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RI President John F Germ - Biography

Whenever John Germ saw a need in his hometown, he engineered a solution. He'll bring the same can-do attitude to the office of RI president.

Champion of Chattanooga

RI Board of Directors

TRF Trustees

What is new

PRIP K R Ravindran on The Benefits of Rotary Membership.

International Assembly

2017-18 RI President Ian H.S. Riseley announces his presidential theme, Rotary: Making a Difference

Watch International Assembly speeches

Giving Tuesday Winners Announced

3-H: A Bright New Dawn for the Rotary Foundation

Rotary honors Dr.Sadako Ogata with the 2016-17 Rotary Alumni Global Service Award.

Congratulations to Dr.Sadako Ogata, the former High Commissioner for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, for being awarded the 2016-17 Rotary Alumni Global Service Award by Rotary International. She was a Rotary Foundation scholar in 1951-52 and has since dedicated her life to helping others on an international scale.

John Germ declares Sam Owori president-nominee

Surgeons from India bring relief to underserved patients in Rwanda

Rotary Staff Members Help Keep India Polio-Free

Reasons to Love Rotary Right Now - The Rotarian staff

Rotary's 31-year struggle to wipe out polio

ShelterBox and Rotary clubs take action following earthquake in Italy

Hall Of Fame Singer Donovan Becomes Rotary Polio Ambassador

Bill Huntley Endowment funds the first Rotary Peace Fellow

Polio resurfaces in Nigeria

First wild poliovirus cases in Nigeria since July 2014

Government of Nigeria reports 2 wild polio cases, first since July 2014

WHO plans mass polio vaccination in West Africa

Fresh polio cases embarrassing – Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima

We will redouble our efforts towards eradication of Polio from Africa - Past RI President Jonathan Majiyagbe

Polio will be eradicated - Michel Zaffran, Director of Polio Eradication, WHO

A live Q&A on the Polio response in Nigeria, with Dr Michel Zaffran, Director of Polio Eradication, WHO

Cases in Nigeria: What’s the Outlook? - Interview with Michel Zaffran, Director of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative

RI President John Germ and Vice President Jennifer Jones Facebook Live chat.

Raja of Rotary - An account of  55 years Rotary journey of  PRIP Rajendra K Saboo by Rasheeda Bhagat, Editor, Rotary News Online

'Pakistan and Afghanistan, the last frontiers in the 100-year war on polio'

RI President-elect Ian Riseley on the progress in ending polio in Radio National, Australia

PRIP K R Ravindran's Farewell Message

PRIP KR Ravindran's Farewell Remarks

 John Germ is a man of commitment - The Rotarian Q & A Session

6 key numbers in the fight to end polio

HowDo You End a Global Disease - John Hewko in Medium

What can we achieve within our children’s lifetime?

To create peace we need to look beyond the causes of conflict

What defines a Rotary club? You choose

Rotary helps women in Honduras to successfully build their businesses and future - John Hewko in Medium

What is ‘global competence’, and is it the key to inclusive growth? - John Hewko

Creating Sustainable Peace - John Hewko, RI Gen. Secretary in Diplomatic Courier 

What’s Love Got to Do With It? - RI Gen Secretary John Hewko's Special Contribution to the Parliament of World's Religions

Rotary Delegation Visits Pakistan, headed by International Chair Polio Plus Committee

Pope greets Rotary members at special Jubilee Audience

Council on Legislation Grants Clubs Greater Flexibility in Meeting, Membership

What should you know about 2016 CoL

The Council on Legislation - First day comes to an end

The Council on Legislation - Second day of action draws to a close

The Council on Legislation – The third day completed

The Council on Legislation – Fourth Day Concluded

The Council on Legislation Comes to an End

Canada & The Polio Story: A Will, A Way, And A Healthier World - Past Rotary Polio Chair Dr. Bob Scott

We’ll see an RI woman President in five years - RI Director Jennifer Jones

2016-17 Theme Address by RIPE John Germ

Download 2016-17 theme logo and materials

Rotary's 2016 International Assembly coverage and resources


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Infrastructure Development in Rural Village Ottapalam

Our Rotary Club is planning to adopt a village in our Municipality to implement a set of…See More



I am thrilled to announce that Bill Gates will be speaking this June at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta. Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have been working together on polio eradication for a long time, and our strong partnership will continue through the final years of the effort.

Bill and his wife, Melinda, in their much-anticipated Annual Letter, released today, offer a glimpse of their appreciation for Rotary and the incredible progress we’ve made toward polio eradication through our joint effort with national governments, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

With the most effective resources in place, it’s possible that we have seen, or soon will see, the last case of polio in history. At the convention, Bill will say more about how we can — and will — end polio together. 

