The below is a general summary of the events and discussion at the September 2021 OKGIT meeting. It does not represent the official minutes, which will be distributed at a later date.

The September meeting was called to order by Treasurer Andrew Ranson who announced the resignation of recently new Chairperson Jose Sagarnaga. Following his announcement, Andrew introduced Cathy Webster as the new chairperson until the close of 2022 to create stability within the organization and requested nominations for a new vice chair.

After Andrew’s announcement and the approval of the July 2021 meeting’s minutes, Andrew also gave an update regarding the finances of the organization. During the financial report, Andrew informed the OKGIT membership of finances for July and August 2021.

Amidst discussion of the treasurer report, John Osborne, Director of International Services from Oklahoma Christian University was presented and approved by the team for OKGIT membership by Past Chair Scott Thompson. Welcome to the team, John!

During the Marketing Committee report, Chairperson Cathy Webster reported that the Marketing Committee is still seeking a new chair. Jason Baffrey from the Oklahoma Center for Advancement of Science and Technology immediately agreed fill the position and will be supported by a student from Oklahoma State University. Anyone interested in helping with the Marketing Committee can contact Jason Baffrey.

Following the Marketing Committee discussion, the Cultural and Education Committee chair, Cathleen Skinner reported that the committee is working on an international week November 8-12.  They are also hoping to include the consular corps in these plans.  The idea would be to have a different area of the world be presented during each day of the week. Anyone interested in finding out more information may contact Cathleen Skinner.

During the Program Committee report, Jose Sagarnaga announced that the November meeting would include a panel of university leaders to share their thoughts on international education. The hope is that the panel will include educational institutions from private and public institutions in addition to two-year and four-year institutions. We hope you will join us.

After the Program Committee report, Treasurer and Chair of the Sponsor Relations Committee Andrew Ranson mentioned that The Oklahoma Business Roundtable has encouraged collaborations between OKGIT and other partners.  Andrew also gave a report regarding the reception that was sponsored by the OKGIT in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce in Houston for the local Consul Generals. During the dinner, Andrew was able to highlight some of OKGIT’s upcoming activities.

At the completion of the committee reports, Marcus Verner from the U.S. Department of Commerce kicked off the reports from the various government departments. During his report, Marcus reported that the USDOC held a Minority Enterprise Development week in September to help minority-owned businesses to learn about international opportunities. Marcus also announced that Dr. Collard recently spoke about the ways enterprises can do business with Native American tribes. Marcus closed his report by announcing that there are still about three billion dollars in funds from the economic development administration still available. To find out more information, contact Marcus.

Jesse Garcia from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce (ODOC) reported that Luis Domenech visited Oklahoma and met with business interested in taking part at a trade show in Mexico during November. Jesse also revealed that the Department of Commerce was organizing an opening reception ceremony for an art exhibit at the State Capitol in cooperation with the Oklahoma Arts Council and the Mexican Consulate in Little Rock. Christy Busch concluded the ODOC report by informing the membership that Bolivian and Canadian Consuls will be coming to Oklahoma soon.

Jamie Cummings from Oklahoma Department of Agriculture updated the group about the Department of Agriculture staffing an exhibit at the Oklahoma State Fair.

Dr. Cathleen Skinner from the Oklahoma Department of Education informed the membership about the new Oklahoma Seal of Biliteracy website being available. To visit the website, click here.

Honorary Consul of Switzerland, Rico Buchli closed out the department reports by informing the membership that the Consular Corp has been relatively inactive due to the Delta variant. However, they have participated in some smaller events including the bicentennial of the independence of Guatemala at the Sam Noble Museum.  Rico also announced that the Ambassador of Guatemala was recently relocated to Los Angeles, and there’s now a new Vice-Consul from Guatemala in Oklahoma. Rico concluded his report by revealing the retirement of former Honorary Consul of Japan Lloyd Hardin and informing the membership about the new Honorary Consul of Japan: Dewey Bartlett, former mayor of Tulsa.

At the conclusion of all the reports, Treasurer Andrew Ranson promoted the upcoming virtual World Trade Conference and Consular Trade Summit that will take place on October 27 and 28 from 9 am -12 pm each day. The event will include trade representatives from over 13 different countries with breakout industry sessions that include automotive, bioscience, aerospace, agriculture, and energy. You won’t want to miss it. To purchase tickets for the event, click here. For more information about the event, click here.

During the program, Michael Davis from Select Oklahoma and Marcus Verner from the District Export Council spoke to the membership about why FDI Investors choose Oklahoma and how OKGIT can add value to recruit more companies to invest in Oklahoma.

The below is a general summary of the events and discussion at the July 2021 OKGIT meeting. It does not represent the official minutes, which will be distributed at a later date.

After the approval of the May 2021 meeting’s minutes, Treasurer Andrew Ranson gave an update regarding the finances of the organization. During the financial report, Andrew informed the OKGIT membership of finances for May and June 2021. Andrew Ranson also presented an amended budget report after recognizing an error from the May treasurer’s report.

Amidst discussion of the treasurer report, Jose Sagarnaga, chair of the Marketing Committee reported that the Marketing Committee is still seeking a new chair. There is an OSU student ambassador willing to assist the Marketing Committee chair with all of the work, but needs the guidance of an OKGIT member. Anyone interested in chairing the committee can contact Jose Sagarnaga if you are interested.

During the Cultural and Education Committee chair, Cathleen Skinner, requested for the membership to share information about how they are meeting the mission of OKGIT in Oklahoma through a virtual forum. After Cathleen’s report, Honorary Consul of Peru Enrique Villar mentioned that several South American students are interested in studying in Oklahoma, but are unable to do so due to many of the U.S. embassies and consulates around the world being closed. The discussion concluded with the Culture and Education Committee agreeing work together to draft a letter to members of Congress. Anyone interested in helping in any of these efforts may contact Cathleen Skinner.

