Salaam fellow Rotarians! I am delighted to return to your screen after a brief bout with the flu. My thanks to Mike Carmichael for sitting in as Secretary and to Red Badge member Laura Khor for writing the Meeting in Review last week. I greatly appreciate your willingness to help on short notice.
Our 27 May meeting was busy and began as President Jennifer Hara called us to order shortly after 12:30 PM. She led members in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and invited Abrahem Helal to provide words of inspiration. In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, Abe chose various quotes from Buddha, including: “On life’s journey, faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by day and right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him.”
As Abe took his seat, I approached the microphone to welcome guests and Rotarians visiting from other clubs:
  • Francesco Attesti, Concert Pianist, invited by Erminia Scarcella;
  • Charles Botwick, President and CEO of CHB Infrastructure, Technology & Marketing, invited by Sam Hancock;
  • Brian Cohen, Apple Expert at DC iPhone Experts, invited by Lisa McCurdy;
  • Marilyn Cruz, President of the DC Rotaract Club;
  • Kim Hall, Chief Strategy Officer at Elevate Consulting, invited by President Jennifer Hara;
  • Nelli Kati and Agostinno Maia, both Program Associates at the Osgoode Center, invited by Shelly Williams;
  • Dayna Neef, a financial advisor recently relocated from Saginaw, Michigan where she belonged to the local Rotary Club;
  • David Pearce, Business Development Specialist at Pulcra, invited by Sam Hancock;
  • Sherry Schiller, President of the Schiller Center, invited by Marjorie Scott;
  • Justin Silveri, Vice President and Relationship Manager at Eagle Bank, invited by President Jennifer Hara; and
  • Carmit Vadin, AVD Sales at Dyadic Security, invited by Sam Hancock.
I also introduced the representatives of organizations awarded Community Service Grants by our club and joining us for lunch—please see the announcement below.
In Buz Gorman’s absence, Acting Sargent-at-Arms Tony Cusack saluted Rotarians eating birthday cake this week:
  • Hap Jones on 24 May – Sponsored by Past President Gerry Murphy when he became a member in 1990, Hap served as Club President in 1998-1999. His classification is law- corporate.
  • Raven Canty on 26 May – Joining our club in April, sponsored by Donnie Shaw, Raven contributed her talents to our 2015 Career Fair. Her classification is marketing-sales representative.
  • Memo Grajales on 27 May – Sponsored by William Garcia when he joined our club in 1995, Memo’s classification is economics-agriculture.
  • Christine Warnke on 27 May – Becoming a member of our club in 2012, sponsored by Sam Hancock, Christine’s classification is governmental affairs.
  • Pete Larson on 30 May – Sponsored by President Jennifer Hara when he joined our club in December 2014, Pete’s classification is real estate-commercial.
After announcing our birthday celebrants, Tony Cusack presented Paul Harris Awards to three generous contributors to the Rotary International Foundation: Past President Howard Davis, PH+7; Diane Eames, PH+2; and Sam Holt, PH+6.
President Jennifer returned to the podium to share club news and remind us of upcoming activities and events:
  • Kenny Barnes is undergoing brain surgery. President Elect David Treadwell is visiting him, and Lisa Cohen is keeping us abreast of his condition. She has the details of where he is being hospitalized and how to contact him with well wishes.
  • Don Messer has been in touch with President Jennifer, conveying the sad news that his wife, Jeanine, passed away at age 85. Executive Director Gretchen Kearney and President Jennifer have Don’s contact information for those wishing to send him their condolences.
  • Our club is co-hosting a special piano concert with the Federal City and Historic Prince George’s County Clubs to benefit Polio Plus. The concert, featuring renowned pianist Francesco Attesti, will be held on Thursday evening, 4 June at the Italian Embassy on 3000 Whitehaven Street, NW. Tickets are $50 with space for no more than 150 attendees. Mr. Attesti himself took the microphone to encourage Rotarians to come listen to him play while enjoying beer, wine and light fare.
