By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Each year Sister Cities OKC recognizes an individual for outstanding leadership. They recognized a leader who has fostered its core mission, promoting the image, economic development, culture, business and educational projects connecting OKC and the world. “Connect globally, thrive locally.”
The Honorable George Nigh, former governor of Oklahoma, was awarded the prestigious Sister Cities International OKC’s Global Vision Award at its annual luncheon on May 7.
The event took place held at The Petroleum Club, 100 N Broadway, in the John Nichols Room at the Chase Tower in downtown Oklahoma City.
During his earliest days in the Oklahoma Legislature, George Nigh launched relationships with the World Community. He secured the International Jaycees Convention for Oklahoma in the 1960’s.
As Lt. Governor, then as Governor, he established friendships world-wide, taking Oklahoma’s business and agriculture leaders on economic missions to foreign countries.
He successfully secured eight major foreign industries’ manufacturing plants in Oklahoma.
Later, as President of the University Central Oklahoma, he established a Sister University relationship with the University of Pueblo, Mexico.
When many Oklahomans’ were focused on regional matters, Gov. Nigh realized the importance of reaching out to the nations of the world for commerce and cultural exchanges.
“George Nigh was a visionary in understanding how important international relationships would be for Oklahoma’s future,” Vicki Clark Gourley, president of Sister Cities OKC, said. “We are privileged to have him as our 2015 Global Vision Award Recipient.”
Gov. Nigh has had over 70 years of distinguished public service. His many accomplishments include military service, high school teacher, Oklahoma State Representative, Lt. Governor, Governor and University President.
His accomplishments are countless and his impact on our community, state, country and world will have an everlasting impact.
Sister city, country and state affiliations between the United States and other nations began shortly after World War II and developed into a national initiative when President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed the “People to People” program at a White House conference in 1956.
Originally a part of the National League of Cities, Sister Cities International (SCI) grew in popularity and became a separate, nonprofit corporation in 1967.
The local board of SCI of Oklahoma City is comprised of a variety of community citizens, who are the backbone of most sister city programs.
Through the support of City Hall, local businesses and individuals, SCI is able to directly participate in municipal, business, professional, environmental, educational and cultural exchanges.
Members are recruited from various professions, ethnics and religious groups, men and women of varying ages and those with disabilities. A broad membership base allows the organization to bring more extensive experience to their programs and exchanges.
“Governor George Nigh has always seen the importance to build global cooperation at the municipal level, promote cultural understanding and stimulate economic development,” said Mary Blankenship Pointer, Sister Cities OKC board member and sponsorship chair.
The Governor is one of the greatest ambassadors in the history of Oklahoma. It was an honor to present Governor Nigh with the Global Vision Award.”
Started in 1967, OKC Sister Cities include Ulyanovsk, Russia; Haikou, China; Kigali City, Rwanda; Puebla, Mexico; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Tainan, Taiwan; and Taipei, Taiwan.
For additional information, contact Ms. Pointer at 405-253-8641 or visit sistercitiesokc.org.