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September 19, 2017 Board Meeting

September 19, 2017 Board Meeting

Attendees: Bruce Adams, Mumin Barre, Tracey-Alexis Dixon, William Nance, Roman Santillan, Clemmie Solomon and Yasin Yimam

Excused: Lorna Forde, Darwin Romero and Nan Qiao

Guest: Nancy Goldberg

Staff: Cynthia Morris


The meeting was called to order by Bill Nance at 7:05 pm. Bill announced the resignation of board members Dianne Smith and Michael Gruenberg due to schedule demands. The board requested that we identify a way to express special thanks to Dianne for her role in establishing Sister Cities. Bill also shared that two of our board members, Lorna Forde and Darwin Romero are candidates for At-Large County Council seats. Also, board member Bruce Adams has been named Peacemaker of the Year by the Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County and will be honored by them on 9 October. Bill extended a welcome to Nancy Goldberg who is considering joining the board. Nancy shared that she relocated from Fort Lauderdale, Florida where she served multiple board roles the Sister Cities program, including Chairperson for Israel, Chairperson for Education, Chairperson for Culture and Humanitarian Chairperson.

Minutes from the 13 June meeting were reviewed and approved with two corrections and they will be posted on the website. The board agreed with Cynthia’s suggestion that she distribute minutes electronically for approval to ensure more timely posting on the website.


The Year to Date balance sheet and income statements through June were reviewed by treasurer Ramon Santillan who explained that Morazan committee expenses and FY17 County Executive Grant deposits transacted after 30 June were not reflected.


Cynthia read a written report submitted by Diane Vu who reported that at 31 days away from the departure date of the trip (20-29 October), 40 people have signed up, fewer than the 45-member target. Bruce shared that it was due in part to the fact that representatives from Montgomery Public Schools did not register as expected. The delegation includes Councilmember Craig Rice, President and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation David Petr, Montgomery College President Dr. DeRionne Pollard; Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs of Montgomery College Dr. Sanjay Rai; CEO of WorkSource Montgomery Ellie Giles and many other business and community leaders. A trip orientation for the delegation to review logistics, cultural expectations, etiquette and the geo-political situation in Korea will be held before the trip. Cynthia reported that she has not received any reports/overhead payments from either contractor that are required for their final payments. Bruce reported that there is some money budgeted in the FY18 County Executive grant to cover consultation as well.


Morazán: Ramon reported the committee’s sponsorship of a $2,000 scholarship for a University of Maryland student awarded at the annual Hispanic Gala whose main sponsors included County Executive Ike Leggett and Mrs. Leggett. He also reported the gala was historically diverse, with over 37 countries represented. The committee is excited about the contribution for two bus trips to the Tin Marin Museum for elementary school children Escuela El Zapote in Ahuachapán, a six-hour trip each way. The committee also participated in a reception at the Salvadoran ambassador’s residence in the District and is planning to participate in Emigrant Film Festival in November sponsored by the Salvadoran and Honduran Consulates in Silver Spring. The bulk of the committee’s current work is focused on the 3 November annual Fiesta fundraiser and they hope all board members will support the event.

Gondar: Members of the committee are planning a trip to Gondar for the 19 January Epiphany. They are hoping for a commitment from Mr. Leggett to join them. Clemmie explained that Montgomery College students are waiting for a definite date, logistics and assurance of U.S. State Department travel advisories as there are still issues such as the Somalian border situation. Yasin reported that the mayor of Gondar wants to establish an office of Sister Cities to build on current sister cities relationships including those in Seattle and several cities in Ohio. He is planning a trip before the end of the year for other business and Bruce suggested making him aware of Mr. Leggett’s planned absence in late October. The committee is considering an offer from Ethiopian Airlines to ship the stored law books to Gondar, but they may also take some of them when they travel to the city in January. Roman offered to help identify possible library supporters, including Demeke who traveled on an earlier trip to Gondar. Clemmie reported that scholar Molalign Belay is now on leave from the University of Gondar pursuing Ph.D. studies in Canada. The new liaison is Dr. Asrat, Vice President of Academic Affairs. Finally, Yasin shared that while there won’t be a fundraiser this year, he hopes to organize a meeting of former committee members soon.

Xi’an: Bill shared the invitation sent by Nan for the NCAAGW anniversary celebration Friday 6 October from 6:30-9:30 at the New Fortune Restaurant in Gaithersburg.


Hyderabad committee rebuilding: The effort to identify new leadership and recruitment is delayed due to the focus on the Asian trip in October. Bruce noted that Ram Kamon Konda’s name is no longer on board roster and Mumin will talk with him about submission of a former letter of resignation. He will also reach out to Aruna Miller for ideas and it was mentioned that there might be opportunities to talk with Dr. Sanjay Rai from Montgomery College about the committee during the Korean trip. Bruce also mentioned an absence of Asian board members, particularly concerning given the three of the five Sister Cities are Asian.

Daejeon committee board member: Cynthia noted that once the agreement is formerly signed, there should be representation from the new committee on the board. The most logical one is Wonro Lee who

was the major force in establishing the new Sister City relationship and is currently the consultant for the trip.

Board recruitment/Friend raising/Outreach: Clemmie has proposed Dr. Nicolas Airendell, retired International consultant for membership and Cynthia confirmed she has sent follow up information. Nancy Goldberg spoke about her experiences in Fort Lauderdale, establishing a Sister City relationship with Haifa, Israel, serving as board chair, education and cultural chair. She is especially interested in pursuing a Sister City relationship between Montgomery County and a city in Israel, particularly given their common successes in bio-medical and bio-technical fields. Nancy also expressed interest in outreach through creating pen pal relationships with students and senior citizens, following President Eisenhower’s “people to people” vision of Sister Cities, versus exclusive focus on economic development. Clemmie pointed out that the Ethiopian student body is the largest segment of foreign born students at Montgomery College, and the great potential for outreach events with them, particularly inter-generational activities. There was extended discussion and Cynthia will evaluate and pursue those most appropriate for our group. Board members were asked to continue to identify candidates and send to Mumin. Mumin also reminded the board members to “Like” Sister Cities on Facebook.

Website update: Cynthia reported that the revised website is up and already in need of updates/edits. Nan has agreed to assist with update on a volunteer basis and we have contracted with the web developer for regular maintenance as well. Cynthia has had training on editing, but will work with web developer for a while before “going solo.”

Fall newsletter: Cynthia shared that it is in final edits and should be distributed electronically next week. Ramon reminded her to place instructions on contributing through the Montgomery Employee campaign.

Bruce reminded the group about World of Montgomery Sunday 15 October from Noon-4 at Montgomery College. He said there will be a smaller tent representing South Korea this year and that there has been an appeal for representation from more countries than the Sister Cities. He also reminded board members to take a special look at the display cases in the library entrance as they leave.

Cynthia will poll board for scheduling the fourth quarter board meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 8:30.

Respectfully submitted,

Cynthia Morris, Senior Fellow

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