GPA First Annual Members Meeting Facilitates Important Strides

Zabeth Teelucksingh and Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz, for GPA -- On December 12th, 2011 the Global Philadelphia Association held its first annual members meeting at the National Constitution Center. The event was notable for several reasons. Impressively, 55 illustrious GPA members were present, members such as the Philadelphia Consular Corps, the Philadelphia International Airport, the City of Philadelphia and the World Trade Center to name but a few.

Members greeted one another during a networking lunch in the terrace of the John C. Bogle Chairman's Room; members then convened for the official opening of the event which was part business meeting, part meeting of great minds. This latter portion of the event was opened by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter who delivered a tremendous speech brimming with great hope and resounding statistics that speak to Philadelphia's bright future as a global city. The Mayor's speech provided a natural segue into the panel discussion that followed on the question of what makes a truly international city. This debate was anchored by Dr. Harris Sokoloff, Faculty Director for the Penn Project on Civic Engagement, and animated by the following panelists:

Aware that the greatest strength of GPA lies in the ideas and initiative of our very accomplished members, Dr. Sokoloff designed the panel discussion such that it was guided by members' input. The panelists introduced their ideas about Philadelphia's international stature and then, Dr. Sokoloff guided small-group work in which members gathered to dialogue and raise specific questions for the panel of experts. Questions probed into the specifics of what's required to brand Philadelphia as the great, global city that it is: What hurdles need be overcome? How to leverage the City's assets? How to cultivate an ethos of cultural sensitivity and global thinking? The atmosphere in the room was one of excitement and anticipation as members and panelists began to hone in on a more specific vision of how to move Philadelphia into its next stage of growth.

Though inspired conversation that took place at the National Constitution Center on December 12, 2011 was just the beginning of what promises to be a truly energizing impetus, and though many questions yet remain unanswered, it was clear on this day that the moment has come for Philadelphia to cement its international past and re-launch as the truly international city that it is. 2012 will see this initiative unfold and grow to new heights. The stakes are high, but the gains can be momentous if Philadelphians choose to capitalize on the Global Philadelphia movement.

Photos courtesy of Harvey Feng.