June 22, 2021 Board Meeting

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

Present: Bruce Adams, Nick Arrindell, Mumin Barre, Tracey-Alexis Dixon, Lorna Forde, Alicia Lynn Hannon, Sabrina Hsu, Ashwani Jain, Joy West, Michael Mills, Jeannette Noltenius, Roman Santillan, and Clemmie Solomon. Excused: Matthew Lee, Nan Qiao, and Yasin Yimam.

Staff: Susan Hoffmann.


The June meeting via Zoom was called to order at 6:03 p.m. by Chair Mumin Barre.


Mumin Barre gave the board an update on behalf of Eunmee Shim who has submitted her resignation letter to resign from the board effectively immediately.


Chairman Mumin Barre moved, Clemmie Solomon seconded, and Board approved agenda.


Clemmie Solomon moved, Mike Mills seconded, and Board approved the minutes of the May 4, 2021 meeting.

Financial/Treasurer report. Treasurer Roman Santillan had emailed the treasurer report to the board on June 14, 2021. Roman informed the board that he has submitted the invoice letter to county for approval. The invoice includes payments for the website updates, Sister City International membership fee, insurance, and the accounting firm.

We are waiting for county approval to receive our reimbursement from the grant.


Update: County Government. Susan Hoffmann reported (1) Diane Vu is in the process of hiring a senior fellow for FY2022. She has started the conversation with the business management specialist to hire a dedicated staff member. (2) The Office of Community Partnerships (OCP) received the submitted treasurer invoice from Treasurer Santillan and has been approved.


Tracey-Alexis Dixon asked if the board will be involved in the hiring process.

Bruce Adams responded stating Diane will oversee the process and the board may not be involved.


(3) The FY2022 Grant of 20K has been approved. (4) The Morazán committee letter was submitted to the County Executive for review and signature. Recently, USAID has indicated they want to support efforts in El Salvador. The committee wants to take full advantage of this opportunity to utilize the aid to build a campus. A letter was first drafted by the committee and Bruce made additional edits. The letter will be signed by the County Executive and sent to the elected officials to request a meeting with them and ask for their support.

The expectation is to have a discussion with the elected officials to discuss how a university campus can be built in Morazán with the support of USAID.


Susan said the letter was submitted to the County Executive staff and OCP office.

Debbie Spielberg, who is the CE's Special Assistant, is involved to assist moving the letter along. The decision was made to reach out to the Office of Intergovernmental Relations, and now all information is back with the Director of Office of Intergovernmental Regulations. No additional progress has been made.


Bruce expressed how the committee worked hard on these efforts to move things forward. It appears Senator Van Hollen would be the right person to take on this initiative. He stated there is a sense of urgency to have priority on the USAID funds.


Mumin noted that he is happy to intervene if there is a need to contact CE Marc Elrich or others. Roman mentioned County Councilmember Gabriel Albornoz who went to El Salvador and is currently running for re-election. This may be a good opportunity to get his support at the local level.


Jeannette Noltenius advised Susan to keep the committee informed on the progress of the letter.

  • Action items: Susan will make a commitment to follow up on the letter following the board meeting.

Working Groups:

(1) Bruce Adams reported on the MCPS Schools Initiative. He said that it had been challenging trying to contact Drew Powell, Sister City International’s (SCI) representative to Maryland. Bruce and Drew spent weeks going back and forth on what the expectations were for the Sister Schools initiative but eventually made progress.

Elaine Chang-Baxter of MCPS has been very busy and put the group back on hold.

The school administration is going through transitions.


(2) MC TV: Jeannette reported that she has not been able to get ahold of MCTV staffer Carolina Galeano.

MCTV staff has been busy with Montgomery County graduations and other efforts.


Sister City Committee reports:

(1) Tracey-Alexis Dixon reported that Yasin Yimam will be back on July 11, 2021 from Ethiopia. The Gondar, Ethiopia Sister City will be celebrating their 10th anniversary in September this year and plan to host an event. September is also the month of celebrating the Ethiopian New Year and the Pan- African Festival.

Tracey-Alexis noted that she plans to send an email to the board for their support and ideas on how to make the event successful.


(2) Sabrina Hsu reported that the Chinese community will be hosting sessions in late September/October for parents on mental health issues. The meetings will be in partnership between the Chinese community and Health Department. All sessions will be in the Chinese language, except 1 session in English. Additionally, the Hometown Association wants to host zoom seminars with the Xi’an committee in the next couple months.


Roman reminded the board that the Chinese committee donated the masks a year ago today!


(3) Chair Barre reported that there was a planned meeting between the County Executive and Mayor of Hyderabad but was delayed due to the COVID outbreak.

Website Rebranding:

Chair Barre noted the draft website submitted by our consultant Shane Scott: https://shane254.wixsite.com/sistercities/our-sister-cities.

He asked Board members to review and comment.


Bruce Adams suggested to revisit the current write-ups, pictures and text sent to Shane previously. He proposed paying Text Design $250 to give Shane the high-resolution photos and fast facts. A separate email will be sent to Shane to include additional text to add to the website.


Susan Hoffmann will meet with Shane to discuss whether the information is in the correct file format. Otherwise, he will follow up with Text Design to receive the files.


Ashwani Jain suggested to make sure language translation is an option.

  • Action - Susan Hoffmann will reach out to Shane to get a status update and setup a meeting.

Other business: Chair Barre moved to not formally have a board meeting in July and August, but rather meet in July or August for the website updates. Nick Arrindell second. Board approved.


No announcements.


Next meeting: September 21, 2021 at 6:00 PM.


On a motion by Lorna Forde, seconded by Clemmie Solomon the meeting was adjourned at 6:56 p.m.


NEXT ZOOM Tuesday, September 21, 2021 @ 6 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

Tracey-Alexis Dixon

MSC Secretary

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