Monthly Archives: June 2015

Lunar Rainbow at Iguazzu Falls

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If you happen to travel to Brazil you should definitely take a few days to check out Iguazzu Falls.  What a breathtakingly beautiful place.  If you are lucky enough to stay at the Hotel das Cataratas, which is located right in the National Park within viewing distance of the Falls, and you are further lucky enough to be staying at the Falls when there is a full moon, then you can sign up for a walking tour down to the Falls at night.  There you can see one of the most wondrous and beautiful sights you will ever see.  Under the moonlight, you can see a lunar rainbow.  Lit by the moonlight, the rainbow turns to a ghostly silver color.  Fans of Tolkien would think they were in an Elvish land.  You need to be a better writer than I to describe how small you feel watching the Falls by day.  But at night it’s even more special.

Interestingly, the rainbow is one of the stars of a visit to the Falls, and by day tourists aim all types of cameras at the many rainbow views and come away rewarded with beautiful rainbow pictures.  But it’s almost impossible to capture a picture of the lunar rainbow.  All of the photographer hacks like me didn’t capture any image of it at all.  How frustrating to know you just experienced one of the most beautiful sights of a lifetime but you couldn’t share it with anyone.

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All of which is my (typically long winded) way of saying thank you to everyone who showed up my installation event last Saturday.  It went spectacularly well and it seems that a good time was had by all.  But due to time constraints I had to hack copious amount of content from my comments that evening.  I was very disappointed that I didn’t get an opportunity to review all of the accomplishments of our District Leadership Team leading up to this year.  Under the direction of two strong District Governors, Peter Kyle, and Bill Fine, and working within the structure of a well thought-out strategic plan, a whole team of people have accomplished a lot.  But almost all of it is “behind the scenes” kind of stuff.  Building infrastructure, reorganizing, recruiting strong committee chairs, and redefining long-held policies, isn’t necessarily the most inspirational stuff for most Rotarians….but it is for me.

Therefore, as your intrepid RFA reporter, and new District Governor of District 7620, dedicated to the proposition that you, my loyal reader, needs to be informed about all things Rotary, I am going to now list my highlights of two and one half years of work on the Leadership Team.  This list is a tribute to what a team can do when it has a clear vision of what they are trying to accomplish and as you will see, many Rotarians contributed to what has been built.

Here’s the thing.  Very few of our Rotary clubs have felt the impact of this change.  It is very much like the lunar rainbow at Iguazzu Falls.  It’s there, but our Rotary clubs can’t see it….yet.  Here’s the list:

Team Accomplishments:

Strategic Plan

Set new goal of $200 per cap giving for APF

New District Rotary Foundation Chair

New District Grants Chair

Restructured our grants team by Area of Focus

Created new eligibility rules rewarding Foundation giving

Recruited all new Development Chairs, including Claude (Polio Plus), Mike Twigg (APF), Rob Brown (Major Gifts), Larry Leahy (PHS)

Recruited 14 Foundation Advocates to support club Foundation Chairs.

Restarted an old tradition of having a Foundation Dinner in the District – great success.

New plan for Leadership Members: DGN does Foundation development, DGE focuses on AG support.

Held two different PR symposiums to help define PR Committee role in the District

Recruited Dawn Wittfelt as District PR Committee Chair

New emphasis on District blog, District Facebook page, social media training, video training

Restarted our new Foundation Newsletter under the direction of Mary Felter and now Pat Kasuda.

Ready, Fire, Aim Rotary blog

New membership chair in Rich Glover, replacing long-time iconic chair, Darrell Nevin

14 Membership Coordinators to work with club membership chairs

New emphasis on club extensions with new clubs in Howard West and Federal City, with two more per year per our strategic plan.

Held our first Immediate Past Presidents meeting to introduce them to District-level service.

We have two new training committee chairs in Mary Nagle and Sean McAlister

Very successful PETS 1, PETS 2, and Chesapeake PETS first time around

Creating a new role for a training committee in the District

New model for smaller regional training meetings

New District Treasurer in Geoffrey Fenner

Installed new procedures for tracking District expenses

Updated our District reporting

Helped rework the District budget

New communications plan allowing District committee chairs to pmail directly to club committee chairs.

7 new AGs in the District

New model for AGs to work with club presidents emphasizing one on one meetings

New model for Anna Mae to support AGs emphasizing one on one meetings.

Developing new District awards created by PR, Foundation, and Membership Chairs that will allow clubs to win awards in specific important categories.

