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The 4th annual Empowering Local Leadership Conference

On Friday, May 13th, we got up early to fly to Washington, D.C. to attend the second day of the 4th annual "Empowering Local Leadership Conference" presented by the Cleveland Development Foundation with the support of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association and the Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers IMG_0999Association.

 Special guests at the conference were U.S. Congresspersons Marcia Fudge, David Joyce, and Jim Renacci. Overall, what this conference did was to give local elected leaders the chance to exchange ideas with each other, prominent business leaders and to familiarize/get to know better the IMG_1052U. S. congressional delegation from Ohio.

We signed up to attend through Ms. Jeanne Romanoff with the Greater Cleveland Partnership. We were sorry that we couldn't attend the first day of the conference on Thursday because we understand there was a special reception where some excellent networking took place. Nevertheless, we arrived at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center a few minutes before it opened at 8:30am on Friday. We then waited for it to open with Ms. Tracy Bean-Oliver, Director of Media and Local Affairs for Dominion. She knew Ms. Margaret W. Wong because they both served on the Tri-C Board together. Ms. Bean-Oliver said that Ms. Wong was "a wonderful asset to the community."

Later in the day, we met Ms. Lorna Wisham, Regional Vice President at FirstEnergy Corp, who also served on the Tri-C Board with Ms. Wong and thought highly of her. At 8:30am we were allowed to enter the Capitol so we went right to Atrium where our breakfast was ready. We IMG_0998 shared a table with Ms. Cynthia Peck, the Executive Director Middleburg Heights Chamber of Commerce. When we told her that we worked for an immigration law office, she told us that the spouse of someone she knew was recently sworn in as an American citizen years after he/she immigrated to the United States from Greece as a child. We didn't know this before but during the RNC Middleburg Heights will be home to the traveling Vietnam wall which will be placed in the Commons.

Unfortunately Congresswoman Fudge was not able about to attend the morning session (she was there the night before) but Congressmen Renacci and Joyce made themselves very accessible. After breakfast they introduced us to 10 other members of the Ohio Congressional delegation who were Steve Chabot, Brad Wenstrup, Jim Jordan, Bob Latta, Bill Johnson, Bob Gibbs, Marcy Kaptur, Mike Turner, Pat Tiberi, and Steve Stivers. All of them got to talk for a moment and all agreed that they were able to work very well together for the good of Ohio.

We also met Ohio State Senator Frank LaRose from the 27th district who talked to us about a bill that he is putting together that might possibly help international college students remain in the United States a while longer after they graduate. He dubbed it the "foreign talent attraction and retention" bill and gave us the compliment of volunteering to send it to Margaret W. Wong and Associates to review before he introduced it. IMG_1016

Later, before lunch we listened to three presentations in the auditorium. Two of these concerned dealing with the opiod crisis as well as our drug policy in general and effective technology available to local municipalities.

The one that really interested us though was titled "Global Engagement for Local Leaders" that was put on by Ms. Reta Jo Lewis and Ms. Lora Berg, both from the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

We were not familiar with this organization so we looked it up online and learned that it is a non-partisan, non-profit that was founded in 1972 through a gift from Germany as a permanent memorial to the Marshall Plan. It seeks to strengthen transatlantic cooperation concerning regional, national, and global challenges.

On this day Ms. Lewis and Ms. Berg presented a model showing eight aspects or possible avenues for positive global engagement which were IMG_1032through the media, arts and culture, social and civic inclusion, elected leadership, higher education, K-12 education, NGO's, and business and engagement. They talked about each option and showed slides containing statements by credible people as to why this was so important. We really liked one by Mr. Jay Chen, former President of Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, which said in part that "if you want to build global engagement at the K-12 level, there is nothing better for a student than to meet a student from across the ocean...things like the Model U.N. also provide a fantastic experience...ultimately it's in everyone's long-term interest, especially business, to have a more diversified workforce with these global experiences." Afterwards, we talked with Councilman Gordon Short from Ward 4 in the City of Strongsville who told us that he was once a Marshall Fellow. He also talked to us about being designated by his business to guide a young student from China through the H-1B process. Councilman Short had never been through anything like that before but things turned out okay. Before we left to return to Cleveland, we spoke with Rev. Dr. R. Mark Giuliano, Senior Pastor with the Old Stone Church about the important role that faith-based communities have played in bringing together people from around the world to address issues related to local/widespread disasters, health, and social justice.

By:

Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.

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