2017 Annual Conference Agenda

 Agenda is subject to change. 

Thursday, July 13

10:00am - 7:00pm

Early On-site Registration

8:00am - 5:00pm

US - Russia Mayors' Conference 

9:00am - 5:00pm

Optional Tours (additional sign up required)

10:00am - 12:00pm

Mayor Sessoms' Virginia Regional Mayoral summit (lunch will follow)


Norfolk Sister Cities Pre-Conference City Tour


SCI Leadership Meetings (For SCI leadership only)


Global Leaders Circle Reception hosted by Mayor Sessoms at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art


Conference Attendees Open Dinner at the Aviation Museum


Friday, July 14

(First official day of the conference)

7:00am - 5:00pm


7:00am - 8:00am

International/1st Time Attendee Orientation 

8:00am - 9:00am

Continental Breakfast

8:30am - 9:30am

Cities Seeking Cities Networking Coffee

9:45am - 10:00am

Parade of Flags - From DoubleTree to Convention Center

10:00 am - 11:30am

Opening Ceremony at the Convention Center

12:00pm - 1:00pm 

Keynote Luncheon 


  • TBA

1:30pm - 2:30pm: CONCURRENT SESSIONS

SESSION 1: Mayors/Elected officials Panel

How do you get the support of your local officials? Hear from a diverse panel of Mayors from Virginia Beach's sister cities on the best ways to garner sister cities support from community leaders.

SESSION 2: Sister Ports - a Popular Extension to Your Sister City Program

Sister ports offer another avenue of diplomacy between cities, but they also provide excellent opportunity to strengthen the economy of your local community.

3:00pm - 4:00pm: CONCURRENT SESSIONS

SESSION 1: Sister Cities and Tourism

Discuss incredible new opportunities to boost tourism in your community through sister city exchanges including medical tourism, eco-focused missions, service opportunities, brewery exchanges, art festivals, and food-focused trips.

SESSION 2: Working with Foundations

80% of charitable giving comes from individuals and family foundations. How do you attract the interest of national and local foundations? Your questions will be answered by representatives of the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation.


SCI: Candidates Forum

4:15pm - 5:30pm 

SCI: Annual Business Meeting

6:00pm - 8:30pm

City Welcome Reception Beach Bash with the Original Rhondels


Saturday, July 15

8:00am - 3:00pm


8:00am - 9:00am 

Continental Breakfast

8:00am - 9:00am 

SCI: New Board Member Orientation (For SCI leadership only)

8:00am - 9:00am

Africa Sister Cities Meeting with the President and CEO of the US African Development Foundation

9:00am - 10:00am

Breakfast Keynote: Foreign Diplomatic Corps Panel 

A panel of official Diplomatic Representatives will give remarks on the importance of sister city relationships for their respective country’s bilateral ties with the U.S., and will discuss opportunities for stronger, more impactful sister city relationships for the future. The representatives will touch on the importance of all exchange sectors, including business, culture, technology, and youth and education.

10:30am - 11:30am: CONCURRENT SESSIONS

SESSION 1: What Does the Future Look Like? Virtual Exchanges

Learn about new ways to keep your sister city connections alive through technology, especiaially if face-to-face meetings are out of the question.

SESSION 2: Fundraising with the Home Office

Join Sister Cities International's Director of Development, Ryan Newcomb, to discuss new fundraising options for your program such as peer-to-peer and mobile fundraising.

SESSION 3: How Can We Do That? Best Practices from Highly Successful Sister Cities Programs

You have heard about those amazing sister city programs that energize a community: country music festivals, the largest Italian festival on the East Coast, world-renowned art shows, orchestra exchange, in-state tuition for your sister cities. Learn how program leaders took these big ideas from start to finish to create serious change in their communities.

12:00pm - 1:00pm 

Keynote Luncheon

1:30pm - 2:30pm: CONCURRENT SESSIONS

SESSION 1: Your Mayor's 1st Question - What is the ROI (Return on Investment) of Your Sister City Partnership?

Did you know that sister city programs contribute over $525 million to the U.S. economy each year? During the 61 years of Sister Cities International’s existence, collecting information on the economic impact of sister city relationships has been difficult. Learn how important your sister city relationship is to the global economy and how this extremely useful data can support your organization’s mission and cultivate continued support. What are other opportunities to benefit your community? Hear from the founder of Swift Comply as he describes his model for economic benefits.


SESSION 2: Do You Break Off Your Sister City from the Local Government?

Are you exploring new opportunities for governance? This workshop will look at the various types of sister cities programs including formation at a 501(c)(3), governed by a sister cities commission, run directly out of the Mayor of Governor's office.

SESSION 3: Passing the Torch: How Do the Baby Boomers Engage with Millennials and Generation Z (a.k.a the Boomlets)

Did you know that the number of births in 2008 far outnumbered the start of the Baby Boom generation? How can we make our sister cities programs relevant to the younger generations?

2:45pm - 3:45pm: CONCURRENT SESSIONS

SESSION 1: Growing Your Influence: Building Partnerships with Organizations in Your City

Learn how you can work with other organizations in your community such as Rotary, Kiwanis, the Local Chamber, and diaspora associations like CLAIR to increase the impact of your program.

SESSION 2: City Department Exchanges

Does your community have an outstanding public safety department or emergency services? Learn how you can share this expertise with your sister city.

SESSION 3: Students Are Our Focus - Expanding Opportunities by Partnering with Community Colleges & Universities

Exploe ways you can increase interest in your sister city program through outreach to your local community colleges and universities.

4:00pm - 5:00pm

Open Session - Youth Leadership Summit Final Simulation


General and VIP Receptions for the Lou Wozar Diplomatic Awards Dinner

7:00pm - 11:00pm

Lou Wozar Diplomatic Awards Dinner


Sunday, July 16

9:00am - 12:00pm

SCI: Board of Directors Meeting (For SCI leadership only)

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This year marks a pivotal moment during which Sister Cities International is celebrating 60 years of peace through people. Get involved in this momentous year.
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As the world becomes smaller, and connections online become more frequent than face-to-face interactions, multicultural understanding at the community level is more important than ever. Sister Cities International enables citizen diplomats in communities across the world to develop relationships with communities in other countries that are based on cultural understanding and mutual cooperation.Donate