It took a lot of work by a lot of motivated Rotarians to create this list, and I couldn’t be MORE PROUD to be on this team.  I think our mission is clear for the 2015-16 year.  It’s time to EXECUTE.  We have the right people in the right positions at the right time.  As RI President, Ravi, says so well…”Our time is now.  It will never come again.  Be A Gift To the World.”  OK 7620 Rotary clubs….it’s your turn!  I’m excited to watch all of you make it happen.

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It’s Time to Install our New Club Presidents

At Mr.  Obama's swearing in.


I thought I would write about installing new club leaders this morning, and then I remembered that more than a year ago I wrote a RFA post about installing new club members.  And guess what?   The rules for a good new member induction and a good Club President installation are the same!  So I herewith present this previous RFA post on How To Induct New Members with the thought that you, my esteemed and learned RFA reader, can easily take this information and translate it from installing new members to installing new club leaders.  

As you read the post below, be thinking of what you would charge new club leaders to do during their year.  How about supporting the club president, coming up with creative new ideas, having a positive attitude, and recruiting new members for their committee? If you speak from the heart its all good.  For new Club Presidents, how about creating a vision for the future of the club, holding members accountable, and working to implement the club’s strategic plan?   As for the actual pledge, it’s REALLY easy.  Do you (say your name) (NOTE:  I have ten bucks if you install a club leadership team and someone doesn’t say, “say your name” instead of their own name.  It’s about as certain as the change of seasons.)  Anyway, “Do you agree to uphold the bylaws of the Rotary Club of “X” and the bylaws of Rotary International.  Bam. Boom.  Done.  It’s the rest of it that’s the fun part!  

So here is the post from January 24, 2014.  And by the way, new Club Presidents, you will find yourselves (hopefully) inducting new members soon after you take office so please take a few notes:


As a member of the District Leadership Team I’m often asked to induct a new member to Rotary.  It kind of goes with the territory and it is a pleasure to do.  I’ve also watched various club presidents do the honors.  Unfortunately, for the most part, inducting a new member seems to fall into a “polar vortex” of public speaking mistakes that cheapens the experience for all concerned.  So….here are some tips to consider for your next new member induction.

Let’s start with Inductions 101 which entails reading the induction ceremony. If you need a copy you can find several sample induction ceremonies available online as a PDF  called New Member Inductions.  The written ceremonies have the advantage of sounding formal and official.  And they allow the inductor to not worry that they have missed anything important or that they will make some kind of “gaffe” that will embarrass themselves or their new member, not to mention the current club members.  

The problem is that READING  the induction breaks every rule of good public speaking.  It’s usually done with no eye contact with the audience.  It screams that this isn’t important enough to do without reading a script, and it’s usually delivered in a monotone.  In short, it is as far from memorable as you can get.  So, my first tip is that if you are going to read a new member induction (or anything that you present as a speaker), you should PRACTICE! Here is what you do.  Go to your bathroom or another room with a mirror.  Read the induction, OUT LOUD, ten times.  Look at yourself in the mirror as much as possible while reading.  Try to memorize at least five different lines.  Listen to yourself!  Try to make your voice conversational while you read.  The key is to HEAR what the induction sounds like in your own voice.  When you actually read the script in front of the club it will sound natural and more like a speech than a reading assignment.  However, if you read the same script each time your club members will know it, and they will pay an appropriately diminishing amount of attention each time you read it.

If you are up to it, (and I think you are),  DON’T READ THE SCRIPT.  Instead, just say what is in your heart to a new member about joining Rotary.  How about starting with talking about Rotary or about your club?  Your club’s history in the community is a great place to start.  Then, you might challenge a new member with what they need to do as a new Rotarian.  If you want a great list for suggestions for new member requirements, go to Rotary Club Central New Members.  Here are a few of my own ideas you might consider:  1) Get to know the people in the club, 2) Sit at different tables, 3) Learn more about Rotary at RLI, 4) Attend the District Conference, 5) Join several club committees, 6) Express your opinion freely and often, 7) Brag about your new status as a Rotarian in the community and bring a guest to the meeting, 8) Do the things your club asks of you in the “fireside chat” and remove your “red badge” of new membership.  9) Aspire to join the club’s Leadership Team, and 10) My favorite….Hold club leaders to the highest standards.  Expect a lot from them.

Andrew Jackson Oath of Office

Jot down your favorite five ideas on a piece of paper and practice saying a little something about each.  Here’s one to get you started, “Get to know the people in our club.  They are not as scary as they look from up here.  (Wait for the laugh….wait for it….wait for it….now proceed.)  You will find one of the greatest joys in Rotary is the friendships you are about to make.”  Don’t be constrained with my ten ideas, come up with eight of your own.  It’s your personal message to a new member so be as creative as you want.  The good news here is ANYTHING is better than reading the script.

