Meeting in Review: February 4, 2015
Posted by Haleh Vaziri
Salaam fellow Rotarians! I am happy to report on our 4 February gathering. Before doing so, however, I wish to thank Red Badge members Tom Kern and Pat Cunningham for covering the Meeting in Review on 21 and 28 January, respectively. After a two-week break, I am pleased to return to a screen near you.
President Jennifer called the meeting to order at 12:30 PM. Upon leading us in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, she asked Russ Savage to deliver words of inspiration. Offering hope amid the seemingly endless news of international conflicts and violence, Russ shared Rabbi Harold Kushner’s “Prayer of Peace.” Among the timeliest, most poetic lines:
Let the rain come and wash away the ancient grudges,
the bitter hatreds held and nurtured over generations…
Let the warmth of the sun heal us wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels, beyond accents, gender or skin color…
After a heartfelt chorus of “amen,” I introduced guests and Rotarians from other clubs joining us for lunch:
- M. Gasby Brown, CEO of the Gasby Group Inc., Terrance Lovelady’s guest;
- Giancarlo Civalleri, Rotary Global Grants Scholar at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, originally from the Rotary Club of Saluzzo, Italy;
- Matthew Ford, Rotary Peace Fellow 2005-2007, invited by President Jennifer Hara;
- Mary Garner, Vice President of Hope Inc., Doris Margolis’ guest;
- Calvin Hadley, Advisor for Strategic Initiatives at Howard University, accompanying our guest speaker;
- Costakis Konteatis from the Rotary Club of Nicosia, Cyprus with his fiancée May Geadah;
- Levi Leatherberry from the DC Rotaract Club;
- Gib Leonard, Founding Director of The Buy A Brick Foundation, invited by Sam Hancock;
- Hélène Lussier, former Youth Exchange Scholar, President Jennifer Hara’s guest;
- Stan Salett, President of the Foundation for the Future of Youth, accompanying Liz Salett;
- Marcus Soriano, Professional Development Chair of the DC Rotaract Club;
- Alessia Thiebaud, Rotary Global Grants Scholar at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, originally from Italy’s Rotary Club of North Bologna; and
- W. Lawrence Yealue II, West Africa Representative at the Accountability Lab, from the Rotary Club of Monrovia, Liberia.
Next, Sargent-at-Arms Buz Gorman extended birthday greetings to Rotarians born this week:
- Deraux Branch on 2 February – Sponsored by Irene Koerner when he joined our club in 2013, Deraux works in commercial banking.
- Casey Mauldin on 2 February – A club member since 2012 sponsored by Abrahem Helal, Casey’s classification is banking-innovation officer. He belonged to the Matthews, North Carolina Rotary Club before relocating to the DC area.
- Brendan McGinnis on 2 February – Becoming a member of our club in 2014, also sponsored by Abe Helal, Brendan works in environmental consulting and currently co-chairs our International Service Committee.
- Wilhelmina Bratton on 4 February – Joining our club in 2009 sponsored by Sam Hancock, Board member Wilhelmina’s classification is forestry.
Back at the microphone, President Jennifer, along with other selected members, informed us of upcoming events and club news:
- Erminia Scarcella declared that the Capital City relationship with Italy’s Rome Rotary Club is moving forward. She advised members to plan ahead for a trip to Rome in early September.
- President Jennifer announced that the Dupont Circle Club will host a fund raiser, its third annual trivia night, on Sunday, 22 February to support its first international project—a footbridge in Murehwa, Zimbabwe. Information about the event is available on www.dupontrotary.org; click on “calendar.”
- A reminder: Books found during Nancy Riker’s and Monica Smith’s clean-up of our Rotary Club’s office last fall are displayed on a small table next to the buffet and are yours for the taking.
- Past President David Klaus summarized the results of the Foundation’s fund drive which ended on 31 January: The sum raised in contributions and pledges is $32,085—pending more information about exact amounts pledged to be added to this total. This year, 132 Rotarians, or 80.5 percent of our membership, contributed to the fund drive as compared to 101, or 61 percent of members, last year. David reminded us that although the fund drive is over, members may donate to the Foundation at any time—until 30 June 2015 for this Rotary year and by 31 December 2015 to count toward a tax deduction in 2015.
- Past President Larry Margolis informed us that The Rotary Foundation is now accepting applications for Peace Fellowships awarded to individuals seeking a master’s degree or professional certificate in conflict resolution and peace making. Fellows enjoy the opportunity to have their studies fully funded at one of six “Peace Centers”—Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University, Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Japan’s International Christian University, England’s University of Bradford, Australia’s University of Queensland or Sweden’s Uppsala University. For information about application deadlines and eligibility, please go to www.rotary.org/myrotary/en/take-action/empower-leaders/support-peace-centers.
