When John Germ takes office as Rotary International’s president in July, it will mark his 40th year in Rotary. In that time, he’s likely best-known for leading Rotary’s $200 Million Challenge, a fundraising effort sparked by a challenge grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Rotarians surpassed that goal in 2011, raising $228.7 million toward polio immunization activities.
“I never questioned that we would raise the funds,” he says. “Rotarians have been so generous.”
In fact, raising money for polio was one of Germ’s first leadership roles. He became a member of the Rotary Club of Chattanooga, TN, in 1976.
“I wasn’t involved, other than going to meetings, until 1983 when I was asked to be club secretary,” he says. “Then I was asked to participate as district co-chair for the polio fundraising campaign.” After that, he was hooked. “The more active I became, and the more good that I saw being done, the more I wanted to do.”
Germ went on to serve Rotary as vice president, director, Foundation trustee and vice chair, and RI president’s aide. Professionally, he continues to consult for Campbell & Associates, a Chattanooga engineering firm he started working for in 1965 and eventually served as chairman and CEO.
Go here for a Q&A interview with Germ conducted by John Rezek, editor in chief of The Rotarian.
Rotarians from District 7190 will have an opportunity to meet Jennifer E. Jones, a Rotary International Director for 2015-17, at a special luncheon.
She will be the speaker at a luncheon scheduled for noon to 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, at the Doubletree by Hilton, 100 Nott Terrace in Schenectady. Reservations, which may be made online, are $25 per person for salad, entree, dessert, and beverages.
Jennifer, a member of the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland in Ontario Province, Canada, is president and CEO of Media Street Productions Inc. As a Rotary International Director, she represents one of 20 RI districts around the globe.
Among her many community activities, she chairs the board of governors of the University of Windsor. She has served Rotary as RI president’s representative; RI training leader; committee adviser, member, and vice chair; Rotary public image area and zone coordinator; leaders’ seminar trainer; moderator, and as a district governor.
She is a recipient of RI’s “Service Above Self Award.” She and her husband, Nicholas Krayacich, are members of the Arch Klumph Society, Paul Harris Society, and Bequest Society of The Rotary Foundation.
Each Rotary Year, the incoming Rotary International president creates a theme. For the upcoming year, which will begin on July 1, it’s “Be a Gift to the World.”
RI President-elect K.R. “Ravi” Ravindran asked Rotary members to use their talents, expertise, and leadership to transform the lives of others when he announced his theme during the recent International Assembly in San Diego, CA.
In his address, which he called “the most significant moment of my life,” to incoming district governors on Sunday, Ravindran said:
“All of you have been given so many gifts. And you have now been given this great gift: one year to take all your talents, all your gifts, everything that you are and can become — and Be a Gift to the World. You have one year to take that potential and turn it into reality. One year to lead the clubs in your district and transform the lives of others. The time is so short, yet there is so much to be done.”
Highlighting Rotary’s biggest challenge, the eradication of polio, Ravindran said, “A future without polio is a gift that we have promised to the children of the world. And indeed it is a gift that we will give.”
Ravindran, a member of the Rotary Club of Colombo, Sri Lanka, used Rotary’s successes in the fight to eradicate the disease as an illustration of the impact Rotary members can have in the world. When Rotary set a goal 25 years ago of eradicating polio, the disease was endemic in 125 countries, and each day more than 1,000 children were becoming paralyzed. Today, polio remains endemic in just three countries, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. And in all of 2014, only 333 cases were reported. “We will battle on. We will prevail,” he said.
Ravindran discussed some of Rotary’s other challenges, including membership.
“We have to find a way to bring back the fundamentals that built our organization: the emphasis on high ethical standards in all aspects of our lives, and the classification system that encourages a diversity of expertise in each club,” he said. “Too often these ideas are viewed as little more than inconvenient obstacles to increasing our membership. But they have been essential to Rotary’s success, and we ignore them at our own peril.”