Following the Cultural and Education Committee Report, Vice Chair Jose Sagarnaga introduced Consul General Alexis Andres of France as the guest for the program speaker portion of the meeting. After introductions were made, Jose shared that the program for the October meeting would highlight why FDI investors choose Oklahoma and how OKGIT can add value and recruit more companies to invest in Oklahoma and the November meeting would include a panel of university presidents from various universities in Oklahoma.

After the Program Committee report, Treasurer and Chair of the Sponsor Relations Committee Andrew Ranson discussed the upcoming Trade Summit and requested assistance from the membership in providing names of organizations that might be willing to help sponsor the upcoming event. These sponsorships are a great opportunity for the OKGIT to earn revenue beyond the income our dues provide. Anyone in the membership that might know of a company in their network that could be a sponsor for the event should contact Treasurer Andrew Ranson or Executive Director Jared Scism as soon as possible.

At the completion of the committee reports, Marcus Verner from the U.S. Department of Commerce kicked off the reports from the various government departments. During his report, Marcus reported that the USDOC continues to counsel U.S. companies, particularly those affected by COVID and with supply chain issues and educational institutions trying to get students to study in Oklahoma. Marcus closed his report by announcing a new global diversity export initiative that is being launched by the USDOC to help underserved communities become aware of export services.

Jesse Garcia from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce reported that Luis Domenech would be in Oklahoma for several days in August to meet with Oklahoma companies interested in doing business in Mexico. Anyone interested in meeting with Luis may contact Jesse Garcia. Jesse also announced that the Oklahoma Consular reception in Houston has been scheduled on August 16 from 5:00 – 7:00 at Trulucks in the Galleria District. Any interested in attending the reception may RSVP by contacting Sarah Short.

Jamie Cummings from Oklahoma Department of Agriculture updated the group about Oklahoma companies that would be participating in the Fancy Foods Expo and that Made in Oklahoma would also hold its expo on September 1.

Dr. Cathleen Skinner from the Oklahoma Department of Education informed the membership about the New Skills for Youth holding a webinar series that gives youth an opportunity to see what careers are available in different sectors. Anyone who has a company that is interested in sharing may contact Dr. Skinner. Dr. Skinner concluded her report by announcing to the membership that the Oklahoma Seal of Biliteracy website will be launched soon with information for Oklahoma businesses on hiring people who are bilingual.

Executive Director Jared Scism closed out the department reports by announcing that the Guatemalan Consul General recently left Oklahoma and was transferred to the Los Angeles Consulate. The Vice Consul General will fulfill the duties of the position temporarily.

At the conclusion of all of the reports, Ashley Wilson from the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that the OKGIT would hold their Oklahoma Trade Summit in collaboration with the District Export Council’s World Trade Conference on October 27th and 28th. The Trade Summit will include trade representatives from over twenty countries. These trade representatives will discuss opportunities in the areas of aerospace, agriculture, automotive, bioscience, and energy. The OKGIT is still seeking monitors for the breakout rooms for these industries. The task of the monitor would be to simply monitor the chat and technology while the subject matter experts make their presentations Anyone interested in serving as a monitor can contact Executive Director Jared Scism.

The OKGITJuly 2021 meeting concluded with Chairperson Shalon Simmons announcing her resignation after being given the opportunity to take another position in another state. Thank you Shalon for your service to the OKGIT. Effective immediately, Jose Sagarnaga will step into the role as Chairperson and Cathy Webster will become Vice Chair.

During the program, Alexis Andres, Consul General of France spoke to the membership. For a copy of the presentation, contact Jared Scism.

Upcoming meetings are as follows:

·       September 21, from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM at TBD

·       November 16th from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM at TBD

The below is a general summary of the events and discussion at the May 2021 OKGIT meeting. It does not represent the official minutes, which will be distributed at a later date.

Upon the approval of the March 2021 meeting’s minutes, OKGIT Treasurer, Andrew Ranson gave an update regarding the 2021 March and April finances of the organization.

Following the approval of the minutes, Past Chair Scott Thompson announced the resignation of Wade Bray and encouraged the team to nominate new members. Anyone interested in nominating a new member can contact Executive Director Jared Scism for further instructions.

After the Membership Committee report, Marketing Committee chair, Jose Sagarnaga reported that several videos have been produced and more are in the works by his graduate assistant. Following the report, Jose played a video recap from the OKGIT International Recognition Day at the Capitol. Chairperson Shalon Simmons concluded the Marketing Committee report by requesting for Marketing Committee Chair nominations. Anyone interested in this position or nominating someone can contact Executive Director Jared Scism.

During the Cultural and Education Committee report, Representative McBride reported on the International Recognition Day at the State Capitol being a successful and fun event. Following his report, Cultural and Education and Committee Chair Cathleen Skinner updated the membership about the committee’s Inaugural Speaker’s Forum which included a presentation by Nyala Khan regarding Educational Strategies for Youth Empowerment in Conflict Zones, Transforming, not Transmitting Trauma. A recording of this video can be seen on the OKGIT Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Douglas Price closed out the report by informing the membership about an idea the committee has been discussing that would include a statewide welcome event for international students in September that would possibly take place at the Oklahoma Historical Society of the First Americans Museum. More details about the event will be shared at a future meeting.

After the Cultural and Education Committee report, Vice Chair Jose Sagarnaga encouraged the membership to send potential future topics for future meetings. To make a proposal, contact Vice Chair, Jose Sagarnaga.

At the conclusion of the committee reports, Ashley Wilson from the U.S. Department of Commerce opened our monthly updates from our state and government agencies. In her report, Ashley reminded the group that the U.S. Department of Commerce continues to consult with individuals and companies virtually. Ashley also announced that the Select USA Forum will be held virtually in June and the Basics of Exporting and Shipping and Documentation workshops will be held virtually in July. Be on the lookout for more information regarding these events on the OKGIT website soon.