Joining a Rotary club should be a momentous occasion for a new member.  It is a chance for club leaders to show off their love of Rotary and their Leadership skills.  Don’t waste this chance to wow your club members and put on a show.  But no matter what you do and how you do it, end by having all the club members stand and have the new member’s sponsor affix the new Rotary pin.  And yes…it’s OK to make a joke about drawing blood.  Everyone does!




In Search of the Perfect Caipirinha



Your Ready, Fire, Aim editor busy with research for this post.

Cachaca is an alcoholic beverage made from fresh sugar cane juice that is fermented and distilled.  If you cut a fresh lime and add sugar, crush it together, and then add cachaca and shake over ice, the resulting drink is the local beverage called a caipirinha.  While I still can’t pronounce it (or anything else in just about any foreign language,) it appears that I can drink a caipirinha….depending on how its made. Too much cachaca and the drink is verifiable rocket fuel.  Danny Parker, our intrepid 7620 tour guide, offers that you have to mix the sugar on the bottom of the glass to get the flavor exactly right.  I’m no expert, but it appears to me that compared to rum cachaca is very smoooooooth.  Interestingly, the more you drink the smoother it gets.

I didn’t come to Brazil in search of the perfect caipirinha, but the trip is kind of turning into a quest of epic proportions.   I’ve looked everywhere for the perfect drink.  Three nights in Rio de Janeiro turned up some interesting contestants.  Then we went  to Iguazu Falls and actually looked under a rainbow to find the perfect caipirinha.  See if you can see it…

Not to be deterred, we were off to Sao Paulo and the Rotary International Convention, where we thought we would find it (the perfect caipirinha) at Carnival.  It turns out that Carnival appeared at a couple of different times here in Sao Paulo.  First was at the opening plenary session.  OMG.  The performers made you feel like you were already drinking caipirinhas even if you weren’t.  Here’s a taste of Carnival at the plenary session:

Or…perhaps you like your Carnival in a parade?  If so, you could catch the parade after the plenary at the sambadrome.  Aside from the brilliant costumes and the exciting dancing and music, if you were there, you can testify to what its like waiting for the show to start sitting on concrete steps and eating Brazilian cheese balls and popcorn.  Just when you lost all feeling below the waist, the show started and the parade got everyone cheering.  Here’s a brief look:

And after the entire parade goes by and your thoughts are turning once again to your favorite cachaca-based beverage, here comes a float with RI President, Gary Huang, who perhaps had already imbibed a few too many of this Brazilian treat?  Here’s President Gary in the Carnival parade waving to the crowd having already exhausted himself leading happy claps earlier in the evening.

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Aside from the hunt for the perfect caipirinhas, an International Conference did break out this week with the plenary session on Monday focusing on the Rotary  Foundation.  (Here is where we get to brag more than a little.)  The 2014-15 Global Alumni Service to Humanity award recipient was District 7620’s own Dr. Geetha Jayaram, Psychiatrist and Associate Professor at John Hopkins School of Medicine.  Geetha was honored for a career’s worth of service in her home country of India helping women get treatment for mental health through her project Maanasi .  Here’s a few pictures of Geetha addressing the plenary session.

20150608_103927(0)20150608_103152We are so proud of Geetha, her husband, PDG Jay Kumar, and her newly chartered Rotary Club, the Rotary Club of Howard West.

What else?  How about an address by Nobel Peace Prize Winner and new Rotarian, Dr Oscar Arias, Former President of Costa Rica?  He gave a stirring speech based on a Paul Harris quote about making “war on war” and about the need for the world to buy less weapons and focus our resources on peace. Dr. Arias received an enthusiastic standing ovation that was well earned.


Finally, to end the session on a stunning note, Hamid Jafari, the WHO Director of Polio Eradication, gave an amazing report confirming that the Continent of Africa has been polio free so far this year, and Nigeria has not reported a case for 10 months.  He also said THAT A POLIO FREE WORLD COULD BEGIN IN A MATTER OF MONTHS INSTEAD OF YEARS!   I took this to mean that our eradication efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan may result in months where there are no new polio cases anywhere in the world beginning very shortly.   I’m pretty sure this is the most important  news we’ve heard in years regarding Polio.  I can’t imagine the head dude at the WHO saying this to a Rotary audience unless he was pretty darned certain about it.  We’ve been “so close” for so long.  I wonder if we are really on the cusp of the single greatest accomplishment of our Rotary lifetimes?  Of course, polio free doesn’t mean certified eradicated, but it’s close enough for me to reach for the cachaca.


So…tonight is the Major Donor Dinner, and another shot at finding the perfect Caipirinha.  The search continues….