News Categories: Civic Thursday Video Recordings

Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, July 14th, 2022

The first Civic Thursday meeting of the Rotary year kicked off with the Rick Baskin’s band, Layin’ Down the Law, playing music and a California Ballroom filled with members and guests. The crowd gathered to launch Mary Geong's year as president of the Rotary Club of Oakland. Mary is the 114th president, the 9th female president, and the first Asian-American president of Oakland #3.

MC Linda welcomed all visiting Rotarians and guests and shared Mary's fascinating background. Mary was born in Guangzhou, China in 1949, the year that Chairman Mao took power. She traveled to San Francisco on the SS President Cleveland with her mother in 1951 - her first cruise. Her four younger siblings were born in San Francisco. Because Mary's father was a "paper son" (claiming a false family relationship with a Chinese-American citizen), Mary was a "paper granddaughter." While growing up in a Chinatown housing project, her parents instilled a passion for education in Mary and her siblings. Mary worked her way through San Francisco State majoring in accounting and became the first member of her family to receive a college degree. 

Mary obtained an MBA and masters in taxation at Golden Gate University. As a CPA, she worked at the California Franchise Tax Board as a tax auditor and later opened her own tax practice. Mary has served on the California Board of Accountancy, the board of Goodwill of the East Bay, and is active in the Asian Real Estate Association of the East Bay and the Piedmont Asian American Club. She served the City of Piedmont as a member of the park commission, budget advisory committee, and capital improvement committee.

Mary joined Oakland #3 in 2002, served as a club director, an ORE trustee and past president, and chair of the Saroni-Lena Scholarship Committee among many other positions. She is a Paul Harris Fellow +7 and an ORE major donor. Mary's biggest Rotary claim to fame was winning a brand new Mercedes Benz at a club raffle in 2004. 

President Mary was welcomed to the lectern with a standing ovation. The Toishan Lion Dancers took over the ballroom with an energetic performance through the crowd and onto the stage. The dancers were accompanied by drums, cymbals, and gongs. For the record, there was one yellow lion and one red lion. 

Mary introduced a host of family members and friends, including: husband Bill Geong, daughters Jennifer and Danielle (online), California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, Past District Governor Richard Flanders, S.F. Rotary #2 Past President Mary Liu, S.F. Chinatown Rotary Past President Richard Schwarz and President Rhonda Pierce; Past President Patty Kringle of Rotary Club of Dublin, Past President Kenneth Pon of San Leandro Rotary Club, Frank Pare’ of Oakland Uptown Rotary, Rotary District 5170 Area 1 Assistant Governor Saralinda Jackson, Juliet Ng and Vivian Chen. The 2022-23 Club officers and directors and ORE trustees were also introduced.

Richard Flanders, Past Governor and first Asian-American District 5170 Governor, reviewed the many accomplishments of Oakland #3 during the 2021-22 year. He then presented a plaque to Past President Dudley Thompson which honored him as a Distinguished Rotary Club President.

State Treasurer Fiona Ma reported that she has been a member of the Lions and Elks but has never joined Rotary. She suggested that she may join Rotary now that the attendance requirements have been relaxed. Her background is quite similar to President Mary's although she started in private practice and then moved to the public sector. Fiona declared that while she may be the state treasurer, Mary is a state treasure.

Mary reviewed her goals for this year:

Since the number 8 is considered lucky in Asian culture, she is aiming to increase club membership to 288 or even 388 members. Create a more open, inviting and inclusive club. Present diverse speakers and expand club outreach to the community. Mary's area of focus will be education. This year's speaker's gift will be a contribution to Oakland Promise.

Missed our meeting, but interested in checking out the next one? Click below to learn more.

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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, June 30th, 2022

President Dudley Thompson welcomed Rotarians and Guests to the 5,392nd Civic Thursday meeting of the Rotary Club of Oakland, and pointed out that this is the last meeting he will preside as next week is his demotion.