I hope you will join me and Bill at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 10-14 June. This is one speaker you’re not going to want to miss. Register now.


John F. Germ

2016-17 RI President


For speeches at International assembly visit  https://www.facebook.com/eflashonline/

Rotary International Board adopts new zone structure

Download the new zone structure and the board decision timeline

At its January 2017 meeting, the Rotary International Board of Directors adopted a new zone structure for Rotary clubs.

Rotary bylaws require the Board to complete a comprehensive review of the 34 Rotary zones no less often than every eight years to ensure that each zone has an approximately equal number of Rotarians. The Board’s previous review of the zones occurred in 2008.

The Board earlier approved the creation of three regional workgroups to develop rezoning proposals for Asia, Europe/Africa, and the Americas. These workgroups comprised one representative (either a current director, incoming director, or immediate past director) from each zone in the region. The regional workgroups submitted their proposals to the Zones Review Committee, chaired by past Rotary Vice President Michael K. McGovern, which consolidated them into a single, worldwide plan for the Board’s consideration. 

“I think the regional workgroups did a great job,” says Rotary President John F. Germ. “Rezoning is always an emotional subject for some Rotarians, but the workgroups and Board acted courageously in an effort to be fair to all concerned.”

The Board will consider other zone-related issues such as sectioning, pairing, and director election rotation at its June 2017 meeting. 

- Rotary International

Japanese diplomat earns Rotary alumni award

The recipient of this year’s Rotary Alumni Global Service Award winner is Dr. Sadako Ogata, a former Ambassadorial Scholar and a past United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 

Born in Japan to a family of diplomats, Ogata was drawn to studying international relations after Japan’s defeat in World War II. When she began graduate studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., USA, in 1951, she was part of the second class of Rotary Scholars from Japan.

“During that period, I also learned about the importance of community service and broadened my perspectives and experiences thanks to various exchanges with Rotarians,” she says. “The Rotary motto of Service Above Self has left a deep impression and has guided me ever since.”

After completing her doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley, Ogata returned to Japan to teach at International Christian University, which now hosts a Rotary Peace Center, and Sophia University, where she taught until accepting the post of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (head of UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency) in 1991. She also represented Japan at the UN General Assembly, served at the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, and chaired the UNICEF executive board.

During her decade-long tenure with UNHCR, Ogata helped refugees who fled the Gulf War, the ethnic conflicts in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, and Cold War-era strife in Afghanistan and former Soviet satellites. She has been credited with expanding UNHCR’s budget and staff and strengthening its relations with the UN Security Council by emphasizing the link between refugees and international security.

“Protecting refugees is — by its nature — controversial,” Ogata has said. “Carrying out this dynamic and action-oriented function requires us to challenge the sovereign preserve of states to deal with non-citizens and, in some instances, their own people.”

Since leaving UNHCR in 2000, she has remained active in government and international affairs, serving as co-chair of the UN Human Security Commission and as a special representative of the Japanese government in Afghanistan. She led the Japanese International Cooperation Agency for two terms and advised then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Her government work has shown her the power of private citizens and civic groups to effect change.

“We live in a rapidly changing world,” Ogata says. “As the world is confronted with threats more complex than ever before, the role of civil society and the linkages among people has become more important than ever.”

The award for Rotary Alumni Association of the Year went to the Alumni Association of Rotary District 1210 in England. These alumni regularly visit club meetings and district events, and they lead a project to provide children’s books to homes across the district.

Putting an end to domestic violence - Rotary Down Under

Australian Rotary clubs raise awareness and funds to prevent domestic violence and support its victims.

The statistics are sobering: Intimate partner violence is the most common type of violence against women, affecting 30 percent of women worldwide, according to a 2013 World Health Organization report. As many as 38 percent of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.

In New Zealand, a dozen women are killed by their partners or ex-partners each year. And in Australia, a woman is killed, on average, about every week.

Recognizing the desperate need for domestic-violence services in their communities, Rotary clubs throughout Australia and New Zealand are fundraising and partnering with charities to raise awareness and work on prevention and victim support.

As one club president said: When ending polio seemed insurmountable, Rotary stepped in. Why can’t Rotary help end domestic violence?

More than one approach

The Rotary Club of Maryborough, Victoria, Australia, is changing attitudes about domestic violence and generating positive community response with its multifaceted approach. What began as a social media campaign has grown to include community educational programs, publicity events that have reached millions, and the opportunity to present its SAFE program to the Royal Commission Into Family Violence (Victoria). 

