a population of 8.5 million people and a gross national product of $62 billion. Thirteen dynasties have ruled Xi’an and it was part of the Silk Road. Xi’an appears to have a very interesting past and a very dynamic present.
A second presentation for partnering in China came from county residents supporting Bexin, China located in the LiaoningProvince. In this impressive presentation by a U of Maryland student the board learned that Bexin is a healthcare and pharmaceutical center in China. Within Bexin is Shenxi which has a number of large pharmaceutical companies. It is a growing pharmaceutical city within Bexin. Bexin, with a population of 3 million people, is located near Shenyang, with a population of 10 million people, one of the largest cities in north eastern China. Bexin also has a significant steel industry. For tourism there is the well known BendWaterCave. Board member Adams reported that a small group of county representatives will go to China this fall in part to explore possible sister cities options there. The itinerary has yet to be set.
Diane Vu, Asian American liaison for the county, has informed us that Chungbuk, South Korea is no longer a candidate to partner with the county. They will seek partnership with the state of Maryland which is in compliance with Chungbuk’s own partnering requirements. It appears, however, that another South Korean city or province will be identified for possible partnering so that Ike Leggett can visit South Korea for exploratory purposes as well China, once the China partnership is defined.
Sister Cities Board Meeting February 7, 2012
Attendees: Boardmembers Hudnut, Smith, Adams, Smith, Barre, Nance, Gonzalez Guests: Ayela, Warner, Koroma
Chairman Hudnut opened the meeting asking for discussion of the Beit Shemesh question. Sister Cities had conlemplaled partnering with Beit Shemesh as soon as fall of 2012, but has yet to enter any agreement. Human rights violation episodes occurred in Beit Shemesh that were reported in the press in December of 2011 including harassment of school girls by extremists who thought the girls were not dressing appropriately for school. There are groups and individuaìs in the county who have urged Sister Cities to forgo partnering with Beit Shemesh as a result of these incidents. The organizations include the County Executive Middle-Eastern Advisory Group and a group called MD Human Rights. Org. Seven individuals have contacted Sister Cities in opposition to the proposed partnering. Two commenters favor partnering regarding the episodes as not representative of Beit Shemesh as a whole and one more commenter asked for more information. The Sister Cities Board decided to have a meeting with the opponents either on March 13 or March 27 in Rockville. The meeting date will be determined by the Chairman and Mier. The opponents will be notified of place, date and time. The meeting will most likely be held in a Rockville Library conference room. Depending upon the results of that meeting there may be a separate meeting called to hear from proponents of partnering with Beit Shemesh though the Jewish Federation has previousiy made a presentaiion to the board favoring the Beit Shemesh partnering.
The next board topic was a trip to Gondar, Ethiopia by 9 people on behalf of Sister Cities to explore the possibilities of partnering there. By ail accounts the trip was a great success. Daniel Koroma, County African Liaison, started out the report extolling Gondar as a perfect place to partner for its history, culture, education and economic potential. The Mayor of Gondar and President of the University there were very enthusiastic about the partnering. The university currently has 20,000 students and expects to have 40,000 students by the end of the next four years. The university was started as a public health institution but has added to the curriculum significantly along the way. They hope to add scientific capacity with the help of Johns Hopkins in Shady Grove and the NIH. They also learned from our delegation how Montgomery College could participate in this effort. Tim Warner, County liaison to the American community and an ordained minister saw the possibility of helping the university form a theology department. The religious history of Gondor and Ethiopia is fascinating within the Judeo-Christian field, but other religions as well. There has been an ongoing emigration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel and a community of 2,000 Ethiopian Jews still live in a separate community in Gondar awaiting emigration. It is hoped that Sister Cities will send a delegation headed by lke Leggett to visit Gondar next fall, as early as late September, for a partnership signing. The delegation might include three groups: the county Gondar sister cities committee, the President of Montgomery College and others and a religious scholar possibly from a DC area interfaith group. It could include as many as 75 people.
