For more information contact Cynthia Morris, Senior Fellow, Montgomery Sister Cities at
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett asked a group of community leaders to establish a Sister Cities program for Montgomery County as a means of strengthening ties to the people who have come to our County from every corner of the globe. With nearly one of every three of our one million residents having been born in another country, our Sister Cities program will provide rich opportunities to promote cultural awareness and strengthen our ties to the global marketplace. Mr. Leggett also setup the nation’s first African Affairs Advisory Group to ensure that the County Government is well informed of and able to act effectively to respond to the needs and concerns of African immigrants living and/or working in Montgomery County.
The Sister City process became one of the most successful engagement tools for the County’s Office of Community Partnerships (OCP). With the help of the OCP, the African Affairs Advisory Group developed an open and transparent process to engage all the African Diaspora and together encouraged Diaspora communities in Montgomery County to participate in the Sister City process. Diaspora communities were asked to organize themselves and then choose only one city from their country of origin to become the first Sister City with Montgomery County. The Advisory Group then setup an African Sister City Committee and developed a questionnaire for community groups and anyone who was interested in the process to fill out to show his/her level of commitment. As the process continued to select the City in Africa, Diaspora members from nine communities in Montgomery County (Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya) met at the Office of Community Partnerships to go over the process.
After six months of engagement with the communities, only three Diaspora groups had completed all the tasks and were ready to become the County’s first Sister City in Africa. As a result, the African Sister City Committee invited the Cameroonian, Ethiopian, and Sierra Leonean communities to put together individual presentations for everyone and each community should make their case why the one city they selected should be the first African Sister City with Montgomery County. In their concluding statements, all participants agreed to have enjoyed a cordial relation during the cause of the journey to become Montgomery County’s first African Sister City and agreed that the Sister City process highlighted the significance for Africans living in the County to continue to partner together for the betterment of Africa. After all the presentations and votes, Gondar City in Ethiopia was selected to be the County’s Sister City in Africa.