The first of its kind, the 2015 Sister Cities International Diplomatic Gala was a wonderful evening filled with citizen leaders, elected officials, Ambassadors, and members of the diplomatic community. Guests gathered at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on March 10, 2015 to celebrate “Peace through People” and support the citizen diplomacy movement.

VIP reception

The Gala kicked off with a VIP reception that allowed ambassadors, diplomats, and other dignitaries to mingle before the reception. Guests took part in a silent auction with over 50 items on display. Items ranged from roundtrip airfare, sports memorabilia, international art pieces, restaurant gift cards, and more. The silent auction raised $13,000 with all proceeds benefiting Sister Cities International and the sister cities network.

Guests proceeded to enjoy live music and entertainment along with international cuisine and cocktails in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hall of Flags. Entertainment included a fantastic performance by Christylez Bacon, part of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. The formal reception also served as an excellent networking opportunity for attendees, as people from around the globe had a chance to learn from one another.

Mary D. Kane, Hon. James Moran, Hon. Norm MinetaThe Awards Ceremony began with an insightful introduction from the Honorable Norman Mineta, Former United States Secretary of Transportation, Former United States Secretary of Commerce, and Former Mayor of San Jose, California. Mr. Mineta presented the two Congressional Diplomatic Leadership Awards to Former Senator Richard Lugar and Former Congressman James Moran. During Senator Lugar’s acceptance speech, he praised the work of Sister Cities International and said, “We need the richness in our lives from knowing people in foreign lands…I appreciate the work that Sister Cities International does to promote exchange programs so more Americans can study abroad.”

Jamaica Deputy Chief of Mission Marsha Coore Lobban, Mary D. Kane, Hazel Martin, Corey MartinSister Cities International Board Chairman Bill Boerum presented the Honorable Former U.S. Ambassador to Estonia Aldona Zofia Wos with the Diplomatic Leadership Award. Marsha Coore Lobban, the Deputy Chief of Mission of Jamaica, presented the Global Citizen Diplomat Award to the family of the late Vin Martin. Mr. Martin’s son Corey Martin received the award on his behalf and discussed the importance of his father’s work with the Atlanta, Georgia-Montego Bay, Jamaica Health Mission in the sister cities network.

Lauren Vaughn, the Secretary of Washington, DC, gave the Corporate Diplomacy Award to D.C. United. Victor Melara, Director of D.C. United Community Relations, accepted the award and formally announced the sister soccer club partnership between D.C. United (Washington, DC) and Sunderland A.F.C. (Sunderland, UK).

Mary Kane and Major General Linda SinghThe final award for Excellence in Diplomacy was given to the Maryland National Guard. Major General Linda Singh accepted the award on behalf of the Maryland National Guard. In regard to the value of sister cities, she rounded out the evening by saying, “It’s the relationships and friendships we pave and the diplomacy that we sew in the fields that goes far beyond what a war could ever reach.”

The rest of the Gala was filled with music and dancing, and a fun time was had by all! Click here to see photos from the Gala.

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