Hello fellow Rotarians! I am pleased to report what transpired during our 3 December gathering. Before doing so, I wish to thank Past President Monica Conroy for serving as Secretary on 26 November in my absence.


President Jennifer Hara called our meeting to order shortly after 12:30 PM, as Rotarians were still streaming into the dining room. After leading American citizens in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, she invited Diane Eames to offer words of inspiration. Diane had come across a 1999 e-mail titled “What I’ve learned…” featuring a list of one-line lessons from individuals ages 6 to 92. She read us some wonderful examples:


  • Age 14: I’ve learned that if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try cheering up someone else.
  • Age 24: I’ve learned that silent company offers more healing than words of advice.
  • Age 44: I’ve learned that you can make someone’s day by simply sending a little note.
  • Age 66: I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with kindness, I usually make the right decision.
  • Age 85: I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone because people love that human touch—holding hands, a warm hug or just a friendly pat on the back.

As Diane wisely concluded, these lessons offer worthwhile suggestions for making someone’s and your own day during this holiday season and in the New Year.

I then introduced our guests and Rotarians from other clubs joining us for lunch:

  • Nabil Al Haidari, visiting from the London Rotary Club;
  • Frank Ballard, Senior Technical Specialist at  the Grameen Foundation, invited by Abrahem Helal;
  • Peter Dien, Rotary Peace Scholar and an analyst at the U.S. Department of State;
  • Chris Hara, guest of President Jennifer Hara;
  • Kate Leuba, with DAI and Judith Henderson’s guest;
  • Gregory Maggio, invited by Maria Nelly Pavisich;
  • Andrea Mellon, law masters student visiting from South Africa’s Durban Rotaract Club;
  • Maryann Minutillo, Senior Advisor at the Peace Corps, Dick Pyle’s guest;
  • Judy Ramey, Senior Vice President and Financial Advisor at RBC Capital Markets, invited by Asif Bhally;
  • Tonia Wellons, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the Peace Corps, Dick Pyle’s guest;
  • President Marilyn Cruz and Vice President Kyle Morford of the DC Rotaract Club;
  • and last but not least, Betty Pyle—wife, Senior Advisor and Supervisor to Dick Pyle!

In Buz Gorman’s absence, Acting Sargent-at-Arms Abe Helal congratulated Rotarians celebrating birthdays this week:

  • W. Robert Warne on 30 November - Past President in 2006-07 and a member of our club since 1994 sponsored by Donald Duvall, Rob’s classification is international trade-Korean affairs. He was also a member of the Indianapolis and Kingston, Jamaica Rotary Clubs.
  • Sam Hancock on 2 December – Sponsored by Past President Larry Margolis when he joined our club in 2006, Dr. Sam’s classification is non-profit organization-executive director.
  • Andrew Koval on 2 December – A club member since 2013 sponsored by Jim Lanning, Andy’s classification is pharmaceuticals-generic.
  • Ausra Kaminskas on 5 December – Sponsored for membership in our club by Kathy Ward in 2012, Ausra’s classification is healthcare professional-acupuncture.

President Jennifer returned to the microphone, and along with other Rotarians, highlighted club news and upcoming activities.

  • Past President David Klaus appealed to members to contribute to our Club’s Foundation, the Rotary Foundation of Washington, DC. Established 92 years ago and different than the Rotary International Foundation, our club’s fund is dedicated to supporting service projects focused mainly on the District of Columbia. David explained that our Foundation’s Board of Directors is seeking 100-percent participation among members in its drive for contributions to last until 31 January 2015.
  • International Service Committee Chair Maria Nelly Pavisich announced that $24,000 from the Rotary Foundation of Washington, DC has been awarded to seven out of 17 project proposals. These projects met the criteria defined by the Committee and earned approval by the boards of our Rotary Club and Rotary Foundation. Proposals receiving funds are:
  • Global Grants
  • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Project for Ayare Gram Panchayat, India - presented by Hal Vaughn, receiving $5,050 (out of $200,000), collaborating with the Rotary Clubs of Tacoma, Washington and Thane North, India.
  • Rotary Hands Across Waters in Israel - presented by Brendan McGinnis, receiving $1,000 (out of $161,750), collaborating with the Rotary Clubs of Haifa, Israel and Coral Springs, Florida.
  • Jawhar Rural Blood Bank in India – presented by David Klaus, receiving $5,000 (out of $107,000), collaborating with the Rotary Club of Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • Rainwater Harvesting: Promoting Water Security and Conservation in Jordan - presented by Brendan McGinnis, receiving $2,500 (out of $42,172), collaborating with the Rotary Club of Amman, Jordan.
  • Small Grants
  • Ebola at the Sharp End in Liberia - presented by Maria Nelly Pavisich, receiving $5,000 (out of $10,000), collaborating with the Rotary Club of Monrovia, Liberia.
  • AAH Women Micro-Finance Program in Uganda - presented by Ed O’Brien, receiving $4,250 (out of $15,000), collaborating with the Rotary Club of Kampala West.
  • Support of Health Infirmary in Hanover Parish, Jamaica – presented by Dick Pyle, receiving $1,200 (out of $1,200), collaborating with the Rotary Club of Lucea, Jamaica.

