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March 2023 Board Meeting

MSC Board Meeting Minutes  

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Present:  Bruce Adams, Tracey-Alexis Dixon (Chair), Michael Mills (Vice Chair), Roman A. Santillan, Mumin Barre, Jeannette Noltenius, Clemmie Solomon, Matthew Lee, Mirin Phool, Joy West , Yasin Yimam, Nick Arrindell, Alicia Hannon, Sabrina Hsu, Nan Qiao



The monthly meeting of the Montgomery Sister Cities Board of Directors was called to order at 6:33 p.m. by the Chair Tracey-Alexis Dixon.


Approval of the Agenda

A motion by Board member Solomon, seconded by Board member Noltenius, passed approving the March 14, 2023 agenda.

Approval of December 2022 Minutes

On a motion to approve by Board member Solomon and seconded by Board member Noltenius, the minutes of the December 14, 2022, meeting was approved.

MSC Treasurer’s Report

Treasurer, Roman A. Santillan reported on MSC account status.

Discussion was held on the budget report, and expense spreadsheet on how much has been spent from the county grant.

Chair Dixon reported she spoke with Diane about the 150K budget increase. The County Executive (CE) agreed to add this to our budget for 2 years. This money will allow us to hire a Full-Time staff person directly under MSC.  We will provide the fringe benefits and conduct the hiring process ourselves. The CE will submit his budget on 3/15 to the County Council for approval. By the end of the 2 years, we will reconvene. MSC will still have the partnership with the OCP office in that the CE would still sign sister city agreements, provide liaison support, a senior fellow, in addition to a county rep to sit on the board.

Board member Solomon and Mills added that this requires a Full-time staff with fundraising experience in a grand way.

Board member Lee and Mills added that we should come up with a budget first, and then consider hiring a consultant versus hiring someone directly. This reduces the liability of requiring health and fringe benefits. For example, intern, MBA student, etc. where we can pay hourly and the program covers benefits. Chair Dixon agreed.

Board member Noltenius asked if we would consider giving funds to the committees as well.

On a motion to approve by Board member Solomon and seconded by Board member Mills, the treasurer’s report was accepted with the amendment that an updated balance report will be sent by Wednesday, March 22, 2023 that includes the account balance.

OCP Mail

There is one letter expected. Mumin will continue to follow up with OCP staff.

County Updates

Chair Dixon stated we received 11 applicants who applied for the Senior Fellow position. They are under review by the OHR. They will let us know once reviewed who fits the description so we can be involved in the hiring process.


Sister City Committee Reports: 

·      Morazan

  • Board member Noltenius explained the committee had a very positive meeting with the CE. He agreed to travel to Morazan in the Fall 2024. They’ve assigned a person to begin the planning process.

  • A breakfast meeting and a Gala is planned in the fall (September)

  • Consiente is doing the scholarships in El Savador. There are efforts with PG county to have a sister city in El Salvador.

  • Board member Noltenius visited Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore City– was very nice. The museum was superb! There were several curators involved.

·      Gondar

o   University of Gondar and the Central Gondar Culture and Tourism office sent a formal request to meet with MSC and Montgomery County’s Tourism Department. Meeting is scheduled Friday, March 24, 2023. Samuel Meleta is leading these efforts.

o   Vice chair Mills added that he spoke with Samuel who expressed that Gondar University President expressed interest in coming in the fall 2023.

  • Xi’an

  • Xi’an Video with Montgomery College – MCTV is postponed.

  • Daejon

  • Board member Lee reported that he visited Daejon, South Korea along with Brad Steward from Economic Development in October 2022 for the UCIG Conference. The event was a success. They visited high schools, the local city government, and met with mayor.

  • He added that he spoke with Diane Vu and Shen Yi about a 2023 Economy Trade Mission Trip. If there is a conference in South Korea around September/ October, then we will try to attend.

  • Hyderabad

  • Board member Phool did not have updates to report regarding the 2023 County Executive trip to India. Vice chair Mills will contact Sanjay for updates.

  • Board chair Dixon state she will write a letter to the County Executive and Diane Vu to solidify the trip schedule and discussed concerns of the impracticality of multiple trips.

SCI Africa Summit, February 20-24, 2023 Recap

·      Board member West expressed the SCI Africa Summit was a wonderful experience. She stated the delegation met with Nelson Mandela’s oldest granddaughter. She met with her personally as well. In addition to gathering school items to distribute to the primary schools.

·      Board member Solomon thanked MSC for his nomination as an Elder. HE was treated very well throughout the conference and recognized during multiple occasions as a respected Elder. There were many highlights of the trip: City Tour provided a history of S. Africa, Robben Island to visit the jail where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, and Table Mountain which had a panoramic view of Cape Town. He commended Joy for the video compilation and Board Chair Dixon for her leadership, patience and flexibility leading the delegation.

·      Board Chair Dixon added that the trip was an overwhelming experience. MSC was the 2nd largest group represented and Montgomery College TV also made its presence known.

·      An upcoming gathering will be held with the delegation to discuss next steps to work towards the 500 by 5 years initiative. A finalized date/time will be shared with the Board to attend.


2023 Event Calendar

·      Upcoming Events will be added as a standing item. Board member Hannon will report on upcoming community events.

·      Annual Meeting – Humanitarian Walk

o   Chair Dixon discussed the Annual Meeting-Humanitarian Walk event. Per our December meeting we discussed combining our Annual meeting with the Humanitarian Walk. There will be:

§  5 sister cities represented + Rockville SCC

§  Program includes the following speakers: SCI President Leroy Allala, CE Marc Elrich, Diane Vu OCP Director

§  Performances

§  Open it up for other organizations to table as well (nominal fee - fundraising)

§  A date will be confirmed as soon as possible. The following individuals agreed to join the committee: Joy, Tracey, Mirin, Jeannette, Mike, Clemmie

·      Big Train Baseball and MSC Picnic July 1 – Bruce to lead efforts.

·      Board member Solomon suggested a combined meeting with SCI and RSCC. He will follow up with a proposal for the board to review.


Other Business:

·      Board meeting cadence will be updated after next meeting.

·      Board chair to invite Susan Lee, Secretary of State to next Board meeting. (CONFIRMED)

·      Next meeting April 18, 2023 6:30PM

·      New Board member invitation: Debbie Trent


Meeting was adjourned at 8:53 p.m.



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