The Annual Awards Program is Established

The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc. sponsored the awards program from 1963 through the mid-1990s. Through the Annual Awards Program, the outstanding projects and activities conducted by sister cities throughout the world are recognized and rewarded.

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First National Conference

The experience that our committee members are gaining in carrying out affiliation projects has created an America more knowledgeable in foreign affairs than their parents or grandparents. Their visitations and personal experiences have given them first-hand knowledge in a practical and wise manner. -Mark Bortman, Chair of the Civic Committee The very first national sister cities conference was held in Washington D.C. on February 27-28, 1958 and helped point the way to the future growth the program would enjoy.

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The Civic Committee Finds a Home: the American Municipal Association

The National League of Cities, then the American Municipal Association, approved participation in a joint cooperative program with the Civic Committee of People-to-People to further the U.S. Sister Cities program on July 24, 1957.

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A Sister City Leader

Mark Bortman was the first leader to chair the Civic Committee (the main cog in the mechanism of citizen diplomacy) and saw the sister cities movement grow from some 40 affiliations after the Committee was formed in 1956 to over 350 U.S. communities linked with communities in 57 countries until his death In 1967.

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The Birth of the People-to-People Program

Two deeply-held convictions unite us in common purpose. First, is our belief in effective and responsive local government as a principal bulwark of freedom. Second, is our faith in the great promise of people-to-people and sister city affiliations in helping build the solid structure of world peace.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Oldest Sister City Relationship Established Between Toledo, Ohio and Toledo, Spain

Although many communities site evidence of exchanges or other activities, Sister Cities International has verified that officials from Toledo, Ohio, and Toledo, Spain signed a twinning document in 1931.

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