US leaders forge links with Sheffield

Leaders from America met with Sheffield politicians, business people and journalists for a fact-finding mission about the city.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 26 April, 2019, 10:26
The US Fellows with Coun Ben Curran, top right

The Star, Crucible Theatre and Northern General Hospital were just some of the venues visited by members of the Marshall Memorial Fellowship (MMF), a flagship leadership development programme.

Created in 1982, the programme unites Europe with the United States and prepares leaders from both sides of the Atlantic for transatlantic relations. It includes six months of distance learning and 24 days of first-hand experience.

Coun Ben Curran was the first person from Sheffield to have ever taken part in the fellowship. He joined prestigious alumni like French President Emmanuel Macron and Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Fellows take ‘deep dives’ into the culture, economy and approach of different European cities. The fellows who visited Sheffield went on to explore Turin, Barcelona and Istanbul before concluding their tour in Berlin.

The fellows spent four days in Sheffield. During this time they had a session with Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, visited Factory of the Future, Factory 2050 and the AMRC Training Centre and discussed Brexit with business leaders.

The Star hosted a session to talk about the Local Democracy Reporting Service and there were meetings with Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis and Lord Mayor Magid Magid.

The fellows were given an overview of the city’s approach to tackling homelessness followed by lunch at the Archer Project and there were presentations on national and local issues facing the NHS with a tour of the Northern General.

They relaxed with a pub crawl in Kelham Island, seeing Richard Hawley’s musical Standing at the Sky’s Edge at the Crucible and a walk from Edale to Kinder Scout.

Coun Curran, who hosted the US visitors, said: “I jumped at the opportunity to host Americans taking part in the fellowship this year.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to showcase the great things we are doing in Sheffield to an international audience and puts Sheffield in a league with global cities and European capitals.

“Taking part in the MMF in 2017 was one of the biggest achievements of my professional life. I learned so much about the US approach to cities and developed an important transatlantic network.

“I’ve tapped into this network to engage with my work on the council – like engaging professionals in Chicago with the safer and stronger community scrutiny board’s investigation into knife crime.

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“Developing relationships with other cities is growing importance to Sheffield’s future – especially as we move closer to a post-Brexit environment. All of the fellows hold senior roles in important US organisations.

“Showing the fantastic work being undertaken at the AMRC to a senior member of Google’s staff could have longer term benefits for the city. Equally, connecting Sheffield Theatres Trust to an international theatre festival in Cleveland could produce longer term benefits. These are just two simple examples. ”

In a joint letter of thanks, fellows Lynette Barksdale (Austin, Texas), Maggie Hanna (Denver, Colorado), Dan Moulthrop (Cleveland, Ohio), Brian Siegal (Miami, Florida), Ashley Woods (Detroit, Michigan) said: “We are writing to thank the citizens of Sheffield for an extraordinary visit.

“We arrived in your beautiful city as part of a five-city tour of Europe and from the moment we exited the train, your city has been nothing but welcoming, warm, and tremendously engaging.

“The purpose of our visit was all about building stronger transatlantic relationships.

We came to learn how you’re solving problems here, how you’re preparing for the evolving economy, how your public and private sector leaders are collaborating to tackle local issues and larger, regional, national and transnational challenges. We’ve come away extremely impressed.

“Your collaborative achievements on research and development for advanced manufacturing and wellbeing completely floored us, particularly the size and effectiveness of the apprenticeship program at the AMRC. Our communities would love to have workforce development on that scale.

“We were all also very pleasantly surprised by the candour and open manner in which your leaders shared with us the story of Sheffield, its challenges, its successes, and the willingness of community members to experiment, try new approaches, and simultaneously honour tradition and history while embracing the future.

“We know we only saw a little of your city, but what we saw will stay with us for many years.

Many of your residents may not realise it, but you’ve got a gem here.

“If ever any of your residents come to our cities, we hope they’ll have half the experience your city afforded us.”