About Us


Learn about the Tacoma Sister Cities Council and our mission.

The Sister Cities Council of Tacoma advances Tacoma as a global city and promotes peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation through citizen diplomacy – one individual, one community at a time – for the benefit of Tacoma and its sister cities.

To accomplish its mission, The Sister Cities Council of Tacoma develops programs in the areas of cultural arts and tourism, global education, government relations, and international business.


The first Sister City Program, Sister Cities International, was created in 1956 at the request of President Eisenhower, giving national focus to affiliations between cities in the United States and in other countries. The goal of the program is to promote deeper cultural understanding, international visitation and hospitality that leads to long lasting relationships. More recently, Sister City links have become an increasingly important conduit for economic development.

The City of Tacoma has 15 Sister Cities, all of which have aspects similar or complementary to Tacoma’s economic character. Tacoma’s Sister City activities are as diverse as its membership. Some examples of activities include Student Exchanges, Sports Exchanges, Performing Arts Festivals, Arts Exchanges and the International Film Festival.

Each Sister City has a citizen based Sister City Committee. The Sister City Committees are all organized under a 501 c (3) called the Sister City Council of Tacoma.


Meet our board members.

Frances Lorenz

Vice Chair

Bruce Sadler


Mark Langford


Debbie Bingham

City of Tacoma Liaison

Carmetrus Parker

Executive Administrator


Melannie Denise Cunningham – 2018 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize Laureate

For her exemplary work promoting racial reconciliation, the Board of Directors has selected Tacoma Resident Melannie Denise Cunningham as the 2018 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize Laureate. Nominator Joanne Lisosky writes, “Melannie is a visionary, educator, community servant and consummate peace builder.”

Cunningham uses her years of knowledge, coalition building, and strategic planning to host The People’s Gathering. It is an annual conference which brings together business leaders, human resource professionals, educators, and students to engage in frank conversations about race.

The People’s Gathering equips professionals with tools to use existing policy to fight cultural stereotypes, institutional racism, and discrimination in the workplace, instead of reinforcing them. The over 200 individuals that participate in the conference each year continue the sometime difficult conversations about race and move the issue forward in the greater Tacoma community.

Cunningham brings unwritten cultural knowledge back to Tacoma from one of its fourteen Sister Cities, George, South Africa. She visits George often. When apartheid policies were abolished, Cunningham saw a perfect opportunity to build solidarity based on the commonalities shared by American and South African cultures. Part of her efforts involve her work with Women of Vision, a non-governmental organization registered with the United Nations. Cunningham notes, “We see ourselves in the faces of women of children that cry and feel just like us.” Women of Vision brings together individuals from different backgrounds to solve community problems. They empower women and girls to make change. They improve the mind, body, and spirit. Cunningham brings those discussions back to the Tacoma community through her service as the chair of the George Tacoma Sister City Committee.

Cunningham’s promotion of peace in Tacoma spans decades. In the late 1980s Cunningham organized the first citywide Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. In 2015 she spearheaded an effort that led to the City of Tacoma to become the first city in the United States to accept the “Hate Won’t Win” challenge.

As the Director of Multicultural Outreach and Engagement at Pacific Lutheran University, Cunningham serves as a mentor to hundreds of students of color that join the PLU community.

Get involved ! There are several way to help Tacoma Sister Cities to follow their mission and achieve their goals. Let’s chat !


Participate in one of our program today !

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