Friendly greeters welcomed us all to August and the Club meeting today.  Inside, t-shirts, rally towels and rolled-up Redskins banners at the seats reminded us of our featured speaker, Redskins Executive Vice President and General Manager Bruce Allen.

Member May Gwinn sported an excellent red hat in the shape of Callinectes Sapidus, the Chesapeake Blue Crab, to be eaten in mass quantities down in Annapolis this weekend.  May will lead a group to the large fundraiser thrown annually by the Annapolis Rotary Club.

President David called the meeting to order at 12:30pm, and we silenced our cell phones and pledged allegiance to the flag. 

John Jackson reminisced briefly about a connection to the Allen family and gave a benediction.  Across the room, an operative aimed a large camera at the podium (once again, for our guest speaker).

We welcomed the following guests:  Dan Steinberg, who was covering the Allen speech for The Washington PostBenjamin Takis, Founding Member of Tax Exempt Solutions, guest of Bill DentScott Sazjak, law clerk in the US Court of Federal Claims, guest of Larry Margolis; Dr. Rhonda Poirier, President, Trega Partners, guest of Kathy WardPaolo Cappelli,a conference interpreter in Italian, Spanish and English, guest of Oscar Bartoli; Miguel Lonardo, an associate at Morgan Stanley, guest of Sheldon Ray; Peter N. Njang, an attorney, guest of Peter Kyle; Casey Mauldin, Chief Innovation Officer, guest of Abe Halel; and Monica Smith, Exhibition Program Manager at the Smithsonian Institution, guest of David Klaus.

President David greeted DC Rotaract President Kara Merrigan and Vice-President Ashu Gairola.  U.S. Rotarian John Prescott, visiting from Napa, CA, gave his classification as “evil banker” to laughter from the assemblage.

We wished a happy birthday to these members:  Umberto Viviani, July 30; Umberto was sponsored by Marco Stilli in 2010.  He is in the Italian Diplomatic Service.  Chris Teras, August 1:  He joined the Club in 1998 with the sponsorship of Max Salas, and his classification is International Law.  Oscar Bartoli, who joined this club in 1995; He served as Club President of the Roma, Casia Club in Italy from 1989 to 1990.

We were informed that Phil Bradbury is in need of good wishes.

President David read a card from the Baileys Crossroads Rotary Club, congratulating us on our Centennial.  He then moved on to a Foundation Moment (actually measured in minutes, he noted) and summarized the UN’s 8 Millennium Goals and their relationship to the goals of Rotary International’s Foundation.  Then it was time to present Blue Badges to Greg Scarlatoiu and Joel Alperstein. The focus shifted to our Blue Banner of New Members, as Ausra Kaminskas and Susan Pausky received Red Badges and placed yellow felt stars on the banner.  Both were sponsored by Kathy Ward.

New Member Gordon Nielsen, a native of Denmark, recounted his career and told a funny anecdote about polishing up his English in Charleston, South Carolina.

(Photo: Jonathan Newton, The Washington Post)

Max Salas
then introduced our speaker in a vivid way – the projection screen showed a Post picture of a scowling Max and his son with a bag over his head, sitting at a Redskins game last year.  Max is a 10-year season ticket holder who hailed “the difference six months makes” for Bruce Allen, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Washington Redskins. 

ImageBruce Allen proved to be as nimble on his feet as any running back, pivoting from the Redskins 80th Anniversary to complimenting us on our Centennial.  He jovially improvised from the Four Way Test Banner in describing the between-season soul-searching of the Redskins organization and the virtues of new quarterback Robert Griffin III.   He talked about the billion-dollar payroll and employment impact of the Redskins, and the other ways the organization seeks to help the community.  He pointed out Brian Gaines, Executive Director of the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation.   That pattern run, he concluded his regular remarks and settled back for the expected questions from the crowd.  There was a lull!  Our crowd has deeper concerns than player gossip, and we were preparing our curveball and knuckleball questions, which then began.

Another report on Bruce Allen’s Rotary speech with more knowledgeable detail and the picture of Max Salas is online in Dan Steinberg’s Washington Post Sports Blog,

Oscar Bartoli asked about gambling – the players would never permit such a thing, Allen told him.  Bill Dent wondered about concussions, and Allen assured him the players would return woozy comrades to the sidelines.  More than one Rotarian politely alluded to the nature of the Redskins name itself, and Allen gave a calibrated set of rehearsed answers abjuring any suggestion of disrespect.  Will the Redskins move back to the District?  Not before the FedEx Field lease runs out in 2027.  He amusingly parried a couple of questions from our club Dallas Cowboy fans, and surrendered the dais to warm applause and the promise of a tree planting.

Myrna Charles
conducted the raffle. Russ Savage claimed the small pot of $62 but the massive $1,348 payoff eluded him.  Cheers of relief erupted from Ken Kimbrough, who typically takes large speculative investment positions in the weekly drawing.  The final bell sounded and the fans dispersed.

Thanks to the Hospitality crew:  Stu Shalloway and Laurie Husak.

The meeting adjourned slightly early.

Club meeting photos by Lisa Cohen.