Following Ashley Wilson’s report, Christy Busch and Jesse Garcia from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce revealed that the Consul General of Mexico recently visited Oklahoma and that Oklahoma Department of Commerce Secretary Mueller recently met with the Consul General of Hungary. Jesse closed his report by informing the group about the Oklahoma Department of Commerce working to organize an online event with our Sister State of Gansu, China and encouraged the membership to review the 2020 ODOC Global Report.

During the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education report, Douglas Price reported on the recent Study Oklahoma event that was spearheaded by the University of Central Oklahoma. The virtual event included a college fair-like atmosphere where Oklahoma universities met with prospective international students from all over the world in breakout rooms to recruit and promote their respective institutions.

Executive Director Jared Scism closed out the monthly updates by giving the Oklahoma Consular Corp report on behalf of Rico Buchli, During the report, Jared informed the OKGIT membership about the passing of Dr. Luis Alberto Reinoso, Emeritus Honorary Consul for Peru and Paul Silverstein, Husband of Amalia Miranda, Honorary Consul for Spain and expressed his deepest sympathies. Executive Director Jared Scism concluded his report by congratulating Honorary Consul-General of Japan Lloyd Hardin on his retirement and being named the recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon.

Upon the completion of all the reports, the membership held a group discussion revolving around the Oklahoma World Trade Summit and the Oklahoma Trade Summit. After much discussion, it was determined the event will be held virtually sometime between October 26-28. More details will be shared during the July meeting.

During the program speaker’s portion of the meeting, Jennifer Springer, Director of Business Development at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce came to provide an update regarding initiatives taking place at the state level.  During her report, Jennifer reported that 47 new businesses came to Oklahoma last year, and there are also currently 20 new wins and 72 open projects since January.  Jennifer also announced the Oklahoma Department of Commerce’s three new initiatives:

  1. ODOC is moving to a sector-based approach to projects such as aerospace, automotive projects, energy and biotech.
  2. ODOC recelntly launched an Econcomic Development Project Portal to provide Oklahoma communities with increased acess to requests for proposals for economic development and project opportunities.
  3. The Oklahoma Supply Chain Initaiteve was launched on April 1. Oklahoma companies can now create a profile and submit requests for partnerships.

Jennifer concluded her update by reporting that Germany, France and Spain are the leading countries for growth of trade with Oklahoma and that ODOC was currently working on a trade mission to the United Kingdom to promote food and beverage products and working to utilize the STEP grant to create trade missions.

Unfortunately our second guest speaker, Professor Andrew Urich from Oklahoma State University was unable to attend and speak over The Power of Influence. A link to his presentation can be found here. Professor Urich’s programs include vivid examples and stories designed to make you think and see things in a new way. Professor Urich has twenty-five years of experience presenting on influence down to earth, genuine, fact-oriented, logical, and rational information. The ability to influence others is the primary skill of leadership. This program will help you develop the skills necessary to establish and maintain a productive working relationship and to influence both outside clients and individuals within your organization.

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 20th at 9:00 a.m. We look forward to seeing you then.

The below is a general summary of the events and discussion at the March 2021 OKGIT meeting. It does not represent the official minutes, which will be distributed at a later date.

The March 2021 meeting marked the next chapter of the OKGIT with new chairperson, Shalon Simmons.  After the approval of the January 2021 meeting’s minutes, new treasurer, Andrew Ranson gave an update regarding the finances of the organization. During the financial report, Andrew informed the OKGIT membership of finances for January and February 2021 and reminded the membership to pay their dues in a timely manner through mail or the OKGIT website.

Following the treasury report, Past Chair Scott Thompson informed the membership about the resignation of board members Lynda Spellar and Vicki Gourley. Scott also encouraged the membership to submit nominations for OKGIT membership. Anyone who would like to nominate a new member can contact OKGIT Executive Director, Jared Scism to start the process.

During the Marketing Committee report, Vice Chair Jose Sagarnaga called for a member of the OKGIT to take on the role of Marketing Chair. The responsibilities of the Marketing Committee Chair include helping manage the OKGIT social media accounts and developing press releases and social media strategies.  Anyone interested in being the Marketing Committee Chair can contact Vice Chair and former Marketing Committee Chair, Jose Sagarnaga.

After requesting for a new Marketing Chair, Vice Chair Jose Sagarnaga also apprised the membership of the new format that would be taking place during the program speaker portion of the OKGIT bimonthly meetings. This format will include a panel of speakers rather from various backgrounds rather than one keynote speaker. Jose closed out his report by asking the membership to be on the lookout for a survey that will be sent out by email soon to provide input about future panelists.

Chairperson Shalon Simmons closed out the committee reports by informing the membership of two new committees: the Sponsor Relations Committee that will be led by treasurer Andrew Ranson and the Trade and Foreign Direct Investment Committee led by Dr. Jim Collard. Anyone with questions or interest in these committees may contact Dr. Collard or Andrew Ranson directly.

Jamie Cummings from the Oklahoma Department Agriculture began the bimonthly Oklahoma state agencies updates portion of the meeting. In her report, Jamie indicated the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture has been working on virtual events. Jamie also mentioned the Department of Agriculture was working on three different shows they are hoping to hold in person in September and that she would be checking to see whether any STEP grants could be used for these programs. Jamie closed her report by informing the team about a virtual trade mission to Mexico scheduled this summer.

Following the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture report, Jesse Garcia from Oklahoma Department of Commerce announced to the membership that Jennifer Springer was promoted to Director of Business Development, Sarah Short began working on Foreign Direct Investment, and Christy Busch had been appointed Interim Director of Protocol. In addition to these new roles, Jesse also disclosed that ODOC recently planned to visit Dallas to meet with several consuls, but met virtually due to the snowstorm. Meanwhile, meetings have been held between Executive Director Brent Kisling and the Consul of Australia, the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office and the Lieutenant Governor, and with the Consul General of Mexico. The Secretary of State is also scheduled to have meeting scheduled with the Vice Consul of Hungary in the near future.

