2017 Board Elections & Bylaw Changes

Sister Cities International’s Board of Directors is elected by its voting members—local sister city organizations. The election includes both electronic voting from June 5-July 14, 2017 as well as in-person voting at the Annual Business Meeting on July 14, held during Sister Cities International's 61st Annual Conference in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

2017 Proposed Bylaw Changes

There are no proposed changes to SCI's bylaws this year, only one change to SCI's Articles of Incorporation. This change is a technical formality to align the Articles of Incorporation with the bylaw change that was approved by the membership in 2016.

Red text indicates added text; strikethrough text indicates an elimination


Fifth: THE CORPORATE Authority, powers, business and property of the Corporation shall be held, exercised, conducted and maintained by the Board of Directors.

The number of Directors of the Corporation shall be twenty-five (25) to twenty-seven (27) and the composition of the Board of Directors shall be, specifically:

  1. Twenty-one Directors, who shall represent the general Voting Members of the Corporation, shall be elected by the Voting Members;
  2. One Director, who shall be a youth representative and shall be 21 years old or younger at the time of the election, and shall be elected by the Voting Members
  3. One Director, who shall be a young professional representative and shall be between the ages of 21 and 34 years old at the time of election, and shall be elected by the Voting Members;
  4. One Director, who shall be a qualified State Coordinator Representative, selected by the association of State Coordinators nominated by the Chair and approved by the Board of Directors;
  5. One Director, who shall be the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Corporation, who is elected pursuant to the By-Laws of the Corporation.
  6. No more than two Directors appointed by the Chair, with the consent of the Board of Directors, who provide exceptional skills

In addition, the Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors shall serve as an ex-officio member of the Board of Directors, but shall not be considered a Director and shall not have voting rights on the Board of Directors.

2017 Board of Directors Candidates

Below are the candidates for the 2017 Elections for Sister Cities International's Board of Directors. Four candidates are running for seven at-large Board positions, one candidate is running for the one Young Professional representative position, as well as one candidate for the one Youth Representative position.

Candidate names marked with an asterisk (*) have been recommended by the Nominating Committee for election. According to Sister Cities International's bylaws, the Nominating Committee "shall review candidates for possible election to the Board of Directors recruited by the Elections Committee and designate and communicate to the Voting Members such candidates bringing exceptional competencies and capabilities to the Board."


    David Cortese *

    Presley (Lee) Guio*

    Steven Kalishman *

    Clare Petrich*

Young Professional Representative

    Guy Spence*

Youth Representative

    AJ Chahal*

Dave Cortese- Santa Clara County, California* 

At-Large Candidate

A Brief Biographical Description, including relevant experience in your sister city program or other organizations

Dave Cortese was first elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in 2008 and re-elected in 2012 and 2016. He is currently serving his third consecutive term as Board President. Supervisor Cortese also served eight years on the San Jose City Council and eight years as a Trustee for the East Side Union High School District.

Cortese earned a Bachelor of Sciences Degree in Political Science at UC Davis and a Juris Doctorate at Lincoln University Law School. He grew up in San Jose as part of a family that has been active in civic, cultural and business activities for generations.

He is immediate past president of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and sits on the Association of Bay Area Governments’ Executive Board. Supervisor Cortese is the Board liaison to the County’s Moscow, Russia; Hsinchu, Taiwan; and the Florence, Italy Sister County Commissions.

Last year, Supervisor Cortese worked with the Silicon Valley Chinese Technology and Business Association to bring the 2016 Smart City Conference, Expo and Job Fair in the County Government Center. He also helped to solidify a partnership between the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation Partners to drive global economic collaborations.

He has led delegations to Sister County, Hsinchu, Taiwan and Florence, Italy, and in 2009, he represented the County at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia, to promote communication and understanding among people of all spiritual and cultural backgrounds.

In Santa Clara County, Supervisor Cortese and his office sponsor annual cultural festivals, flag-raisings and education programs with many organizations who represent the countries of origin of its residents. 

A statement of why you want to run for the Board of Directors

Joining the Sister Cities International Board of Directors would help me and Santa Clara County strengthen connections to global organizations at a time when the world is getting closer through technology but still far apart in ideology, politics and culture. This position would be an extension of the work I have been doing as Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to bring communities together, promote global business collaborations and celebrate our diversity through art, cultural events and the work of our sister county commissions. I believe my background and experience would also allow me to contribute to this organization and its myriad of programs that connect people around the globe. Sister Cities International is an impressive organization that has proven to play a key role in global relations. I would be honored to serve on its Board. 