Past President Lorna Padia Markus invited members and guests to stand and cheer as the Past Presidents accompanied Dudley into the ballroom to the strains of ‘The Iowa Corn Song”.

Past President Iris Brody Lopez, joining via Zoom from Peoria, Arizona, noted that the high point of President Dudley’s year was his appearance on the cover of the August 2021 issue of Rotary Magazine. This is the first time the magazine cover has featured a Rotary Club of Oakland president. To commemorate that event, Past President Marlo Seligman presented Dudley with his Past President’s Pin.

Next Past President Linda Chew reminded Dudley that the Covid pandemic had challenged his administration. For example, Rotary volunteers had to suspend their in-classroom assistance to the Transitional Kindergarten students in the Oakland Unified School District.

Past President Charlie Adams amplified the impact it had, but how the club managed to still support students with summer book reading, field trips to the Oakland Zoo and Children’s Fairyland and give the teachers gift cards to obtain supplies for their classrooms. These accomplishments landed him on the cover of Ranger Raccoon magazine. Charlie then presented Dudley with this Past President’s Badge.

Past President Sean Marx reminded Dudley and everyone that usually Rotarians visit many other clubs each year and bring back club banners which are given to the outgoing President.  Since travel has been non-existent, the club presented banners from other First-Five sister clubs – Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle.

Past President Linda Boessenecker told how the Business Development Committee had promoted business opportunities among Rotarians as well as the greater Oakland community. She shared that Dudley appeared on the cover of Business Month magazine and almost single-handedly revived the after-work cocktail hour.

Past President Robert Kidd presented Dudley with a gavel plaque in recognition of his attempt to control the “herd of cats” at the weekly meetings.

Past President Ces Butner addressed the outdoor activities the club engaged in during the pandemic, including baseball games, pickle ball contests, golf tournaments, bicycle rides, and hikes. Dudley was featured on the cover of Outsider magazine for these events. Ces then presented Dudley with a gift from the Past Presidents – a Swing Caddie electronic golf measurer.

Past President Mary Rudser came to the microphone. With the customary “Proclamation from the Office of the Mayor” in hand, Mary then introduced special guest, Mayor Libby Shaaf. Currently an Honorary Member of Oakland Rotary, Mayor Shaaf spoke about an earlier time when she was an active club member and recalled the many things Rotary did for the residents of Oakland. She then congratulated Dudley for his leadership of the tremendous support the Club now gives the community. She presented Dudley with the framed document which proclaimed June 30, 2022 as Dudley Thompson Day in the City of Oakland.

President Dudley thanked the Club for the opportunity to serve and how much he appreciates what members have done this past year.  He then introduced our next president, Mary Geong.

Mary Geong reminded everyone that there is no weekly meeting on July 7th, but her inauguration will be July 14th. She then declared the meeting adjourned as she rang the bell for the first time.

Missed our meeting, but interested in checking out the next one? Click below to learn more.

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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, June 23rd, 2022

President Dudley Thompson welcomed Rotarians and Guests to the 5,392nd Civic Thursday meeting of the Rotary Club of Oakland, and pointed out that this is the last meeting he will preside as next week is his demotion. In keeping with the Alameda County Health Department’s indoor masked mandate, President Dudley asked members in the ballroom to keep masks on when not eating or drinking. For those members participating via Zoom, President Dudley encouraged the use of the chat function.

Past President Sean Marx, provided the thought for the day (or some may characterize it as self-promotion!). Sean shared that he completes his Yoga Certification tonight after significant hours of work. He shared the most important concept of Yoga is ahisma or non-harmony. This concept is especially significant given the recent gun violence throughout the country, the war in Ukraine, and the threat to women’s reproductive freedom.

Jim Boessenecker introduced two visiting Rotarians present in the ballroom; Michelle Ingram of Alameda, who is considering joining the RCO and Roger Inverarity, a retired engineer from Adelaide, Australia. Past President and Past District Governor Ed Jellen, participating via Zoom, was happy to introduce Concha Delgado. President Dudley’s wife.