Executive Director Jared Scism reported on updates for Cathleen Skinner from the Oklahoma Department of Education. In his report, Jared informed the membership about the College and Career webinar series introducing students to careers and connecting them to various businesses featuring bioscience, healthcare, aerospace and defense, construction, information technology, energy and the military. Anyone interested in connecting to the next generation of employees can contact Chelsea Hunt, Executive Director of Work-Based Learning and Industry Engagement at Chelsea.hunt@sde.ok.gov or call 405-521-3459. You can also find more information on their website or connect with them on Facebook.

After reporting for the Oklahoma Department of Education, Executive Director Jared Scism also reported for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. In his report, Jared stated the OSRHE were currently concentrated on the 2021 Legislative Session and their budget request. Dean Randy Kluver also informed the membership that Oklahoma State University is currently working with the Oklahoma Governor’s office to form a partnership with Azerbaijan. All members from the OKGIT who work in higher education closed the report by proclaiming there was reason for optimism for an increase in international student enrollment due to the COVID vaccine and decrease in the number of COVID cases, and immigration policy changes happening in the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Trade reported Gina Raimondo was recently sworn in as the 40th U.S. Secretary of Commerce and that Kevin Chambers is currently working in Romania on a temporary duty assignment. Anyone needing help in southeastern Europe may contact Kevin Chambers.

Following the committee and state agency reports, Chairperson Shalon Simmons closed the meeting by inviting the membership to the OKGIT Gavel Ceremony on Tuesday, March 23. Registration details for the event will be sent out in an email to the membership. Following the announcement, the group also agreed to collaborate with the District Export Council in the fall for the Oklahoma Trade Summit in September or October. Anyone interested in helping plan the Summit may contact Executive Director Jared Scism 

Upcoming meetings are as follows: 

  • May 18thfrom 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM at TBD
  • July 20st from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM at TBD
  • September 21st 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM at TBD
  • November 16th  9:00 AM – 11:00 AM at TBD

During the program, Leroy Allala, President and CEO of Sister Cities International, Aldwyn Sappleton, Vice President of Sister Cities Oklahoma City, and Bob Lieser, Vice President of Programs for Tulsa Global Alliance talked about Sister Cities in Oklahoma.

The below is a general summary of the events and discussion at the January 2021 OKGIT meeting. It does not represent the official minutes, which will be distributed at a later date.

Upon the approval of the November 2020 meeting’s minutes, Executive Director Jared Scism gave an update regarding the 2020 November and December finances of the organization. After approval of the budget, Chairman Scott Thompson announced Andrew Ranson as the new treasurer of the OKGIT.

During the Membership Committee report, Past Chair Douglas Price encouraged the team to nominate new members. Anyone interested in nominating a new member can contact Executive Director Jared Scism for further instructions.

After the Membership Committee report, Marketing Committee chair, Jose Sagarnaga presented an OKGIT branding draft guide to the membership for review. This guide included an overview for color schemes, logo styles, color pallets, typography, and a strategy for our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

During the Cultural and Education Committee report, Cathleen Skinner updated the membership about the committee’s different ideas to support OKGIT’s mission. These ideas included promoting international day in November by working with Representative McBride to create legislature in the Governor’s office, working with Oklahoma Council of the Arts and Oklahoma Department of Libraries to involve Oklahoma authors in providing educational webinars, finding ways to support the Seal of Biliteracy for all ages, and forming a young professionals group among Oklahoma’s international population.

After the Cultural and Education Committee report, Vice-Chair, Shalon Simmons presented the discussion questions to the membership that would take place during the program speaker portion of the meeting.

From the Oklahoma Consular Corp, Rico Buchli, Honorary Consul of Switzerland, informed the OKGIT membership that the Consular Corp has been busy despite several meetings being put on hold.  Rico and Honorary Consul of France Grant Moak also expressed concerns over fraudulent sovereign citizen documents that purport to allow their members to go through government checkpoints. Jim Collard reinforced these concerns by revealing that this group also has a presence in Oklahoma and should be taken seriously.

Jesse Garcia from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce revealed the Oklahoma Department of Commerce is currently working to schedule a number of events and services through September 2022. Jesse also announced ODOC was approved for the SBA STEP Grant program which provides a very easy streamlined application process. Funding has also been approved for organizations that would like to update their websites to make them more international-friendly, including translation, optimization and localization. For further information, click here or contact Jesse directly. An information webinar of these website services will be held on Wednesday, January 27th at 10:00 a.m. Jesse concluded his report with updates regarding state protocol after the retirement of Chris Morriss. Arrangements are currently being made and all protocol questions should be directed to ODOC going forward.

After the Oklahoma Department of Commerce report, Cathleen Skinner informed the membership of updates from the Department of Education. The OSDE is constantly reviewing its policies to keep families, students, and educators safe during the pandemic while trying to continue learning during the pandemic. Cathleen also publicized the OSDE renewed their MOU with Taiwan and Spain to continue educational and language immersion exchanges. Meanwhile, programs with France are continuing as usual.

During the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education report, Executive Director Jared Scism informed the group that the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education had no updates and that current activities were continuing as usual with colleges primarily trying to deal with COVID-19 issues.

Upon the completion of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education report, Marcus Verner provided a list of highlights from the U.S. Commercial Service. These highlights included:

–       The U.S. Commercial Service moving to 100% teleworking

–       The U.S. Commercial Service planning a number of virtual activities for the upcoming year

–       Nomination requests for the annual President’s Export Awards. The deadline is May 3, 2021.

