2017 Annual Report and Membership Directory

ANNUAL REPORT 2016 1 www.sistercities.org

Greetings Friends,

2016 was an exceptional year, as Sister Cities International marked the 60 th anniversary of its founding by President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the White House Conference on Citizen Diplomacy on September 11, 1956. Thank you to all of our members, partners, and supporters for helping make our 60 th anniversary a year of great achievements. With over 2,000 partnerships worldwide, the Sister Cities International network impacts the lives of tens of thousands of global citizens, improving international relations one individual, one community at a time. Member benefits in 2016 continued to grow, specifically in our communications program with new opportunities for digital engagement and outreach. We officially began our designation as a U.S. Department of State J-1 Visa sponsor for our High School Homestay Exchange Program. Our Cities Seeking Cities program continues to be instrumental in establishing new partnerships. And as we have for 60 years, SCI is proud to be your Washington D.C. office for your local sister cities program.

In July, we hosted our 60 th Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., where over 500 sister cities leaders, municipal officials, business leaders, diplomats, and ambassadors gathered to celebrate six decades of “Peace through People.” The Conference included engaging speaker sessions, an Opening Ceremony and Parade of Flags at the Ronald Reagan Building’s Wilson Plaza, a City Welcome Reception hosted by the city of Washington, D.C. and Mayor Muriel Bowser at the Embassy of China, and the 2016 Lou Wozar Diplomatic Awards Auction, Dinner and Ceremony. Thousands of citizen diplomats, civic leaders, mayors, and members of Congress banded together to declare July 15, 2016 as Sister Cities International Day. Sister Cities International Day serves as a call to action for citizens around the world to come together to celebrate the importance of their communities’ commitment to supporting a more peaceful and prosperous future through people- to-people exchanges and city-to-city partnerships. Representatives Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Joaquin Castro (D-TX) introduced a bi- partisan resolution H.Res.775 to mark this special day. Mayors from over 50 cities across the U.S. and Canada declared Sister Cities International Day in their respective communities as well. The Youth Leadership Summit had a record of 115 high school students in attendance. Students participated in a specialized nuclear non-proliferation diplomatic simulation hosted by the U.S. Diplomacy Center, speaker sessions, peer collaboration, visits to national monuments, and making lifelong friendships with their peers in the US and across the globe. Throughout the year, many events were held in honor of Sister Cities International’s 60 th Anniversary. Last April, in conjunction with the San Jose – Dublin sister city organization, over 300 citizen diplomats gathered in Dublin, Ireland to commemorate the 100 th Anniversary of the Easter Uprising with our very first US Ireland Sister Cities conference. A new SCI tradition began as we hosted our first community reception in San Jose with our new Chair of the Board, Tim Quigley, Secretary Norm Mineta and Presidential sponsors Mike and Mary Ellen Fox. Councilmember and SCI Vice Chair, Ron Nirenberg, hosted over 200 people for a Diplomatic Leaders reception for supporters such as Toyota and the former San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger. Two Diplomatic Leadership Awards Receptions were held in Washington, D.C.. The first occurred on International Women’s Day in March, commemorating the essential role women play in diplomatic efforts, and the second was held at the Embassy of Finland, honoring contributions to citizen diplomacy by Senator Robert Dole, former Lt. Governor of Kentucky and Special Advisor to President Obama, Jerry Abramson, Congresswoman Connie Morella and Ambassador Aldona Voss. These community receptions not only honor leaders in our local programs but they bring financial support and public awareness to all sister cities that are members of our organization. It’s been a great year—but we are already looking forward to the year ahead. We especially look forward to seeing you at the Sister Cities International 61 st Annual Conference and Youth Leadership Summit in Virginia Beach, VA July 13-15, 2017. Now, more than ever -- our work of “Peace through People” is needed. We sincerely appreciate your efforts to make the sister city network grow and prosper.

Sincerely yours,

Mary D. Kane President and CEO

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