Meeting in Review: April 15, 2015
Posted by Haleh Vaziri
Salaam fellow Rotarians! I am pleased to report on our 15 April 2015 meeting. Before doing so, however, I want to thank Red Badge member Judith Henderson for writing last week’s Meeting in Review.
President Jennifer Hara called us to order at 12:30 PM, leading members in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. She turned to Peter Larson for words of inspiration. He reflected on the power of the word “we” as he has experienced it in his life—playing professional football, launching business ventures in banking and commercial real estate, and now becoming a Rotarian. Peter urged members to value the collaboration, friendships and service reflected in the word “we” and to keep up the great work of the DC Rotary Club.
President Jennifer then requested that I introduce guests and Rotarians from other clubs joining us for lunch:
- Prince Adebanjo Adejuwon with McPeterson Consulting LLC, invited by Past President David Klaus;
- James L. Black, Integrated Media Specialist with Media One, Raven Canty’s guest;
- Marilyn Cruz, President of the Washington, DC Rotaract Club;
- Jose Estrada, Professor at the University of Montevideo, visiting from Uruguay’s Maldonado Rotary Club;
- Katherine Hart, a management consultant bringing us a banner from the Oakland, California Rotary Club;
- Sarah Hughes, Grant Writer at the Center for Inspired Teaching, Lisa McCurdy’s guest;
- Brian Jackson, presenting us a banner from the Rotary Club of Sand Springs, Oklahoma, where he is also Vice Mayor;
- Julian Mansfield, President of the Metro Bethesda Rotary Club;
- Gail Meighan, accompanying guest speaker Rose Doherty;
- Susan Messina, Director of Development and Communications at Iona Senior Services, invited by Kenny Barnes;
- Michael Onyemelukwe, a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley, Andrew Clark’s guest;
- Salvador (no second name given), a photographer visiting from California’s Long Beach Rotary Club; and
- Dr. Shashidhara, traveling from the Rotary Club of Manipal Town in Karnataka, India.
My secretarial predecessor Tim Hurd acted as Sargent-at-Arms to salute the Rotarian celebrating her birthday this week: Lisa “Too Fierce” Cohen, born on 15 April, joined our club in 2010 sponsored by Kenny Barnes; her classification is non-profit organization-youth services. As Tim reminded us, Lisa will give a boxing demonstration at Rotary Day on Saturday, 25 April.
Taking that cue from Tim, President Jennifer thanked everyone who has volunteered to help on Rotary Day. She emphasized that even if you cannot lend a hand for a four-hour shift, you are welcome to come out to Farragut Square for this family-friendly day of activities sponsored by the four DC-based Rotary Clubs. Placed on the dining tables were glossy flyers detailing Rotary Day activities, participants and sponsors. Please share these flyers with family, friends and colleagues in an effort to draw maximum attendance.
President Jennifer continued with announcements of upcoming activities and club business. So mark your calendars:
- The Washington, DC Rotaract Club will host its Hero Rat Happy Hour on Wednesday evening, 15 April at Duke’s Grocery on 17th Street near Dupont Circle. Wristbands are $5 for extended drink specials. Rotaractors have adopted two “hero rats” in Uganda which are trained to detect tuberculosis and land mines. (Please note that this activity has already taken place.)
- The Star Spangled District Conference is coming up in less than a month. To be convened in Frederick, Maryland during 8-9 May, our club will co-host a hospitality suite with the other three DC-based Rotary clubs on Friday evening the 8th. More information about the conference is available on our website.
- The University Club’s General Manager David Conroy, husband of Past President Monica Conroy, won our club’s inaugural NCAA Bracket Challenge for Polio Plus by correctly predicting that Duke University would emerge as the National Champion. The Conroys are donating their $320 basketball winnings to Polio Plus.
At President Jennifer’s request, Monica Smith approached the microphone to give her Not-so-new-member Talk. Monica grew up in California, attending a performance arts high school and developing a love of history. As she recounted, her family traveled around the country by car, visiting “every landmark, battlefield, monument and plaque.” After studying at Pomona College, Monica determined that she wanted to use her history degree, rather than heading to law school like many of her classmates. So she set her sights high, moving to DC and aiming for a position at the Smithsonian Institution. After pursuing various internships, she was hired by the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History where she has worked for 20 years. Joining our club in 2012, she co-chairs the Membership Committee and is on the board of directors. Concluding her remarks, Monica stressed how much she enjoys being a Rotarian and cultivating friendships with other members.
