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October 26, 2021 Board Meeting

Board Meeting Minutes. Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Present: Bruce Adams, Nicholas Arrindell, Mumin Barre, Tracey-Alexis Dixon, Sabrina Hsu,

Ashwani Jain, Alicia Hannon, Michael Mills, Joy West, Matthew Lee, Jeannette Noltenius, , Roman Santillan, Nan Qiao, Yasin Yimam, Nan Qiao

Excused: Clemmie Solomon Absent: Lorna Forde

Absent OCP Staff: Arwa Khadr

The meeting via Zoom was called to order at 6:07 p.m. by chairman, Mumin Barre.

Approval of the Agenda. Mumin Barre proposed to remove Sister Schools from the agenda. Bruce Adams agreed. On a motion to approve by Nick Arrindell, excluding Sister Schools, seconded by Mathew Lee, the agenda was approved.

Approval of June 22 Minutes. On a motion to approve by Jeannette Noltenius, seconded by Mathew Lee, the minutes of the September 21, 2021 meeting were approved.


Financial report. Treasurer Roman Santillan discussed the financials report and indicated there were no additional transactions since September. Our balance is $10,900.

Roman also suggested for Montgomery County employees to donate to Montgomery County Sister Cities through their paycheck by visiting


This is a program through Montgomery County that matches employee contributions.

On a motion to approve by Joy West. Second by Jeannette Noltenius and Nick Arrindell, the

treasurer report was approved.

Update: County Government (MSC, FY23 Grant/Staffing)

Mumin provided an update, per a prior conversation with Diane Vu, and stated that the Office of Community Partners (OCP) will give us a temporary staff while they work on the fellow program. Once the program is finalized a full-time staff will be assigned.

Action: Mumin to follow up with Arwa to ensure FY23 budget includes our grant.

Website maintenance. Mumin re-reviewed Shane Scott’s website contract and noted language referring to an ongoing maintenance fee of $35/hr.

Nick asked if there is an estimate number of hours it will take Shane to complete website updates to gauge what our costs would be.

Mumin stated this would depend on the specific job.

Joy West suggested a maintenance schedule to update the website periodically.

Tracey-Alexis Dixon agreed and suggested to provide updates on a quarterly or as needed basis.

Action: Shane to update the website with the Morazon’s video produced by Montgomery College TV (MCTV).

Mumin to follow up with Shane to inquire about the cost of projects on an as needed basis.


Sister Cities Transparency Act.

Joy provided an update on the sister Cities Transparency Act. She mentioned that Reemberto Rodriguez recently held a retirement party in which she, along with Bruce attended. During the event she shared information about the Act and received support from other individuals in attendance. This includes County Executive Marc Elrich, members of the Legislative Delegation, members of Montgomery County Congressional Delegation, and members of the City Council.

Joy stated that the legislative status is still pending and not on a fast track. She has received

responses from a former member who has traveled with the Sister City delegation, Congressman David Trone, who indicated he understands our position, and one of the sponsors of the Senate.

Nick suggested for Joy to contact Karen Fisher, who was able to get language removed from an attachment that was a part of a Department of Defense bill. This attachment prevents American agents from recruiting international students. The uproar within the education community regarding the bill was led by Karen who took on this issue successfully.

Action: Nick to send Joy Karen Fisher’s contact information.

Please be sure to copy Joy on any emails sent to House Committee Chairmen, Congressmen, or Senator Van Hollen regarding the Transparency Act for tracking purposes.

Bruce suggested that Mumin invite Reemberto to the board.

Sister City Committee Reports:

India Project: Mumin stated the new mayor has settled.

Bruce asked Mumin to contact Aruna to see what her thoughts are for next steps.

China: There was a celebration for Shaanxi's 100 Pairs of International Sister Cities that was going to be held October 29 to mark the milestone for Shaanxi's cooperation with international sister cities.

Nan stated the Celebration was postponed because of COVID. The committee is hoping to

receive a video from the county executive to show support.

S. Korea: No new updates.

El Salvador: Jeannette Noltenius and the committee is currently in discussion about funding

opportunities to build a campus on Morazan. Letters have been sent to Senators and Congressional staffers. They have communicated with David Trone’s staff and continuing to push for their support. Senator Van Hollen’s staff has not gotten ack to the committee. In the meantime, members met with three members of the State Department and has sent a written letter to move the process forward.

Two Spanish articles were written covering the release of the Morazan video produced by MCTV.

The committee is also trying to get a play in the Latino community. Bruce mentioned that he will be following up with Carolina from MCTV to initiate the next project for Gondar, Ethiopia.


Bruce to send a follow up email to MCTV.

Ethiopia: Mumin provided an update on the meeting held with the Corvallis Association. The focus of the meeting was to discuss how both groups can collaborate moving forward and see how both groups can benefit from this interaction. The association is mainly focused on education and suggested a quarterly conversation to keep the conversation going. These meetings would include Gayle Stallings, Sister Cities Global Awareness Team, Ethiopia Representative. 

Yasin Yimam also highlighted that the Colorado Sister City doesn’t receive funds from their county, rather host direct fundraising events. He suggested a collaborative effort for the Gondar, Ethiopia 10 th anniversary.

Yasin gave an update on the new mayor of Gondar. On October 22, 2021 an email was received from Ayanaw Mengesha introducing Mayor Zewdu Malede Belay and Deputy Mayor of Gondar City, Bayouh Abuhay Kibret. 

Tracey-Alexis discussed revitalizing the committee and expressed concern with committee

involvement. She introduced the idea of establishing a partnership with Fasiledes and Sidiku, two non-profit organizations located in Montgomery County who expressed the idea of working with the Sister City. They have over 100 members within the community who are actively doing community activities both in Montgomery county and in Gondar.

Bruce expressed to leverage Montgomery College TV to revitalize the committee. A video highlighting the history of the sister city can be shown during the anniversary event to highlight the work accomplished over the 10 years. This will help to re-engage committee members to be involved in the process as this is what occurred during the process of developing the Morazon video.

Mumin proposed to discuss the idea further to ensure clear understanding of the partnership, then follow up with board for approval.

Action: Yasin to schedule meeting with Facilides and Sidiku group to discuss potential partnership in greater detail.

Old/new business/announcements. None.

The meeting ended at 6:53 p.m.

NEXT ZOOM Meeting: Discuss via email.

Tracey-Alexis Dixon, MSC Secretary

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