In Gondar, the Sister City delegation just returned leamed that they need training to build capacity to serve their citizenry. They will need to define what kind of training is needed and the president of their university agreed to help ín that effort. It appears it could be generally academic, science and health including physicians especially, agriculture and economic development including bio-tech opportunity. Furthermore, their elementary schools need computers, secondary schools need sports equipment and school classrooms need renovation. Our Sister Cities and a Gondar Committee in Gondor will need to document and prioritize projects that might be undertaken.
The board then turned to the subject of Morazan- Evelyn Gonzalez reported that the Morazan committee participated in a very successful benefit in December which netted the committee approximately $5200. The committee may use the funds to transport donated medical equipment to a hospital in Morazan. The committee also not only provided 4 bookshelves to a school in Morazan, but it continues to send books to the school-the last shipment including 14 boxes.
The board then approved the December 6, 2011 meetings minutes.
Then Bruce Adams reported on more activity in Iooking toward finding a partner in China. There will be a board meeting held on May 8 to hear four proposals for Chinese communities with which the county might partner. This is being coordinated by Lily Qi, former County Executive Asian liaison for the county as well as Diane Vu, the new Asian liaison. Though Gondor was recommended by the County Executive African Advisory Board, it appears that for China it will be move efficient and acceptable that at least four possibilities be identified by Lily who rernains a county administrator in a different capacity, but still involved with the county Asian commmlity.
Bruce suggested we look into acquiring pins to give as gifts in future Sister Cities travels. His Contact for that purpose is Chris Renshaw.
Suzan Jenkins, Director of the county office of the Arts and Humanities contacted Mier to let him know their interest in heìping to effectuate exchanges with Sister cities partners in the cultural area.
Evelyn Gonzalez, Secretary
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for December 6, 2011
Board members in attendance: Hudnut, Adams, Cameron, Barre, Nance, Foxman, and Mooers(de1ayed). Guests were Daniel Koroma, Solomon Ayele, Ina Lerman and Norman Goldstein.
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for September 15, 2011
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for June 7, 2011
Board attendees: Bill Hudnut, Bill Nance, Evelyn Gonzales, Theresa Cameron, Boris Foxman, Bruce Adams, Devin Doelen and Don Mooers.
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for April 12, 2011
The meeting was held at the Lemon Center in the Town of Chevy Chase. Board members in attendance were: Hudnut, Adams, Smith, Gonzalez, Nance, Bogage, Cameron, Raffa
The Board discussed how the newly forming county sister cities committees would function. A Morazan committee is active, a Beit Shemesh committee is close to forming officially as is a Luhansk, Ukraine committee. The Board agreed that these committees should function independently to the extent that no board official committee rules would be established. The committees will elect a chair, a vice-chair and a Secretary. The Sister Cities board chair will serve as treasurer for the committees as well as for the Board. The Board agreed to appoint the Chair of each committee formed to the Board for purposes of good coordination of activities.
The Board received a recommendation from Theresa and Tom that we ask for a $200 contribution from each Board member to defray costs that the organization is incurring. The major cost is membership to the International Sister Cities organization which has helped us in each phase of developing our program. The Board voted to adopt this recommendation and several pledges and cheeks were given to Mier at the meeting to get this proposal off and running. It’s hoped we’ll have 100% board participation in this effort.
There was an update of this coming Morazan visit plan. 47 people including the Leggett delegation, Habitat For Humanity, and Mover Moms have signed up for the trip so far. Ike Leggett and the Morazan Governor will sign the partnership agreement during this visit. The travelers in the Leggett delegation may include two days of commitment to projects in Morazan in addition to the other efforts of Habitat For Humanity and Mover Moms. Habitat For Humanity volunteers will most likely renovate or build a house while Mover Moms will work in Perquin on school and other matters. Bruce will be trying to find funds to donate to the community center in Perquin for musical instruments they badly need. Bruce is looking into finding funding for the Long Branch Athletic Association to send soccer players to Morazan for some games there. Later in the meeting the Board agreed to ask each Morazan visitor this summer to contribute $100 to the project on which they work or one which they support.
