Montgomery Sister Cities Board Meeting Minutes Tuesday 2 December 2020
Present: Bruce Adams, Nicholas Arrindell, Mumin Barre, Tracey-Alexis Dixon, Lorna Forde, Alicia Lynn Hannon, Sabrina Hsu, Ashwani Jain, Matthew Lee, Michael Mills, Roman Santillan, Eunmee Shim, Clemmie Solomon, Joy C. West,
Absent: Yasin Yimam Staff: Diane Vu, Director Office of Partnerships
The quarterly meeting via Zoom was called to order at 6:34 pm by chairman Mumin Barre. The first order of business was approval of the meeting agenda unanimously. Mumin asked for approval of the November meeting minutes. Clemmie Solomon moved to edit the meeting end time to 8:40 PM (Matthew second). The minutes were approved unanimously.
Board Profile- Mumin Barre
Mumin reminded the board to please complete the Board Profile if you haven’t done so already.
Please complete the document and send it to Tracey-Alexis as soon as possible.
Tracey-Alexus stated that she will follow up after the meeting with the list of individuals still missing information.
Financial Report- Roman Santillan
Roman informed the board that we have paid all expenses to date with the County grant, and currently do not have any expenses. He will send the board an updated expense report after the meeting. Mumin stated that he will send the expense report Cynthia sent previously, in the interim. The reoccurring expenses listed on the report include Sister City international fee, website, accounting, and the directors and officers insurance. With regard to donations outside of the grant, we receive individual and board contributions. Bruce highlighted that we used to provide pins and newsletters to individuals who donated to the sister city program. Roman suggested to utilize the employee giving campaign via the Montgomery county website. County employees can donate every pay check towards a non-profit organization before taxes. Montgomery County Sister Cities is listed on the website for contributions.
Today is Giving Tuesday. Mumin encouraged the board to donate today via the website or by sending a check to Cynthia, or making a deposit at EagleBank.
County Government Report- Diane Vu
Diane apologized for not having time to focus on MCSC. The Office of Community Partnerships (OCP) has been focusing on the census and wrapping up briefings. The office has been pulled into the COVID response and communication outreach which will be central to the multicultural and multilingual communities. OCP has also been having budget conversations where additional funding will not be pursued, unless it is tied to COVID outreach. The office is looking at how to sustain MCSC senior fellow position by either using operational dollars already in our budget or leaning on the Economic Development Center (EDC) for funding. After speaking with the County Executive, Diane confirmed there is only enough funding for one senior fellow at this time. If MCSC wants a second fellow, there will need to be another source of funding to cover $16,700 for a 12-month fellowship ( 8-11 hours/week). Diane stated that the County Executive wants to continue to sustain MCSC. The goal is to make it stronger and independent outside of OCP. They are willing to explore other opportunities and partnerships over these next few months during the budget cycle.
Additional updates will be provided in the next coming weeks.
Diane gave input with regard to the employee giving campaign. The county giving period runs from Nov 16-Dec 28, 2020. We have 28 days to encourage county employees to give to MCSC. Other ideas include posting on MC sister cities website, sending an E-blast email, adding it to weekly newsletters, or searching for committed volunteers to help with administrative work. Bruce suggested to incorporate MCSC into Diane’s OCP newsletter for this month.
Clemmie raised an idea to start a membership program similar to Drew Powell’s Rockville Sister Cities program. This could potentially be another avenue stream of funding. Mumin confirmed we do not have a budget, most revenue comes from the county grant. Bruce suggested to hire volunteers part-time to help publicize MCSC and/or partner with the college to utilize students’ skills. Michael agreed and will look into this further. Diane stated that OCP will be taking over multilanguage and cultural communications and will be putting together a team under OCP focused on social media, and graphic design. If it does get housed at OCP in the next 6-12 months then we will have the capacity to manage this in house. More information to come in the next three months.
More information about MCSC strategic plan can be found on the website > Latest News and Events > Plan for Strengthening Montgomery Sister City Program document.
Sister Schools -Bruce Adams
Bruce interviewed Dr. McKnight, deputy superintendent at MCPS, who is excited about creating a sister schools program that is integrated into our existing programs. He will pull a team of people together to meet in early 2021 to develop the program. Michael suggested to work with the school system in Daejeon where the program is already set up. Board members who volunteered to serve on this committee include:
MCPS Montgomery College TV- Bruce Adams
Bruce discussed Montgomery College TV and an opportunity to showcase sister cities in a pilot MCTV program. After contacting Melissa Pace to follow up on next steps, she indicated via email they are booked and have a lot going on right now. She expressed that it will really depend on the scope of what is planned, and more importantly, the reliability and follow through among participants/volunteers. In the interim, Bruce will pull together a group to begin discussing content to use in the videos. Board members who volunteered to serve on this committee include:
Michael stated that his department at Montgomery College created similar videos and is interested in assisting MCSC create similar projects.
Xi’an, China- Nan stated that although it is difficult to have conversations with the Chinese government, the committee is focusing their efforts locally through information sharing with the Chinese about COVID. Educational seminars and a series of COVID-19 meetings are also being held.
El Salvador: Roman stated that the committee is working with the Institute of Culture of El Salvador doing programs in Spanish with the community. Also, there are a series of presentations held at the Library focusing on Latinx communities in Spanish and in English. The committee is also looking to recruit more members.
Daejeon, South Korea: Mathew has been in communication with the Mayor’s office. They are asking for information to send them to create an exhibition center in the city. The College is also interested in developing a telehealth program. The committee is working on recruiting diversified 10-12 committee members, and fundraising by requiring annual dues.
Gondar, Ethiopia- Yasin is currently in Ethiopia. Michael has reached out to the President of Gondar University but has not received a response. The university was previously shut down for six months due to COVID but has just opened back up. Michael will continue to wait on a response from the president.
Hyderabad, India- The committee plans to revamp membership for the new year. They are looking for a female co-lead and will focus on outreach. Ashwani mentioned there’s an election this week in Hyderabad, India that could change some of the leadership. We will regroup in about a week to discuss further.
The meeting ended at 8:40 p.m.
NEXT ZOOM Tuesday, January 19 6:00PM
Tracey-Alexis Dixon MSC Secretary