Keith Uriarte introduced our newest Rotarian, Ricka White-Soso. Ricka is a licensed clinical social worker with a master’s in social work. 

Bruce Nye shared that he has been selected as the next chairperson of the Community Service Committee. He invited Rotarians to join the committee which meets the first Wednesday of the month.

President Dudley recognized Keith Uriarte for his work this past year. He served as membership coordinator and served on the Communications and DE&I committees. Congratulations Keith and thank you for your service to the club!

CJ Hirschfield introduced the speaker for the day, Lance McGee – Unique Derique, sharing his unique dual roles of a Trauma-Informed Wellness Coordinator and performance clown.

Lance began by asking the audience to participate in “fun faces and foolishness” which he uses as a warmup when working with a group. He then invited us to participate in a mindful moment where he led us on a guided meditation suggesting that we explore what we do for self-care, gratitude, and living toward a peaceful, happy and healthy life.

His journey began at home when he met a friend’s mother who invited him to attend clown class and he was hooked. He joined the Pickle Family Circus, attended college where he studied circus arts and received his BA. He focused on vaudeville and slapstick which informed his performance style. Lance met Sammy Davis Jr. at a performance. Sammy offered to manage his career and Lance opened for Lou Rawls and performed at the Apollo Theatre. 

Eventually, Lance became disillusioned with the life of performing and went back to school in drama therapy. After graduating he went to work at East Bay Agency for Children where he observed children being punished in the classroom. He decided to revise his focus to work with staff and teachers as a Trauma-Informed Counselor. He advises teachers and staff on how they can bring a trauma-informed approach to the classroom and their work.

Click here to watch Lance McGee – Unique Derique's video segment.

Missed our meeting, but interested in checking out the next one? Click below to learn more.

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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, June 16th, 2022

President Dudley Thompson called to order the 5,391st Civic Thursday meeting of the 3rd established Rotary Club in the world. The Ballroom was full of Rotarians, and there were many people participating on Zoom.

Alex Kaffka shared an inspiring quote by Stephen Covey: “When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.”

Past President & District Governor Ed Jellen introduced Ruth Stroup’s guest, Dr. Edie Zusman. In the ballroom Joe Goralka introduced visiting Rotarian and fellow Assistant District Governor (along with Joe) Dianne Dorn, past president of the San Leandro Rotary Club. C J Hirschfield also introduced her guest, just as a glitch in the sound system caused the microphone to malfunction and the name was inaudible.

Karen Friedman reintroduced Keith Giron. Since it was also Keith’s birthday, the ballroom audience serenaded him with the “Happy Birthday” song. A native of Denver, Colorado, Keith excelled in sports, including cross country and wrestling in high school. He was captain of the cross-country team and co-captain of the wrestling team. At the University of Notre Dame, Keith was co-captain of the Wrestling team. He majored in accounting, but also enjoyed philosophy. He worked for several large firms before establishing his own solo accounting practice. He belongs to the AICPA and is a past president of the California Society, East Bay Chapter. A Rotarian since 1989, he has served on the ORE Board and is a long-time member of the Karl Stucki World Community Service Committee. WCS has provided him with many travel opportunities abroad. His personal mantra is “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. One of the most fun experiences of being a Rotarian is visiting other Rotary clubs and swapping banners.

Barbara Beery, President-Elect Mary Geong and Joe Goralka recently attended the Rotary International Annual Convention and all presented banners to President Dudley. The banners were from Jinga, Uganda; Seabrook, Texas; and Sri Lanka. Anyone travelling soon? Dudley would like more banners for his wall. Barbara Beery, co-chair of the Karl F. Stucki World Community Service Committee, shared many of the programs our ORE and RI donations have funded during 2021-2022. They included six new projects in Africa, a program for blind university women in Ethiopia, programs in many countries that addressed water sanitation issues, a malaria elimination project, cash for school supplies, a project to protect endangered species, a program to help Afghan refugees and a project in Ukraine. We are touching so many lives.