Beit Shemesh remains ready and eager to partner with the county in the sister cities program. Their Mayor recently visited the county and took a tour of the Rockville City Center after his meeting with Ike Leggett. It is thought that the agreement signing for Beit Shemesh need not be in person since the Mayor visited here and Ike Leggett has visited Beit Shemesh. The signing will be sometime after the Morazan signing, perhaps in early or late fall.
Our next meeting will be held on June 7, 2011 at the Lawton Center. There will be a presentation at that meeting about possible Chinese participation in our sister cities program. It may be that the county African Advisory board will soon be ready to present several possibilities for county partnering in Africa from which the Board will be asked to choose the best option for exploring partnership purposes.
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for February 3, 2011
Attendees: Bill Hudnut, Bruce Adams, Dianne Smith, Adrienne Van Late, William Nance, Boris Foxman, Barry Bogage, Don Mooers and Evelyn Gonzalez
Guests: Elizabeth Hugley, county resident interested in Morazan, representatives from ADEL and a microfinance institution in Morazan and Adrian Karmazyn, a county resident interested in the Ukraine
The board approved the minutes for the September and November 2010 board meetings.
The meeting began with a discussion of our county exploring partnering with Luhansk, in the Ukraine. Luhansk, with approximately 2 million residents, is a government entity somewhere between a county and a state in comparison with the U.S. It is located in the eastern part of the country so that it is very Russian culturally. It is the second largest country in area next to Russia in Europe. Luhansk has approached our county with an interest in sister city partnering. They have provided us with a Luhansk mission statement for that purpose. Furthermore, they have obtained a grant from Open World to send a delegation to our county next fall (2011) for them to learn more about us and we about them. They have identified a mix of governmental, sports and other professionals who have formed a sister cities committee in Luhansk. Six of those individuals are expected to visit our county in the fall sponsored by an Open World Grant for this purpose. Adrian Karmazyne, who professionally works at the Voice of America and is a county resident, described strong interest from Urkranian county residents that this partnership be explored. He reported that Luhansk is diverse ethnically. In our county, he reports there are two strong Ukranian churches with approximately 700 parishioners in each of the churches. There is also a Saturday school at Westland Middle School where children of Ukranian ancestry study their heritage including language. A meeting was held in January about possible county/Luhansk partnering that included representatives from the Ukrainian Embassy and from the Arlington County, VA sister cities program which partners with a community in the Ukraine. State House of Delegates member Resnik is also interested. The board agreed that it would like to host the Ukraine delegation in the fall and look forward to the event. It was suggested that the delegation might come in September when there is a county Ukrainian cultural event in which the visiting delegates might participate.
The next subject the board addressed was Beit Shemesh, in Israel. It has been the intent of the board that this community be the second one with which the county partners after the Morazan agreement is concluded. Several years ago the County Executive visited Beit Shemesh and agreed with their mayor that we would become sister city partners one day. Since then there have been exchanges from Beit Shemesh to the county completed in which sister cities has assisted. One exchange involved Ethiopian Jews coming to the county to demonstrate their art of coffee preparation and to describe their experiences in emigrating to Israel in the 1980’s. There was also a group of environmentalists who visited the county to learn how we deal with matters like recycling and greening programs. Mier Wolf will set up a meeting with local Beit Shemesh advocates which available board members can attend. The mayor may visit the county next fall.
Several Morazan visitors including the Director of ADEL, a development organization, explained the purpose of their visit to the county. They are arranging for a business opportunity which will allow a microfinance institution (70% of which will be owned by ADEL through its subsidiary AMC) to do the remittance work for people sending funds from the county to El Salvador. Part of the proceeds the company realizes for this service will be directed to social service programs in Morazan. There are already 800 farmers who benefit from these programs through a dairy plant created with funds from the ADEL subsidiary, AMC. The Morazan visitors among other places visited LEDC in the county. The expanded remittance program in Morazan will include more branches in outlying areas as well as office space in the county.
