President / CEO
Rita Marko has been with the City of Phoenix for slightly more than 16 years. Initially hired as the Library’s Development Officer, Rita staffed the Phoenix Public Library Foundation and raised funds for critical library services. She was promoted to the position of Library Community Relations Manager, where she was responsible for media relations, marketing and the development of the Library’s website – the City’s first responsively-designed site.
Rita transferred to the City Manager’s Office, where she supported two Deputy City Managers, and staffed three City Council Subcommittees and two task forces. Most recently, Rita served as the Management Assistant II in the Public Works Director’s Office.
Prior to coming to the City, Rita worked for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, raising $1.5 million in about 18 months. She also worked for the Skokomish Indian Nation in Washington state, serving as the community’s Health Planner, Economic Development Planner and Director of Economic Development. Rita has a Bachelors and Masters degree in Anthropology from the University of Arizona, where the focus of her studies was culture change and economic development. Her Masters thesis focused on the Cuban Women’s Federation as an agent of change for women in Cuba.
Rick Gerrard is Vice President of Phoenix Sister Cities Inc. and Deputy Director of the City of Phoenix International Relations Office. Phoenix Sister Cities is a non-profit corporation that manages ten sister city relationships on behalf of the city. He has served in this capacity since 1999. His work includes the design and coordination of international exchange projects and events around the world.
Among the major projects that he has managed was the fundraising initiative to finance the construction of a new kindergarten school in Chengdu, China, built after the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province. The kindergarten, named for the City of Phoenix, replaced a school that was destroyed during the earthquake. Rick also took the lead in the development of a training program for doctors and nurses in partnership with the Maricopa County Burn Center to address a critical need for the care of burn victims in Hermosillo, Mexico after the tragic day care fire of 2009 which took the lives of over 50 infants and toddlers. In addition to his sister city related duties, Rick works with international delegations visiting Phoenix on official business, briefing the mayor and city council, and managing matters of protocol for international visitors on official business with the city.
Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, Rick served as Deputy Director at Sister Cities International (SCI) in Washington, DC. He spent ten years with SCI in various capacities. Among his major achievements, Rick organized political, educational, and trade delegations to more than a dozen industrialized and developing countries including some sponsored by the US Department of State. These included the first visit of US mayors to South Africa after the collapse of apartheid (1995); the first visit of US mayors to Vietnam after the normalization of diplomatic ties (1996); and the first visit of US mayors to Northern Ireland, just prior to the Good Friday Agreement (1997). Rick also worked closely with the SCI Board to organize and conduct four Western Hemispheric Fora for municipalities held in the US and Latin America.
Rick has been involved in international affairs for over thirty years. He served for two years as SCI’s State Representative in Arizona and served one year as President of the Arizona State Sister Cities Association. Rick received his Master of Arts in Latin American History from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Sciences and Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese and served for two years as a United States Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay.
Cynthia Rodriguez has been a self-employed Bookkeeper since 2001, working with various industries such as, a non-profit organization called Arizona RBI Youth Sports, various branches of the Medical field, Real Estate, Title and Escrow and the music production industry . She has also worked with the finance industry serving clients with banking and investment needs. She is excited to be working with Phoenix Sister Cities as their Bookkeeper and look forward to what the future holds with this new relationship.
Assistant to the President/CEO - Intern
Kyana is a senior at Arizona State University majoring in Global Management with a minor in French. Her exposure to European culture has had a large impact on her academic and career goals. After graduation, Kyana plans to work abroad in the fashion industry for a global company.
During her free time, Kyana enjoys travelling and spending time with her friends and family. She currently works for a luxury French retailer which harkens back to her interest in European cultures. Kyana is excited to take on this role at Phoenix Sister Cities, where she can gain hands-on experience and learn more about global business relations.
Assistant to the Vice President - Intern
Jada is a senior at Arizona State University getting a dual degree in English Literature and Spanish Linguistics with a certificate in Brazilian Studies.
During her free time, Jada enjoys travelling and meeting new people. She is interested in nonprofits which stems from her passion for philanthropy. Jada is excited to take on this role at Phoenix Sister Cities, where she can gain hands-on experience and learn more about international relations.
Marketing Coordinator - Intern
Sara is a senior at Arizona State University majoring in Global Management with a certificate in Sales and Marketing. She came to Arizona from Toronto, Canada in order to explore the world of business from a new perspective. After graduation, Sara plans on working for a creative company as a marketing manager.
During her free time, Sara enjoys travelling, baking, and spending time with friends. She has a passion for creativity and people and hopes her work will have an impact in the future. Sara is excited to take on this role at Phoenix Sister Cities, where she can gain hands-on experience and learn more about the intricacies of marketing.