Before turning to our guest speaker, President Jennifer and Past President Howard Davis announced the organizations receiving this year’s Community Service Grants and handed checks to their representatives:
  • Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys, represented by Executive Director James Woody,  receiving $5,000;
  • Bright Beginnings, represented by Development Specialist Taryn Cohen, receiving $3,500;
  • Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), represented by Director of Citizenship and Civic Engagement Ana Negoescu, receiving $5,000;
  • Central Union Mission, represented by CFO Sally Cox and Fund-raising Specialist Richard Eisendorf, receiving $20,000;
  • Children’s Law Center, represented by Development Associate Bonnie Goldberg, receiving $2,500;
  • Christ House, represented by Director of Development Sarah Katz, receiving $2,500;
  • Everybody Wins DC, represented by Manager of Operations and Foundation Development Anne Owl, receiving $1,600;
  • The Family Place, represented by Board Member Dr. Oralia Puente and Executive Assistant Ana Acevedo, receiving $5,000;
  • For the Love of Children (FLOC), represented by Development Associate Kate Fleischer, receiving $4,000;
  • Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena, represented by Director of Fund-raising Ron Slomski, receiving $2,500;
  • Georgetown Ministry Center, represented by Community Director Stephanie Chan,  receiving $1,360;
  • Iona Senior Services, represented by Susan Messina, receiving $2,500; and
  • Open Book Foundation, represented by Development Director Amy Kim, receiving $2,500.
Jason Tengco—Advancing Asian Americans’ and Pacific Islanders’ Rights from the White House
President Jennifer introduced our guest Jason Tengco, Deputy Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI). A speaker ideally suited to cap off Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Mr. Tencgo recounted that the inspiration for his career came from the plight of his grandfather, who was originally from the Philippines and served in the armed forces during World War II but was deemed ineligible for the benefits due to United States veterans. As a college student, Mr. Tencgo joined others in mobilizing and advocating around this issue.
The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders was established during the Clinton Administration and re-authorized by President Barack Obama through a 2009 executive order. Unlike other similar agencies and initiatives serving African American and Hispanic Americans that focus on ensuring access to education, WHIAAPI’s mission is broader. The Initiative facilitates increased access to and participation in federal programs where AAPIs remain underserved—from education to healthcare to immigration services to vindication of civil rights.
As Mr. Tencgo explained, the term “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders” covers numerous communities whose cultures, educational achievements, socio-economic conditions and levels of political representation vary greatly. However, this diversity is obscured by the “Asian American success myth”—the stereotype of a more or less uniformly high-achieving community whose members excel in educational attainment and technical professions. In his position, Mr. Tencgo has seen the need for AAPIs to have greater access to the resources of the federal government. WHIAAPI has produced a video that he shared to highlight how diverse communities throughout the United States may explore and gain access to these resources. The video closes with the statement, “No community should be invisible to its government.”
Ending his remarks, Mr. Tencgo asked Rotarians to “connect, share and mobilize.” Opportunities to “connect” are available through the Corporation for National & Community Service, a federal agency that helps Americans improve their fellow citizens’ lives through service in such areas as senior citizen care, disaster relief and assistance to veterans. “Sharing” means telling and listening to the life stories of AAPIs within and beyond our Rotary Club as well as checking out the relevant proclamations issued by President Obama which Mr. Tencgo left on the dining tables. “Mobilizing” involves all of us working to ensure that AAPIs understand their rights and the resources available to them.
Inquisitive Rotarians asked Mr. Tencgo questions about how AAPIs are breaking the “bamboo ceiling” and dealing with the heated political debates surrounding proposed reforms to the immigration system. His presentation and commitment to public service clearly resonated with club members and guests. 
Adjourned Until Next Week
President Jennifer awarded our “Trees for the Capital” certificate to Jason Tencgo. Meanwhile, Rotarians waited for news of the raffle drawing. When the winning numbers were read, your humble Secretary discovered that she had bought the winning ticket from Nancy Riker. I gratefully claimed the small pot of $48, but the ace of spades stayed hidden from me within our deck of cards. So the grand prize of $908 will keep growing.
Our gratitude goes to Greeter Sterling Hoffman as well as Balraj Gupta and Stu Shalloway for manning the Hospitality Table.
At our meeting on 3 June, the guest speaker will be Davita Vance-Cooks, Director of the United States Government Publishing Office.
President Jennifer adjourned the meeting shortly before 1:30 PM … And then I put down my pen—to be picked up by a volunteer who will record next week’s Meeting in Review while I head to Michigan to visit my family.