Evelyn Gonzales then gave an update on the December visit to the county by the Governor of Morazan, an ADEL representative and the head of the Mayors’ association in Morazan. She reported the visit was a great success. They attended the inauguration of County Executive Leggett for a second term in office (where they met Bill Hudnut), had a meeting at LEDC and toured a county school. They had a dinner which several of the county travelers last summer to Morazan attended. Finally, they toured Capitol Hill and met with Congressman Van Hollen. For this coming summer, Evelyn reported that she would be sending out information to possible county travelers to accompany the County Executive on his five day trip to Morazan at the end of July. He will sign a partnership agreement with the Governor of Morazan at that time. Bruce Adams reported that Habitat For Humanity has agreed to build 38 houses over 5 years in Morazan – a very significant development for Morazan residents and the sister cities program on which Bruce and John Pauksis from Habitat have worked for some months. Evelyn also reported that she would be identifying a list of other projects for this summer which might include providing musical and sports equipment for schools and community centers. Bruce reported that a soccer team from Long Branch expects to go to Morazan this summer, too.
It was reported that the county African Advisory Board is at work in identifying a possible community with which the county might partner in the sister cities program. Since there are a number of possibilities, it takes time to cull them down to the recommendation the advisory board wants to make. China is another prospect for sister cities partnering. Several communities have made inquiries of us, but the county has to coordinate local Asian American and other resident interest in this association. It appears that might be more promising in 2012 after Morazan and Beit Shemesh are solidified as official sister city partners.
The board learned that our sister cities program should have a website launch in March. A web site creator, VDO Technologies, has been working with Bruce and Mier to accomplish this.
The board also discussed some publicity for the sister cities program especially prior, during and after the County Executive’s trip to Morazan in July.
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for November 18, 2010
Attendees: Bruce Adams, Bill Hudnut, Tom Raffa, Don Mooers, Adrienne Van Lare, Evelyn Gonzalez-Mills, Devin Declan, and Theresa Cameron
The board agreed to consider the September and December meeting minutes at the next board meeting.
The board agreed upon the urgency of getting a website set up and a brochure developed. This is important for Sister Cities to have an identity which will attract additional individual and corporate participants as well as showing Morazan, our first partner, the commitment of the organization to the sister cities program and Morazan as our first partner.
There was a discussion updating the El Salvador project progress. It was announced that an El Salvadoran event was going to be held at River Road Unitarian Church on December 11. Among the attendees, will be the visiting Governor from Morazan. The Governor, a representative from ADEL (a public/private corporation which sponsors economic development in El Salvador) and the Mayor who heads the Mayors association of Morazan are expected to visit our county from December 5-12. Bruce Adams and Karla Silvestre, County Latino liaison, are working on an agenda for the visitors. It is expected that a larger group of visitors will come to the county in the fall of 2011 or spring of 2012. The visitors should receive from our organization our understanding of projects which might be undertaken in El Salvador according to the information generated by the visit this past summer of 20 county volunteers to Morazan. The projects were prioritized with the help of Don Mooers identifying the possible projects and then Bruce, Don, Karla, Evelyn and Mier prioritizing the projects according to their understanding of Morazan’s needs and the feasibility of completing activities contemplated.
The planning has begun for County Executive Ike Leggett to visit Morazan this summer, most likely the last week in July. It is hoped that during the same time, a habitat for humanity project will be undertaken by county volunteers in Morazan. It may also be the visit during which the formal documentation occurs for the county partnering with Morazan in the sister cities program.
Beit Shemesh will be the second county partner in the sister cities program. Mier Wolf reported on the eagerness of Beit Shemesh to formalize its relationship with the county. The board would like to have a visit from Beit Shemesh leaders in the fall which might culminate in execution of a partnership agreement. Before that, however, Bill Hudnut asked that Mier arrange a meeting for Bill, Bruce and other available board members with county Beit Shemesh Supporters to determine their level of support for this project, some of which we have seen in visits from Beit Shemesh of environmentalists and secondly Ethiopian Jews from there in the past two years.
Bill Hudnut reported in a Ukraine update that Boris Foxman, a boardmember, is currently visiting Luhansk in the Ukraine to discuss sister city possibilities. The US Urkranian Association won an Open Door Federal Grant which will be used to bring some Luhansk leaders to the county in April so that they can learn more about the county and we about the Ukraine preparatory to considering them tor sister city partnership.
