Sister Cities Conference

A 3-day interactive event bringing together representatives from 20+ sister cities to discuss their partnership goals, successes, and aspirations to cross-pollinate ideas and forge a connection.

This event is free and open to all community members interested in learning more about Cleveland’s international connections from a ground-level perspective.

We will have representatives from our Sister Cities engaging with community members, business leaders, students, and civic leaders. The host committee of the Sister Cities Conference will be on hand to speak about the city-city relationship, past accomplishments, and goals for the future.

Benefits of a Sister City: Direct contact with local businesses, civic leaders, and educational institutions around the world. Increased cooperation, respect, and hence prosperity for both cities and their people.

Date: September 29th – October 2, 2020 

Place: Virtual Event through Hopin hosted by the Cleveland Public Library

Mission: To enhance our economic, social, and cultural prosperity through enriching global partnerships.

Vision: To have a local-global network of businesses, educational institutions, organizations, and local governments connected to Cleveland to internationalize our city and create a global citizenry.

Contact Elizabeth Cusma for more information, volunteer opportunities or questions about participating / 216-487-1732 

Tuesday September 29:

Opening 4:30-6 pm 

Keynote Speakers:

Director Thomas Felton of Cleveland Public Library

City of Cleveland

City City Council President

Ambassador Daniel Mulhall of Ireland

Cuyahoga County

Dr. Nizar Zein of the Cleveland Clinic

Presentation of Chinese 150th Immigration Anniversary Proclamation

Presentation of Mexican 100th Immigration Anniversary Proclamation

Wednesday September 30th Municipal/Civic Leadership Day:

8:00-9:00am Global Sister Cities Mayoral Panel

This panel is an opportunity for mayors and/or mayoral staff or representatives from all of our sister cities and partner cities around the world to gather on one call in one place, at the same time. Never have we been able to gather so easily across time and space. Never has a global pandemic occurred where the need for us to connect is greater. Please join this call of international friendship and global goodwill as we work together to make our bonds stronger.

9:30-10:30 am COVID-19 Challenges and Best Practices Around the World

This panel is an opportunity to hear from health experts in several of our sister cities to address the global pandemic of the Novel Coronavirus. We will discuss the challenges presented by the virus and best practices by local responses worldwide. Topics include how we borrow one another’s best practices.

9:30-10:30 am Too Much, Too Little, Too Dirty: Fresh Water Globally

Fresh water continues to be a challenge for people across the globe-either in terms of access or safety. This health equity problem will be discussed by experts leading change in several of our sister cities. With Cleveland sitting on one of the largest networks of fresh in the world, this session will show how cities that are water-rich and water-poor are making a future for their residents.

9:30-10:30 am Urban Sustainability and Planning Panel

This panel will discuss local sustainable urban practices from the perspective of municipal leaders and the role of public/private partnerships in developing strong city-level sustainability policies. From conversations around the Paris Climate Agreement to how cities are managing their renewable resources, this session will highlight our shared need to fight global warming.

11:00-12:00 pm Civil Society and the Growing Threat of the of Ultra-nationalism          

This panel features distinguished speakers from across the world to discuss the most relevant topics of the day relating to the health and wellbeing of civil society worldwide. Panelists will discuss their efforts to ensure the rights of minorities, women, and those marginalized by ultra-nationalist tendencies. Included in this discussion will be steps taken to ensure a welcoming, healthy, safe and thriving national climate for each person.

11:00-12:00 pm Sustainable Energy in the 21st Century

As the sustainable energy movement continues to grow and diversify across the world, we will discuss projects in several of our sister cities and how to broaden the use of renewable energy from wind to solar, from the abandonment of fossil fuels to the development of future renewable resources, leaders from around the globe will share their maps.

11:00-12:00pm Mobility-What Works, What’s Next

Healthy and viable communities depend on varied and flexible transit systems. This panel will examine different applications of transit models from urban centers across the globe to discuss best practices through a solution-based approach.

12:30-1:00pm Leaders Lead

1:00-2:00pm The Diversity of International Migration to NEO and How to make Cleveland the Most Internationally Welcoming City in the World

This panel will discuss the cross-sector realities of migration in Northeast Ohio. It will feature government, business, non-profit, and healthcare experts from reps from the refugee community, to our strong international students, and human resources representatives.

1:00-2:00 The Cleveland Cultural Gardens: A National and International Treasure

This panel will talk about the unique Cleveland cultural expression of pride and love that are the Cultural Gardens. We will hear from established gardens, new gardens, and developing gardens, about makes them so special. Learn how a cultural garden is established and explore ways to utilize them even more in celebration of our community both local and international.

2:00-2:30 Leaders Lead

Thursday, October 1st Education:

9:00-10:00 am Jesuits Worldwide

The Society of Jesus founded a half-millennium ago, operates one of the world’s broadest, deepest, and most respected educational system in global history. In addition, the mission of this Order is to make the world a more just, equitable, and compassionate place. Join us as we hear from Jesuit leaders across four continents of how this movement can transcend border, creed, and ideology for a better planet for everyone.   

9:30-10:30 International High School Youth Panel

This panel pairs high schools in sister cities and Cleveland area high schools to present group-based projects on topics such as climate change and race relations. This discussion will prove the best ideas come from the most open minds. All ages welcome.

9:30-10:30 Sister Universities – Meet and greet, get deep, and go far

Please join our sister universities for a discussion about global studies, partner programs, and the role of higher education in increasing prosperity. Northeast Ohio has roughly one-third of all international students in Ohio out of more than 37,000. Those students spend over 1.3 billion annually and support over 14,000 jobs. For every 7 international students, three jobs are created.

