On June 1, 2022, Raleigh Sister Cities (“RSC”) held an annual meeting as required by the organization’s bylaws. In addition to sharing the state of affairs, RSC elected new board members (Bonnie Bishop, Connie Bryant, and Virginia Reed) and proposed an annual budget and operations plan for board approval. This meeting also serves as an annual deadline for each Sister City committee to meet; all RSC ambassadors have met these requirements thanks to continued monthly meetings to plan, review, and coordinate together.
2021-24 Strategic Plan
This was the first year of a four-year strategic plan, developed with the guidance of the Executive Service Corps of the Triangle from October 2020 to June 2021. In addition to a revised mission statement (“Celebrate global cultures in Raleigh through long-term partnerships and programs through city-to-city and person-to-person diplomacy”), there are five objectives that continue to guide the programs, operations, and administration:
Cultivate partnerships with other organizations to foster collaboration
Increase awareness of our organization in the broader Raleigh community
Strengthen the financial sustainability of our organization
Provide strong and effective governance
Improve the quality and quantity of our programs and services while ensuring operational excellence
With the guidance of an annual operations plan, containing supporting organizational strategies and actions for the year, the evaluation is as follows:
Objectives: 0/5 completed (0%)
Strategies: 2/16 completed (12.5%)
Actions: 11/37 completed (30%), 9/37 in process (25%), and 18/37 incomplete (49%)
As a result, the updated 2022-23 operations plan focused on revised, realistic, and reimagined strategies and actions for the next year, while continuing to work towards the five objectives.
In addition to receiving a stipend from the City of Raleigh to cover the membership fees to Sister Cities International, RSC relies on contributions from individuals and businesses to sustain diplomatic activities locally and internationally. A revamped membership model was introduced after being paused during the pandemic, utilizing feedback from the strategic plan stakeholders, for individuals and families. At the time of the annual meeting, 13 individuals and family memberships had been initiated with a goal of 50 total by October 2022. Both physical and virtual open house events are planned to continue drawing interest and investment, led by new volunteer leadership positions; Community Relations (Charles Helms) and Development (Meetal Shah).
From the wishes of long-time RSC volunteer, leader, and supporter, George Chapman and his family, RSC received over $3k from individual contributions in his memory. In addition to supporting current activities, the newly created “George Chapman” award will annually recognize an RSC volunteer making a significant contribution to celebrating global cultures on behalf of Raleigh. Most recently, George’s family led efforts to new signage at Raleigh’s Compiégne Park, unveiled on Armistice Day in November 2021.
In partnership with Caritas International, Cary Sister Cities, and Young Hearts Distilling, RSC hosted a fundraiser in April 2022 for Ukrainian refugees being hosted in Rostock. This event involved 100+ donors raising over $7k to support the humanitarian efforts in the German Sister City. This local effort was reported and shared by the city’s (Rostock) official communication channels. This contribution preceded a visit to Rostock by RSC President, Cody Charland, in May to meet with Rathaus staff and Oberburgërmeister Claus Madsen. Further plans are being developed with local (Raleigh) partners to continue supporting and advocating for wartime humanitarian efforts in 2022.
Updates from Sister Cities Partners
On November 9th, 2021, Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin signed the official MOU agreement with Gibraltar, becoming the first Sister City partner for the UK territory. This is a remarkable step in strengthening the ties between North Carolina and the United Kingdom, building upon recent efforts and projects by the two partners. Thanks to Raleigh resident and now, Gibraltar Ambassador, Mary-Clare Freeman for coordinating and leading the effort.
Thanks to the efforts of Raleigh-based Nairobi leadership and their efforts over the last decade, a Sister Cities MOU was signed by Nairobi Governor, H.E. Anne Kananu Mwenda in April 2022. This agreement was originally approved by the Raleigh City Council in 2012 and had been consistently pursued by staff, volunteers, and officials over the last decade. Plans are underway to celebrate and mark the occasion.
Three new Sister City partnerships were presented and approved at the February 2022 RSC board meeting by their Raleigh-based ambassadors:
Guadalajara, Mexico (Alma Reynaga, Alberto Lopez)
Rionegro, Colombia (Ximena Uribe)
Syr, Lebanon (Khodr Zaarour)
Each partnership has a preliminary agreement in place, along with a purpose and plan for the long-term to support the diplomatic relationship, with local organizations to coordinate with. These partnerships represent nearly 1.5 million residents in new geographic areas connected to Raleigh and bring the total amount of Sister Cities to eight. Currently, City of Raleigh leadership is looking to reallocate resources to support the growing activities of RSC, ahead of formalizing the MOU’s for each partnership.
With unprecedented and volatile circumstances, RSC continued organizational programming while maintaining safety through socially distanced events, both in-person and virtually. The unofficial mantra of RSC is party with a purpose, during a pandemic.
Highlights from the last year include:
British-American Picnic, celebrating Guy-Fawkes Day at the Prarie Ridge Ecostation
Armistice Day at the NCSU Belltower and Compiégne Park
Jamhuri Day at the Five Points Center
“How to Start a Sister City” online seminar
The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee at the Tucker House
German Dinner at Capital Club 16
For More Information
Please check out Raleigh Sister Cities channels for updates, events, and opportunities to celebrate global cultures through our international partnerships: