Appointment of New Committee Chairs
Chicago Sister Cities International is proud to announce the appointment of new Chairs for the following committees: Belgrade, Bogota and Casablanca.
Desko Nikitovic has been appointed as Chair of the Belgrade Committee; Marcelino Garcia as Chair of the Bogota Committee; and Lisa Roberts and Julie Stagliano as Co-Chairs of the Casablanca Committee.
CSCI looks forward to working with these distinguished individuals to continue to further the goals of its mission.
Mr. Nikitovic was born in Arilje, Serbia on November 11, 1960. He received his law degree from the University of Belgrade in 1989. From 1987 to 1991 Mr. Nikitovic was an active member of the opposition movement in Serbia. He immigrated to the United States after a violent protest in Belgrade on March 9th, 1991.
Mr. Nikitovic had many appearances on national and local television and radio programs, advocating democratic changes in Yugoslavia. He served as President of the Serbian Unity Congress in Chicago, from 1998-2002.
On March 1, 2003, he was appointed Consul General of Serbia in Chicago. Mr. Nikitovic pursued strong economic ties with the United States of America, and has arranged that Serbian Capitol Belgrade and the City of Chicago become Sister Cities. He initiated Sister States agreement between the State of Illinois and the Republic of Serbia; the agreement between the airports O’Hare International and Airport “Nikola Tesla” in Belgrade and started the program of Sister Schools among Belgrade and Chicago elementary schools. He is a strong proponent of economic, educational and cultural ties between United States and Serbia.
Mr. Nikitovic served as Vice-Dean of the Consular Corps in Chicago. He is also an active member of the Serbian-American Bar Association, Union League Club and Economic Club and is a frequent guest speaker at various universities and other educational forums.
He completed his term as Consul General of Serbia on September 28, 2013. He will continue his career in private sector and reside with his family in Chicago.
Mr. Nikitovic is married to Ryann Whalen-Nikitovic, an attorney. They have two children: daughter 12 and son 9 years old.
Marcelino Garcia is a Partner with Overseas Strategies, LLC an international business development consulting firm that helps small and medium sized companies with the logistics of import and export and market development. In addition, Marcelino is the Director of Community Affairs at the Cook County Health and Hospitals System.
He formerly was the Associate Director for Legislative and Governmental Affairs with City Colleges of Chicago where he specialized in public policy issues affecting the State’s education system.
Marcelino has many years of international business development experience having worked as Senior Manager of International Relations for Chicago 2016, working closely with committee members of 2016, the USOC to promote Chicago’s Olympic candidacy to the IOC. Prior to this post, Marcelino served as Assistant Managing Director of the Illinois Office of Trade and Investment (OTI) where he worked with Illinois companies looking to export to new markets in the Americas, Africa and the Middle East. At OTI, he also led trade and investment missions to the Australia, China, Israel, Jordan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and Ukraine.
Marcelino has held various government posts focusing on government affairs/community relations, legislative, budget, and procurement in the state and local government. He is quite adept in helping companies navigate the bureaucracy that the US system at times presents.
Marcelino is a licensed attorney in the State of Illinois and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. He earned his J.D. from Northwestern University and his Bachelor’s Degree from Dartmouth College. He is fluent in English and Spanish and is proficient in French, Italian, and Portuguese. An avid traveler, he has visited over 50 countries around the world including Morocco and South Africa one of the most special places he has visited. His interests in Africa lie from having worked with the former World Trade Center Illinois on the development of the Africa Trade Institute and on special projects and conferences with the Continental Africa Chamber of Commerce and United Kenyans of Chicago.
Lisa Roberts is an educator, writer, curator, planner and ex-administrator. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in the History of Culture with a research focus on education in museum settings. She is the former director of Garfield and Lincoln Park Conservatories and previously worked at the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Field Museum of Natural History. In 2006 she founded naturalia, inc., which provides consulting services for museums, gardens, parks and nonprofit organizations. She has written and lectured widely about a range of subjects related to the public dimension of museums and is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University. She is a Fellow at the Center for Humans and Nature, a member of the editorial board of the journal Museums and Social Issues and has served as an advisor to a variety of civic and community organizations. In 2005 she became active with the Chicago/Casablanca Sister Cities Committee and has worked on several projects including the Alesco Park revitalization, teacher training for The Growing Connection (earthbox) program, and various activities with IDMAJ; she is currently co-chair of the education committee. She is fairly fluent in Spanish, can fake her way through French, and much as she tries, can only remember about five words in Arabic.
Julie Stagliano recently served as President of Citizen Bridges International, a Chicago-based not for profit organization that fosters the development of civil society in emerging democracies around the world through training and international exchange programs.
Julie has a firm grounding in international development assistance with more than 25 years experience living and working overseas (primarily in West Africa). She also worked in senior management positions for private sector companies in the Washington, D.C. area dedicated to health systems improvement and sustainable development in emerging nations. She served as Director of the Chicago Sister Cities International Program, the largest program in the U.S., now with 28 city partnerships. She served in the Peace Corps in Senegal, and lived there an additional five years with her family, participating actively in NGO service projects, working for USAID and writing a monograph on the culture and history of Senegal. She is fluent in French and has a working knowledge of Italian and Wolof (lingua franca of Senegal). She is an active member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and serves on the education committee of Chicago Opera Theater and volunteers with the Casablanca Committee of Sister Cities.