The Support, Advice, Facilitation, and Early Intervention model is a collaborative approach that gives everyone in the community a role to play in addressing family violence. Garry Higgins, the club’s project manager for the campaign #SayNO2familyviolence, believes it’s the type of program that has global application.

“As an independent, apolitical organization, Rotary can do and say things others can’t,” says Higgins, who presented the SAFE program to the Royal Commission.

Getting people to talk about domestic violence — once a taboo subject in the small town — was one of the club’s biggest challenges. To start that conversation, the club launched a communication campaign, Speak Up! #SayNO2familyviolence, which included social media posts and promotional brochures and posters.

For help spreading the message, the club targeted the key cultural and behavioral influencers in the community: local sporting clubs. The harness racing club supported the campaign, and the football club recently held its third #SayNO2familyviolence championship competition.

I’ve learned a new way to deal with my ex-partner. My children will benefit from this — it’s all good now.

Changing behavior

An online program is helping abusive men learn new ways to deal with their anger and have more satisfying personal relationships. The Men’s Behaviour Change Program, formed by Violence Free Families, is a 13-week live, interactive program for men who can’t — or won’t — attend counseling sessions in person, because of work schedules or embarrassment.

Melbourne University evaluated the program and reported positive results for the men who took part in four trials over the past two years.

“I’ve learned a new way to deal with my ex-partner,” said one program participant. “My children will benefit from this — it’s all good now.”

The Rotary Club of Brighton, Victoria, Australia, launched Violence Free Families in 1995, after a local child’s violent death. The club has raised more than $750,000 for the program, endorsed by Rotary District 9800 and supported by all 70 district clubs and Women in Rotary. 

Family safety nets

A 2008 report by the Australian government’s Department of Social Services identified domestic violence as the principal cause of homelessness for women and their children.

The Path of Hope Foundation, a joint venture between the Salvation Army and the Rotary Club of Perth, Western Australia, provides safe accommodations for those fleeing family violence. It also offers guidance and resources to help families overcome trauma and rebuild their lives. Members of the Perth club raise funds and volunteer at the center.

“We’re hopeful that Path of Hope can become a model for Rotary clubs and Salvation Army centers around the world to adopt,” says club member Graham Peden. “It’s already achieved a great deal through improving the lives of victims of domestic violence in Western Australia.”

Rose Batty, whose son was murdered by his father, shares her story of resilience at the 2016 Rotary International Convention in Korea. 

Elsewhere, the Rotary Club of Bendigo, Victoria, held a fundraiser in May for survivors of family violence. Guests had the chance to hear 2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty speak about her personal experiences with domestic violence. Batty’s 11-year-old son, Luke, was murdered by his father in 2014.

The evening netted more than $16,000 for the Annie North Women’s Refuge and Domestic Violence Service. The funds will help buy new furniture for families moving from emergency housing to permanent sites.

Batty also was a keynote speaker in June for the 2016 Rotary International Convention in Korea.

Larrie Winzar, president of the Bendigo club during Batty’s talk in May, said: “When disaster strikes, most of us have insurance to replace the items we’ve lost. In situations of family violence there is no insurance, so support from organizations and service clubs such as Rotary can make a difference to someone starting over.”

We once decided we would end polio when it seemed impossible. Why can’t Rotary put an end to domestic violence?

Rotary Down Under in www.rotary.org

Rotary’s Battle Against Polio Given Final Push on International Women’s Day

On March 8th, International Women’s Day, Rotarians across Britain and Ireland will break for tea and jam to celebrate an historic milestone, the dramatic success to date in the ongoing campaign to rid the world of polio.

Rotary clubs across Britain and Ireland plan to host simultaneous Purple4Polio Tea Parties beginning at the quintessentially British tea-time of 4pm.

The Purple4Polio campaign resonates with the International Women’s Day 2017 campaign theme of Be Bold For Change and Rotary fully supports gender equality.

The Rotary polio campaign is particularly relevant to women as it dates back to 1985 and the ambitious promise Rotarians made to the mothers of the world that polio would be eradicated and their children would no longer suffer from the life threatening and crippling disease.

That promise is on the brink of being fulfilled, with just 37 polio cases in three countries in 2016. There are real hopes that 2017 will see the last case of polio worldwide.

A Purple4Polio Tea Party will be taking place at Rotary London headquarters in Regent’s Park with a host of celebrity guest speakers including TV Presenter Konnie Huq, who will open the event, as well as Jane Garvey of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Woman’s Hour’, Purple4Polio Ambassador and broadcaster, Julia Roberts and former BBC World Affairs Correspondent Emily Buchanan.

