International Chambers Luncheon and International Cleveland Expo

On Friday, December 7th, we attended two annual international events:
First, we went to Windows on River in the Flats for the International Chambers Luncheon in which members of the British American, French American, Swedish American, Netherlands American, U.S. India, and Greater Cleveland Chinese Chambers of Commerce as well as the International Business Network (IBN) all take part.

Later on Friday, we drove to the La Villa Conference Center in Brook Park to table on behalf of Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC (a major sponsor along with Third Federal Foundation and Global Cleveland) at the International Cleveland Expo, a multicultural holiday celebration put on each year by the International Community Council-Worldwide Intercultural Network (ICC-WIN) of which the theme was “The World in Your Backyard!”

Previously, both events had taken place in other locations so it was a nice change to see them in different surroundings this year. At the International Chambers Luncheon, first-time-attendee Mr. Norman Lindahl began and smiled as he said that he came with a friend of his so that both the Swedes and the Norwegians were guaranteed to have at least one person present. As it turned out, our banquet room was so packed with people that we could appreciate the decision of the event planners to shift to this location because the previous one would have been a bit of a squeeze this time.

International Chambers Luncheon

We ourselves were greeted by our friends Mr. David Silk, Chairman Emeritus of the British American Chamber, and Mr. Dick Erickson, President of the French American Chamber. 

Later, we shared a table with Mr. Erickson as well as Ms. Kathy Friedrich, IBN Administrator, and  several Honorary Consuls for Ohio including Ms. Sandra Morgan (United Kingdom); Mr. John Christian  Langmack (Denmark), and, of course, Ms. Ingrid Bublys (Lithuania).

Our main speaker for the day was Mr. Richard Y. Pace, the President of Cumberland Real Estate Development, who spoke about development plans for Cleveland’s lakefront between East 9th Street and West 3rd Street in the downtown area. This project is actually a joint venture between Cumberland and the Trammell Crow Company of Dallas.

Mr. Pace spoke of the success of what has been accomplished thus far, including the creation of the very successful Nuevo Modern Mexican and Tequila Bar (we had a good time when we attended a fundraiser there) and the Harbor Verandas Apartments where Mr. Pace and his wife now reside.

As for the future, what seemed particularly exciting to us were plans to create an international visitors center (aimed at those who arrive in Cleveland via our waterways) as well as a park dedicated to the 23 sister cities of Cleveland. Mr. Pace also promised to continue working with Mr. Dick Clough and the Green Ribbon Coalition to make our lakefront more accessible to all of the neighborhoods of Cleveland.

In the course of his speech, Mr. Pace indicated that it is now the trend for developers in this area to operate in a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation. Along these lines, we really admired him when when he complimented Mr. Sam Petros, Chairman of the Petros Development Corporation who was also sitting at our table, for the work his firm had done in University Circle.  

ICC-WIN International Cleveland Expo

Similar to the International Chambers event that we had taken part in earlier that day, this was the first time that the annual ICC-WIN holiday happening took place in this particular environment but, once again, we believe that it was a wise decision because parking was so accessible and unloading our tabling supplies was no problem at all.

Working at this event with us was our good colleague Mr. George Koussa (who sits on the ICC-WIN Board) and Mr. Jury Pychowycz, also of our office, and his daughter, Morgan.

Other attendees included Ms. Ingrida Bublys and Mr. Alex Lackey, Government Affairs Coordinator at the City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office, who were also with us at the International Chambers luncheon as well as Mr. Dan Hanson’s Magnum Holiday Celebration the previous day. Other familiar faces present included those of Mr. Aklilu Demissie; Mr. Pierre Bejjani and his wife, Mary; Mr. Asim Datta; Mr. Joseph Meissner; Ms. Gia Hoa Ryan; Mr. Murat Gurer; Mr. Richard Eastburn; and Santa Claus who posed for a photo with ICC-WIN Board President Mr. Ken Kovach. We were particularly pleased to re-connect with Ms. Gayle Cummins, the wife of former Cleveland City Councilperson Brian Cummins who gave the Cleveland community 12 years of commendable service. Gayle happily told us that Brian is now a U.S. Peace Corps official stationed in the country of Georgia (she plans to join him there shortly) and he just loves it. Mr. Kris Koch (who else?) supplied the international music, which Dr. Nada Martinovic made use of when she conducted a mini folk dance workshop.

Other attendees included Ms. Ingrida Bublys and Mr. Alex Lackey, Government Affairs Coordinator at the City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office, who were also with us at the International Chambers luncheon as well as Mr. Dan Hanson’s Magnum Holiday Celebration the previous day. Other familiar faces present included those of Mr. Aklilu Demissie; Mr. Pierre Bejjani and his wife, Mary; Mr. Asim Datta; Mr. Joseph Meissner; Ms. Gia Hoa Ryan; Mr. Murat Gurer; Mr. Richard Eastburn; and Santa Claus who posed for a photo with ICC-WIN Board President Mr. Ken Kovach. We were particularly pleased to re-connect with Ms. Gayle Cummins, the wife of former Cleveland City Councilperson Brian Cummins who gave the Cleveland community 12 years of commendable service. Gayle happily told us that Brian is now a U.S. Peace Corps official stationed in the country of Georgia (she plans to join him there shortly) and he just loves it. Mr. Kris Koch (who else?) supplied the international music, which Dr. Nada Martinovic made use of when she conducted a mini folk dance workshop.

While we were there, we enjoyed an international dinner that included selections from four food stations containing Indian, Middle Eastern, Italian, and Spanish cuisine and sat back and were entertained by such groups as Ajyal Dance Ensemble (Lebanon), Cuyahoga Cossacks (a male chorus performing Russian melodies), Paprika (a women’s dance ensemble representing Russia), and Pacific Paradise (a Polynesian Dance Ensemble). Let it be said that at one point, we bravely tried to learn the hula but things didn’t go as well for us in this instance as the rest of the evening went for all of those involved.