After these announcements, President Jennifer invited Andrew Clark to give his New Member Talk. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Andrew’s parents are pastors. Raised in the church, he came to enjoy music, which led him to join the marching band at school. In fact, while attending Howard University, Andrew was a drum major—the band member “who wears the tall hat.” Since graduating from Howard, he has worked as a Private Banking Advisory Associate with Morgan Stanley. Through work, Andrew met the “wonderful” Lisa McCurdy who introduced him to our Rotary Club. As he explained, what has attracted Andrew to our club is our members’ “warmth” and “professional diversity” along with the Rotarian commitment to service.
Howard University President Dr. Wayne Frederick—Embodying Truth and Service
Davis Kennedy introduced our distinguished guest speaker Dr. Wayne Frederick, Howard University’s 17th President. Dr. Frederick is a triple alumnus of Howard, having earned his Bachelor of Science, Doctor of Medicine and Master of Business Administration degrees at the university as well as completing his surgical residency at Howard University Hospital. His relationship with Howard began at the age of 16 when he arrived from Trinidad for his undergraduate studies, motivated by his own diagnosis of Sickle Cell Anemia to pursue the goal of a career as a physician.
Dr. Frederick’s remarks reflected dedication to improving students’ education and performance as well as pride in Howard’s contributions to the greater Washington, DC community and to the nation at large. As he explained, Howard was established in 1867 and has earned acclaim as the premier Historically Black College and University (HBCU). With its motto “truth and service,” the school seeks to provide students with an education that goes beyond bestowing technical competence to include cultivating moral character and social consciousness.
Noting that the principal reason for Howard students not graduating with their bachelor’s degrees is financial stress, Dr. Frederick is developing various programs that aim to increase retention and graduation rates. For example, he has launched the Graduation & Retention Access for Continued Excellence (GRACE) grant program, which offers students need-based funding designed to reduce financial barriers and increase on-time graduation. Moreover, the school is rebating 50 percent of final semester fees for those students who graduate on time, and its leadership is striving to keep tuition flat.
Howard’s contributions to the DC area and to the country as a whole are significant, as Dr. Frederick emphasized. The University accounts for 3 percent of all graduates with bachelor’s degrees in the United States but for 20 percent of the nation’s African-American graduates. Howard produces more African-American PhDs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics annually than Harvard, Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology combined. Howard University Hospital (HUH) has a long and illustrious history of serving citizens who are under-represented in terms of quality medical care. Founded in 1862 as Freedmen’s Hospital, it began as a facility offering medical care to former slaves who were denied this basic human right and service elsewhere. HUH continues to care for under-served communities—for example, women in DC’s Wards 7 and 8 where there are no practicing obstetrician-gynecologists and baby delivery services.
While underscoring Howard’s increasing diversity—with students from as far away as Nepal—Dr. Frederick was adamant and proud of the university’s identity as a historically Black educational institution, listing some of its most renowned and accomplished graduates from a wide range of professions: New York’s first African-American Mayor David Dinkins (1990-1993); California’s current Attorney General Kamala Harris; Attorney, civil rights activist and advisor to President Bill Clinton, Vernon Jordan; Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed; actress, dancer and producer Debbie Allen and her sister actress Phylicia Rashad, among many other luminaries.
As I listened from my secretarial perch, I thought that Dr. Frederick should add himself to this list of Howard graduates who have made invaluable contributions to society. Whether through his award-winning medical research or his university presidency, Dr. Frederick leads those around him—academicians, healthcare professionals and students—by example, embodying Howard’s ethos of “truth and service.”
Adjourned Until Next Week
President Jennifer awarded our “Trees for the Capital” certificate to Dr. Wayne Frederick as Rotarians waited to learn who bought the lucky raffle ticket from Laura Khor. The winning numbers belonged to Darren Crew who took home the small pot of $114. Yet he did not draw the ace of spades from the ever smaller deck of cards, leaving the large pot of $2,200 to grow.
Our gratitude goes to Johnny Allem, Balraj Gupta and Stu Shalloway for welcoming visitors at the Hospitality Table.
On 11 February, our guest speaker will be Dr. Ben Forman, Founder of Teens Run DC.
President Jennifer adjourned the meeting at 1:30 PM … And then I put down my pen—until next week!