On Monday, November 7th, we celebrated our Annual Membership Meeting Potluck! This was our first in-person Annual Meeting since 2019, and we were thrilled to have everyone together in person once again. There was much to celebrate this year, including our name change to Global Ties Iowa, our updated tagline “Connecting the World to the Heartland”, the return of in-person programming, and, most importantly, the work of our staff, board, and volunteers!
We were honored to have delegations from Mexico and Vietnam at our Annual Meeting as well. For many community members, this was their first in-person interaction with international visitors since the pandemic. It was incredibly energizing to see our delegations mingle with our community once again.
As people started to file into the Coralville Public Library, they had an opportunity to chat with each other and watch a slideshow of Global Ties Iowa’s yearly highlights. However, members and volunteers quickly noticed that there may not be enough food for everyone. Jeanne Stoakes, a frequent volunteer, offered to go out and buy several pizzas for everyone!
Amy Alice Chastain, Board President, and Holly Harris, Manager of Programs and Operations, decided to start with volunteer awards and certificates to give Jeanne time to save the day with pizza. This act of kindness and extraordinary volunteer spirit exemplifies exactly why Jeanne won the “Above and Beyond” volunteer award. Read more about the volunteer awards presented at this event!
Once we finished our volunteer recognition, we let our international guests of honor head toward the potluck table first. The Vietnamese visitors were so kind and even went out to buy and prepare delicious spring rolls to share. Everyone enjoyed the delicious food and each other’s company.
While everyone was finishing up their last bites, Amy started the business portion of the meeting. She highlighted our successful year and the Annual Reports that Communications Coordinator Abby Fowler worked on. Andrew Farley, the Board Treasurer, gave a brief presentation of our financial position.
Next, we moved onto board elections. Elizabeth Bergeron and Newman Abuissa were up for re-election, and Katie Ron, Arnold Daniels Jr., and Marlen Mendoza were up for election. They each shared a little bit about themselves and their interest in serving on the board for Global Ties Iowa. Board Member, John Achrazoglou, then put it up for a vote in which everyone agreed. We are so grateful and thrilled for the diverse and talented board that we have and are growing. In addition, we took a moment to watch a video from Mr. Christopher Herring, honorary board member who lives in San Antonio, Texas. He has been assisting us in multiple ways and are very appreciative of his time and talents.
After the board elections, we were honored to have Mr. Bao Chau Nguyen, introduced as “handsome Chau,” come up front and speak on behalf of the Vietnamese delegation who were here for a program titled, “LGBTQI+ Policies and Civil Society in the United States.” Handsome Chau spoke about the LGBTQ movement in Vietnam and how although gay marriage is legal, it is not recognized or accepted. As LGBTQ+ activists, they are working toward creating a more inclusive and accepting community in Vietnam. He talked about their visit to Iowa City and the meetings they have had with the Iowa City Mayor, Iowa City Pride, and PFLAG and how impressed they are with our community.
After Chau ended his speech, Mr. Alvaro Alejandro Garcia Parga came up to the front to speak on behalf of the Mexican delegation who were here for a program titled, “Integration of Asylum Seekers and Migrants in Mexico.” He spoke about their program so far and that they all had expectations for what Washington D.C and what Orlando, Florida would be liked based off the movies. When they heard they were coming to Iowa, they had no idea what to expect. However, he shared that he could tell quickly that we were a very welcoming community by all the smiling and people saying hello!
Once Alvaro finished speaking, Amy concluded the meeting by thanking everyone once again for everything they do for our organization. We couldn’t do it without you, and we are looking forward to another successful year as Global Ties Iowa!