To support the tea parties and Rotary’s campaign to end polio forever, Typhoo Tea, the second largest tea manufacturer in the UK, is organising a tea-tasting at the launch, and donating tea and branded disposable mugs.

Somnath Saha, CEO, of Typhoo Tea, says: “Uniting communities to help eradicate polio is essential and we’re proud to be a part of helping achieve this. Working closely with Purple4Polio nationwide, we’re hoping our charitable tea parties will bring people together to cross the finishing line and end polio now.”

Wilkin & Sons Ltd. (Tiptree Jam) has given 52,000 specially branded jars of plum and greengage Purple4Polio jam to Rotary members across Britain and Ireland who will use the jam to raise awareness of the Purple4Polio campaign and to raise money by filling the empty jars with coins.

The aim is to raise up to £1 million, and with matching funding through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this £1 million will become £3 million.

Polio eradication has become a personal mission for Eve Conway, the President of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland. Eve recently returned from India where she joined British Rotarians on the frontline in the fight against the disease (pictured above).

India was declared polio free in 2014 but there are still vital ongoing national immunisation campaigns giving polio drops to every single child under five years old in order to keep the country free of the disease.

Eve Conway says: “We want to celebrate our immense achievement so far and remind everyone we are so close now to Rotary’s goal of a polio free world. With just 37 cases worldwide last year, it’s absolutely vital we push this last step. We truly are on the brink of an historic milestone and this year we could see the last case of polio worldwide.”

In addition to the informative and inspiring speakers, the mesmerising young singer, Bethany Hare, will provide a musical interlude. Bethany won a Rotary Young Citizen Award when she was 12 for her inspirational fundraising. Her charity, Bethany’s Smile, has raised tens of thousands of pounds for children with life-threatening illnesses.

Outside of the London event, clubs across Great Britain and Ireland will be hosting their own Purple4Polio tea parties throughout the coming weeks.

More information

- Rotary GB&I

India is enthused....about giving - Rotary News Online

Today Indian Rotarians are committed to enlarging their TRF contributions, and “in India, these things are like a forest fire. You start something somewhere and the whole forest catches fire. And these are forest fires we wouldn’t like to put out,” TRF Trustee Chair Kalyan Banerjee told Rotary News.

Seated in his 19th floor apartment in Mumbai, a relaxed Banerjee answered questions on various issues related to TRF, and discussed interesting aspects of the difference in the way Indians give, compared to Americans.


Giving to TRF is making waves in India. Yesterday I interviewed Rtn Manoj Israni, already an AKS member, who has pledged to give another $250,000 this year, taking his total to half a million dollars. I asked him why and he said I trust Rotary and know my money will be used well.

Well, a quarter million dollars is a lot of money, and giving it twice is a big step. Only two Indian Rotarians have given more than that. So it’s a very good sign.

When people see that other people, sensible people with money, are giving, then they also get the confidence to give. Manoj Israni is a very good Rotarian, but not in the limelight of Rotary officers and all that. And yet here he is giving half a million dollars quietly, and has his own reasons for doing so. That’s what we really want to encourage. I think more Indian Rotarians will give money going forward. India has already become one of the larger givers. Unusually, a large number of AKS members are now coming from countries such as India. I find a sea change in the giving by Indian Rotarians to the Foundation.

What are the major plans for the Centennial Celebrations in Atlanta? Has the programme started crystallising?

Atlanta is shaping up well. There are several initiatives being planned. But it’s a little too early to give them shape because these things keep changing. For example, Atlanta is the home of the Jimmy Carter Foundation. And they are having an event just before the Convention and we are trying to see if some kind of a connectivity is possible. If we can get some of the Nobel laureates expected to come for that event, to attend the Convention, it will be a tremendous initiative… a boost for our peace scholars programme.

How is the Peace Scholars Programme shaping up?

Rotary is reviewing that programme; while a great programme and very well supported by Rotarians, the question we are asking is are we really producing the kind of peace scholars that we want to? Are we moving the initiative forward in the way we wanted to? So the programme is now being reviewed by a committee led by PRIP K R Ravindran. It is looking at the peace programme as it is today and whether it is everything that we wanted it to be, or hoped it would be. And is it what is required today in the changing world scenario? Everything is changing. Look at the American elections. There seems to be a whole new paradigm shift in so many things in our world today.

What about CSR activities becoming a part of Rotary’s service to humanity?