11:00-12:00 International Education and Exposure through Books: Two Children’s Book Readings

Our American Dream is written by Fiona McEntee, an award-winning nationally recognized immigration lawyer. As an immigrant, mom of two young children, and a lawyer who fights for justice every day, Fiona wrote Our American Dream to help explain the importance of a diverse and welcoming America.

In Curly Hair Adventures, Rose gets frustrated with her normal bedtime ritual of her mother braiding her hair. One night, she asks her mom if other children around the world have very curly hair like hers. That same night, Rose falls fast asleep with her favorite teddy bear, Teddy Hair … and they travel the world! Together, they meet little boys and girls from around the world from different nationalities. These children greet Rose and Teddy Hair in their native languages and show them all the different textures of their hair. In the end, Rose learns important lessons from each of the children. Join her on her adventure!

11:00-12:00-Foreign Service for the Next Generation of International Leaders

This panel will showcase the members of the diplomatic corps and foreign service to speak to young people interested in international careers to inspire the spirit of service and internationalism of tomorrow’s leaders.

11:00-12:00pm Sister Libraries

Join Cleveland Public Library and the National and University Library of Slovenian as they sign a Memorandum of Understanding, then join in a groundbreaking discussion about shared learning and resources across the planet through shared library systems.

12:00-12:30 Leaders Lead 

1:00-2:00pmPoetry reading 12 Literary Arts

Friday, October 2nd Business and Economic Development:

9:30-10:30 am Economic Development and International Co-investment in a Time of Pandemic

Recognizing that the world is different and markets already are, also being cognizant that this disease is global; what are things that we can do to be more prepared to end the pandemic and come out economically stronger and how can we use our city-to-city connections to do it?

 9:30-10:30 am Healthcare Innovations

This panel is showcasing innovative solutions to diverse health care challenges from racial equity of service to infant mortality and more. Meet leaders who are changing the face of healthcare now.

11:30-12:30 pm Port Cities: Economic Lifelines for Cities and Global Lifelines during a Pandemic.

This panel is to discuss the economic benefit of the presence of a port, how to grow the port’s footprint and their role during the pandemic in international trade.

11:30-12:30 pm Newcomer Entrepreneurs in Cleveland

Furahia Taste of Home

Butter Pear

Himalayan Restaurant

BRAVE Cleveland

11:30-12:30 pm At the Heart of the City

This panel discusses the role of a downtown in the stability and health of any city with city representatives from successful urban cores around the globe. Learn what makes a downtown thrive, and by extension, a community. 

12:30-1:00 pm Leaders Lead

1:00-2:00 pm Business Incubators Worldwide

This panel will demonstrate different incubator models around the world that showcase the many ways of pursuing economic growth through entrepreneurship and mentorship.

1:00-2:00pm 11 Billion

Ohio alone does $11 billion in trade with Mexico, second only to Ohio’s trade with Canada. Join a panel discussion about the diversity of trade with Mexico in Northeast Ohio. Rocky River, Ohio, and Patzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico have been sister cities since 1965. How can we use this relationship and others to increase the trade back and forth between our regions?

2:30-3:00pm Closing

Our Sister Cities

  • Alexandria, Egypt
  • Bahir-Dar, Ethiopia
  • Bangalore, India
  • Beit She’an, Israel
  • Brasov, Romania
  • Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Cleveland, United Kingdom
  • Conakry, Guinea
  • Fier, Albania
  • Gdansk, Poland
  • Heidenheim, Germany
  • Holon, Israel
  • Ibadan, Nigeria
  • Klaipeda, Lithuania
  • Lima, Peru
  • West Mayo, Ireland
  • Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Miskolc, Hungary
  • Rouen, France
  • Segundo Montes, El Salvador
  • Taipei City, Taiwan
  • Vicenza, Italy
  • Volgograd, Russia

Thank you to our generous sponsor.

What is a Sister City?

According to Sister City International (SCI), a sister city, county, or state relationship is a broad-based, long-term partnership between two communities in two countries. A relationship is officially recognized after the highest elected or appointed official from both communities sign off on an agreement to become sister cities.

Learn More

Sponsorship Opportunities

Conference Sponsor $10,000

  • Opportunity to lead/participate in a break-out panel
  • Name included in all advance and post-Conference publicity
  • Special recognition during Welcoming and at the end of the Conference
  • Speaking opportunity during Welcoming
  • Logo on Sister Cities page on the website, in digital communication, Conference materials, and webinar background
  • Your company included in select social media promotions
  • Exclusive Conference Sponsor

Global Partner $5,000

  • Opportunity to lead/participate in a break-out panel
  • Speaking opportunity during Conference
  • Special recognition during Welcoming and at the end of the Conference
  • Logo on Sister Cities page on the website and in pre-conference digital communication
  • Your company included in select social media promotions

International Connector $2,500

  • Speaking opportunity during Conference
  • Special recognition during Welcoming and at the end of the Conference
  • Logo on Sister Cities page on the website and in pre-Conference digital communication
  • Your company included in select social media promotions

Program Partner $1,000

  • Special recognition during Welcoming and at the end of the Conference
  • Logo on Sister Cities page on the website and in pre-Conference digital communication
  • Your company included in select social media promotions

Conference Supporter $500

  • Special recognition during Welcoming and at the end of the Conference
  • Logo on Sister Cities page on the website and in pre-Conference digital communication


Sponsorship Form