Program Report: District Governor Donna Peffley

One of the duties of a District Governor is to visit each club in the district and deliver her (or his) message about goals and a pep talk. Now, several months into her term, Donna Peffley got around to us after being delayed once to accommodate another program. However, that may have turned out to be a good thing.

With only a handful to go she has had a lot of practice and delivered a polished and entertaining program. It may have been truncated a little because we also had several PHF awards to make and three inductions of new members, which had to impress her. In fact, she cheerfully participated in the inductions for a reason that will be clear shortly.

If you’ve sat through a number of these presentations, you know that there are some recurring themes. One is to provide an annual reminder of the scope and vision of Rotary especially as it is seen by the Rotary International President. The theme of the current RI President, Barry Rassin is “Be the Inspiration.” IR President Barry is from the Bahamas and the symbol he selected for the Rotary year consists of blue waves on a backdrop of a sunrise suggesting a heart.  DG Donna, promised a quiz on this and the tests were passed out early allowing us to fill in as we went along.

Most of this is readily available on the Rotary International website with the biggest numbers being 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide and over 35,000 clubs. What DG Donna wanted to focus on was what she called a BHAG, or Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  Indeed, it is. As of 6/30/2018, or the end of her predecessor’s term there were 1963 Rotarians in our district. Her goal for the end of her term is 2020.

This might not sound like a BHAG but, she reminded us that in most of the developed world membership is declining, a problem that has already inspired many changes in recent years. Her quiz illustrated one of these in a depiction of the organization of Rotary as an upside-down Triangle with club members driving the agenda rather than the other way around.

It should be noted that our club, with over 200 active members, is by far the largest in the district. Of the 46 clubs only 3 others even break 100.  They range from 10 to ours and average about 42. We have also grown steadily over the years. The dynamics, however, are that recruiting new members is not always the key to growth. Retaining members is what often makes the difference.  Some losses are out of our control…people change jobs, they move, they die, and some are just not meant to be Rotarians.

Very important, especially in a large club like ours, which can be impersonal, if not intimidating to a new member, is to get them involved early. Our biggest innovations have been rethinking the orientation process and the creation of new member teams that was led by Marge Nordstrom during her leadership of the Membership Committee. DG Donna referred to Marge several times, probably because Marge is now the District Membership Chairperson.

So, a goal that increases membership in the district barely 3% may not seem audacious, much less hairy, would still be a notable achievement. To back it up, DG Donna made a pledge that was both audacious and hairy…she will contribute $100 to the Rotary Foundation for every induction during her term…and she signed the promise, and nobody has to take a DNA test to prove their Rotary Heritage.

One final innovation DG Donna brought to the presentation was to have dishes of Halloween type candies on the tables as rewards for success on the quiz. Since the cannoli provided with our excellent lunch satisfied most sweet teeth in the room, there was quite a bit of candy to gather up afterwards. I snuck a couple of my favorite, Junior Mints, and was reminded that they can take your breath away if you eat them too fast.

DG Donna was introduced by Past District Governor, Current District Foundation Chair and Past Durham Rotary President, Newman Aguiar.

Submitted by Jay Zenner


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