President-Elect Mary Geong reported we recently distributed 350 safety alarms to residents of Oakland Chinatown. In collaboration with the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, Asians United, San Francisco Chinatown Rotary and the Rotary Club of San Francisco, we will distribute additional safety alarms on Saturday, June 18. The Oakland Police Department will offer a training presentation on personal safety and the collaborative organizations will distribute the personal safety alarms.

Past President Robert Kidd invited all Rotarians to join him on the third leg of the Epic Hike. On Sunday, June 26th, the hike will be 6+ miles through Redwood Regional Park. In August, the fourth and final leg of the hike will be from Chabot Regional Park to San Leandro. Please sign up on the Club Website Calendar.

Jesse Schmidt, chair of the Business Development Committee, invited everyone to attend the Summer Solstice Mixer on June 21st from 5:30-7:30 pm at the home of Giovanna Tanzillo. The event is co-sponsored by the Business Development Committee and Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce. As a special treat, there will be a live performance by the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. Pres.

Dudley encouraged us to come out and bowl with the Rotary King Pins for six weeks starting on Wednesday, July 6th at The Plank. The team needs two or three more players. All levels of bowling experience are welcome. Last year the team came in 4th out of 15 teams. Contact Dudley for information and to participate.

Our speaker, Joel Makower, was introduced by Michael Bruck, whom he has known since they were in high school. Joel is the CEO and co-Founder of GreenBiz Group. He has travelled all over the world speaking about sustainability strategies, innovation and the effects of climate change. Joel is also the author of 12 books. Much progress is being made in this area even without government mandates. Many corporations are starting programs on their own and having an impact unbeknownst to many of us.

Jack McAboy, Karen Friedman, Linda Boessenecker, Fred Morse, Barbara Beery, Mary Geong and Michael Bruck rang the bell for Keith Giron. Keith Giron rang the bell for Dudley Thompson’s demotion.

Click here to watch Joel Makower's video segment.

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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, June 9th, 2022

President Dudley Thompson called to order the 5,390th Civic Thursday meeting of the 3rd oldest Rotary Club in the world. We are a diverse group of some 270 business, professional and community leaders dedicated to Service Above Self. Together we recited our vision statement, “Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change, across the globe, in our communities and in ourselves.”

As a member of the DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) Committee, Derreck Johnson encouraged all of us to practice the DEI principles - use respectful language, be supportive, foster a welcoming and inclusive environment and celebrate diversity in our daily lives. He also wished everyone a Happy Pride Month.

Past President Lorna Padia Markus reminded all of us that being a meeting sponsor is a terrific way to promote your business or non-profit and contribute to the club. CPA’s are busy all year long, consulting, planning tax strategies, trying to understand and make sense of new changes to the tax code and how that applies to their clients. She also emphasized the value of working with a tax professional who can assist with future planning and making sure you are following current tax laws. 

Greg Knight provided some background about our speaker today, Fred Palmer. Mr. Palmer received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Communications with an emphasis in marketing and business management from San Francisco State University. He is the founder and publisher of Outword Magazine, an award-winning LGBTQ magazine in its 27th year. He is the original founding member of the Rainbow Chamber of Commerce and the Rainbow Chamber Foundation and has served several terms as president on each board.  He's worked with many community organizations doing special events and fundraisers; including PFLAG, Davis Pride, Sacramento International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and the Sacramento LGBTQ wedding Expo, all helping to raise awareness for LGBTQ issues and bring in necessary funding. 

Fred and his team also created Sacramento Drag Queen Bingo, which has raised over $350,000 for local charities and is now managed by the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce. 