Lily Qi, Office of Community Partnerships Asian American liaison, reported on possibilities of partnering in China. Originally, at the request of the county executive, we considered Pudong. But Pudong decided that the memorandum of understanding they have with the county in the economic development area was as far as they wanted to go with the county. Recently, visited Tsian-Tien near Beijing, Suzhou near Shanghai and Niajing near Shanghai for possible sister city partnering. She advised that we should take our time in working with these cities in economic development and later on see if one of them becomes obvious for partnering. Niajing and Suzhou are bio science centers, while Tejing is where the tourist attraction of the ceramic soldiers is located. Meanwhile the China committee for the county will develop a website about China and the county which will be multi-lingual. Bill Hudnut would like to be included in a meeting with the county Chinese community with whom Lily meets on sister city questions. Mier will provide Lily with a City of Rockville sister city representative to learn about their efforts to find a sister city in China. Mier will also send Lily the criteria for selection of county sister city partners.
In the Africa update, Bill and Bruce reported that they met with the county African American Advisory Board. That Board is very interested in the Sister Cities program. They will recommend a partner for the county from Africa. The countries under consideration are Ghana, Sierra Leone, the Cameroons and Ethiopia.
Theresa Cameron offered to lead a fund raising effort for our organization. Barry Bogage and Tom Raffa will assist her. She hopes to do most of the work by telephone conference call.
Bill Hudnut would like to attract more corporate members for our board of directors. There was talk of the Discover Channel. Leadership Montgomery should be a good resource for locating new business board members.
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.
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for June 17, 2010
Attendees: Bill Hudnut, Bruce Adams, Bill Nance, Dianne Smith, Evelyn Gonzalez, Don Mooers (by phone), Adrienne VanLare
The meeting was led by Bill Hudnut, Chair. The April meeting minutes were approved.
Harold McDougall presented his history with international programs which were wide ranging throughout the world. He made remarks on Caribbean countries including Jamaica and Barbados explaining the political and social dynamics in those countries. Harold gave specific examples of the import of the Fullbright Fellowship program which seemed to fit into some possibilities for El Salvador and other communities where county sister cities may partner. He provided a definition of sustainability which goes well beyond environmentally sound planning for communities. Harold has a number of ideas for aiding Haiti which include functions similar to what the county of Community Partnerships provides for its constituency. The next boardmember to report international experience will be Bill Nance who has lived in Mongolia, consulted in Africa and most recently on the West Bank in the Middle East.
The main part of the meeting was devoted to planning for the upcoming El Salvador trip. Mier was instructed to contact Karla Silvestre about security in San Salvador, and to locate someone within the American embassy in El Salvador with whom to coordinate the trip, Don Mooers will see if he can locate peace corps workers in Morazan. Bruce wondered given the number of delegates on this trip if they should be divided into two groups when visiting projects or programs in Morazan. The delegates will meet in an orientation session either Monday July 5 at 1:00 p.m. in the Town Hall at the Lawton Center in Chevy Chase or for those who can’t make it, Friday July 9 at Evelyn Gonzalez’ home.
Mier gave an update on Beit Shemesh. A group of environmentalists from there recently visited the county. Mier helped coordinate the visit through county EPA. The visitors among other things toured the county recycling facility and met at Bethesda Green to hear about entrepreneurial environmentalism theories.
Sister Cities will do formal fund raising in the fall after the EI Salvador trip. For now, Bill Hudnut will ask each board member to contribute $100 to county sister cities. The first $750 of contributions will be paid to Mier to compensate his paying for sister cities to be incorporated in Maryland and to obtain 501(c)(3) non-profit tax status. Adrienne Van Lare will help Mier identify a bank for sister cities to use.
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for April 27, 2010
Board attendees: Bill Nance, Bruce Adams, Adrienne VanLare, Don Mooers, Dianne Smith and Theresa Cameron by telephone. Bill Nance led the meeting in absence of Bill Hudnut, Chair.