The major skills and assets that you will bring to the board

My 25 years as an elected official representing one of the most diverse populations in the world has prepared me well for the responsibilities of a board member. It’s very common in Santa Clara Valley to hear several languages spoken when you visit a park or shop at a mall. Over the years, these everyday reminders of our colorful tapestry have instilled in me respect and admiration for the differences that make us unique.

Presley (Lee) Guio — Union City, California *

At-Large Candidate

A Brief Biographical Description, including relevant experience in your sister city program or other organizations

Lee Guio is running for re-election to the board of SCI. He is a resident of Union City, California. He became involved in the Union City Sister City organization over 11 years ago and has served as a board member for most of that time. He joined the SCI-NorCal Chapter of SCI 10 years ago and has served as secretary and presently serves as vice president of that organization. He has been instrumental in forming a sister city relationship with Chiang Rai Thailand and helped facilitate the adoption of sister cities in China, the Philippines, and Afghanistan.  He has also been a key organizer of Union City’s yearly “Sister Cities Festival” a fundraising event very popular in the area.  
 In addition, for over 10 years Lee has been on the board of the group that conducts the “Asian American Heritage Festival” each year in Union City. He is vice president of Wat Buddhanusorn, a Thai Buddhist Temple in Fremont CA and president of his homeowner’s association with 353 homes. 
Lee is also involved with his city of Union City. He is presently serving on the Planning Commission and is the CERT Coordinator for the city. He was previously on the city Human Relations Commission for 6 years. 
Professionally he is sales manager for an electronics components manufacturer and is well versed in technology and software. Lee holds an MBA from USC and undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Electronics Engineering.

A statement of why you want to run for the Board of Directors

I am running for an additional term on the Board of SCI to continue my contribution to this worthy organization, and to continue working on the finance and membership committees. As Chair of the Membership Task Force I also want to continue to support our efforts to improve and expand our membership.

In my years in business, I have worked with Japanese, Chinese and European companies. I have seen how cross cultural friendships have made workplaces more effective, and more fun. I have also had the opportunity to travel and hire sales representatives in Asia and seen relationships develop through business that last for lifetimes. This experience, plus my local cross cultural experience, and my experience in Sister Cities, has taught me that the mission of Sister Cities works, and it works well. In today’s world, with its ever improving communication, Sister Cities is needed more than ever to help spark the relationships that our new communication tools can help to enrichen.

I believe I can continue to make a strong impact to Sister Cities with my cross-cultural experience and technical knowledge and would like to make more of an impact in furthering the mission of Sister Cities International.

The major skills and assets that you will bring to the board

  • Sister Cities International – 1 year
    • Member, Finance and Membership committees
    • Chair: Membership Task Force
  • SCI-NorCal
    • Vice President – 1 year
    • Secretary – 8 years
  • Asian American Heritage Festival – 11 years
    • Board member
    • Organizer
    • MC
  • City Experience
    • Planning Commissioner – 7 years
    • Human Relations Commissioner – 6 years
  • General Experience
    • Vice President Wat Buddhanusorn, Thai Buddhist Temple
    • Sales and business management 30 years

Steve Kalishman- Gainesville, Florida*

At-Large Candidate

A Brief Biographical Description, including relevant experience in your sister city program or other organizations

After graduating from the University of Florida with degrees in Journalism (1979) and Law (1982), I helped start the Gainesville, Florida / Novorossiisk, Russia, Sister City Program with my wife, Natalia, a Novorossiisk native. We founded Citizen Diplomacy Initiatives (CDI) to promote U.S./Soviet sister cities through a magazine (The Citizen Diplomat), a PBS film (Ask Your Sister to Dance) and international conferences. By the end of the 1990s, we managed to connect 200 U.S. and Soviet cities into sister city relationships.

In 1996, I started Sister City Program of Gainesville, Inc., the 501(c)(3) non-profit that administers Gainesville's 11 sister city relationships. In 1998 I led a delegation to the Israeli city of Kfar Saba and the Palestinian city of Qalqilya to initiate a three-way sister city relationship. CDI began promoting trilateral sister cities, and partnered with Sister Cities International, EcoPeace Middle East and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative to form “Jordan Valley Sister Cities.”

