February 23, 2017 Board Meeting
Attendees: Bruce Adams, Tracey-Alexis Dixon, Michael Gruenberg, William Nance, Nan Qiao and Roman Santillan
Phone Participants: Lorna Forde and Clemmie Solomon
Excused: Mumin Barre and Dianne Smith
Absent: Ram Konda and Darwin Romero
Staff: Daniel Koroma, Cynthia Morris and Diane Vu
Visitors: Wonro Lee and Yasin Yasim
NEXT MEETING: ANNUAL MEETING THURSDAY 30 MARCH 6-8 PM AT SILVER
SPRING CIVIC BUILDING AT VETERANS PLAZA IN SILVER SPRING
The meeting was called to order by Bill Nance at 6:50 pm with reading and corrections of the minutes from the 20 October meeting. Once corrected, they will be posted on the website. Bill asked board members to introduce themselves and announced that Larry Colbert has resigned due to health concerns.
County Committee Reports
Gondar: Daniel told the group that information about the situation is still sparse though residents can call friends and family in the country to get updates. He is hoping someone will travel to Gondar soon to provide first-hand information. Clemmie reported there have been administrative changes at the University of Gondar though he didn’t think that was the reason for scholar Molalign Belay’s cancellation of a planned trip. He also said the Montgomery College Ethiopian students group is still engaged and the school continues to support the Tahitu Cultural Centre. Yasin thanked volunteer Karl Protil for his leadership in collecting about 500 books for the University which he continues to store. There is an acute need to get the books to Gondar and they are looking for a benefactor to cover the cost. He is also exploring ways to get more volunteers engaged in the committee. Ideas include sponsoring cultural evenings/presentations/coffee ceremonies. Those who planned to join the delegation to Gondar remain on the mailing list and will be invited to any planned activities.
Korea: Wonro Lee is working on a contract for the first leg of the 20-28 October trip to Daejeon, South Korea and Xi’an, China. A coordinator for the China leg of the trip is still being sought. Wonro hopes to get 45 travelers who will travel by air from DC to Seoul and from there by bus to Daejeon (two hours) for the Sister Cities signing ceremony, meetings on the 23rd and 24th and leaving for Xi’an on the 25th. Lily Qi and David Peter of the Montgomery Economic Development will spearhead economic development for meetings. Wonro has worked for several years with Montgomery County, managing a major partnership/exchange with Montgomery County Public Schools where 17 teachers from South Korea have worked in the county. A second cohort of 15 teachers is planned. They are especially pleased that the template for this work has been duplicated in several cities around the county. A meeting about this will be held on Monday 27 February at 6p.m.
Xi’an: The committee is working collaboratively to build the delegation for the October trip to Xi’an. Nan reported that in addition to several Lunar New Year celebrations the Neighborhood Association continues to sponsor the weekly Tai Chi classes. They also sponsored a U.S. citizenship information session. The association is still hopeful of pursuing a successful economic/cultural exchange project and restarting the program at Churchill High School.
Hyderabad: While the committee has not been very active, it was reported that Montgomery College is taking a group of 15 faculty members on a Global Humanities tour to Hyderabad. The group will include Dr. Sanjay Rai of Montgomery College. Bruce emphasized the need for re-energizing the committee and selecting a representative for the board.
Morazán: Roman reported the committee is sponsoring a Habitat for Humanity trip from 15-23 July in Morazán and hopes to get a group of at least 14 people. He encouraged board members to consider joining them. The hospital (San Francisco de Gotera) that received funds raised by Councilman Leventhal opened its new post-natal care wing and Cynthia is waiting for photos and details to include in the Sister Cities newsletter. The committee continues to explore ways to provide scholarship support for college students in Morazán, including partnering with a non-profit that is currently pursuing such projects.
Annual Meeting: The event takes place Thursday 30 March from 6-8 pm at the Silver Spring Civic Building. County Executive Leggett will attend and speak and each committee is asked to make a very brief presentation about their work. Daniel suggested recognizing Terrance Dupree, a volunteer for the Ethiopian Committee who facilitated a gift from Kaiser Permanente as well as Karl Protil for his efforts to collect books for Gondar University. All board members are expected to attend. It is an excellent venue for volunteer recruitment as well as distributing flyers for the Habitat for
Humanity and Daejeon/Xi’an trips.
Finance: Roman presented the 2016 balance sheet and income statements. Bill needed some clarification on the relationship of the two documents. Cynthia will get back to him as soon as she can get information.
Website: Cynthia reported that she is in discussions with a website designer and will keep the board informed of the progress. The designer will set up a template to enable staff to update the site and Nan has agreed to maintain the website on a volunteer basis. Bruce and Diane are developing a list of most frequently asked questions about immigration that will be on the county website. In response to Yasin’s question, they will ensure that the document is offered in Amharic.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:00
Respectfully submitted,Cynthia Morris, Senior Fellow
Cynthia Morris, Senior Fellow