1. The board approved the minutes from the March 11 Board meeting.
2. The board engaged in an extensive discussion of planning for a county delegation trip to Morazan in El Salvador from Saturday, August 7 to Saturday, August 14. The Governor and Evelyn have done some planning for the delegation visits in Morazan. The coordinator and guide in Morazan will be Fredis Pereira, a university graduate familiar with the Department, will arrange for airport pickup, hire drivers, translators, and help plan itineraries. It is expected that the delegation will be in Morazan from Saturday to Wednesday and San Salvador, the capital, from Thursday to the next Saturday. The Morazan part of the trip will include travel to Guatajiagua and San Francisco, the capital of Morazan. The delegation so far will include Evelyn Gonzalez, Bruce Adams, Bruce’s daughter Emily, Don Mooers and maybe his son, Ana Lopez from Community Bridges and 4 middle School girls, Dianne Smith and Theresa Cameron could also go, though they both have family events to attend around that time. Some people who are considering going on this trip are: Amy Gumaer, Dean of Humanities, at Montgomery College and Karla Silvestre, Latino liaison for the county. There is still a need to have representation from art and culture, MCPS, and business sector. It appears that the trip will cost each participant about $1200 including air fare, lodging, meals and contributions for drivers and guide. Bruce will contact Miller and Long, the construction company, to obtain their support for this project. Mier will follow up with MCPS and Montgomery College. Also, Don Mooers mentioned meeting Armando Portillo, from DC United Soccer Team, who may be interested in being a part of the delegation to ES. Evelyn will follow up.
The mission of the trip is to explore locations in Morazan for possible projects. Three small contained and sustainable projects was one stated goal. Don refers to the trip as a “discernment” listening tour. The delegation will meet with the Mayors of Guatajiagua and San Francisco as well as the Governor of Morazan. The delegation knowing the lack of County sister cities funds will also look into the possibility of a piggyback onto an existing project in Morazan. There will be a meeting with an AID officer in Morazan to learn about successful projects there sponsored by or subsidized by AID. Furthermore, Bruce is optimistic based on coordination with Montgomery County Habitat for Humanity that a County Habitat team can be assembled for a project in Morazan in the summer of 2011. The delegation will meet with local Habitat leaders in Morazan. Simultaneous with adult trip representatives visiting different locations in Morazan, the 4 girls from Community Bridges will participate in a project yet to be defined with girls in Morazan. Further outreach to complete planning will be with Ana Lopez and Jerry Weast. Before contacting Dr. Weast, Evelyn and Mier will develop a several paragraph description of possible program ideas in Morazan. The board will find out if the school system has any funds to devote to this project or if it can identify volunteers who might want to participate in educational projects in Morazan. Evelyn will set up a meeting with Ana Lopez and Heather from the Gandhi Brigade, since they recently took a youth group to El Salvador. Adrienne offered to schedule a meeting with Bernadette Musselwhite in the office of County Economic Development to learn about her experience in traveling to El Salvador on an earlier delegation with then County Executive Doug Duncan. Adrienne also offered to help in pre trip health arrangements.
3. Mier gave an update on Beit Shemesh. It will be the board’s second sister city according to current planning. Sister Cities is already helping facilitate Beit Shemesh exchange programs in the county. There was a visit from Ethiopian Jewish Beit Shemesh residents in December. In June Beit Shemesh will be sending 5 environmental activists to visit the county to explore what the county does to better the environment including its recycling efforts. In turn Beit Shemesh is becoming expert in “gray water” which the County hopes to learn more about on this visit. The Beit Shemesh discussion led to some mention of other places where our sister cities program might partner. The board agreed that it would wait to consider prospects in Africa and Asia. Mier is to contact Michael Lin through Lily Qi, County Asian liaison, for advice on contacting another Chinese community for partnering, Pudong having failed. He can help the board evaluate the Nankai District in Tianjin which has expressed interest in exploring a partnership with the County. A delegation from Nankai may come to the County in the fall for partnering discussion purposes. The contact developed through an exchange student at Walt Whitman High School who actually contacted her city government and Ike to urge them to have these discussions. For Africa we will do a presentation at a County African Advisory Group meeting and invite them to send a speaker to our board, too.