That has been a new Indian initiative, which I must say Trustee Sushil Gupta and I, to some extent, helped to move forward. Rotary was not in favour of CSR because in corporate social responsibility, what happens is that while they are happy to do social work and give money, traditionally Rotary has been looking very carefully at people who give money and want to participate in the project. Because there is the possibility that they want to get their work done with Rotary’s money, effort and name.

So they have an agenda?

They could have an agenda. So we’ve had to convince the Foundation that let’s take it up for a time and watch how it is working. It hasn’t been made public greatly yet. Not too many Indian companies and Rotary clubs have come up with too many CSR initiatives yet. I think it will take a little while but it will catch up.

So you are in favour of it?

I hope to take it forward. Let me see if I am able to do this in the next few months. Also, for the first time, Rotary has agreed to fund low-cost shelters through global grants. It used to be done through district grants, I’ve had to struggle a little bit for that and do a lot of convincing. But it has come through. The question… the real issue is that in the past, we’ve brought in this programme and scrapped it again so many times, saying Rotary will not help build low-cost shelters.

But why? For what reason?

Because there are concerns in some parts of the world about building shelters. In some developed countries, you can’t build what is known as a low-cost shelter. So it becomes a programme for one part of the world and not another. Secondly, in those developed countries if you build shelters, even in slums, you are liable to all kinds of legal responsibilities. In those parts, the legal profession is very strong and if something goes wrong, and somebody gets an electric shock and dies, then Rotary will be held liable. It won’t happen in our part of the world. So it’s a question of attitude, a mindset… how we live our lives. That is why it was not acceptable.

Now that it has been done for a certain period of time, I hope it will work. It first came when Glen Kinross was the RI President. But it has come and gone so many times that people are not sure whether it is there or not, whether it will stay or not! It’s not that Rotary clubs don’t build shelters. They do. But they do it on their own......

Read more in rotarynewsonline.org


Creating greater good in partnership with innovative change makers

Noran Sanford, a licensed social worker, a man of faith, and a vested community member, is empowering a rural U.S. community to utilize overlooked resources and pioneer change from within. In 2000, Noran moved back to his hometown in rural North Carolina, USA, where he was stunned to find his childhood community continuing to face growing challenges.

North Carolina’s Scotland, Hoke, and Robeson counties compete for the state’s highest rates of unemployment, food insecurity, crime, and poverty. Yet, Noran knew that even the most challenged community houses a wealth of untapped resources and assets.

In partnership with universities, faith centers, state agencies, correctional facilities, businesses and corporations, community leaders, and vested organizations including the local Rotary club, Noran has created a model to transform closed prisons into skills training facilities and employment incubators specifically for troubled youth and returning military veterans.

Through his organization GrowingChange, Noran began connecting young people deep in the court system to the disenfranchisement of the communities they come from: by evoking the sense of shared struggle, paroled youth and community members rally around new opportunities. In his initial five-year clinical pilot, Noran saw a 92% success rate in helping youth who were headed to prison reverse their future.

Now young people serving probation terms are leading their community to reinvent a local symbol of the broken justice system, such as a decommissioned ‘work farm’ prison in Noran’s rural North Carolina. Today, religious leaders work side-by-side with homeless youth, university professors work with high school dropouts, returning veterans with troubled youth and state leaders with their rural constituents to directly address their own biases, change their behaviors, and develop a deeper sense of civic imagination and societal efficacy.

It is precisely Noran’s work with the returning veteran community that connected him with local Rotarian Paul Tate from the Rotary Club of Laurinburg. Paul first met Noran at their community church. As a retired U.S. veteran with extensive experience in international diplomacy, Paul became a strong supporter of Noran’s community empowerment approach. Today, Paul sits on GrowingChange’s Board of Directors and uses his professional skills to shape the organization’s strategy for engaging the local veteran community. Noran plans to soon offer veterans internship opportunities, and eventually create a hub for acquiring skills within the agriculture sector while simultaneously establishing an incubator for the creation of new jobs and fostering local entrepreneurs.

Inspired by Noran’s goal to break down social barriers, Paul worked with his club’s leaders to invite a group of former gang leaders to discuss the reasons youth join gangs, becoming disenfranchised members of their very own community. Had it not been for Noran and Paul, these two groups of community members would have likely never intersected. Intrigued by GrowingChange’s model, the Laurinburg club is exploring additional ways this site can be used to empower the community alongside instrumental local change leaders. GrowingChange is preparing to launch their initial capital campaign to transform their first site in Wagram, North Carolina. The model will then be given to other communities who are struggling to reuse old prisons, more than 25 in North Carolina alone.

