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The US-Asia Institute (USAI) Congressional Circle gathered for its final meeting of 2018 on the afternoon of September 20. Congressional Circle member Sydney Stone hosted the meeting at the offices of Alibaba, where she works as the manager of government relations.

The meeting was gaveled in by Chairman Chris McCannell. He welcomed new members including:  Hera Abbasi, Director of Congressional Affairs at the Coalition of Services Industries; Megan Hannigan, Manager of Federal and State Government Relations for PayPal; Matt Renninger, Senior Manager of Government Relations at the Planetary Society; George F. Shevlin, IV, Vice President of Government Affairs at AIG; and Trudy Vincent, Associate Vice President for Federal Relations at the University of Chicago.

USAI president Mary Sue Bissell delivered an update on USAI’s overall progress, activities and recent delegation trips since the Congressional Circle last met in the spring. Madeline Clough gave an overview of recent programming. And Rachel MacKnight detailed recent development efforts and initiatives.

The discussion then turned to plans for the coming year. The group agreed to establish three new committees, Development, Mentoring and Programming, to further support and guide USAI staff. Surya Gunasekara agreed to serve as chairman of the Development Committee. Ruben Duran agreed to serve as chairman of the Mentoring Committee.

Congressional Circle members then were briefed on USAI’s 40th anniversary celebration, which will include events in Washington, Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore. The conversation wrapped up with a discussion about the US-Asia Initiative for Regional Advancement, a new USAI program to engage regional delegations in exchanges between the United States and Asian nations to transfer expertise and knowledge based on issues and themes faced at the regional levels on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

The Congressional Circle agreed to meet next in early January 2019.