District leaders set to celebrate Foundation’s centennial

District leaders set to celebrate Foundation’s centennial

The Rotary Foundation has been improving lives since 1917. Learn about our work and help us celebrate 100 years of doing good in the world.

Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair Ray Klinginsmith asked district governors in training at the International Assembly to lead the celebration of the year, 2016-17.

“You are the primary contacts between the Foundation and our 34,000 Rotary clubs in the world. The success of the centennial celebration is largely in your hands,” said Klinginsmith at a 19 January general session. “Catch the spirit and spread the word about the importance of celebrating our success.”

Since the Foundation was established in 1917, it has spent more than $3 billion on programs and projects to improve the lives of millions worldwide, said Klinginsmith.

The centennial celebration officially kicks off in May at the Rotary Convention in Korea and culminates at the 2017 convention in Atlanta.

District plans for the centennial

Governor-elect Tom James Markos of District 5100 in Oregon, USA, says he is proud to be serving during such a historic year. He plans to promote the centennial not only to his district’s members, but also through local media.

“We need the public to be aware of what we’ve accomplished,” says Markos, who has set a district goal of raising $1 million for the Foundation during the centennial year.

Bill Proctor, incoming governor of District 7080 in Ontario, Canada, believes the centennial year is an opportunity to “refocus and reeducate” members on the importance the Foundation’s work.

“We have so many accomplishments to celebrate,” said Proctor. “We need to use the momentum of the celebration to strengthen the Foundation’s future.”

Share your centennial photos and stories on social media using #TRF100.

Rotary News

22-Jan-2016

Germ reveals ‘Rotary Serving Humanity’ as 2016-17 presidential theme

Germ reveals ‘Rotary Serving Humanity’ as 2016-17 presidential theme

Rotary International President-elect John F. Germ announces his presidential theme ‘Rotary Serving Humanity.’

Rotary’s founder, Paul Harris, believed that serving humanity is “the most worthwhile thing a person can do,” RI President-elect John F. Germ said, and that being a part of Rotary is a “great opportunity” to make that happen.

Germ unveiled the 2016-17 presidential theme, Rotary Serving Humanity, to incoming district governors on 18 January at the International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA.

“I believe everyone recognizes the opportunity to serve Rotary for what it truly is: not a small opportunity, but a great one; an opportunity of a lifetime to change the world for the better, forever through Rotary’s service to humanity,” said Germ.

Rotary members around the globe are serving humanity by providing clean water to underdeveloped communities, promoting peace in conflict areas, and strengthening communities through basic education and literacy. But none more important than our work to eradicate polio worldwide, he said.

After a historic year in which transmission of the wild poliovirus was stopped in Nigeria and all of Africa, Germ said we are closer than ever to ending polio.

“We are at a crossroads in Rotary,” he added. “We are looking ahead at a year that may one day be known as the greatest year in Rotary’s history: the year that sees the world’s last case of polio.”

Last year’s milestones leave just two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the virus still circulates. Polio would be only the second human disease ever to be eradicated.

When that moment arrives, it’s “tremendously important” that Rotary is ready for it, said Germ. “We need to be sure that we are recognized for that success, and leverage that success into more partnerships, greater growth, and even more ambitious service in the decades to come.”

Germ, a member of the Rotary Club of Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA, encouraged attendees to return to their clubs and communities and spread the word about Rotary’s role in the fight for a polio-free world.

“People who want to do good will see that Rotary is a place where they can change the world. Every Rotary club needs to be ready to give them that opportunity,” Germ said.

Enhancing Rotary’s image isn’t the only way to boost membership. “We need clubs that are flexible, so our service will be more attractive to younger members, recent retirees, and working people.”

He added: “We need more willing hands, more caring hearts, and more bright minds to move our work forward.”


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Rotary News

18-Jan-2016

Foundation honouree creates opportunities for the poor

Susan Davis shares a photo with school children in Pakistan. Davis co-founded BRAC USA to advance the mission of BRAC — Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee — which is dedicated to fighting poverty.

For her work to mitigate extreme poverty around the world, Susan Davis has received many honours. But the 2015-16 Rotary Foundation Global Alumni Service to Humanity Award has special significance.

“It feels like a circle of completion,” says Davis, who was a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar in 1980-81, doing graduate studies in international relations at Oxford University in England. “Rotary invested in me when I was young, and now is celebrating the harvest.”

A decade ago, Davis co-founded to advance the mission of BRAC — Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee — the world’s largest nongovernmental development organization, which was founded after Bangladesh’s partition from Pakistan in the 1970s. The U.S. branch is dedicated to fighting poverty and to creating opportunities for the poor in Africa and elsewhere.

Fulfilling that mission hasn’t been easy. Davis’ work has been disrupted by floods, cyclones, earthquakes, and war. Even worse was the sudden and deadly Ebola epidemic in 2014 in West Africa.

“I wasn’t sure how to protect our staff and clients and accompany these vulnerable communities out of this tragic situation,” says Davis, who served as BRAC USA’s president and chief executive officer until her departure this month. She quickly contacted Ebola experts and connected them with BRAC USA’s representatives in affected countries. “I lost sleep and cried with each death,” she says.

Two of those deaths were particularly painful. Ophilia Dede, a BRAC credit officer in Liberia, and her husband succumbed to the virus, leaving behind a little girl. Davis helped set up a scholarship fund for her education.

But she doesn’t allow such painful experiences to deter her.

“The urgency of the need and the tangible opportunities to make a difference keep me going,” she says. “And I have been blessed by seeing two big ideas — microfinance and social entrepreneurship — take root globally.”

From 1987 to 1991, Davis championed microfinance while working as a program officer with the Ford Foundation in Bangladesh. She developed a consortium that raised $175 million, increasing the availability of microloans in Bangladeshi villages to 44 percent from 5 percent, she says. Though debates endure over how much credit microfinance should receive for the country’s progress, conditions in Bangladesh have improved significantly: According to The Economist, life expectancy in the country rose from 59 to 69 during a 20-year span ending in 2010.

Davis also is co-author, with journalist David Bornstein, of the book “Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know.”  And she is involved with Ashoka, a nonprofit organization that supports social entrepreneurship; as a director, she oversaw its expansion to the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia.

A resident of New York City, Davis is widely recognized for her work in the field of international development. She was appointed to the board of the United Nations Fund for International Partnership in 2012, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and has served on the boards of the Grameen Foundation, the Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund, and the African Women’s Development Fund USA.

Davis has come a long way from the small town in southwest Louisiana, USA, where she grew up. The Rotary scholarship provided her first opportunity to live abroad. She believes that her Oxford experience allowed her to be taken seriously, and credits it with helping her land a job with the Ford Foundation.

Perhaps most importantly, says Davis, that Rotary-sponsored year gave her an entirely new perspective on power and privilege.

“Oxford was larger than life in my imagination,” she recalls. “But when I became a part of Oxford and got to know the dons and the students, I realized that, whether rich or poor, we were all just human beings and all of us were vulnerable and full of imperfections.”

Davis will be honored at the Rotary International Convention in Korea in June.

Rotary News

8-Jan-2016