SCAS Member Spotlight: Grisell Aleman

May 10, 2024

Welcome to our Member Spotlight series, where we celebrate the vibrant and diverse individuals who make up the Sister Cities Association of Sarasota (SCAS). With each spotlight we delve into the lives of our members, uncovering their unique stories and the paths that led them to become part of our global community. Join us as we explore the rich tapestry of experiences that our members bring to SCAS, enhancing our understanding and appreciation of different cultures and perspectives.

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Could you share a bit about your background and how it led you to join SCAS?

Originally from Mexico City, I moved to Merida at the age of 13 where my parents established a screen-printing business before branching out into tourism. Our tourism venture began with a City Tour using colorful buses, and it was during this time that I developed a deep appreciation for Merida’s rich history.

I met my husband Derrick, and the following year we got married. Our family lived in Long Island NY for 16 years and had two children, Maya (21 years old) and Carlos (18 years old). In 2015, we made the decision to move to Sarasota, and it has proven to be a wonderful choice given its climate.

I was both shocked and delighted to discover that Merida and Sarasota are Sister Cities. With no prior knowledge, I couldn’t believe the odds. In 2019, I was invited to join the Association of Sister Cities by Mike Fehily, the former City Director. I began as Mike’s assistant, and we worked together seamlessly, especially for the celebration of the Tenth Anniversary of the Sister Cities of Merida and Sarasota. In 2020, Mike offered me the position of City Director, and he will continue to assist me with his vast knowledge and wisdom.

What unique perspectives or experiences do you feel you bring to the SCAS community?

I believe that being from Mexico, I can bring a unique cultural perspective to Sister Cities. My passion for Merida and its diverse traditions is another asset that I can offer. I have had the opportunity to interact with people from different countries, and this has allowed me to form connections and build cross-cultural relationships. With my background in tourism, I have important connections from Merida that can be beneficial for the organization. Additionally, my mother is in Merida, and she is well-connected to another association of women in tourism. As a graphic artist, I currently contribute to the marketing and social media of SCAS.

Can you share a memorable experience or connection you’ve made through SCAS?

One of my most cherished experiences with SCAS was meeting Mike Fehily, the former City Director of Merida. He introduced me to the association, and it has had a profound impact on my life ever since. Mike gradually introduced me to the concept of citizen diplomacy, which opened up a whole new way of life for me. I eventually took on the role of City Director of Merida, but he promised to keep an eye on me in this journey and has kept his word. Together, we work closely, and I deeply value his guidance and expertise. I always listen to his advice, especially when he talks about “partnerships”, as he has held this role for a long time. I believe that different generations can work together and complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, leading to a successful friendship and cooperation.

Can you share a significant learning or takeaway from one of the SCAS programs you’ve been part of?

I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude for the support and guidance I received during the recent Merida event. I firmly believe that teamwork is the driving force behind the success of any event. Every contribution made by each member of the team is greatly valued and appreciated. I always strive to maintain a positive attitude and believe that there is much to be learned from actively listening to others. As a member of this association, I am committed to continuing to provide assistance and support to maintain our strong community.

How have the friendships and connections you’ve made at SCAS influenced you – professionally or personally?

It’s amazing to see how being part of an association has a positive impact on my personal and social growth. Not only does it provide opportunities to develop new skills and knowledge, but it also allows me to connect with like-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds. By working together towards a common goal, we can create a sense of unity and purpose that promotes peace and understanding among people. It’s truly inspiring to be part of a community that values collaboration, empathy, and mutual respect.

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Thank you, Grisell! We value your wonderful contributions to SCAS!

 

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