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.