Mr. Palmer shared with us that he was raised in upstate New York in a military family and youngest of five boys. Despite a strict upbringing, his family supported him when he came out. He attended San Francisco State University at the height of the AIDS epidemic and became an activist. He discussed his struggles working in the telecommunications industry and initially having to live a double life; a boss suggested that a picture of his dog instead of a picture of his boyfriend on his desk might be more appropriate. He discussed businesses who actively solicited the LGBTQ community and advertised to them but also discussed pink washing, a practice in which companies pretend to be interested in the community.

He spoke about the origins of Pride Month and how it arose from the Stonewall Uprising in New York the summer of 1969. He emphasized the importance of diversity and inclusion and why using pronouns are supportive of people who are transitioning. In addition, he shared his thoughts about the freedoms the LGBTQ community currently enjoys and how those may be at risk in the current political climate. He also shared his passion for providing scholarships to students and watching the amazing change in their lives.

President Dudley thanked him and announced a contribution will be made in his name to this year’s Rotary focus on the environment – ESRAG – The Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group.

Click here to watch Fred Palmer's video segment.

Missed our meeting, but interested in checking out the next one? Click below to learn more.

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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, June 2nd, 2022

President Dudley Thompson called to order the 5,389th Civic Thursday meeting of the Rotary Club of Oakland both In-person and Zoom at 12:33 pm.

Dana Sack recited a famous quote by Jane Goodall about doing good and doing well. “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” 

Merlin Edwards introduced our newest Rotarian, Mary Finch, with several interesting facts. Mary is a good singer who has soloed with the San Francisco Opera. She has also sung in movie trailers and previously worked at Skywalker Ranch. She is an avid San Francisco Giants fan. Her father was a golf coach, but she isn’t very good at it…like most of us. Welcome, Mary!

Past President Sean Marx reintroduced Cal Stanley. Cal was born in Arkansas in a family of 10 siblings. He moved to California in 1960 and in 5th grade joined the Boys & Girls Club. He was later hired by the Boys & Girls Club working through high school while being paid $.75/hour! He was a great basketball player and graduated from Castlemont High School and later from the University of Pacific. Shortly after graduation he was recruited to run the Boys & Girls Club of Oakland and has now led that organization for decades.

Community Service Committee Chair David Kittner gave a year-end update. The committee focuses on four major areas for grants; social justice, arts, environment and community. The Community Service Committee gave multiple grants to social justice organizations including St. Vincent de Paul for new computers. They also gave a total of $10,000 to four separate arts entities, $18,000 to four different environmental organizations and $9,000 to two community non-profits.

The Feed the Hungry campaign raised $51,300 from Rotarians setting a record for the most ever raised. They made grants of $7,328 to seven organizations who source and distribute food: Alameda County Food Bank, Bay Area Meals on Wheels, Harbor House, Oakland Catholic Worker Food Program, Operation Dignity, St. Mary’s Center, and St. Vincent de Paul. The committee had multiple service days with the Policy Activity League and cleaning Lake Merritt Gardens. 

There will be a service day June 11th at the Torii Gate Garden at Lake Merritt. Committee members will be cleaning and prepping an area to install a sign in recognition of the 60th partnership anniversary of Oakland and its sister city, Fukuoka, Japan.

Instead of a traditional speaker this week, Pres. Dudley called on six Rotary Club members, who had joined during the pandemic, to give their respective “Three Minute Introductions”. 

Nicole Wilhelm explained that she is former Oakland Rotarian, but moved to Folsom during the pandemic because of her real estate business with her husband. She has done TED talks and will give a TEDx talk on The Real Estate of your Mind. She is a Bay Area native and mother of a five-year old. Nicole belonged to the Sacramento Rotary Club while living in Folsom and shared that her mother-in-law was president of a club in the Philippines.