Noran humbly credits the many different partners that have contributed to the success of his work. In 2016, Noran was selected as an Ashoka Fellow, joining a global network of social entrepreneur peers. Through a rigorous application and screening process, Ashoka finds, selects, and supports innovators like Noran and connects them to the resources and people that help their ideas thrive. Ashoka’s network currently consists of 3,300 Fellows in more than 80 countries. Very much like Rotarians, Ashoka Fellows are community leaders with a vested interest to work in partnership with the community to identify and leverage existing assets to address local challenges.

Inspired by Noran’s story and the partnerships he’s forging with Rotarians and other community leaders? Your club can also explore opportunities to partner with innovative social entrepreneurs in your local community. Ashoka Fellows can help you develop creative, innovative approaches to solving needs in the communities where you live and work. Search Ashoka’s network of Fellows and contact rotary.service@rotary.org for an introduction to a local change maker.

Blog Posts

PDG Major Som Dutt of District 3080 passes away

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RI President's Message - February 2017

Posted by Sunil K Zachariah on January 27, 2017 at 7:40pm


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www.eflashonline.org is an initiative of Rotary Club of Kalamassery,  R I District 3201, India. Since 1999, eFlash spreads Rotary news and stories online to members from over 100 countries. 

Founder Editor: PDG Sunil K Zachariah

This community operates in accordance with Rotary International policy, but is not an agency of, nor is it controlled by Rotary International


How inclusive is your club? - Rotary Voices

The Rotary E-Club of Western Australia

Recently, I came across the concept of “conscious inclusion” when reading an article about how a bank consulted with an NGO for people with vision impairment when designing their new credit/debit cards. I started thinking about whether Rotary clubs are practicing conscious inclusion.

Unconscious bias means that we are often not aware of the needs of others. We may be willing to adjust if someone asks, but we may not be proactive about thinking ahead, asking for advice and then communicating with people that we have considered their needs.

People used to raise children in their 20s so by the time they were in their 30s they were starting to have time to do other things. Now parents often welcome their first born when they are are in their 30s and juggling career with everything else. Volunteering with Rotary could be easier if children could be a part of it. Does your venue have highchairs and maybe a small box of toys/books? Does your website mention that children are welcome? Do you plan some activities in family-friendly places like parks?

When I became a mother, I was suddenly a lot more aware of street design, building entrances and corridor width. Pushing a pram around made me aware of the challenges that people using a wheelchair must face. Has your club conducted an accessibility audit of the venue(s) where you meet? Do you consider accessibility when planning social events? Perhaps you could engage a guest speaker to help learn what you need to consider? You may find that persons with disability are more likely to join your club if your website gives them key information relevant to their needs.

In my previous Rotary club, one of our members had impaired hearing. He was taught to lip read from a young age, so didn’t use sign language. It was important, however, that we allowed him to sit where he could easily see the guest speaker and that we made an effort to face him directly during conversation. Through asking him what he needed, we learned how to make his Rotary experience more fulfilling.

Finally, many Rotary clubs come together in the act of sharing food. It’s important, however that we consider medical, ethical and religious dietary needs, so that food doesn’t divide us. Does your venue serve vegetarian or vegan options? Can kosher, halal options be made available? Do you collect information about dietary requirements in advance? If a member or visitor is fasting, can they attend without feeling obligated to pay for a meal? Is the kitchen capable of serving food that is safe for people with allergies or other medical needs?

A little forethought can go a long way to making our clubs more welcoming of diversity in our communities. Diversity makes us stronger.

Rotary announces new chief investment officer & chief philanthropy officer

New chief investment officer

Rotary taps non-profit investment expert Eric Jones to manage and grow the humanitarian organization’s $1 billion in assets.

As CIO, Jones will provide leadership, vision and oversight for the management and strategic asset investment growth for The Rotary Foundation – Rotary’s charitable arm that grants more than $200 million annually to eradicate polio and fund projects and scholarships in communities worldwide.

“Eric brings valuable experience and a strong track record as an institutional investor,” said John Hewko, general secretary of Rotary. “He will play a vital role in securing the Foundation’s long-term, sustainable growth - enabling our members to achieve a polio-free world, train future peacemakers, support clean water and sanitation, and strengthen local economies well into the future.”

After managing investments for Loyola University of Chicago for 16 years and serving as CIO since 2008, Jones is returning to Rotary where he began his career in the mid-1990s. “I am thrilled to be coming back to Rotary in this position,” said Jones. “I enjoy and I find it rewarding to work for a mission-driven organization. As the CIO for Rotary, I am committed to providing a high level of stewardship over its invested assets and to helping the organization continue to grow.”

