From the Executive Director, Pat Watson – What a year!!

2018 was a banner year for Citizen Diplomacy Alliance.  First, the name change from Southern Arizona Council for International Visitors to Citizen Diplomacy Alliance to better describe what the mission and vision of the organization is and what we do.

We hosted 108 international visitors to Southern Arizona this year.  Each with their own interests, stories and experiences.  Being able to showcase Southern Arizona, the fabulous people, the warmth and welcoming of our members and professional contacts to the visitors is what Citizen Diplomacy is all about.  Showing that regardless of where they come from, what their color, religion, culture or profession is, they are welcome.  What an amazing way to help bring peace to at least a little patch of the world.  

Secondly, we began the Speaker Series.  This series bring together speakers on a wide range of subjects to inform the public of issues of importance.  The first session was held at Pima Community College West Campus with members from the Customs and Border Patrol, Tucson Police Department and the K-9 officer from the Pima County Sheriff’s office.  Each talked about their responsibilities in safe keeping the citizens of Arizona.

In April, at our annual meeting, we were fortunate to have Norman Houston, Director of the Northern Ireland Institute and representative to the USA for Northern Ireland.  He shared his experiences during the conflict between Northern and Southern Ireland and how he played a part in bring forth the peace accord.  This meeting was held at the Mexican Consulate.

The next speaker was Andrew Selee speaking on his book “Vanishing Frontiers: The Forces Driving Mexico and the United States Together’.  The relationship between citizens of the USA and Mexico working together to make the world a better place.  This session was held at the Pima Community College District Office Community Room.

The following speaker was Mohamed Amin who spoke on preventing youth from joining the Taliban or other organizations in the terrorist movement.  Mohamed has a fabulous website called “Average Mohamed” that showcases the problems youth (and adults) would encounter joining such groups.  Very passionate speaker with a fabulous message.  This was held at the Mexican Consulate.

In October we were able to present a program on Human Trafficking with Jerry Payton and Lisa Hanson from Sold No More, this very informative meeting also brought together members from CBP, The Tucson Police Department, the Pima County Sheriff’s office, the Mexican Consul and ICE. Again, this was held at the Pima Community College District Office Community Room.

The Human Trafficking session will also be held on January 15th at Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher, AZ sponsored by the Gila Valley Rotary, Eastern Arizona College and Citizen Diplomacy Alliance with speakers being Jerry Payton and Liz Hansen from Sold No More, President Todd Haynie from Eastern Arizona College, the chiefs of police from Thatcher and Safford along with the Sheriff from Graham County.  If you are in the area it will be held at the Lee Little Theater at the college from 5:30 to 7.  It is, as they all are, free and open to the public.

January 10 we will be co-sponsoring a talk on the Holocaust at the District Office Community Room from 5:30 to 7.  The Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Southern Arizona will be bringing 4 – 5 holocaust survivors to share the personal testimonies.  This is another of the critical subjects that need to be told, again, free and open to the public.

We thank Pima Community College and the Mexican Consulate for being our partners in our work, not only to bring these programs to you but to advance the work Citizen Diplomacy Alliance does.  They couldn’t be better partners, we are so proud to be affiliated with them!

The speaker series will continue, new and important speakers will be shared every two months for the coming year.  We hope you will take advantage of the information and join us.

The next phase of our work is with the educational programs we will be having for 15 7 & 8th grade girls from the Sonora, Mexico region on STEM.  Given the opportunity to learn what study of these subjects will allow the students to reach for in the future is a goal of the US Consulate in Nogales and Citizen Diplomacy Alliance.  Show the students the path available and they will be able to accomplish great things in their future.

Following that our own Rose Rojas will be putting together the STEAM program for 15 9th grade students from South Tucson at the Alta Vista school  We are seeking funding for this project so if you can help, we would truly appreciate it.  Let’s give our youth the opportunity to learn, experience and see what a great future is available to them with study and dedication.

Finally, in this year end report, as Executive Director I want to introduce the most amazing board of directors ever!!  Our president is Michael Ford, Vice president is Patricia Houston, Treasurer is Maria Vianey Valdez-Cardenas, Secretary is Alma Peralta.  Board members are Abbi Gold, Justin Allred, Weston Brown, Rose Rojas and Peter Becskehazy.  Again, thank you to our partner, Pima Community College for allowing us to use the Copper Room for our board.  Meetings.

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