Presentation: District Governor – Marie Howard

Monday’s meeting brought the annual visit by the new District Governor. Marie Howard, a member of the Clayton Club, was introduced by the District Governor Elect David Haden, who also did a brief commercial for the next International Conference in Hawaii, which explained the shirt and lei worn by President Todd.  

District Governor Howard was introduced by David Hayden.

Governor Howard brought along her “First Dude,” David Howard, who is also a very involved Rotarian. She also acknowledged Club member and Past President and Past District Governor Newman Aguiar as the mentor that helped her prepare for her term.  

Like many good speakers, DG Howard started with a story to illustrate the concept of “connections” which is a big theme of Rotary. The story involved a Youth Exchange Student who ended up stuck in the Miami airport because of a missed connection on the way home to her family in South America. First Dude Dave was able to locate a nearby club, Miami Airport Rotary, believe it or not.  The club president jumped into action and made sure the student was safe, cared for and entertained waiting for the next flight.  

DG Howard then ticked through a three-part plan to support the 46 Clubs in our District, 7710, in three areas, membership development, public image and training.  

In the membership area she has set a goal of a 5% increase in overall membership for each club. That sounds easy but she reminded us that the 15% average attrition for all kinds of reasons means that a big club like ours might lose 30 members every year, so we would need 40 or more new members to hit the goal. At the district level they will be doing trend analysis, training and an analysis of classifications. One reason some members drift away from clubs is that the time or place of the regular meeting makes their attendance difficult. Depending on the analyses some members could be held or recaptured with satellite clubs.  

The second emphasis is on Public Image. Rotary began, grew up and survived many years as a service club for relatively privileged old white guys and the image lingers on. Long time members have watched how that has changed in our club over the years and what a difference in vibrancy a more diverse membership has made our Club. Included in the plan are a “digital tool kit and a fresh website. She also mentioned the “Rotary Car” which, I gather, is a personal vehicle of theirs permanently decorated with Rotary Identification…a rolling billboard, that is available for use at events that we participate in…like Centerfest maybe? 

The third emphasis, training, also includes some interesting ideas. The staple is regular training sessions at the quarterly district meetings in Cary and the Rotary Leadership Institute. She also mentioned an upcoming professional development opportunity to learn something about “influencing without Authority” that will be put on by Duke Corporate Education, a group that currently employs and tolerates Todd and the many Rotary meetings he hosts there.  

One of the reasons besides service that Paul Harris founded Rotary for was business networking. In many clubs including ours this is overshadowed by the emphasis on service. DG Howard mentioned an experiment to establish three Rotary Networking Hubs in the district. The district website also has a directory, where those of us still looking for business can post some information. Right now it is just a Google docs spreadsheet but maybe it will get a little fancier if there is interest.  

DG Howard is also reviving an idea that was used during Newman’s term as DG…the Governor’s Award…given to any Rotarian that sponsors a new member during the year, contributes to the Foundation and attendone training event. Another commitment she made was to create a Paul Harris Society Challenge. She and the First Dude Dave will match with $1000 the first twelve new Paul Harris Society Members. Paul Harris Society members commit to contribute $1,000 every year to the Foundation.  

Finally, she encouraged everyone to attend the District Conference next spring in Winston-Salem. The primary venue will be the renovated post office building.  

Submitted by Jay Zenner 


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