October 3, 2012 Board Meeting
Montgomery Sister Cities Board Minutes for October 3, 2012
Attendees: Hudnut, Gonzalez, Raffa, Adams, Doolan, Barre, Nance, Smith, Levey, Mitchell
As the Secretary position remains vacant, Kelly Mitchell recorded the minutes.
Chair Bill Hudnut began the meeting with a vote of the June 19 Meeting Minutes, which were approved with no changes. He followed this with a welcome to Bob Levey, the new Executive Director (as of July). He also implored all board members to pay (or get caught up) on their dues as soon as possible.
Bob Levey provided an overview of what he has accomplished since coming on board in July. He introduced Kelly Mitchell, his new volunteer assistant, and Helen Buckley, the new volunteer accountant. He reported that the banking relationship with Eagle bank was a good relationship but required some attention and told of a snag he experienced in requisitioning payment for the Ethiopia trip. He has worked with the bank and revised the signatories on accounts to himself and Bill Nance. The bank was very cooperative and he followed up by sending a thank you note, which prompted Tom Raffa to agree to provide stationary with the organization’s logo for future correspondence. He has also reestablished the organization’s relationship with the Maryland Secretary of State, which good standing will permit the organization to continue fundraising. He provided an update on plans for the organization to have a presence at the World of Montgomery Festival in Wheaton on October 21. Friends of Sister Cities memberships will be sold at a booth during the festival at the standard price of $20 and reduced price of $10 for students. The membership fee will provide a Montgomery Sister Cities pin (a photocopy of the logo pin was passed for the board to view) and access to a regularly occurring blog moderated by Bob Levey. He also brought to light that the organization is $1,665 in arrears on dues to Sister Cities International. The hope is to sell 500 memberships to raise money to pay the past due amount as soon as possible. Once paid, Sister Cities International will be notified of the two most recent sister cities – Morazan and Gondar. Finally, he gave an update on the website, which is being moved to a new URL. The board members gave feedback on the site’s URL, which is expected to be www.montgomeryMDsistercities.org. The board also gave feedback on the information they would like to be available on the site.
Bruce Adams and Bill Nance reported on the trip to sister city Gondar, Ethiopia. There were 38 people that participated in the trip (including 10 students from Montgomery College), which was described as sensational. The Montgomery College students filmed a video of the trip that will likely be available on the school’s web station. He emphasized the benefits of traveling with the organization is the opportunity to meet real people and discuss real-life issues, which is a different experience than with typical tourism. He also expressed a need to not judge a potential sister city on their political or human rights history, as they may have missed the opportunities that exist in Gondar had they not proceeded, since Ethiopia’s Prime Minister died shortly before the envoy’s trip was to begin. The hope is that the experiences of those that participated in this trip could be used as a marketing tool for Montgomery Sister Cities. Gondar University’s president provided a delegation of 10 and the Mayor of Gondar was fully engaged during the trip. The mayor also created and hired someone for a position specifically to act as a sister city liaison. Gondar is an historic community and home to two world heritage sites. It has benefitted from an explosion of construction, which is all government funded. There are development opportunities in Gondar that can be pursued, especially in technology and infrastructure. The envoy from Montgomery Sister Cities provided first-aid kits, musical instruments, and computers but due to shipping issues, the donations did not arrive prior to the envoy departing; however, the liaison will ensure delivery and communicate the shipment’s arrival. Discussion ensued concerning how to keep the momentum generated from the trip and it was determined that the local indigenous community should lead the endeavor. The Montgomery College students will be invited to the next meeting to discuss their experience. Dr. Pollard of Montgomery College will be contacted to discuss more interaction with the board and potentially an invitation to the board in the future.
Mumin Barre led a discussion of the organization’s bylaws. It was discussed that more specificity could exist in the bylaws. The board will review additions that may be necessary, as well. He also discussed the potential to partner with community organizations and business to become friends to Montgomery Sister Cities.
Evelyn Gonzalez reported on the need for the sister city committees to receive more help from the board. Specifically, access to resources and visibility are the primary needs. The board agreed that they were willing to help, as necessary.
The board voted in 3 new board members, two new positions, and tabled a third position to be voted on at the next meeting. Elsie Walker, Solomon Ayele, and Neftali Granados were unanimously voted in as Board members. Bill Nance was voted in as Treasurer. Kelly Mitchell was voted in as Assistant Secretary. There wasn’t anyone to accept the nomination of Secretary and this position remains vacant, to be voted on at the next meeting.