A statement of why you want to run for the Board of Directors

Having served for the past seven months as a Chairman's Appointment, I have gained respect for the skills, experience and professionalism of the Board. My 35 years of experience with sister cities on local, state, national and international levels have prepared me to serve SCI as a board member for the next three years.

As Middle East Representative of the SCI Board, my mission is to connect every Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian city with a U.S. in a multilateral relationship. I have spent the past six years laying the groundwork for this goal by taking delegations to the region, forging partnerships with organizations that share the vision of citizen diplomacy through sister cities, producing a film to promote the project and applying for grants to provide the necessary resources to bring it to fruition.

As Chair of the U.S./Russia Mayors' Summit, I hope to promote non-political, people-to-people engagement through the 79 U.S./Russia sister city partnerships, which can strengthen mutual understanding and trust, and help to raise U.S./Russian relations to a qualitatively new level. We are planning to convene a reciprocal Summit next year in Moscow, to facilitate the sustainability of the exchanges well into the future.

The major skills and assets that you will bring to the board

* 35 years of local, state, national and international experience with all aspects of sister city activities

* Seven months of SCI Board experience

* Trusting relationships with key people and organizations in the Middle East and Russia

* 35 years as a practicing attorney

* 40 years of experience as a journalist, publisher, film producer and conference organizer

* a vision for world peace focused on the Middle East and Russia

Clare Petrich – Tacoma, Washington *

At-Large Candidate

A Brief Biographical Description, including relevant experience in your sister city program or other organizations

Clare was elected to the Port of Tacoma Commission in 1996, leading the growth of America’s fourth largest Gateway Port.  Following the creation of the innovative Northwest Seaport Alliance between the ports of Tacoma and Seattle, Petrich was awarded Tacoma’s Propeller Club Master Mariner Person of the Year, and Seattle’s Public Official of the Year award in 2015.

Building global relationships inspires her life.  In the 1990’s she chaired the Tacoma Sister Cities Fuzhou Committee and initiated Dragon Boat racing in her community.  Clare is now Vice Chair of Tacoma’s SC Council and guides strategic planning and fundraising.  She is establishing a new partnership in Croatia. Clare has served one term on the Sister Cities International Board and is Chair of the Membership Committee –the heart and soul of Sister Cities!

Clare owns a small maritime business, Petrich Marine Dock. She founded the Commencement Bay Maritime Fest, advises Tacoma Community Boat Builders and the Youth Marine Foundation.  She is a member of the Mayor’s Commission on International Relations and serves on the Trade Development Alliance and Washington Council on International Trade.

Clare attended college in India, graduated from Manhattanville College in New York and earned her master’s degree from the University of Virginia. She served with her former husband in Monrovia, Liberia, Tripoli, Libya and Bangkok.  Her two grown children live in Oakland and Seattle.  She adores her two granddaughters and works tirelessly with Sister Cities to make a better world for them. 

A statement of why you want to run for the Board of Directors

Long after the young bureaucrat signed the Sister City agreement between Tacoma and Fuzhou, China, 25 years ago, he became President Xi. He returned to Tacoma in 2016 and invited 100 students to visit his country.  Those teens have returned now, changed people, seeing a world they hadn’t imagined and opportunities where before, there were few.

This is why I want to continue serving on the SCI Board.  I want to hear stories like this repeated, I want to inspire the curiosity of youth to meet one another, the creativity of cultural and artistic exchanges, the satisfaction of building business relationships and sharing civic best practices.

I want to continue the work we are doing to improve SCI’s programs and benefits for our Members.  I want us to double our membership to 1,000 cities.  I want to see partnerships increase tenfold and be in every country in the world.  I want to continue working with outstanding individuals on this Board for us to succeed.  Now, more than ever before, the world relies on the spirit, commitment and goodness of people everywhere to bring peace through understanding.  I want to collaborate with you to make it happen! 

The major skills and assets that you will bring to the board

I love challenges and am willing to dig deep to develop the best possible means of membership engagement.  I have broad experiences --with elected officials and students, from finance, management, economic development and trade to sports, fundraising and grassroots organizing.  Vote for Clare Petrich to put these skills to work for Sister Cities!

Guy Spence- Belfast, Northern Ireland*

Young Professional Candidate

A Brief Biographical Description, including relevant experience in your sister city program or other organizations

Alderman Guy Spence is a Political Representative for Belfast and represents the District of Castle in the North of the City.

He was elected in 2011 at 19 years old, becoming the youngest individual to ever have been elected to serve on Belfast City Council.

