Our 17 December meeting was called to order at 12:30 PM by the second of our club’s two nominees for President Elect for the 2015-16 year, Ross Grantham.

 

After leading members in the Pledge of Allegiance, Ross asked Mike Carmichael to offer words of inspiration. Mike recalled the origins of the Rotary Four-Way Test. Business leader Herbert Taylor was Vice President of Jewel Tea in 1932 when his company loaned him to the financially struggling Club Aluminum Distribution Co. Deeply religious, Taylor believed that changing the ethical climate among Club Aluminum’s employees would improve its fortunes. Upon praying, he came up with 24 words to guide the company which he saved from insolvency. As Rotary International President in 1954, Taylor gave the copyright for those words to the club, retaining rights for their continued use by Club Aluminum and the Christian Workers Foundation. Those 24 words have not changed in 80 years:  (1) Is it the truth? (2) Is it fair to all concerned? (3) Will it build goodwill and better friendships? (4) Will it be beneficial to all concerned? Along with the motto “service above self,” the Four-Way Test inspires 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide. Incidentally, Mike’s parents worked for the two companies that Herbert Taylor led—his mother vending Jewel Tea products while his father served overseas during World War II, and his father briefly selling Club Aluminum products amid his career managing real estate. Interesting how Mike is linked to our Four-Way Test!

In Haleh Vaziri’s absence, Acting Secretary Nancy Riker then announced guests as well as visiting international and American Rotarians. Our guests included:

  • Giancarlo Civalleri, Rotary Global Grants Fellow from Università degli Studi di Torino now at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, invited by Hal Vaughn;
  • Hilary Kirk, Vice President of the Jamaican Volunteers Association, Dick Pyle’s guest;
  • Levi Leatherberry from the DC Rotaract Club;
  • Kalil Nicolas, a student at Georgetown University, invited by Clara Montanez; and
  • Dr. Ram Reddy, Chairman of Communication Inc., Larry Margolis’ guest.

The international Rotarians joining us for lunch were:

  • Apaydin Ali Burak visiting from Azerbaijan’s Baku Khazar Rotary Club where he serves as Chapter President; and
  • Lucia Stone from the Puebla Diamante Rotary Club in Mexico.

Among American Rotarians visiting us were:

  • Past District Governor Dr. Douthard Butler from the Mt. Vernon, Virginia Rotary Club, an adjunct professor at George Mason University’s Department of Public and International Affairs; and
  • Rick Ruth, a consultant from the Dearborn, Michigan Rotary Club.

This week, only one Rotarian was celebrating a birthday; Sargent-at-Arms Buz Gorman congratulated Susan Neely, born on 20 December. A member since 1990 sponsored by Brice Oakley, Susan is a pioneer, becoming our club's first female president in 1996-97. Her classification is associations-marketing and communications.

President Elect Nominee Ross called on selected members to announce upcoming activities and share news items:

  • Clara Montanez explained that Rotarians will have the opportunity to volunteer at the Central Union Mission at 65 Massachusetts Avenue, NW on Tuesday, 23 December. For further details, please talk to Clara and to President Elect David Treadwell who is also the Mission’s Executive Director. (Please note that this activity has already taken place.)
  • Past President David Klaus reminded us about the fund drive for the Rotary Foundation of Washington, DC. He asked every member to figure out an amount—whether $5 or $1,000— to give to the Foundation. He also noted that contributors of $300 and more will be invited to a spring gathering to enjoy his home’s deck.
  • Past President Howard Davis informed us of an opportunity afforded by our Foundation—the availability of two plots at the Parklawn Memorial Gardens cemetery in Rockville, Maryland. If anyone is interested, please contact Howard.

Ross invited Thomas Kern to give his new-member talk. Tom hails from Western Pennsylvania and remains a fan of Pittsburgh sports teams, even though he moved to Washington, DC in 1974 to attend Georgetown University. He is an alumnus of the London School of Economics (LSE) and the University of Oxford for graduate studies as well. With a career spanning the public, private and non-profit sectors, he is now the Interim President and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America which advances high-tech remedies to improve safety, diminish traffic congestion and foster economic prosperity. Tom is a self-declared lover of the “three Bs—baseball, books and craft beer.” Fulfilled in his career and grateful for his “wonderful” family, Tom has joined our Rotary Club because now is “payback time.” He was a Rotary Foundation Scholar at LSE thanks to a fellowship nomination by the Greenburg, Pennsylvania club and was then hosted by the Edmonton North London club. Appreciating Rotary’s support for his son, Tom’s father, Bill Kern, became a member of his local club and rose to the position of Governor of Western Pennsylvania’s District 7330 in the early 1990s. Concluding his talk, Tom asked us to join him in a four-fold toast—to the Greensburg Rotary Club; to District 7330; to the Edmonton North London Rotary Club and his sponsor, the late Peter Hyde; and to his father, the consummate Rotarian!

Before turning to our guest speaker, Ross presented two new members with their Red Badges: Andrew Clark, a recent Howard University graduate originally from Cleveland, Ohio and currently a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley, and Elizabeth Perla, a doctoral candidate studying psychology at Loyola University Maryland and residing in Washington, DC.

Davis Kennedy introduced this week’s speaker President and CEO of the DC Chamber of Commerce, Harry Wingo. A native Washingtonian and a graduate of the US Naval Academy and Yale Law School, Mr. Wingo brings a diverse background of leadership, innovation and public policy experience to the Chamber. Prior to his most recent position as managing partner of West River Solutions—a DC-based technology consulting firm focused on cybersecurity which he founded—Mr. Wingo worked in Google’s DC office as senior policy counsel and led a program to hire military veterans. He was also previously employed as counsel to the US Senate and the Federal Communications Commission as well as serving as a Navy SEAL officer for more than six years.

Assuming the Chamber’s presidency in April 2014, Mr. Wingo has come into office at a prosperous time for businesses in DC and is striving to build on the hard-won momentum gained by his predecessor Barbara Lang. Among his priorities are affordable housing, education, workforce development, taxes and regulations, job creation and economic growth that extends beyond downtown to the entire city, including neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River. He supports the building of a new stadium for the DC United soccer team at Buzzard Point in Southwest, anticipating that it will promote far-reaching business opportunities that go beyond serving as the site for a popular sports team. For him, the stadium project is a positive example of collaboration between the public sector and private enterprise.

Capitalizing on his expertise in the technology sector, Mr. Wingo wants to bring more internet and high-tech companies to DC. Believing that the nation’s capital is a propitious environment for both small and large companies, he also seeks to take advantage of DC as a tourists’ destination. With investments in the local hospitality industry and greater outreach to international visitors, he thinks that Washington could become an important center for businesses from around the world. He vows to work closely with Mayor Elect Muriel Bowser to improve education and bring jobs to residents throughout DC as he has done with outgoing Mayor Vincent Gray.

As President Elect Nominee Ross presented Mr. Wingo with our Trees for the Capital certificate, members waited to hear who would win the raffle drawing. Tickets were sold by Stu Shalloway with the small pot, valued at $107, won by Acting Secretary Nancy Riker. The large pot of $1,688 will continue to grow.

Thanks to Johnny Allem for welcoming guests at the hospitality table for this last lunch of 2014. Our next meeting will be on Wednesday, 7 January 2015 and will feature Father Jerry Morrison as guest speaker delivering a presentation titled “Giuseppe Castiglione in China: Imperial Painter, Humber Servant.”