Pam Claassen joined Rotary two years ago as she anticipated retirement. She met her husband John, also an Oakland (and former Stockton) Rotarian, online through eharmony over 20 years ago even though they were geographically “undesirable” – meaning they lived 70 miles apart. A third-generation Oaklander, she graduated from Skyline High School and from Linfield College. She was an accountant and later CFO of American Baptist Homes of the West.  

Lou Rigali was born in Boston and trained as a chemist. He does custom printing and spends a lot of time with his nonprofit, Home All. This organization he started looks to find ways in the community to shift the culture to care for one another.  

Pauline Fox’s retirement motto is “do good and have fun”. She has an accomplished family of news anchors, authors, and healthcare professionals. She has been a lawyer and was Chief Legal Officer of Kaiser Permanente. She likes to hike, bike and crochet.

David Kersten is a video producer.  A graduate of Georgetown University where he received his Master’s degree, he’s is most grateful for his family and two daughters.  He previously worked in politics and is an adjunct professor at University of San Francisco.  He produces videos for entrepreneurs to help them connect with their ideal client.  His core values are collaboration, vision, justice, knowledge and excellence. He observed that Rotary fits well into them.

Trisha Connors grew up in Garden Grove and went to UCLA, partially funded by a Rotary scholarship. She moved to San Francisco and got involved in local politics.  Later she moved to Sacramento and spent time supporting the legislature. She graduated from law school and had a variety of jobs in different cities, including Chicago, Spokane, St. Paul, New Jersey and San Jose, as her husband’s career at Merrill Lynch took them far and wide. She was a court appointed special advocate (CASA) and moved back to the Bay Area before getting a teaching job.  

A big thank-you to Nicole, Pam, Lou, Pauline, David and Trisha for sharing your stories.  You are one step closer to receiving your permanent blue membership badge!

Click here to watch the video segment of our 6 Rotary Club Members who joined duing pandemic.

Missed our meeting, but interested in checking out the next one? Click below to learn more.

#serviceaboveself #rotaryinternational #rotaryclubofoakland #rotaryopensopportunities

Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, May 26th, 2022

President Dudley Thompson called the 5,388th Civic Thursday meeting of the Rotary Club of Oakland to order as he rang a cowbell. He announced that next Thursday’s meeting and hopefully every Thursday meeting thereafter (at least through the end of June) will be in-person at the California Ballroom. There will be no meeting on July 7. Mary Geong’s inauguration as our next President will be on July 14. Of course, much depends on what the future holds on the Covid front.

Pres. Dudley then offered a little history on Memorial Day. It was started in 1869 by General John Logan, a Union Veteran leader, who called for a national day of remembrance when Americans would decorate the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers whose bodies “lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet in the land”. Memorial Day has since become a major National Holiday on which we remember all military men and women who have fallen in service of their country.

For his Thought for the Day, Past President Jack McAboy gave us a memorable quote from James Baldwin: “I love America more than any other country in the world. For exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” Jack then led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Past President & District Governor Ed Jellen greeted Catherine Coleman’s guest, Diane Williamson. Another guest who signed in after Ed’s greeting was Ruth Stroup’s guest, Rachel Crawford.

New member Etan Fraser broke the Club record for giving his Three Minute Self-Introduction a mere week after joining the Club! Etan is a real estate developer and broker and also a corporate attorney. He recited a personal experience that inspired him to become a Rotarian. While working for a nonprofit in a very impoverished area of Ghana in the summer of 2009, he suddenly came upon a new facility bearing the Rotary logo. He has always remembered this as proof that Rotary is willing to support projects in poor areas of the world that the international community often ignores. Etan also remembered seeing a school being built in Ghana with everyone in the village taking on a chore, from women carrying bricks on their heads, to the bricklayers and the planners. He soon realized that was a good analogue for Rotary’s emphasis on collective engagement in community service. Because Rotarians are blessed with a special degree of professional and financial success, they feel a special calling to join in collective action to serve those in need here and abroad. 