Jones is an alumnus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he graduated with a major in political science and earned his MBA. He lives in Chicago with his family. Korn Ferry International was engaged in the CIO search.

New chief Philanthropy  


Rotary taps fundraising expert, Eric Schmelling, to manage philanthropy and fundraising for the humanitarian service organization’s $1 billion charitable arm – The Rotary Foundation. 

As the Chief Philanthropy Officer, Schmelling will lead the area responsible for facilitating contributions to The Rotary Foundation. The foundation, celebrating its centennial, has a one-year fundraising goal of $300 million. It grants over $200 million annually to eradicate polio and funds projects and scholarships in communities worldwide.

“With over 20 years at Rotary, Eric brings a deep understanding to this role,” said John Hewko, general secretary of Rotary. “Under Eric’s guidance in his previous roles, we have seen tremendous growth in overall contributions, including in our effort to end polio. We look forward to continued success under Eric’s leadership.”  

Schmelling began his career at Rotary in 1995 and has held several positions, including director of planned and major gifts. “It is truly an honor to work for an organization dedicated to making the world a better place,” said Schmelling. “I have invested much of my career here because I believe in Rotary’s mission to end polio and provide those in need with access to clean water, education, peace, healthcare and economic opportunities. As chief philanthropy officer, I am excited to help lead the organization’s efforts to make sure we have the financial resources to continue improving communities worldwide.” 

Schmelling is an alumnus of Beloit College in Wisconsin and received his M.A. from Central European University in Hungary. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Evanston Lighthouse.

- Rotary International

7 steps to increasing your club’s Facebook presence

A Facebook page gives your club a voice on Facebook. With so much other “noise” on social media, there are several things you can do to raise your club’s page above the distractions. 

  1. Make good use of visuals. Your cover photo is prime real estate. Use a photo that really speaks to your club’s mission.Post fun, active photos.
  2. Post regularly. Share your club’s next program, a photo of a project, create an event for your next fundraiser. For example, post your speaker every Monday.  Share a photo every Wednesday. Share an article from Rotary.org every Friday.
  3. Encourage club members to LIKE and SHARE posts from your Facebook Page. This is where the magic of social media kicks in. When members share posts onto their personal Facebook page, their connections can see it, like it and increase the club’s exposure exponentially. This is key to keeping your club’s posts in the newsfeed.
  4. Your Facebook page can become a source for donations. If your club’s page has been set up as a not for profit and is verified you may be able to collect donations. See Facebook’s rules. Once your club is approved, people who like your page can run fundraising campaigns on your organization’s behalf. Note: This is currently only for USA based club’s that are or have a foundation that is a registered 501(c)3.
  5. Tag other businesses and organizations you work with. Place the @ sign in front of the business name and their Facebook page should appear. Select it and it will be tagged in the post. That sends a notice to that business, and gives them the opportunity to share your post onto their page. Now you have even MORE exposure.
  6. 170214_milestoneshttps://rotaryinternationalblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/170214_milestones.jpg?w=150 150w" sizes="(max-width: 220px) 100vw, 220px" width="116" height="102" />

    Add a milestone for your charter date and major events.

    Have more than one person as a page admin. Our club page has 3 admins.  Each of us is responsible for different aspects of the page. This prevents the page from being forgotten, or from getting lost.

  7. Use Milestones. Add a milestone for your charter date, for each president, for major events or awards. Milestones increase engagement AND give you a timeline of your club’s history.

The above tips may seem like a lot, but you can do them over time. The most impactful activity is having club members like and share your club’s posts. This helps your club increase its reach and gain awareness in the local community. Using free tools like Hootsuite and Canva will make managing your page easier and more efficient.

-  Melissa Ward, Rotary Club of Twin Bridges, Southern Saratoga, New York, USA in Rotary Voices

Getting creative with science in rural Taiwan

On a rainy day in Spring four years ago, I was talking to a few young teachers about the education system in Taiwan. The country was on the verge of extending free education to children through the age of 12, which I thought was a good policy to reduce illiteracy.

However, the teachers had concerns about the impact of the policy on schools in remote areas of Taiwan that have less resources and thereby have a harder time staying competitive. They explained to me that the children in these schools don’t get the extra curriculum trainings necessary to have opportunities to attend college or university.

In January 2014, a report titled “Child Welfare League Foundation” noted a considerable gap between urban and rural areas. The lack of resources in remote areas led to poorer performance by children, many of who were aborigines. Since these children could never catch up, roughly a quarter of them consider dropping out of elementary school. Improving basic education seemed to be extremely crucial in helping eliminate poverty in these areas.

