The opportunities that we have in front of us, to positively affect our communities with our service work as Rotarians — near and far — is truly limitless. I am so inspired, so grateful, and so stoked that I get to lead the 15th oldest Rotary club in the world over the next 12 months. Knowing that we get to draw on over 100 years of Rotary’s knowledge, experiences, and legacy to do that service work, well, this is exactly what is needed to support the momentum I’ve felt these past many months as I’ve prepared for this presidency.
I believe that one of my greatest responsibilities will be to continue to explore what we can all do as members of this organization to keep communications between each other, as well as our communities, alive and healthy. As an organization that encompasses five generations, – 5!!! – I am dedicated to listening so we can truly hear each other.
Part of this responsibility around communication has to be to those outside of our club, as well. I’m very interested, over the next year, to better clearly define what Rotary is to greater Portland, I want to clarify the public perception, across generations and industries, of who we are now in the 21st century — what we do and who we affect with our service work. It’s not just awareness; I want us to make a space for people to be curious about.
Part of generating that awareness will be in creating partnerships with existing organizations in town — everything from various industry trade organizations to other business-related gatherings where the individuals may have the same ideals as Rotarians, they want to offer support where itis needed in their community, but don’t currently have an organized service opportunity to be a part of.
I also want us to have a more open line of communication and sharing of information between other Rotary clubs. Let’s promote our fellowship across clubs, see what we can do to amplify each other’s work. A rising tide lifts all boats, right?
I want us to be aware of the power of inclusivity that we have as a worldwide organization. As Rotary International’s incoming President, Mark Maloney, has declared: Rotary Connects the World. And as the first Rotarians that new members meet, here in this club, we get to define to them what being a Rotarian means. We get to emphasize, right from the beginning of their fellowship, how powerful the 4 Way Test is in everything we do both in and out of Rotary relationships.
It is very likely, here in the 21st century, that the club that a new member joins will not be the only club they will be a member of; it may simply be the first Rotary club they join. Lifestyle changes, in the workplace, in family dynamics, and in the speed of communication, dictates that we, too, need to offer flexibility in our system so we can meet people where they are now and in what they need in a service organization that thrives on membership engagement.
One of the messages at the Rotary International convention this year was diversity — in everything we do, in everything we are, in everything we plan to be. I believe one of the most important elements of that messaging is about the importance of diversity in thought, diversity in our leadership, and all aspects of diversity being simply commonplace in our day to day in this club.
Statistically, about a quarter of our club are women and about half of our members are under 50years old. Now, within the next 5 years, millennials — those who are currently 23 to about 38, millennials will be 75% of the workplace. As a service organization made up of business leaders, that’s a fact we should be paying attention to.
And by paying attention to those facts, that is one way we show our community – within and out of Rotary – that Rotary is a consequential organization of the 21st century and not an artifact of the 20th century.
Lastly, on this day where we give special recognition to people who have gone above and beyond in our club, I want to announce a new leadership award that will be given at this meeting next year — an award that will be given to someone who exemplifies leadership in a way that may not have been expected or even known that we need it that way, but, in retrospect, we could see that that leadership has a long-term impact to our club – and that’s why this award will be named the Jan Tesch Leadership Award. Jan was the first woman to be president of our club, in 1997, and she set a path of representation that we knew was needed, but maybe didn’t Really Know how much it was needed until she was actually up here on this stage, week after week, representing. Nine years later, Deniel Banks would be the 2nd woman to be President of our club and then went on to further representation as our District Governor, then Anne Marie Flora-Lowe, my sponsor, was our 3rd woman to be President, and then Gretchen Walker this past year as our 4th, I will be the 5th, and Ruth Shelly will be our 6th.
In nature, diversity propagates stability in a group. Scientific fact! It’s a key element of not just survival but of being able to actually flourish. I hope you see as many opportunities in front of us as I do. The power of hundreds Rotarians here in Portland, combined with thousands in our district, combined with 1.5 million in the world. What we can accomplish is truly exciting to be a part of!