December 12, 2013 Board Meeting
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 ________________.