President Jennifer Hara called our gathering to order at 12:30 PM, announcing that officers of the Washington, DC Rotaract Club would lead our proceedings in honor of World Rotaract Week. Rotaract Vice President Kyle Morford then asked us to silence our cell phones and led us in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Community Service Co-chair Laura Descher offered words of inspiration, explaining that World Rotaract Week is celebrated to honor the first official chartering of a Rotaract Club in North Carolina on 13 March 1968. Currently, more than 7,600 Rotaract clubs operate in 158 countries with more than 176,000 Rotaractors worldwide. In partnership with their affiliated Rotary clubs, Rotaract clubs serve their communities in great and small ways every day.

Professional Development Chair Marcus Soriano played the Secretary’s role, introducing the following guests and Rotarians visiting from other clubs:

  • Luis Carranza, Alternate Representative at the Permanent Mission of Guatemala to the Organization of American States (OAS), Clara Montanez's guest;
  • Barbara Engler, retired registered nurse, and Gil Engler, President of Master Home Inspectors, also Clara Montanez's guests;
  • Diego Fabrega, Wholesale Development Program Analyst at Suntrust Bank, invited by Deraux Branch;
  • Diego Grajales, accompanying his father Guillermo;
  • Robert Scott Pannick with Riverside Development, Ken Kimbrough's guest;
  • Edward Warren, Director of Practice Growth at PB Mares, invited by Andrew Clark;
  • Ambassador Olive Wonekha of Uganda, accompanying Heather Jaffan;
  • D.R. Butler, a Past District Governor, visiting from Virginia’s Mount Vernon Rotary Club; and
  • Jan Mark, bringing us a banner from Sweden's Rotary Club of Landbongem Helsingborg.
Doing double duty, Marcus also assumed the Sargent-at-Arms’ role, congratulating Rotarians celebrating birthdays this week:
  • Jennifer Hara on 10 March - Our club's fourth woman President became a member in 2005, sponsored by Yukio Tada. Jennifer’s classification is marketing-international finance.
  • Helen Moore on 10 March - Sponsored by Irene Koerner when she joined our club in 2013, Helen’s classification is law-regulatory oversight.
  • John D. Jackson on 11 March - Our Grate Patrol Chair joined our club in 2002, sponsored by Past President Rob Warne. John's classification is religious organizations-homeless ministry.  
  • Larry Margolis on 13 March - Past President during1988-89, Larry joined our club in 1974, sponsored by Herman Arens. Larry’s classification is judiciary-Court of Federal Claims. He is also a Past District Governor and currently serves on Rotary International's Peace Centers Committee.
  • Christine Hall on 14 March - Sponsored by David Klaus, Christine joined our club in December 2014. Her classification is law-librarian.
  • Renee McPhatter on 14 March - Sponsored by Kathy Ward when she joined our club in 2012, Renee’s classification is education-government & community affairs.
President Jennifer returned to the podium, along with selected Rotarians, to share club news and inform us of upcoming activities:
  • She thanked Rotarians who organized and participated in our annual career fair at Washington, DC’s Roosevelt High School on Tuesday, 10 March.
  • The next Red Line Rotary Clubs’ Happy Hour will be on Friday, 13 March at Redwood in Bethesda. The details of time and place are posted on our club’s website. As President Jennifer noted, these Red Line Happy Hours offer a great opportunity for Rotarians from different clubs to meet and get to know each other. (Please note that this activity has already taken place.)
  • Erminia Scarcella declared that our club’s Capital City relationship with the Rome Rotary Club is forging ahead. Planning for a fantastic trip to Rome is underway; travel is scheduled for 15 to 20 September with room for 20 people maximum to attend. Please talk to Erminia for more details.
  • Gretchen Kearney informed the group that the University Club’s driveway will be under construction and may be closed. Valet service will be limited for the next four weeks. The garage at1514 M Street, NW is an alternative, and members may call the University Club for an update on the situation.
  • John Jackson indicated that the Grate Patrol needs volunteers this month. Please see him if you are available to lend a helping hand on Tuesday, 17 March and/or Friday, 20 March.
