December 7, 2017 Board Meeting
Attendees: Bruce Adams, Tracey-Alexis Dixon, Nancy Goldberg, William Nance, Darwin Romero,Roman Santillan and Clemmie Solomon
Excused: Mumin Barre, Nan Qiao and Yasin Yimam
Absent: Lorna Forde
Guest: Nicholas Arrindell
Staff: Cynthia Morris, Daniel Koroma and Diane Vu
The meeting was called to order by Bill Nance at 7:10 pm. Bill welcomed new board member Nancy Goldberg and board candidate Nicholas (Nick) Arrindell.
The Year to Date balance sheet and income statements through September were reviewed by treasurer Ramon Santillan who explained that significant Morazán committee expenses and FY17 County Executive Grant deposits transacted after 30 June were not reflected. Cynthia informed the group that the first invoice for the FY18 County Executive Grant has been paid and will be reflected in the year end statement.
In response to Ramon’s question about the effect of the recently announced 2% cut in County employees compensation on programs like Sister Cities and other grant recipients, Bruce said he hadn’t heard of any adverse effects on funding.
DELEGATION TO DAEJEON AND XI’AN 20-28 OCTOBER 2017
Diane Vu reported that 43 people participated in the trip, with 37 going on to China. In addition to County Executive Ike Leggett, the delegation included Councilman Craig Rice, who continues to work with JBLI to facilitate a partnership with Daejeon and Montgomery County Public Schools. The delegation also included Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation CEO David Petr and Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard; Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs of Montgomery College Dr. Sanjay Rai; CEO of WorkSource Montgomery Ellie Giles and many other business and community leaders. County Executive Ike Leggett signed a Sister City agreement with Daejeon and renewed the agreement with Xi’an. Montgomery College and Xi’an have signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The 25 post trip survey responses received said they would recommend such a trip in the future. A reunion gathering held 2 December was attended by 20 people.
Morazán: Darwin reported the annual Fiesta fundraiser was successful, though attendance was lower thanlast year perhaps because of increased ticket prices. County Executive and Council candidates GeorgeLeventhal, Lorna Ford and Mark Elrich attended. Despite higher ticket cost, there was an increase ofsponsors. While they would like to move the event to Friday night for next year, the limited availability of the Silver Spring Civic Building makes that difficult. The committee is proceeding with its plan to award scholarships to six community college students in Morazán as well as field trips to Tin Marin Museum for Morazán school children.
Gondar: Daniel reported that the Mayor of Gondar has received a grant from the World Bank to come to Montgomery County to observe best practices in several areas of urban planning and operations. He wants to come in mid-December and needs a letter of invitation from the County Executive to obtain his visa in Ethiopia. Daniel has submitted a letter to the County Executive’s office and is waiting for an answer. He expressed concern that the timing of the trip makes it unlikely that the delegation could accomplish its goals given that schools will be closed and many officials on vacation for the holidays. He will revisit as necessary in the new year. Clemmie shared that Dr. Asrat, the new liaison from the University of Gondar to Montgomery College, may be coming with the delegation and continues to seek law books. Karl Portil has asked that the books that he is currently storing be moved to another storage space as soon as possible. The committee continues to work with Ethiopian Airlines to take the books to Gondar. A documentary hosted by Nunu Waku, a student at Montgomery College, is available for screening. Ramon offered to find space at the Silver Spring Library if wanted. Bruce is uncertain about the County Executive’s availability for another trip to Ethiopia in 2018, but will raise the issue with him again.
Outreach/Friend raising Nancy led a discussion about exploring numerous strategies for raising awareness about MSC, including local newspapers, schools, senior citizens and other interest groups. Ramon mentioned a Georgetown University program for students east of the Anacostia that exposes them to world affairs as a possible that may be a model for us. Nick said the Sister Cities program in Maryland under the leadership of Mary Kane experienced some success. Bill shared that a board member of the Rockville Sister City program approached him for a discussion about expanding their roster of sister cities and raising money. There was some discussion that the annual meeting may present an opportunity to attract sponsorships. Nancy and Cynthia will reach out to Sister Cities International for consultation about best practices in this area and report their findings.
Volunteer Committee and Board Recruitment
Bruce pointed out again that there was no representation at the meeting from the Asian Sister Cities, particularly Hyderabad which has been dormant for some time. Nancy suggested following up with local Hindu and Muslim temples and Cynthia will follow up with Diane on that suggestion. Clemmie reminded the group that Sanjay Rai at Montgomery College may also be a source of information. The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 and the board went into executive session to discuss an issue regarding a contract.
Cynthia Morris, Senior Fellow