Maria Nelly asserted that most of the remaining 10 additional proposals reviewed by the International Service Committee could develop into eligible projects. The Committee has provided these projects’ proponents recommendations for improvements and re-submission.

  • President Jennifer invited Rotary Peace Scholar Peter Dien to introduce himself. Peter thanked President Jennifer and Clara Montanez for enthusiastically supporting his application to become a Peace Fellow. He attributed his commitment to a career in peace-building to the legacy of his parents’ experience as refugees surviving Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge genocide. Despite his youth, Peter has already done volunteer work in Haiti and India. He has also held positions in the Health and Human Services Department and the State Department. Peter looks forward to helping others, whether through small or large acts, as his career takes shape.
  • President Jennifer presented Marta Pentassagulia with her Blue Badge, remarking that she completed her transition from the Red Badge in “almost record time.”
  • Before turning to our guest speaker, President Jennifer shared a few last news items. She informed us that Christa McClure has suffered a health setback. We will surely keep Christa in our heartfelt prayers. On a happier note, Nobutoshi Hanai has returned from Japan, bringing us a beautiful silk banner from the Tokyo Rotary Club which has just started admitting women as members.
  • Shifting to upcoming activities, President Jennifer announced that Movie Night will take place on Thursday, 11 December at the Landmark E Street Cinema on 555 11th Street, NW. The featured film is Rosewater directed by John Stewart, telling the story of Canadian-Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari jailed by the Islamic Republic in 2009. For details on when and where to meet, please see Ed O’Brien or May Gwinn.
  • In a prelude to the introduction of our guest speaker, President Jennifer—channeling Immediate Past District Governor Peter Kyle who could not join us—presented Dick Pyle with an award recognizing him as a Benefactor to the Rotary International Foundation. She wanted to ensure that Dick received his award in the presence of Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet.

Forging a Partnership—Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet

As Dick Pyle graciously introduced our speaker, Carrie Hessler-Radelet, he asked everyone who has served with or had other links to the Peace Corps to stand. With some 20 Rotarians and others recognized for their Peace Corps experience, Ms. Hessler-Radelet approached the podium and happily acknowledged some familiar faces. As she declared, both the Peace Corps and the Rotary Club are “in her DNA.” Four generations of her family have served in the Peace Corps. Her grandfather, father and aunt are all Rotarians. Her father and aunt are Paul Harris Fellows. She recalled visiting our club in 2010, feeling that she “is among friends.” Noting that she had to eschew all outside affiliations when she became Peace Corps Director, Ms. Hessler-Radelet commented that perhaps she could become a member of our club when her tenure ends—a prospect which drew rousing applause.

With overlapping and complimentary missions of service, the Peace Corps and Rotary International are “perfect partners,” formalizing their relationship through a memorandum of understanding in May 2014. As Ms. Hessler-Radelet quipped, “We were already living together, but with the MoU, we are now married!” Specifically, the partnership involves a one-year pilot program in the Philippines, Thailand and Togo where the two organizations “will work together purposively,” sharing knowledge and resources to enhance the impact of development projects in these three countries.

During her longstanding association with the Peace Corp, Ms. Hessler-Radelet admitted that she has occasionally wrestled with the question of what kind of impact, if any, one individual can have—an issue that Rotarians also face. Answering her own question, she recounted the story of two volunteers, a married couple living in an African village: Vic, a math teacher, and his wife Adrienne, a healthcare volunteer. Despite the ribbing and criticism of village elders, Vic shared the housework with his wife because theirs was a “modern marriage.” On their last day in the village, as Vic and Adrienne were preparing to leave, one of his especially shy students came to visit and told him, “When I am married, I am going to treat my wife like you treat yours.” Indeed, Peace Corps volunteers become members of communities where they serve, and their impact goes beyond their field of specialization as they become role models.

Rotarians applauded Ms. Hessler-Radelet’s remarks and President Jennifer presented her with our “Trees for the Capital” certificate. Clearly delighted with the idea of a tree to be planted in her name, Ms. Hessler-Radelet did not expect what came next. Recognizing her outstanding community and international service, President Jennifer presented Ms. Hessler-Radelet with a Paul Harris Designation. Surprised and excited, Ms. Hessler-Radelet exclaimed that her 83-year-old father will be very proud!

Adjourned Until Next Week

As our meeting came to a close, Rotarians anxiously awaited news of who bought the lucky raffle ticket from Tyisha Cottman. At stake, the small pot of $105 and the big prize of over $1,500! When the winning numbers were read, Nancy Riker rose to claim her shopping money. With great concentration, she then passed her hand over the diminishing deck of cards spread across the top of the podium. Alas, she did not select the ace of spades, and the large pot keeps growing.

Our gratitude goes to Greeter Tom Kern and to Stu Shalloway for welcoming visitors at the Hospitality Table.

On 10 December, Club President Nominee Peg Schoen will lead our meeting to feature guest speaker Interim President of the University of the District of Columbia, Dr. James E. Lyons, Sr.

President Jennifer adjourned the meeting at 1:30 PM … And then I put down my pen—until next week!