During his time in public office he has performed a number of Positions of Responsibility such as being the Deputy Chairman of the Development Committee, Chairman of the North Belfast Policing Partnership.

Guy is currently a Governor of a Local Primary School, a longstanding Board Member of Visit Belfast and has previously served as a Board Member of the Tall Ships Board, Belfast City Marathon Committee, Belfast City Management Committee and the Cathedral Quarter Trust. 

He is at the forefront of Belfast Politics, with his focus placed on the real politics of the City and its people: through the regeneration of communities, developing international connections, creating more opportunities for young people, tackling poverty, improving the City economy and promoting Good Relations between Citizens.

Guy strongly advocates the Sister City Relationships, and has been involved in the establishment and development of Belfast’s Sister Cities within the United States, namely Nashville and Boston.

In 2015 he was elected to become Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, an office which promoted him to become a high profile Civic Leader. During the term he welcomed international Heads of State, developed relationships with other Cities, celebrated the success of local citizens and promoted the best of Belfast.

A statement of why you want to run for the Board of Directors

I wish to seek election to the Board of Sister Cities International through the position of young professional. I believe that I have a lot to offer the Board and the Organisation through my skills and proven track record of experience.

Since 2011 I have been an elected representative for the City of Belfast, and in my second term (6th year) I have had a strong influence on our City’s international output, particularly in the United States.

For example I helped re-establish the relationship which we developed with Nashville as Sister Cities, from communicating with Mayor Dean, welcoming delegates, hosting events and even meeting members of their board in the USA.

We live in a world where innovation is making smaller, therefore Cities and regions need to think global to increase opportunities for our businesses and citizens alike. Sister Cities has, is and will be at the forefront of that. Therefore I am well aware of how great an honour it would be to be a member of the Board.

I have had a strong link with the organisation, as Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast I spoke in Dublin at an event and hosted a reception in Belfast.

The major skills and assets that you will bring to the board

-          Teamwork: most of what I do involves being part of a team/organisation

-          Passion and motivation: I'm keen to get involved in the work of Sister Cities international

-          Senior Leadership experience: being Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast

-          Communication: through verbal (talking and listening) and written

-          Integrity: most of what I do relies on this

-          Creativity: being a young person often I look at new ways to find solutions

AJ Chahal – Santa Clara, California *

Youth Representative Candidate

A Brief Biographical Description, including relevant experience in your sister city program or other organizations

Making a positive impact on the lives of others has the potential to change the world for the better. As a Santa Clara, California native, student at Dartmouth College, and as the current Youth Representative on the Sister Cities International Board of Directors, I have embraced bringing a positive change to my community and world. At Dartmouth, I am currently pursuing a Government major. I am also one of 60 members of the class of 2020 who is a Great Issues Scholar. As a Great Issues Scholar, I collaborate with other students and faculty to explore international security, public health, and environmental issues. My involvement in Sister Cities International started at home in Santa Clara, California where I became the president of our city’s Sister Cities Youth Commission. I have been fortunate to travel to Japan through this organization, as well as host students from both Japan and Portugal. I am proud of Santa Clara’s funding of student travel and am passionate about bringing youth travel subsidization from the national level. On the board, I am a vocal advocate of both expanding our program and empowering our program at the grassroots level. Being an accessible and responsive board member has been an honor, and I hope to continue serving you. I have always cherished being involved in my community, and will continue to do so to empower others. 

A statement of why you want to run for the Board of Directors

I would like to be on the board as the Youth Representative to get the youth of our nation more involved and passionate about building international cultural relationships. As a representative, I hope to continue to find solutions to cut the costs for students wishing to travel abroad. I want to play a role in leading our world to pursue peaceful paths.  It is my strongest wish to help inspire our next generation to become more globally aware. I also believe that it is necessary for our youth to be more accepting of different cultures in different nations. We need to empower human connectedness for a prosperous and rewarding future.  I would like to encourage the formation of more Sister Cities organizations, in addition to encouraging more youth involvement. I want to represent our interest on an international platform so that Sister Cities International can continue to contribute to our communities and world. 

The major skills and assets that you will bring to the board

I am a hardworking individual who constantly strives to accomplish my goals. I am seen as a resourceful person who will always find a way to get the job done. I work to achieve beyond the minimum and give everything I am involved in 100%. I know the value of teamwork, and strive to get as many different people involved in projects as possible. Building bridges amongst people and organizations is my strongest skill. 


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