Mier reported that our first two Russian community contacts appear to have fallen through. They contacted us, but have found that their form of government in the two instances might not work for sister cities. Boris Foxman will continue to look for other Russian prospects, though Africa and Asia remain priorities for the board.
4. The board then discussed fundraising for the sister cities program. It was agreed that we would plan a fundraiser in the fall after the delegation trip to El Salvador. That way the board can feature photographs and progress at such an event. Bill Nance, Treasurer, will open a bank account for our non-profit corporation after Mier vets the various possibilities including the China Bank in Rockville and LEDC bank in Wheaton among others mentioned by the board. Board members will be asked to contribute $100 a person to start the sister cities account. It was agreed that Mier would be reimbursed $750 which he paid on behalf of the organization to incorporate in Maryland and to obtain non-profit status from the IRS.
5. The meeting was adjourned.
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for March 11, 2010
Attendees: Bill Hudnut, Bruce Adams, Dianne Smith, Tariq Husain, Tom Raffa, Don Mooers, Theresa Cameron, Evelyn Gonzalez, Boris Foxman
1. The board approved the January 21, 2010 board minutes.
2. Bill Nance was elected the new Treasurer for the organization.
3. Mier Wolf updated the board on the Status of efforts with Beit Shemesh. It now appears that a delegation will visit the county in June at which time we can arrange a meeting with the board and Ike to encourage moving closer to finalizing a partnership agreement with that community. He also mentioned a new partnering possibility in Nankai, a large district within a large city called Tianjin. Lily Qi, Office of Community Partnerships Asian American liaison will assist in following through with their inquiry.
4. The Chair introduced new board member Tom Raffa who identified his international experiences including in El Salvador which will greatly benefit the organization’s pursuit of a partnership with Morazan.
5. Don Mooors made a presentation describing his significant experience in working in worldwide programs and how it will apply to partnering with Morazan. He made many points about our process with Morazan including the following:
A. Get to know one another before determining partnership agenda. Ask a lot of questions.
B. Goals: explore, listen, get to know each other, and learn about their needs.
C. Buy in on all sides before embarking on project
D. Each project should be independent and sustainable. For example school to school.
E. Identify specific deliverables as well as expectations for each project
F. Don’t fear new wine in old bottles if some piggybackjng is available.
G. Keep in mind the end game.
H. Focus on 3-5 mutually agreed upon small initiatives that will grow.
J. Principles: Use uncertainty, as a way to adjust; have clear expectations; keep expectations down and hopes high; focus on broad objectives.
6. Discussion on Morazan – the following points were made regarding the proposed trip to Morazan by some board members and possibly other county representatives:
A. It looks promising that Habitat For Humanity would do a project in Morazan in 2011
B. About four Community Bridges middle school girls may accompany the county delegation to Morazan
C. Mier should find out about other non-profit and ngos activities in Morazan and the country.
D. Mier should find out what the county Morazan Home Associations are doing in Morazan.
E. Board needs to finalize make up of county delegation.
F. Mier should draft a letter to Morazan outlining hopes for county visit.
G. The county delegation needs educating before the trip.
H. The delegation plans to meet with government officials toward the end of the trip.
I. We need to know what Morazan can provide the county culturally and perhaps educationally.
Bill Hudnut adjourned the meeting after the Morazan discussion.
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for January 21, 2010
Attendees: Bill Hudnut, Bruce Adams, Don Mooers, and Harold McDougall, new board members preset at the meeting. The board then approved the meeting minutes from the December 3, 2009 meeting.
Evelyn Gonzalez Mills made a presentation on the merits of approving Morazan in El Salvador, from which she recently returned, for sister cities partnering. In her presentation, Ms. Gonzalez provided maps showing general population trends from Morazan and other eastern El Salvadoran communities emigrating to Montgomery County, reported that this Department has 200,000 residents, that she met with the Governor and several Mayors who are enthusiastic about partnering with the county, that educational efforts including computers were a major need of Morazan, Ms. Gonzalez also reported that small business were thriving in communities in Morazan including soap making and that the participants have formed cooperatives for that purpose. She noted that Morazan communities have internet connections, but not enough computers to serve the needs of the communities there.