–       Working with the State of Oklahoma to develop a state and federal plan focusing on the targeted industries of energy, aerospace, advanced manufacturing, and automotive with Canada, Mexico, Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands

–       Making arrangements with the District Export Council for the World Trade Conference that will likely take place in person during the fall (October) in Oklahoma City. While discussing the conference, Chuck Mills and Jim Collard called on the OKGIT to form an OKGIT committee that would partner with the District Export Council to make arrangements for the conference. Anyone interested in joining this committee should contact Jim Collard.

–       Kevin Chambers working as an FDI champion for Southern Region to recruit companies to invest in the United States and the acting director for the U.S. Department of Commerce office in Romania where he may be stationed soon for some time. Anyone who has work to do in Romania for the next couple of months should contact Kevin.

Following the report from the U.S. Commercial Service, Chairman Scott Thompson informed the membership that arrangements were being made for the annual Gavel Ceremony to take place in March. Logistics regarding the ceremony will be shared with the group once it is received.

Upon the completion of all the reports, the membership held a group discussion revolving around the ways COVID-19 impacted the OKGIT membership, the way Oklahoma’s international relations have changed and how OKGIT can advance in 2021. In this discussion, Jose Sagarnaga proposed the OKGIT form a FDI and Trade Committee. The proposal will be discussed further at the March meeting.

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 9th at 9:00 a.m. We look forward to seeing you.

The below is a general summary of the events and discussion at the November 2020 OKGIT meeting. It does not represent the official minutes, which will be distributed at a later date.

Upon the approval of the September 2020 meeting’s minutes, Treasurer Chris Morriss gave an update regarding the 2020 September and October finances of the organization.

Marketing Committee chair, Jose Sagarnaga announced that he would begin highlighting the Oklahoma Consular Corps, international businesses in Oklahoma, and OKGIT members one to two times per year on the OKGIT Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Jose encouraged the OKGIT membership to follow and engage with the OKGIT on these social media posts and announcements.

During the Cultural and Education Committee report, committee member Vivi Milakovic updated the membership about the committee’s recent meeting where the committee reviewed the current OKGIT cultural and education committee programs – the Student Ambassador program and International Student Recognition Day at the State Capitol.  During their meeting, the committee also discussed the Oklahoma seal of biliteracy, possibilities for funding, and other new initiatives such as educational Facebook panels.  Upon the completion of Vivi’s report, Past Chairman Douglas Price led a discussion with the OKGIT membership and concluded with team that the 2021 International Student Recognition Day at the State Capitol would be best held virtually. Douglas will work with Executive Director Jared Scism to provide a stakeholder analyses and report over the impact of international students in Oklahoma to provide to Oklahoma legislators.

After the Cultural and Education Committee report, a Program Committee report was presented by Vice Chair, Shalon Simmons. During her report, Shalon introduced the meeting program speaker Scott Klosky from Future Point of View.  Shalon also requested for OKGIT members to submit and email any suggested program speakers to her for the upcoming January meeting.

Rico Buchli from the Oklahoma Consular Corp informed the OKGIT membership of a meeting with other members from the Oklahoma Consular Corp and Mary Blankenship Pointer to discuss Sister City relations. Rico was also encouraged by the recent news of the COVID-19 vaccine and that Switzerland was currently working on the production of the Moderna vaccine. Rico believes there is a possibility of being able to begin returning to in person events by spring 2021.

Jamie Cummings from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture updated the group about a virtual mission to Korea with several participating midwestern companies. Samples were shipped in advance of the mission for clients to have during their meetings. Jamie also revealed Secretary Arthur would be hosting a virtual free trade agreement roundtable on December 3 with Congressman Lucas on Zoom. For more information, contact Jamie Cummings.

Jesse Garcia from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce publicized that ODOC was awarded STEP Grant #9 for over $300,000 that will be launched at the beginning of January.  Jesse also told the group that ODOC will be participating in a virtual trade show on December 9 – 11 in Bogota, Columba focused on agro industry, manufacturing, technology in services. Jesse closed his report by informing the group of the ways ODOC is working with the Indian Consul General’s office in Houston to develop a virtual roundtable to discuss higher education, commerce and agriculture. Any industries interested in India should contact Jesse directly.

After the Oklahoma Department of Commerce report, Executive Director Jared Scism informed the group that the Oklahoma Department of Education had no updates and that current activities were continuing as usual. Debbie Blanke also told the group that little international activity was taking place at the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and the state was primarily continuing to deal with COVID-19 issues.

Following the education reports, Chris Morriss reported to the membership she was working with the Indian Consul, Dean Kluver at Oklahoma State University, and the Department of Agriculture. Chris also shared with the membership the Taiwan Director General from Houston will be visiting in early December for a dedication of a Sister Cities signpost and that there would be no further formal celebrations with Kyoto or Gansu for their anniversaries. However, the University of Oklahoma and Kyoto are currently preparing a virtual exchange together.

Upon the completion of Chris Morriss’s report, Executive Director Jared Scism provided a list of highlights from the U.S. Commercial Service. These highlights included:

  • The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security has established an online archive of export control policies, regulations and procedures. Exporters can view free videos, training modules, and archived webinars at: https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/online-training-room
  • On December 2, 2020 @ 11:00 AM PT the U.S. Commercial Service will present a free Doing e-Commerce in China webinar. Join the webinar to learn how to reach the 1.44 billion consumers in China.