We started to discuss what we as Rotarians could do to help. Our team of professional educators decided we should improve their understanding of basic science, their weakest area, and make it more interesting for them. It was important to do this during their elementary school years, so that they could continue on to senior school and pursue university studies.

In our research, we learned that the National Science Council of Taiwan was cooperating with the Zhong Hwa Institute of Creative Education, to use creative tools for science training which not only increased the learner’s creativity, but also made science lessons more interesting and practical. This was exactly what we needed.

To make our project sustainable, we will provide teachers specialized in this creative science approach not only to teach fourth through sixth graders, but also train the local teachers in order that they can carry on the training for future classes.

The Rotary Club of Taipei Pei An applied for a global grant in 2013. A few other Rotary clubs also joined as well as a district in Korea.

The big smiles on the children’s faces the first time we watched them get excited about learning and use their own hands to explore basic theories of science like simple machines, levers, wheels, axles, gears, pulleys, and energy confirmed that we were doing the right thing. We told ourselves this was just the beginning.

In three years, we used Rotary Foundation funds to reach 20 schools. This year, we are entering into our fourth year and reaching more schools. Thanks to District 3600 and 3700 who used their DDF to become our international partner these past three years, we have been able to carry on a great service program, and believe we will be able to help more remote schools and children into the future.

We are convinced that our contributions to The Rotary Foundation are certainly doing good in the world and serving future generation.

- Pauline Leung, a member of the Rotary Club of Taipei Pei An, Taiwan, and past governor of District 3520 in Rotary Voices

Empowering women in India through education

Our Rotary club is surrounded by rural and tribal villages in the Bharuch District of Gujarat State, India. The literacy rate in these villages is low and dropout rates of students in primary schools are high, most particularly among girls. We wanted to do something about that.

We conducted a survey with the help of PRATHAM, an NGO working in the rural literacy field across India, to gauge the condition of education in several of these villages. The study found that many girls leave school after the primary level mainly because of the lack of secondary education nearby. Students have to travel further, and for various socio-economic reasons, this makes it more likely that girls will drop out after the primary level and not go on to grades 7 or 8.

Education is the only way for women to secure a better future for themselves and for their daughters. Although urbanization is increasing education among women in urban areas, rural women still suffer from a lack of mobility and access to education. It is noteworthy that the performance of girls on state exams equals or exceeds that of boys on average.

Through the survey, we were able to identify girls and young women in rural areas who had not completed their secondary schooling. Our project supported an education center in Ankleshwar that serves as a central hub, and centers in six other villages where young women attend classes conducted by teachers who have received specialized training. We provide free educational material to the students, pay for exam fees, and offset some of the travel costs for the students.

We partnered with the Rotary Club of Ilminster, United Kingdom, Jhagadia Industries Association, and ONGC Ankleshwar Asset on a Rotary Foundation global grant. We went door to door in 55 villages and convinced 130 young women to complete their secondary schooling. We organized meetings with parents to convince them to send the girls to the center in or near their villages. We work with the students continuously to keep them motivated. And we will be supporting some students after the secondary exam to pursue even higher education, such as nursing.

In June, the first 112 girls appeared for their written and practical exams at our examination center approved by the NIOS board. In December, another 100 girls passed the exam. These women are now in a better position to provide for their families and raise the quality of life in their communities. I can think of no better way to enhance Rotary’s public image and highlight the good that our Foundation continues to do throughout the world.

Manish Shroff, past president of the Rotary Club of Ankleshwar, India in Rotary Voices


Rotary Convention 2017

Seoul Convention Digest

Join Fellow Rotarians in Atlanta for the 2017 Rotary Convention and the 100th anniversary of the Rotary Foundation. 

Important deadlines

6 June 2016: Last day for special centennial discount ($265 Rotarians/$70 Rotaractors)
15 December 2016: Last day for early-registration discount ($340 Rotarians/$70 Rotaractors)
31 March 2017: Last day for preregistration discount ($415 Rotarians/$100 Rotaractors)
14 June 2017: Last day for online registration ($490 Rotarians/$130 Rotaractors)


2016-17 RI President John F. Germ invites you to Atlanta

Future Rotary International Conventions

2018: 24-27June, Toronto, Canada

2019: 1-5 June, Hamburg, Germany

2020: 7-10 June,Honolulu, USA

2021: 13-16 June, Taipei, Taiwan

2022: 5-8 June, Texas, USA.

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