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December 2023 Board Meeting


MSC Board Meeting Minutes

December 12, 2023

Present:  Nick Arrindell, Tracey-Alexis Dixon (Chair), George Dang, Michael Mills (Vice Chair), Mumin Barre, Roman A. Santillan, Yasin Yimam, Sabrina Hsu, Matthew Lee, Clemmie Solomon, Ana Sol Gutierrez

Excused: Bruce Adams, Mirin Phool, Alicia Hannon, Nan Qiao

Absentees: Joy West

Guest: County Executive Marc Elrich, Asian Liaison Yi Shen

The monthly meeting of the Montgomery County Sister Cities Board of Directors was held in person and called to order at 7:13 p.m. by the Chair Tracey-Alexis Dixon.



Approval of the Agenda

o   A motion passed approving the December 12, 2023 agenda.

Approval of the October meeting minutes

o   On a motion to approve and seconded, the minutes of the October 30, 2023 meeting were approved.

OCP Mail

o   MSC does not have any mail pending or mail expected to be received. At this time Board member Barre continues to monitor and check on a monthly basis.

Welcome – County Executive Marc Elrich

o   Chair Dixon thanked the County Executive (CE) Marc Elrich for joining the Board meeting. The board introduced themselves and thanked the CE for his support and agreement to add an additional $50K for consulting services. Monies will be used to hire staff that will support MSC’s mission, goals, and trip support.

o   Chair Dixon asked the CE a series of questions related to past and upcoming delegation trips.

§  India Trip Follow up: The CE stated that the trip was successful. The focus was to bring business to the county through Cohorts/Incubator programs in hopes to expand the overall economic growth within the county. The county administration is in the process of signing multiple Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreements to establish ongoing business relationships. Additional follow up will be held in the New Year. 

§  China 2024: The CE emphasized the importance of economic development and expanding the county’s outreach. He thanked the Board for coordinating the Xi’an delegation trip to the county. He is looking forward to meeting the delegation in his office tomorrow, December 13, 2023 to learn about the city and looks forward to visiting in 2024. He said the trip is open to the public with everyone paying their own way. He expects MSC to lead the cultural component.

§  CE expectation of the Board: The CE expressed that he would like to see more of MSC’s presence in the community. He looks forward to traveling to all of the sister cities in 2024 and beyond.

§  Chair Dixon expressed concerns regarding the boards involvement in the planning and execution of delegation trips. To effectively support the county, representatives should attend macro meetings when pertinent information is being discussed. In addition, MSC’s contribution can be productive in terms of valuable industry contacts, incubators, etc. to make for a smooth planning administratively by utilizing our in-country networks with no cost implications to the county. The CE agreed.


Treasurer's Report

o   Treasurer Roman A. Santillan reported MSC has not received the County grant refund.

o   Board donations are due by December 31, 2023.

o   On a motion to approve by board member Sol Gutierrez and seconded by board member Mills, the Treasurer’s Report was approved.


County Update

o   County newsletter deadline is December 24, 2023. If any of the committees plan to add updates to the newsletter, please ensure they are provided by this due date to be included in the January OCP newsletter.


Sister City Committee Reports

o   Morazan, El Salvador – Welcome Ana Sol Gutierrez interim chair.

§  With the money raised from the Morazan Gala 2023, committee was able to purchase Medical Equipment for a total $4,053.35 to the Hospital Nacional de San Francisco Gotera, Departamento de Morazán, El Salvador.

§  Members of the committee identified the need for medical services. There is a free Dialysis unit that was built. The money purchased 5 wheelchairs and medical supplies.

§  The committee still provides scholarship services and full support of students at the University.

§  Jeannette Noltenius has a wonderful video that captures all of the great efforts. The video can be posted in the newsletter and/or MSC website.

o   Gondar, Ethiopia

§  Board member Mills shared that the committee participated in a Global classroom program with Montgomery College. Board member Solomon also participated. A panel discussion was held with students (communications studies class) to talk about MSC and the current state of war in Ethiopia. The discussion was very interactive and engaging. The College agreed to continue to collaborate.

o   Xi’an, China

§  Xi’an delegation arrived December 12 – December 14, 2023.

§  The committee has scheduled meetings with the Chinese Embassy, CE Office with Council President Friedson, Montgomery College Takoma Park campus visit and Washington D.C tours.

o   Hyderabad, India

§  Board Chair Dixon shared goals for the committee. The committee aims to develop relationships with permanent staff/administrator in the Mayor's office for easier continuation of efforts, connect with support groups (e.g. Rotary, viable non-profits, others) to obtain assistance in navigating local environments, and plan an activity/project as in a (parallel) 'Day of Volunteering'...other, with local collaboration.

o   Daejon, S. Korea

§  Board member Lee shared that Council President Evan Glass represented Montgomery County at the Global Innopolis Forum in Daejeon, South Korea. The two-day summit provided a platform for sharing ideas about how local governments can partner with public research institutions and private investment to help tackle climate change, improving health outcomes and fostering sustainable transportation solutions.

§  The CE agreed to have a forum with all sister cities, potentially in October 2024.

§  The CE wants to attend the Bio-conference in May 2024.


2024 Event Calendar

o   1st Sister Cities International All Americas Summit May 2024, San Antonio Texas.

§  The focus of the summit will be on Astronomy, trade, transportation, sustainability, and economy.

o   Washington Adventist University/American Society of Musical Excellence August 2024

§  In August 2024, Washington Adventist University (WAU), will be collaborating with the American Society of Musical Excellence (ASME) in the second Summer Music Festival. They are interested in fostering an exchange with students and faculty from Xi’an, China. As the Xi’an government has already expressed a strong desire to collaborate with us and given the already existing relationship between Montgomery County and Xi’an, they are looking to solicit support for this initiative from Montgomery Sister Cities. The ASME@WAU Summer Music Festival will be held on the campus of WAU and will host music performances, student learning, and cultural exchange, and social events.

§  The board agreed to participate.

§  Action: board chair Dixon will respond to the invitation to inform WAU of MSC’s interest.

o   Humanitarian Walk September/October 2024

§  Board chair Dixon advised that currently the only potential dates at the Silver Spring Plaza are September 29, 2024 and possibly Sunday, October 13, 2024.

§  Board member Santillan suggested Montgomery College Auditorium, or a Rockville location.

§  The board will continue to brainstorm location ideas and will form a planning committee in the Spring 2024.

o   Asian American Pacific Islander Month – Board member Lee suggested to ask Yi  Shen if MSC can be a sponsor at the annual event. 


Other Business:

·      The All-America Sister Cities Summit will be May 28-31, 2024 in Texas.

·      SCI Charting History from the 2023 SCI Africa Summit Close-out discussion, will be December 20, 2023 3PM ET

·      Rockville Sister Cities Holiday Social December 13, 2023 7PM. Please RSVP.

·      United Partnership is still underway. Additional meetings will need to be held with the County Council to ensure there is no conflict of interest.


Next Meeting: February 13, 2024

Meeting was adjourned at 8:52 p.m.




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