Thank you!

Thank you for joining us for our Presidential Inaugural Celebration.

Sister Cities International was founded by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 at the White House Conference on Citizen Diplomacy. Since then, we have been honored to have every U.S. president serve as the organization’s Honorary Chairman, including Presidents Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton and now President-elect Biden.



It was extremely exciting to see everyone gather together to celebrate the inauguration of President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris. We estimated over 20,000 people were able to join us for this event.

We hope you enjoyed the amazing performance by Dimash Kudaibergen. It was an honor to have him featured in our program. Additionally, we greatly enjoyed celebrating our award winners Dionne Warwick and Governor Bill Anoatubby.

Thank you to the members of our prestigious Honorary Host Committee comprised of Mayors, Members of Congress, and Diplomats. We look forward to working with all of you to promote peace and mutual understanding between communities around the world. 

If you missed our Presidential Inaugural Celebration, click the button below to watch a recording of it.

Sister Cities International is honored to celebrate the inauguration of our new Honorary Chairman, President-elect Joe Biden. We invite all global citizens to join us in commemorating this momentous occasion.

The Sister Cities International Inaugural Gala is the premier international event which launches the week of presidential inaugural celebrations in the United States. Due to the current pandemic, this year’s much anticipated gala will be held virtually on Sunday, January 17, 2021 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM EST.

This event is open and free for all.

This year’s theme is “All Roads Lead to Diplomacy” and our program will feature prominent speakers as well as spectacular musical and cultural performances. We anticipate an expansive global audience that includes diplomats, members of Congress, mayors and community leaders from our sister cities near and far.


Mark your calendars and register today!

Support our 2021 Inaugural Celebration. This year’s Global Leaders Circle fundraising campaign is directly aligned with our inaugural celebration and we welcome financial contributions at all levels. Please review our sponsorship page for a complete list of giving levels and benefits.

Honorary Host Comittee


  • The Honorable Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer (NY)
  • The Honorable Senator Michael F. Bennet (CO)
  • The Honorable Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT)
  • The Honorable Senator John Boozman (AR)
  • The Honorable Senator Mike Braun (IN)
  • The Honorable Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (MD)
  • The Honorable Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA)
  • The Honorable Senator Maggie Hassan (NH)
  • The Honorable Senator Angus S. King, Jr. (ME)
  • The Honorable Senator Edward J. Markey (MA)
  • The Honorable Senator Robert Menendez (NJ)
  • The Honorable Senator Jeff Merkley (OR)
  • The Honorable Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH)
  • The Honorable Senator Mark R. Warner (VA)

United States House of Representatives

  • The Honorable Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX)
  • The Honorable Congresman Lloyd Doggett (TX)
  • The Honorable Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX)
  • The Honorable Congressman Trent Kelly (MS)
  • The Honorable Congressman Rohit Khanna (CA)
  • The Honorable Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD)
  • The Honorable Congressman Marc Veasey (TX)

Diplomatic Corps

  • H.E. Ambassador Anatoly Antonov (Embassy of the Russian Federation)
  • H.E. Ambassador Sidney Collie (Embassy of Bahamas)
  • H.E. Ambassador Martha Bárcena Coqui (Embassy of Mexico)
  • H.E. Ambassador Philippe Étienne (Embassy of France)
  • H.E. Ambassador Domingos Fezas Vital (Embassy of Portugal)
  • H.E. Ambassador Emily Haber (Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany)
  • H.E. Ambassador Tone Kajzer (Embassy of Slovenia)
  • H.E. Ambassador Mull S. Katende (Embassy of Uganda)
  • H.E. Ambassador Hynek Kmoníček (Embassy of Czech Republic)
  • H.E. Ambassador Stavros Lambrinidis (Delegation of the European Union)
  • H.E. Ambassador Daniel Mulhall (Embassy of Ireland)
  • H.E. Ambassador Roya Rahmani (Embassy of Afghanistan)
  • H.E. Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez (Embassy of Philippines)
  • H.E. Ambassador Pjer Šimunović (Embassy of Croatia)
  • H.E. Ambassador Shinsuke Sugiyama (Embassy of Japan)
  • H.E. Ambassador Javlon Vakhabov (Embassy of Uzbekistan)
  • Hon. Representative Bi-khim Hsiao (Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office)


  • The Honorable Armando Cabada, Mayor of Ciudad Juarez, MX
  • The Honorable David Holt, Mayor of Oklahoma City, OK
  • The Honorable Tim Keller, Mayor of Albuquerque, NM
  • The Honorable Esther Manheimer, Mayor of Asheville, NC
  • The Honorable Shaun Musil, Mayor of Hays, KS
  • The Honorable Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio, TX
  • The Honorable Libby Schaaf, Mayor of Oakland, CA
  • The Honorable Alan Webber, Mayor of Santa Fe, NM
  • The Honorable Harold Weinbrecht, Mayor of Cary, NC
  • The Honorable Dr. Brandon Whipple, Mayor of Wichita, KS




Sister Cities International (SCI) is extremely grateful for the support of both our corporate and individual sponsors who are unquestionably committed to citizen diplomacy.

These generous supporters allow SCI to carry out its core mission of promoting peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation – one individual, one community at a time. And with these generous contributions, SCI can continue to fulfill its goals of creating sustainable relationships across borders.