Ravindran told attendees that the focus on branding is essential to helping Rotary grow. “We need to reposition our image, which we recognize has faded in many parts of the world,” he said.
Rotary also needs to continue to raise funds for The Rotary Foundation, attract new members, and encourage greater participation from current members, he added.
“There are no easy answers to any of these questions. And yet the answers must somehow be found. We are the ones who must find them,” said Ravindran.
The president-elect closed his speech emphasizing that now is the time to make real change.
“You have one year to build monuments that will endure forever, not carved in granite or marble, but in the lives and hearts of generations. This is our time. It will not come again. Let us grasp it.”
K.R. “Ravi” Ravindran, a member of the Rotary Club of Colombo, Western Province, Sri Lanka, has been elected the 2015-16 president of Rotary International.
Speaking to the RI Convention in Sydney, Australia this week, he told the audience he accepts “this lifetime opportunity with great humility.”
Ravindran acknowledges that Rotary is at a momentous period in its history.
“The great battle we waged against the insidious polio virus is slowly but surely drawing to its finite end, and we are continuing to reach out to thousands with our humanitarian services,” he said. “But, let us continue to be vigilant. Let us not lull ourselves into complacency for we kn,ow our membership lingers and languishes.”
He encouraged Rotary members to communicate better and take advantage of the resources available to make Rotary’s brand “shine brighter and louder, especially outside this organization.”
We sometimes hear our members wondering how Rotary International spends its money besides a few of the obvious activities, such as PolioPlus and educational grants. Now, as of this calendar year, RI is making its “Annual Report” readily available online.
If you go here, you will find financial reports and graphs that show how RI funding is helping create positive change around the world.
In line with the new Rotary International branding campaign, we have begun phasing in our new club logo.
It emphasizes the Rotary symbol and the word Rotary in bold letters. This is inspired by an international survey that says the symbol is widely recognized, although not necessarily as the entity we call Rotary. Thus, the bold name in alignment with the new one-color symbol.
We will begin phasing out any old Rotary logos and other ID in our official communications, and complete the transition in time for the start of the 2014-15 Rotary Year.
BANGKOK, Thailand — Bruce Aylward (right), assistant director-general for polio, emergencies and country collaboration for the World Health Organization, said India’s removal from the polio-endemic list is “perhaps the most important milestone ever on the long road to eradication.”
“It’s a magnificent achievement. And it is a Rotary achievement,” he said during an address at the Rotary International Convention held here this week. “Today, Rotary’s vision of a polio-free world is much closer to reality.”
But an upsurge in cases of paralysis from polio in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and recent polio outbreaks in China, the Congo, and Tajikistan have also prompted what he called an “unprecedented push” to finally end the disease. He said 192 ministers of health will meet next week and declare polio a public health emergency.
BANGKOK, Thailand — Rotarians this week celebrated two major milestones in the organization’s decades-long fight to rid the world of polio.
During the Third Plenary Session of the 2012 Rotary International Convention being held here, Rotarians were congratulated for meeting and exceeding Rotary’s (US)$200 Million Challenge, Rotary’s response to $355 million in matching grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for polio eradication efforts.
Attendees also celebrated India’s removal from the polio-endemic list in February, which leaves only three countries where transmission of the virus has never been stopped.
But speakers reminded the festive assembly that the work is far from complete, because the ultimate goal has not been reached.
“We know that we haven’t reached our goal. We haven’t ended polio,” said John F. Germ, chair of the $200 Million Challenge Committee. “Our clubs are still planning polio fundraisers for the coming years and encouraging donations from people in their communities.”
Germ announced that, as of May 4, Rotarians and supporters have raised $215.7 million for the challenge, which runs through June. But with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative facing a significant funding shortfall for 2012 and beyond, it is vital for clubs and districts to keep pushing forward with their many creative fundraisers.
[Go here for the full story, as well as links to other RI Convention activities and newsmaking events.]