  • Clara Montanez requested assistance with lodging for a young Rotarian coming to Washington, DC from Argentina most likely in May. Please see her if you have room in your home and would like to host a visiting Rotarian.
After these announcements, President Jennifer introduced D.R. “Reggie” Butler from the Mount Vernon Rotary Club. As a Paul Harris Society member, Reggie donated 1,000 of his accumulated points to Andrew Clark. Reggie was impressed by Andrew’s commitment to service upon their first meeting and decided to enable Andrew to become a Paul Harris Fellow
President Jennifer invited Johnny Allen to give his new-member talk. Johnny recounted growing up and going to college in Tennessee where he studied journalism, moving to Florida where he became involved with managing political campaigns and then coming to DC where he worked on 125 Democratic campaigns. During the 1990s, he became Deputy Commissioner of Mental Health in DC, supervising 2,600 employees at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. In 2011, Johnny founded Aquila Recovery, an organization that seeks to connect addiction prevention and recovery to primary healthcare. As Aquila’s President and CEO, his commitment to helping others reflects his personal experience as he is celebrating 33 years of sobriety in recovery. Johnny concluded with the words he strives to live by: Seek the truth, do the work, live the dream and give it back!
At the microphone again, President Jennifer highlighted International Women’s Day which was on Sunday, 8 March and is celebrated in many countries around the globe. She shared some interesting data about progress for women and girls worldwide and reminded us that Rotary International agreed to admit women as members in 1989. As of 2010, women Rotarians numbered 200,000 worldwide. The DC Rotary Club’s membership is 36 percent female with four women Presidents to date—Susan Neely, Doris Margolis, Monica Conroy and now Jennifer herself.
Before turning the proceedings over to the Rotaract Club, President Jennifer awarded Oliver Wonekha, Ambassador of Uganda to the United States, Honorary Membership to our club. Ms. Wonekha grew up with seven brothers, attended Kampala University and entered Uganda’s legislature in 2001. She is also a Rotarian back home in Uganda.
President Jennifer introduced DC Rotaract President Marilyn Cruz who delivered an informative presentation about the club’s membership and activities, followed by a lively question-and-answer session. As she explained, Rotaractors are college students and young professionals ages 18 to 30 with a median age of 25. Representing diverse professions, they come together to engage in leadership and career development and to perform community and international service. In addition to their service activities, Rotaractors host guest speakers, social functions and fund raisers,
President Marilyn described some of the club’s community and international service activities, showcasing members’ commitment to various causes and their creativity in helping others in need. Among the most notable community-targeted activities is Rotaractors’ participation in local workshops for immigrants. Members assist in completing the 10-page application form required for immigrants seeking to stay in the United States. On the international front, Rotaractors have collaborated with the organization APOPO—an acronym for the Dutch “Anti-Persoonsmijnen Ontmijnende Product Ontwikkeling,” which in English translates as “Anti-Personnel Landmines Detection Product Development”—to adopt two “hero rats” trained to detect landmines and discern tuberculosis in human beings through their sharp sense of smell.
Rotaractors’ service activities and full social calendar impressed Rotarians, several of whom encouraged President Marilyn and others to join the DC Rotary Club when they age out of their Rotaract Club. More information about the DC Rotaract Club is available on its website,, as well as on its Facebook and Meetup pages.
President Jennifer presented Marilyn Cruz with our club’s “Trees for the Capital” certificate. Meanwhile, members awaited news of who had bought the lucky raffle ticket from Davis Kennedy. When the winning numbers were read, President Elect David Treadwell, holding tickets for Sam Holt, claimed the small pot of $40 and donated it to the Rotary Foundation of Washington, DC per Sam’s request. The large pot of $300 will continue to grow.
The meeting was supported by Greeter Rotaractor Anton Martinez and by Johnny Allem, Balraj Gupta and Stu Shalloway at the Hospitality Table.
The next meeting will be on Wednesday, 18 March with President Jennifer convening her Third Quarterly Club Assembly with special guest District Governor Bill Fine.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:30 PM.