Thank you for your sponsorship and support


July 8th

**Times listed are approximate and may change in real time**

Eastern Daylight Time

Opening Remarks
  • Leroy Allala, President & CEO, Sister Cities International

Welcome Message

  • Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio, TX; Chairman of Sister Cities International
  • Alan Webber, Mayor, City of Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Undersecretary General Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
  • Karen Pence, Second Lady of the United States of America; Honorary Co-Chair, Sister Cities International

Award Presenter

  • Leroy Allala, President & CEO, Sister Cities International


  • Innovation in Arts and Culture
  • Innovation in Humanitarian Assistance
  • Dr. Jane S. Cahaly, State Representative Liaison & South Carolina State Representative, Sister Cites International
  • V.C. Dale Holness, Mayor, Broward County, Florida
  • Dr. Alex Akulli, Director, Center for International Studies, University of South Carolina, Upstate; Vice President, Sister Cities International of Greater Spartanburg, South Carolina
  • Population under 25,000
  • Population 25,001-100,000
  • Population over 100,000

Moderator – Lorna K. Johnson, SCI Board Member, SCI Africa Regional Representative and Principal of Global Linkages, Inc.

  • Global Awareness Team Presentation  – Mary Palko, Chair, Global Awareness Team, Sister Cities International
  • Video from Mexico-U.S. Sister Cities Mayors’ Summit in El Paso and Juarez, introduced by: Peter Svarzbein, Board Member, Sister Cities International; Mayor Pro Tem, City of El Paso, Texas
  • Wunderbar Together:  Building strong U.S.-German Sister Cities Programs


    • Teri Simmons, Director, International & Immigration Practice Group, Arnall Golden Gregory, Atlanta; SCI EU Representative
    • Christina Plewinski, Manager of International Relations, City of Nürnberg, Germany
  • Message from Prince Kwame Kludjeson, President & Chair, Africa Global Sister Cities
  • Meessage from Union of Russian Cities
  • Message from Beijing Peoples Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries
  • Excerpt from first SCI Global Conversations with Hon. Geoffrey R. Pyatt, Ambassador of the United States of America to the Hellenic Republic (Greece)
  • Sherry Dowlatshahi, Chief Diplomacy & Protocol Officer, City of San Antonio
  • Mark Chandler, Director of Mayor’s Office of Global Engagement, City & County of San Francisco, USA
  • Maria Dolores Hernandez Montoya, Director of International Relations, City of Guadalajara, Mexico
  • Stéphanie Jecrois, International Affairs Advisor, City of Montreal, Canada

Organizer and Moderator

  • Barbara Shepard, State Representative Liaison & North Carolina State Representative, Sister Cities International

July 9th

**Times listed are approximate and may change in real time**

Eastern Daylight Time

Opening Remarks

  • Carol Robertson Lopez, Vice Chair, Board of Directors, Sister Cities International

Keynote Messages:

  • Hon. Clarence Anthony, CEO and Executive Director, National League of Cities
  • H.E. Lin Songtian, President, Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries
  • Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
  • Shin Koyamada SCI Board and Executive Committee Member; Hollywood Actor (“The Last Samurai”), Chairman of Koyamada International Foundation
  • H.E. Shinsuke Sugiyama, Ambassador of Japan to the United States of America
  • Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Award Presenter
  • Leroy Allala, President & CEO, Sister Cities International
  • Innovation in Youth and Education
  • Youth Leadership Award
  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Population under 25,000
  • Population 25,001-100,000
  • Population over 100,000
  • Announced by Fred Blanton


  • Afa Sadykhly Dworkin, President and Artistic Director of Sphinx Music


  • Stuart Ashman, CEO, International Folk Art Market
  • Sunil Iyengar, Research & Analysis Director, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Dr. Aaron Prado | San Antonio, Texas, USA | Composer, Piano
  • Brandon Guerra | San Antonio, Texas, USA | Digital Production, Percussion
  • Anke Schimpf | Darmstadt, Germany | Flute, Saxophone
  • Chen Hsien (Max) Huang | Kaohsiung, Taiwan | Trumpet
  • Shlomi Cohen | Tel Aviv, Israel | Saxophone
  • Prasanna | Chennai, India | Guitar
  • Suzette Eises | Windhoek, Namibia | Saxophone
  • Tomoko Sonoda | Kumamoto, Japan | Piano
  • Vico Diaz | Guadalajara, Mexico | Bass
  • Elemotho Gaalelekwe | Windhoek, Namibia | Voice, Guitar
  • Carlo Capua | Fort Worth, Texas, USA | Electric Guitar
  • Alan Donawa | Georgetown, Guyana | Box Bass


  • Kevin O’Donnell, Young Professional Representative, Board of Directors, Sister Cities International


  • Jessica Coffield, Chair, Saumur, France Committee, Asheville Sister Cities, North Carolina
  • Michael Jose Avila, Youth Ambassador, Southern California Sister Cities International
by Suhail Arastu, Board Member, Sister Cities International; Advancement, Musical Bridges Around the World
  • Chairman Welcome
  • Secretary Report (online election results)
  • Treasurer Remarks
  • Foundation Update
  • President Remarks
  • Chairman Presentation/Remarks
  • Q&A
  • Passing of the Gavel from Chairman to Chair-Elect
  • Acknowledgments
Leroy Allala, President & CEO, Sister Cities International