Registration: CLICK HERE

  • The International Trade Administration (ITA) will hold a virtual roundtable on U.S.-Bangladesh energy cooperationon December 8, 2020.  Announced on September 30, 2020, the U.S.-Bangladesh Energy Industry Working Group (EIWG) will be held under the auspices of Asia EDGE Energy Industry Working Group Network, which is a “one stop shop” for the U.S. private sector to participate in U.S. Government programs and connect to regional market opportunities.  Submission Deadline: December 3, 2020. For more information, such as registration information, selection criteria, and more, find the announcement here. Questions? Please contact Suzanne

Rothman (Suzanne.Rothman@trade.gov) and Jonathan Goldberg (Jonathan.Goldberg@trade.gov)

  • Exposibram – Mining Expo and Conference(All virtual)
    Dates: Nov 23, 2020 – Nov 25, 2020 | Click Here to Register.
    For more information: correa@trade.gov
  • Rio Oil and Gas (All virtual)
    Dates: Dec 1, 2020 – Dec 3, 2020 | Click Hereto Register.
    For more information: cunha@trade.gov I rodrigo.correa@trade.gov
  • The Oklahoma City and Tulsa offices of the U.S. Commercial Service remain open as usual while teleworking to serve Oklahoma exporters and economic development organizations.
  • Kevin Chambers stated will be operating his office at the US Embassy in Romania Jan – March if anyone has a particular interest in the Romanian market.

Following the report from the U.S. Commercial Service, Dr. Jim Collard and the Oklahoma Consular Summit Committee discussed the outcome and requested feedback from virtual World Trade Conference and Oklahoma Consular Summit that took place on Thursday, October 22. Anyone with additional feedback should contact OKGIT Executive Director Jared Scism. If you were unable to attend the event, but would like to access the content, click here. A Google account is required.

After receiving feedback about the World Trade Conference and Oklahoma Consular Summit, Vice Chairwoman, Shalon Simmons presented the OKGIT officers for the upcoming year. The officers are as follows:

      1. Past Chair – Scott Thompson
      2. Chair – Shalon Simmons
      3. Vice Chair – Jose Sagarnaga
      4. Treasurer – Vacant
      5. Secretary – Bob Lieser

Anyone interested in serving as the treasurer may contact OKGIT Executive Director Jared Scism.

Upon the completion of all the reports, program speaker Scott Klosoky from Future Point of View gave a presentation over the Digital Amplification of 2020. A copy of his presentation can be viewed here.

Due to COVID-19 pandemic, there will not be an OKGIT holiday party in January. As a result, the next meeting will take place virtually on Tuesday January 19, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. We look forward to seeing you there.

The below is a general summary of the events and discussion at the September 2020 OKGIT meeting. It does not represent the official minutes, which will be distributed at a later date.

After the approval of the July 2020 meeting’s minutes, Chairman Scott Thompson gave an update regarding the finances of the organization. During the financial report, Scott informed the OKGIT membership of finances for July and August 2020.

In membership news, Dr. Charles Mambula from Langston University and Vivi Milakovic from Citizen Potawatomi Nation were affirmed by vote as new members.

The new Marketing Committee chair, Jose Sagarnaga announced that he was working with his graduate assistant, Devin Wilber and Executive Director, Jared Scism to begin making marketing upgrades to the OKGIT website. Jose also announced that he will begin working with Devin on making post updates to the OKGIT Facebook page regularly and create a public OKGIT LinkedIn page.

During the Cultural and Education Committee report, Past Chair Douglas Price updated the membership about a fall internship program that the Cultural and Education Committee was working on. Douglas also informed the group that three student ambassadors had been identified for the upcoming year and that he would arrange for them to participate in the November OKGIT meeting.

After the Cultural and Education Committee report, a Program Committee report was presented by Vice Chair, Shalon Simmons. During her report, Shalon presented the biography of Dr. Rachel McCormick, Consul General of Canada and introduced her as the program speaker for the program portion of the meeting. Shalon also requested for OKGIT members to submit any suggested program speakers to her for the upcoming November meeting. These suggestions may be emailed to Shalon, here.

Jamie Cummings from Oklahoma Department of Agriculture updated the group about virtual food export missions that are currently taking place, including a mission that was recently completed with Canada. These missions have been popular and convenient for several companies to participate in. Jamie concluded her report with by informing the team about a virtual fair campaign that was launched due to the cancelation of the state fair. During this fair, 4-H, livestock projects, and Made in Oklahoma companies will be featured.

Jesse Garcia from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce informed the group that ODOC is continuing to work on the STEP grant and hopes to have more information at the November meeting.

Dr. Cathleen Skinner had several updates from the Oklahoma Department of Education. Dr. Skinner stated that the School of Design and Innovation was recently added to the Oklahoma Department of Education. Dr. Skinner also highlighted that the Oklahoma Seal of Biliteracy which allows students to demonstrate levels of proficiency to employers and educational institutions went into effect last Friday, September 11. Dr. Skinner closed her remarks by informing the membership of a variety of factors that are currently taking place in Oklahoma public schools due to COVID. These items included: a crisis response team to assist districts with issues, CARES Act funding being used to help students connect to internet access, and a number students leaving public school districts to go virtual This has resulted in Epic Charter Schools having the largest school district in the state.

Executive Director Jared Scism reminded the group that the U.S. Department of Commerce is continuing to actively assist Oklahoma businesses in virtual format. Jared also informed the group that USDOC has been working with Shalon, Chuck, and Dr. Collard to plan the upcoming World Trade Conference. Jared concluded his report by encouraging the OKGIT membership to participate in the Discover Global Markets Program on October 7-9. To learn more about this program, click here.

Following the committee, Dr. Jim Collard and the Oklahoma Consular Summit Committee discussed the joint collaboration between the District Export Council and Oklahoma Governor’s International Team to hold a virtual World Trade Conference and Oklahoma Consular Summit on Thursday, October 22. During this discussion, final event and schedule arrangements were made, and room hosts were determined. The cost to attend the conference and summit will be $50 per person/$10 per student. Registration for the event will close on Thursday, October 15th. More details and a registration link will be sent to the OKGIT membership soon.

Chairman, Scott Thompson reported the Oklahoma Business Roundtable is still discussing funding for the year. At this time, no final decisions have been made and OKGIT funding is still pending.

A new platform is currently being discussed for the November virtual meeting to allow for additional OKGIT members to attend the meeting. This meeting will take place on November 17th from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM.

