April 14, 2015 Board Meeting
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
WELCOME/MINUTES 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.
FINANCE REPORT 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.
NEW BUSINESS By laws 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.
Annual Meeting 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.
NEW BUSINESS Budget 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.
Marketing Materials 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.
Country Committees 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)
Respectfully submitted, Cynthia Morris Senior Fellow