As Monica sat down, President Jennifer asked Nancy Riker to remind us of our club’s drive to raise funds for the Rotary International Foundation. Nancy reiterated the importance of members’ contributions, encouraging us to step up our donations so that our club can become District 7620’s number 1 in giving to the Foundation. She had pledge sheets available to facilitate donations.
Before turning to our guest speaker, President Jennifer awarded Randi Braun and Matthew Ford their Red Badges.
Rose A. Doherty, Preserving the Legacy of Katharine Gibbs
President Jennifer welcomed the return of her friend, former club member Jennifer Rae who introduced Rose Doherty, author of the book Katharine Gibbs: Beyond White Gloves. Ms. Doherty has chronicled the life and legacy of Katharine Gibbs whose story is an American classic—the tale of an entrepreneur who turned the necessity to make a living into the virtues of grace under pressure, perseverance and self-confidence. Born in 1863 to parents of Irish ancestry in Galena, Illinois and baptized Catherine Mary Ryan, Katharine changed the spelling of her name on her high school graduation photograph and thereafter, signaling a talent for reinvention that would come in handy decades later.
As Rose explained, Katharine was raised in a family with a booming pork-packing business, educated at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Manhattanville, New York and moved to Helena, Montana after graduation where her brothers were replicating their father’s business success. In Helena, she met watchmaker William Gibbs whom she eventually married. Katharine and William settled in Providence, Rhode Island, closer to his Massachusetts roots, and had two sons. She was enjoying a peaceful and rather unremarkable domestic life as a woman of means when her 52-year-old husband died due to a head injury in 1909. Because Mr. Gibbs did not have a will, Katharine had to work through the courts to secure her husband’s assets. A widow at 46 years old with only a high school diploma, she would have to find a way to support herself and her sons.
In 1911, Katharine created an institution that merged traditional liberal arts education with the secretarial training needed for the modern business office. The first Katharine Gibbs School was established in Providence, and two more came to Boston and New York less than a decade later. Ms. Doherty underscored Katharine’s creativity in branding and marketing her school to both men and women students. The institution’s expansion amid stiff competition from other secretarial schools resulted from Katharine’s use of advertising in diverse print publications and coining such taglines as “Excellence in all you do” and “Stand above the crowd.” She insisted that her schools be housed in the most elegant buildings and that her students dress to reflect their pursuit of professionalism—hence, the white gloves that Rose briefly donned herself during her remarks.
Beyond this famed apparel, students graduated from the Katharine Gibbs School with not only technical skills but also a commitment to efficiency, excellence and elegance as employees and eventually employers of others. Ms. Doherty’s exuberance in recounting Katharine’s contributions to education, particularly for women, impressed Rotarians who asked several questions. Most notably, they were curious about how Rose became interested in Katharine Gibbs. Ms. Doherty had spoken little about herself until she addressed this query, revealing her own life of accomplishment and dedication to education. Her history with Ms. Gibbs began in the sixth grade, when she volunteered as a “match girl” at the Providence school’s alumnae bridge night. While distributing bridge scorecards and matches, she learned “what competent, professional women were really like” and was amazed at this discovery.
As an adult, Ms. Doherty was an English faculty member and academic dean at the Katharine Gibbs School in Boston, led the Massachusetts degree-granting effort and was chair of the board of trustees of Gibbs College, Boston. Rose’s efforts to preserve the memory of the Gibbs century, 1911 to 2011, reflects a passion and pursuit of excellence that Katharine surely would have admired.
Adjourned Until Next Week
President Jennifer presented our “Trees for the Capital” certificate to Rose Doherty. Rotarians, meanwhile, anticipated news of who held the lucky raffle ticket sold by Davis Kennedy. When Rose drew the winning ticket from the box, Sterling Hoffman came to the podium, claiming the small pot of $51. Davis revealed that Sterling had purchased 30 tickets! Yet the large pot of $539 will keep growing because the ace of spades eluded Sterling’s grasp.
Our gratitude goes to Greeters Charlotte Lallemont-Klaus and her father David Klaus and to Johnny Allem, Balraj Gupta and Stu Shalloway for staffing the Hospitality Table.
On 22 April, we will hear from Daniel Wood, a long-time, federal civil servant who will discuss Public Key Infrastructure and identity protection online.
President Jennifer adjourned the meeting at 1:30 PM … And then I passed my pen to Red Badge member Kathy Bailey who will record next week’s Meeting in Review. I hope that other new members will follow suit and volunteer to cross this task off their to-do lists towards earning their Blue Badges.