The below is a general summary of the events and discussion at the July 2020 OKGIT meeting. It does not represent the official minutes, which will be distributed at a later date.

After the approval of the May 2020 meeting’s minutes, Executive Director Jared Scism gave an update regarding the finances of the organization. During the financial report, Jared informed the OKGIT membership of finances for May and June 2020. Jared Scism also announced that Chris Morriss graciously volunteered to take on the duties of the OKGIT treasurer for the remainder of the year.

Amidst discussion of the treasurer report, Douglas Price, chair of the Membership Committee reported that John VanPool from Citizens Potawatomi Nation had resigned, and there were no new perspective members considered for membership at this time. However, Douglas stated that there would likely be members considered for membership at the September meeting.

During the Marketing Committee report, Scott Thompson requested for nominations for a new marketing committee chair after the resignation of John VanPool. The OKGIT marketing committee chair is responsible for overseeing and updating all of the OKGIT social media channels. Immediately following the meeting, Jose Sagarnaga volunteered to become the new chair of the marketing committee. Thank you, Jose, for your service.

The Cultural and Education Committee chair, Cathleen Skinner, informed the membership of President Trump’s proclamation on J1 visas and the effect it would have had on international teachers that come to Oklahoma to teach foreign languages. Fortunately, the State Department made an exception for non-immigrant visas which allows for these teachers to continue teaching in the United States. As a result, Cathleen Skinner requested and received approval from the membership to send a letter of appreciation to the State Department for making these changes.

During the Program Committee report, Shalon Simmons announced the speakers for the program speaker portion of the meeting. The speakers represented the Small Business Administration and came to discuss the CARES Act and incentives for small businesses with the OKGIT membership.

Jamie Cummings from Oklahoma Department of Agriculture updated the group about a trade mission to Canada this month and another mission to Columbia in September. Jamie also informed the group that the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture has received funding for a couple projects through the CARES Act to assist smaller companies and from the United States Department of Agriculture to support the meat processing industry.

Jesse Garcia from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce informed the membership that all but one of ODOC’s trade shows for the year had been cancelled. Jesse also updated the group about ODOC working to repurpose it’s STEP grant that will run through the end of September next year. The next STEP Grant, STEP 9, will start in October 1 and run for two years. ODOC has applied for STEP 9 and currently awaiting results. Jesse finished his report by informing the group about the ODOC three-part webinar series. The final and third part entitled, “What every exporter needs to know about export controls” will be held at 9:00 am on July 28th. For more information or registration, click here.

Dr. Cathleen Skinner had several updates from the Oklahoma Department of Education. Dr. Skinner stated that approximately 2,000 students have been affected as a result of J1 and H1B visas and another 3,000 students in Tulsa, including Chinese students. Dr. Skinner also highlighted that Oklahoma now has a seal of biliteracy that allows students to demonstrate levels of proficiency to employers and educational institutions. Dr. Skinner closed her remarks by telling the OKGIT about the different discussions taking place about the reopening of schools. More and more school districts will be requiring masks for staff. There will be a meeting of the state school board next week to discuss this issue.

Jared Scism reported for Debbie Blanke that Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education were happy that Homeland Security rescinded their order to send international students home should a university have to go 100% online.

Chief Protocol Officer Chris Morriss reported that the Consul General of India contacted her to set up a Zoom meeting with Governor Stitt in August and that she was asked by USCIS to set up a meeting with the Oklahoma Consular Corp.

Jared informed the group that the U.S. Department of Commerce is actively counseling companies using various platforms and working on STEP assistance. The U.S. Commercial Service is also organizing a Women’s Global Trade Empowerment Forum: a FREE six-part digital series from July 28 – September 22nd. Additionally, 50 women business owners in the Aerospace and Defense, Automotive, Education, Design and Construction, Medical Devices and Services, ICT and Energy sectors have the opportunity to register for the six-part virtual forum plus industry-focused activities for a reduced fee of $50. For more information click here.

After the U.S. Department of Trade report, Chuck Mills reported that the District Export Council held elections and chose new officers and also informed the membership that DEC will attempt to hold a virtual World Trade Conference on Thursday, October 22nd.

Following the committee reports and discussion of the World Trade Conference, Jim Collard mentioned that he would like to try and work with the District Export Council to hold a virtual Oklahoma Consular Summit as an additional event on the same day in the afternoon or a different day of the same week as the World Trade Conference. More details coming soon.

Chairman, Scott Thompson reported the Oklahoma Business Roundtable is still discussing funding for the year. At this time, no final decisions have been made.

Lindsay Robertson stated that his wife, Lynne is a past president of the Oklahoma Foreign Language Teacher Association and that they will be hosting a conference soon and are currently seeking sponsorships. Anyone interested in sponsoring this conference by contact Lindsay.

In closing, Jared Scism reported that donations to assist international students with relief efforts had been sent to the universities who currently have members represented in the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team.

Upcoming meetings are as follows:

  • September 15thfrom 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at Dept of Commerce
  • November 17thfrom 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at Dept of Commerce

For our program, four employees from the United States Small Business Administration presented information about the CARES Act and incentives for small businesses with the OKGIT membership. For a copy of the presentation, contact Jared Scism.

People around the world find themselves in the midst of one great, shared experience. Social distancing and large-scale quarantine measures became the norm in the months of March and April for many in the U.S. Colleges and schools stand empty, workplace conversations take place on laptops around kitchen tables or, in many industries, not at all. We spoke with a few of our members whose lives, work and studies have been directly impacted since governments across the U.S. took measures to slow COVID-19’s spread. The answers have been lightly edited for clarity.

Representative Mark McBride – Oklahoma State Legislature

Mark McBride

Representative Mark McBride

What is your title and what does your organization do in “normal” times?

