OKGIT November 2019 meeting summary

People to People International and Merrill Eisenhower speaks to the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team at the November 2019 meeting.

The below is a general summary of the events and discussion at the November 2019 OKGIT meeting. It does not represent the official minutes, which will be distributed at a later date.

After the approval of the September 2019 meeting’s minutes, Oklahoma Department of Commerce Executive Director Brent Kisling introduced himself to the group and gave a brief summary of the department’s mission going forward, including its future work with the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team.

Oklahoma Department of Commerce’s new director of business retention and expansion, Ray Little, also introduced himself and explained his office’s efforts to synchronize those of the OKGIT’s.

Following the financial report from Treasurer Randy Kellogg, he notified the group that it would be his last meeting at that position and would be handing over his duties to Mary Blankenship Pointer. He requested his membership be moved to emeritus status, which was granted by a group vote, and he joins Mark Stansberry, Desa Dawson and John Neff as the four members in that category.

Officers for the 2020-21 OKGIT term will be:

  • Past Chair – Douglas Price
  • Chair – John VanPool
  • Vice Chair – Scott Thompson
  • Treasurer – Mary Blankenship Pointer
  • Secretary – Bob Lieser

Amidst discussion of the treasurer report, membership committee members encouraged the group to inform companies and individuals who cannot participate full time in OKGIT activities that there are sponsorship opportunities available to partner on our mission. There are set parameters and sponsorship levels, and they can be found at the group’s website at okgit.com/sponsorships.

In membership news, Nancy Hyde was affirmed by vote as a new member while Mikael Clayton has resigned his position with the group.

The marketing focus for the group will remain largely to highlight our members’ activities but also place a renewed focus on our non-commercial/commerce members as well. We have begun scheduling social media posts on the group Facebook page facebook.com/okgit highlighting our state agencies and partners. Given the breadth of our members activities and interests, it is incumbent that they continue to flag up relevant content from their companies/offices/departments that would be good to showcase our group to external audiences. Please flag up material to theokgit@gmail.com if you have it.

The Cultural and Education Committee report concerned the status of next year’s International Student Recognition Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol, set to take place on March 4, 2020. OKGIT Student Ambassador Olivia Nguyen from the University of Central Oklahoma also gave an update on her status and will continue to support the group in her capacity.

In other education news, Randy Kluver noted that he and three graduate students from Oklahoma State University are currently conducting research on impact of international exchanges on the State of Oklahoma. They will try to include them in an upcoming OKGIT meeting, perhaps March.

Two groups of French students from the Academie d’Amiens accompanied by teachers and the assistant director of international exchanges visited their partner schools in early November for two weeks. A group of seven teachers will be coming to the Tulsa area in February for a two-week program. The state department of education is also exploring a program to introduce seal of biliteracy into Oklahoma education that students could put on transcripts and diplomas when applying for higher education opportunities.

The Program Committee – responsible for securing speakers for the group’s bi-monthly meeting – will present a survey at the January meeting to guide planning for the coming year. Further questions or input would be greatly appreciated, those interested can reach out to Program Chair M. Scott Thompson directly.

  • What international experience of this year influenced yourself, your business, or your organization?
  • How have international relations change for our state in the past five years?
  • What do you predict will happen in the next 5-10 years?
  •  How can we advance the overall mission of the OKGIT?
  • What can we do more next year to make a substantial difference?

The Oklahoma Consular Corps reported on their latest activities, including the UNAEO dinner honoring U.K. Honorary Consul and OKGIT member Roger Randle, a visit by the consul general of Japan and the Asian Society Reception. Honorary Consul for Peru Enrique Villar Gambetta informed the group that a sister city agreement will soon be signed between cities in his home nation and Edmond, Oklahoma.

There are 11 honorary or full consuls in Oklahoma, more information on them can be found at okgit.com/oklahoma-consular-corps.

The Oklahoma Department of Commerce is working with Secretary Sean Kouplen and Secretary of State Michael Rogers in planning for next year. They are specifically focusing on proactive recruitment of international companies to Oklahoma. Commerce is also focusing on attracting car manufacturers to the state.

In other news, the STEP Program grant has been approved, with several companies looking to participate in international trade shows through STEP grant funding.

Commerce also reported that the state would be sending a delegation to the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston in May 2020.

The Oklahoma Secretary of State’s office has been very busy in recent months, helping conduct the visits of various consuls general and other high ranking political and diplomatic officers. Recent visitors included the consuls general from Canada, Japan, Italy and the U.K. as well as the vice-president of Taiwan.

In mid-November the secretary of state, department of commerce and OKGIT executive committee met to discuss protocols concerning incoming diplomatic and political delegations from other countries. Both departments requested that any information about international delegations visiting the state be forwarded to our two OKGIT ex-officio members in those offices to ensure proper diplomatic protocols are followed. Group members are encouraged to reach out to Jennifer Springer at Commerce or Chris Morriss at the Secretary of State’s office for more information.

The U.S. Department of Trade most recently participated in another successful Oklahoma Manufacturing Summit. In partnership with the U.S. District Export Council planning for Oklahoma World Trade Conference on April 2, 2020 in Tulsa is underway. Last year the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team participated in the event and sponsored a reception the night before and will likely be asked to again. USDOT will brief out with more details at the OKGIT’s January meeting.

Following the committee reports, the group began finalizing preparations for the 2020 Oklahoma Consular Summit. Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum’s office sent a letter offering to be the host site for the event alongside the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, and the OKGIT agreed to move the event there for the days of April 2-3. The Consular Summit will tail end the Oklahoma World Trade Conference on April 1, allowing plenty of time for visiting delegates and officials to meet with Oklahoma counterparts. A confirmation of the dates will be sent once there is certainty Governor Stitt will be able to attend.

Following input from the Department of Commerce and Secretary of State, initial invitees for the event include Japan, Guatemala, the U.K., Germany, France, South Korea, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Italy, India, Peru, Sweden, Netherlands and Spain.

Planning and preparations are being led by past-chair James C. Collard, and questions or input are greatly appreciated. Please reach out to Dr. Collard or theokgit@gmail.com to support planning this event.

OKGIT members are encouraged to attend the Sister Cities Consular Corps Reception on December 11 from 6– 8:30 p.m. at Harn Homestead in OKC. The OKGIT has contributed sponsorship funds to this event, but please RSVP with Jared Scism if you plan on attending.

In light of the aforementioned Consular Corps/Sister Cities Reception, the OKGIT will not host a December reception but instead will host a New Year’s event following our next meeting on January 21. The reception will take place at Café do Brazil (440 NW 11th St #100). Invites have already gone out to our members but please RSVP to ensure food and complimentary drink numbers stay within the allotted budget.

Upcoming meetings are as follows:

  • January 21st from 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM at Frontier Bank
  • March 10th from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at Dept. of Commerce
  • May 19th from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at Dept. of Commerce

For our program, CEO of People to People International Merrill Eisenhower discussed his organization’s history and mission. People to People International is a non-profit organization funded by donations and other fee for service programs that was initially founded in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Learn more about their mission and work at ptpi.org.