August 2019

A Note From Our Mayors

Author: John McCann, Lisa Sulka | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

A Note from John McCann
Joining Hands with Verona:a Valuable Exchange

A month ago, we joined the Italian-American Club of Hilton Head Island on a flagship trip to Verona, Italy and had a wonderful exchange of ideas. The trip was planned following a resolution the Town Council enthusiastically and unanimously passed two years ago, establishing a friendship city pact with Verona. It gave us the opportunity to act on the directives we outlined in that resolution. We had a jam-packed schedule that included meetings with Verona Mayor Federico Sboarina, other Verona elected officials and city representatives, and the Verona Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Sboarina and I signed a Friendship City pact—the first step in the process towards a Sister City pact. The City of Verona already has Sister City agreements in place with Munich, Germany; Nimes, France; Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Belgium; Salzburg, Austria; Pula, Croatia; Nagahama, Japan; and two other communities in the United States: Albany, New York and Fresno, California. We hope to become their third in the U.S.

Sister cities, I have learned, play a key role in strengthening global relationships and creating an exchange of ideas on arts and culture, business and trade, community development and youth and education. It amazed me that a city 4,750 miles away from Hilton Head Island dealt with many of the same issues we face as an island: protecting the environment, attracting business, preserving culture and supporting the tourism industry. In many regards, Verona is well ahead of Hilton Head Island in some areas. Verona is a city of 300,000 residents and welcomes 13 million tourists annually. It has to sustain an infrastructure to accommodate its residents and influx of tourists. Like Hilton Head Island, Verona has actively worked to preserve green space. The city has built an extensive array of cultural assets. While there, our delegation had the opportunity to attend the opening night of the 2019 Verona Opera Festival held in a huge Roman amphitheater that seats 15,000 people. The theater was filled. The flow of traffic was so well-managed, I didn’t hear of or see any traffic jams. All that Verona has done over many years has helped create a strong economic and cultural foundation for the city.

As we sat amidst Verona city officials and other leaders, our conversations focused on what we can learn from each other and what we can accomplish together under our newly signed agreement. I brought with me and delivered three letters—one from Dr. Al Panu, USCB’s Chancellor, one from Bill Miles, president of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, and one from Carolyn Vanagel, president of the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival. USCB is hoping to begin an exchange program for hospitality students. The Chamber of Commerce seeks an opportunity to connect with the Verona Chamber of Commerce and exchange ideas on marketing to tourists. We will be working with Concours to welcome a delegation from Verona to Hilton Head Island either in November of this year or in 2020.

I also will be working with Town Manager Steve Riley and his staff to organize a team to focus on how we can work with our counterparts in Verona on business, arts and culture, environmental sustainability, and other areas. This group will lay the groundwork to move us to next step in the process of becoming a Sister City. Stay tuned.


A Note from Lisa Sulka
Who is your role model?

I was excited to learn that this month’s edition of C2 magazine would be focused on women in business. Based on this topic, I want to share my thoughts on female role models. Nationally/internationally, what a great month for young ladies, namely Coco Gauff, the women’s soccer team, and the women’s volleyball team. All have shown females, young and old, what results from hard work and a focus on doing your best. These are the new role models for so many of us. However, other role models who are not involved in athletics are right here in our town and state. While there are too many to name in a brief article, some who come to mind include our former governor Nikki Haley, who was our first female governor; Ashley Jacobs, who is our first female county administrator; Maggie Washo, publisher of this magazine; Paula Bethea, business woman; Jane Upshaw, first chancellor of USCB; our female teachers and principals; and the women leaders featured in this magazine. Women like this are setting the example for many of our young ladies to look up to and realize this is now a reality, not a dream.

Who is your role model? And are you a role model for others around you? These are two questions that should create conversations among you and your friends/family. A friend of mine posted the article on the young lady, Rose Lavelle, who dressed up in elementary school as Mia Hamm, (her role model). This past month, Lavelle was one of the women on the soccer team that won the World Cup.

My role model was my mom and, thinking back about her life and career when we were young, I realize that I have followed in her path. In the 1960s, a time when women were supposed to stay home and raise a family, my mom was starting her own business and later became one of the first female real estate brokers in South Carolina. In the early ’80s, also a time when the glass ceiling for females was very low, she decided she would take a run at being mayor. Unfortunately for my town, she was not elected, but that didn’t keep her down. She continued to work for the community she loved, sitting on so many committees and boards that she actually ended up doing more for Prosperity, South Carolina by not being an elected official. Up until the day she passed away, she was always there for the youth, giving them support and advice when asked.

The point is to always be mindful of who you are influencing and to remember the role models who paved the way for you. So, pay it forward and be that role model for someone else. I would love to hear your stories on this topic, so please respond in the comment section on Facebook or send me your stories on my social media pages.

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