“I am the Oklahoma State Representative for District 53 (Moore, Oklahoma). I introduce and vote on bills that represent the interests of people in my district and the state. I’m the Chair of the Appropriations and Budget on Education Subcommittee, Assistant Majority Floor Leader and a member of the Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Capitol Restoration Oversight Committee.”

How did the COVID-19 issue impact your day-to-day work?

“Our members and staff worked remotely, while voting by proxy was allowed for elected representatives. We limited physical meetings, enforced social distancing and medical screenings and created a totally different working environment.

“The volume of constituents reaching out to my office drastically increased. The majority of issues were with difficulties filing for and/or receiving funds for unemployment benefits and PUA. Many constituents lives were in crisis. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission was not prepared with enough qualified staff nor the technology to keep up with thousands and thousands of claims, many of which were for self-employed and 1099 employees that typically do not qualify for benefits (because unemployment taxes are not paid by those entities).

“The Oklahoma Legislature was able to pass a budget, but there was limited legislation this year due to the crisis.”

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work in the coming months?

“We are currently living uncertain times with global markets in decline and the oil and gas industry at an all-time low. Our state budget is heavily reliant on oil and gas production.  There are concerns about the COVID-19 situation and the effects our state and the health of our citizens in the coming months.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, I worked tirelessly for two weeks to get five Oklahomans back from a medical mission trip in Kenya. We were finally able to get them home, just 24 hours before the country shut down.

“As a board member of the Maisha Project, the decline in contributions might not allow me to return to Kenya again this year.  I was also hoping to return to Nicaragua in the fall, but that is also questionable.”

Have there been any positives you could point to during this time?

“It has been a huge positive to witness how Oklahomans have joined together during this crisis.  It is also a positive that Oklahoma has taken the lead in state response to COVID-19 preparedness.”

 

People around the world find themselves in the midst of one great, shared experience. Social distancing and large-scalquarantine measures became the norm in the months of March and April for many in the U.S. Colleges and schools stand empty, workplace conversations take place on laptops around kitchen tables or, in many industries, not at all. We spoke with a few of our members whose lives, work and studies have been directly impacted since governments across the U.S. took measures to slow COVID-19’s spread.

Dr. Nyla Ali Khan

Dr. Nyla Ali Khan is a professor at Rose State College, Midwest City, Oklahoma and taught as a Visiting Professor at the University of Oklahoma. Formerly, she was a professor at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. She received her Ph.D. in English Literature and her Masters in Postcolonial Literature and Theory at the University of Oklahoma. Author of several published articles, book reviews and editorials, she has edited Parchment of Kashmir, a collection of essays on Jammu and Kashmir, written four books, including The Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism and Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between Indian and Pakistan.

Nyla Khan

Dr. Nyla Ali Khan

How did the COVID-19 issue impact your day-to-day work?

“The transition to the virtual world has not been a cakewalk for everyone. Several people, particularly of my parents’ generation, are not technology friendly but are now having to adapt to talking with friends and family via Skype or Zoom.

“I have several students who are trying to make ends meet in the midst of this unforeseen crisis. Some of them are now working two jobs, so they can pay their bills.

“Others are working hard to support those of their family members who have been furloughed. There are some who don’t have Wifi access or erratic internet connections, and cannot participate in Zoom meetings as efficiently as they would like to. A couple of days ago, one of my students participated in a Zoom meeting from her car, because her entire family was in the house and she couldn’t concentrate. I saw determination and perseverance in these kids. Several of them pushed themselves to meet deadlines and step up to the plate. They learned to see their challenges as opportunities to grow, and, as an academic, I am here for them.

“While the transition to online classes came with its set of challenges, my students did not throw in the towel. On the contrary, they adjusted to their new reality with a newfound confidence. In the last Zoom session with one of my classes earlier today, everyone got a little sentimental while acknowledging how much we had learned from one another. I am glad that my students and I were able to create a safe environment in which we examined our locations of privilege and sought emotional empowerment in order to understand systems that have generated a culture of silence about systemic discrimination. It has been an invaluable educational experience to hear my students make presentations on their intellectual interests in a world transformed by COVID-19.”

Have there been any positives you can point to in terms of new ways of doing business or working that have come during this time?

“In the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19, bewilderment reigns supreme. Self-imposed isolation is the new social order. People are experiencing a loneliness epidemic because of social distancing. Compassion is rarely expressed, because everyone is looking out for her/himself. I have realized that we need a global response not just to COVID-19 but to humanitarian disasters that have followed in its wake. A lot of us focus on big achievements, forgetting that the small moments count as much as the big ones.

“When it comes to my students, I want to be present not just for the big moments, but for the small ones as well. There is potential for meaning in every moment. COVID-19 compels me to rethink perceptions that some of us thought were unquestionable and self-axiomatic.

“During this period, my students and I built bridges and worked with sincerity. We cannot afford to hamper progressive political and social change. We realized more than ever that we cannot afford to section off humanity into various “races” and various “worlds,” because that robs us of our power to prevent disease from destroying the world. In spite of the physical delineation of the boundaries, we all live in one zone. Our hopes, aspirations, fears, and dangers are the same.

“During this period, my students and I realized more than ever that we are all connected by the common bond of humanity, and that we can take control by holding up with dignity and resilience when adversity knocks on our doors.”

In terms of your international activities, how have those been impacted by the past three months?

“All of us are trying to adjust to the unforeseen changes brought about by the onset of COVID-19. Although traveling to other parts of the world has been incredibly difficult, my life has not been devoid of meaning.

“I have continued to write for international periodicals/ publications, and my work on issues of global import has been appearing in print as well as online editions of those publications. I was also interviewed by the Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies, Pakistan, which has recently launched a digital live show, “Global Women Insight,” to talk with “inspiring women leaders about their lives, struggles, and leadership.” My interview was watched by an audience comprising people from various parts of the world, particularly South Asia.”