The board commended Ms. Gonzalez for the thorough presentation. There was discussion of trying to implement a Habitat for Humanity project somewhere in Morazan in 2011. The board was interested in defining the goals of undertaking projects in Morazan. It was suggested in defining the goals with the Governor and mayor of whichever community we might enter that we review a department wide development plan devised by the department to make sure we comply with department, community and our County goals. It was also mentioned that if we partner with a primarily business oriented community elsewhere in the world, that we might encourage them to invest in Morazan. Given the educational needs of Morazan it was mentioned that we should do outreach to MCPS (contacting Frieda Lacey at MCPS) and Montgomery College (through Ms. Gonzalez) for their participation in educational projects in Morazan. A visit to Morazan in August should help clarify the terms for any partnership Morazan and the County might enter. Dr. McDougall moved that our organization proceed exploring a partnership with Morazan and pursue mutually agreeable deliverables with them. Mr. Nance seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously. We will inform Morazan of this decision by letter. We expect that a number of board members will visit several communities within Morazan in early August with a goal of Morazan and Montgomery County Sister Cities, Inc. entering into a formal agreement in the fall of 2010.
The Board then moved to a discussion on Beit Shemesh. It was reported that Beit Shemesh was ready to partner with the county. Beit Shemesh and the County have participated in informal exchanges for a number of years. The most recent one involved Ethiopian Jewish settlers in Beit Shemesh visiting the county in December to talk about their flight from Ethiopia to Israel. Beit Shemesh has solar power and environmental protection industrial activity which might develop into doing business in the County and in turn the County being able to do business in Beit Shemesh. That is true of their small wine industry, too. Beit Shemesh is a location of great Biblical interest which should be good for the tourist industry. Mr. Mooers moved and Mr. Adams seconded a motion whereby the county will notify Beit Shemesh by letter of its enthusiasm for partnering with them and reinforce the enthusiasm with a phone call between Ike Leggett and the Mayor of Beit Shemesh on April 20 which is Israel’s Independence Day. Beit Shemesh will need to await finalization of the County’s partnership with Morazan before it partners with the county. The board has previously voted that El Salvador would be its first sister city partnership location. In the meantime, Beit Shemesh exchanges between now and then will continue to receive County cooperation as they have for several years. It is a goal for this prospective partner that the County have both Jewish and non-Jewish members on the sister city committee that implements projects in Beit Shemesh.
Boris Foxman made a presentation on the Moscow Region from which he recently returned. Mr. Foxman reported that 26% of all Russian science research occurs in the communities that constitute this County- like entity. There are six million residents in approximately 30 cities which include defense Science centers, biology research and nuclear surgery research among a number of sciences studied there. Mr. Foxman met with the personal assistant to the Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs for the region. He learned of their enthusiasm for exploring a. partnership with the County. He will send a letter to that effect. They would like a letter from Ike Leggett confirming the County’s interest in exploring a partnership, though they already have a letter from the Chair to that effect. Mr. Foxman asked the board about emphases in this prospective partnership. The region would like it to relate to science business. The board noted that it would like a science and business emphasis as well. The board further mentioned an educational and cultural relationship possibility with the region. It was reported by staff that Elaine Amir, Director of the Hopkins facilities in Shady Grove is joining this organization’s board which should be vital in connecting the Shady Grove science interest with the region’s. Mr. Foxman awaits confirmation about the region’s interest by letter. Then we will ask County Executive Leggett to send a letter to the region about the initiation of exploration of a partnership. In the meantime Mr. Foxman and Mr. Wolf will meet with Ms. Amir and also representatives from the County economic development department. Board members encouraged Mr. Foxman to establish a work group similar to the one that is developing the Morazan relationship with the County.
The board was then informed generally about inquiries from South Korean communities, Kenya and India. Kenya and India inquiries come from within the County while two South Korean communities have approached this organization. The County Executive’s African Affairs Advisory Group has begun discussions aimed at identifying an appropriate sister city in Africa. Further information will be provided the board as developments occur with these prospective sister city partners. Their inquiries are in a very preliminary stage.