Speakers Committee Chair Robert Kidd introduced our speaker, food historian and chef George Geary from Palm Springs. George is the author of Made in California, a history of the fast food industry that began in California. In addition to his other credits (including hosting several TV and radio shows), George worked as the pastry chef at Disney Co. for ten years. Later on, he made all the cheesecake and food props for the “Golden Girls” TV show. More recently he has led food tours through the South of France and has been a star food guide on numerous Holland America cruises throughout the world.

Some highlights from George’s presentation:

He got the idea of writing about California being the incubator of fast food when, on his way to teaching a food class at Purdue, he noticed that 16 out of 18 restaurant recommendations at a particular Indiana locality were launched in California. Eighty percent of his Made in California book is about restaurants that are still around; the rest is nostalgia for ones that had their heyday but have since vanished. 

The Sonora Café began in 1923 in Southern California; it later changed its name to El Cholo and is still in business and expanding. Hinky Dinks, which began in Oakland, later on turned into Trader Vics.

McDonald’s began as “McDonald Brothers”. After failing to make a go running a movie theatre, the brothers got their fast food venture going by using pretty, winking girls as car hops to build up a clientele.

Carl’s Jr. began in 1941 as “The Blimp”. Denny’s began as “Danny’s Donuts”.

Swensen’s ice cream began in San Francisco in 1948; it’s still there, but there are only three left in the US. Its demise began when it outsourced the ice cream making and added a hamburger lunch menu.

A&W diners began in Lodi in 1919. In ‘n Out began in Southern California in 1948.

George’s next book is “L.A.’s Landmark Restaurants”, which is due to come out later this year. After that he plans to publish a sequel to Made in California that covers the later period of 1965 to 2012. George’s website is:

Click here to watch George Geary's video segment.

Missed our meeting, but interested in checking out the next one? Click below to learn more.

#serviceaboveself #rotaryinternational #rotaryclubofoakland #rotaryopensopportunities

Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, May 5th, 2022

President Dudley Thompson called to order the 5,385th Civic Thursday meeting of the Rotary Club of Oakland. Founded in 1908, Rotary has over 36,000 clubs in 200 countries. Due to the recent surge in COVID, especially among some club members, this meeting is being held as a remote-only meeting. President Dudley encouraged the use of the chat function to all members and guests. 

Past President Robert Kidd, filling a last-minute void, provided the thought for the day. Quoting T.S. Elliott, from the Waste Land, in recognition of the preceding month shared this: “April is the cruelest month, breeding/ lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/memory & desire, stirring/ dull roots and spring rain.” Thank you, Robert, for your willingness to always help when you are needed!

Past President and Past District Governor Ed Jellen was happy to introduce Keith Uriarte’s guest, Barry Donelan as well as Lance Knobel, CEO of CitySide.

Oakland A’s Game & Tailgate—Rumor had it that President elect-elect, Tom Limon was stuck in a store and unable to reach a computer to zoom into the meeting (hmmm…interesting excuse, Tom!) so President Dudley pinch hit and shared that we have 100 tickets for the A’s v. Boston Red Sox game on Sunday, June 5th, and, although he is pretty sure that Past President Sean Marx is good for about 50 of the tickets, he encouraged people to purchase tickets through the Club Website Calendar. As an incentive, Tom provides an excellent tailgate and Dudley is going to bartend! The tailgate starts at 11 am and the game at 1:10 pm.

Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee—Chair Celeste Gordon shared that Inclusion Consultant, Viva Asmelash, will facilitate our meeting on May 12th. This is a very special opportunity for members to shape the future direction of the committee’s work. The meeting is for members only and members are asked to pre-register for the meeting on the Club Website Calendar. Look for messages next week to prompt attendance and registration. Alternative, virtual sessions will be held on May 12th at 5:30 pm and May 19th at 5:30 pm. There is also a survey in development that club members will be receiving.

Bike the Bridges—Mark Rosen shared information on the upcoming bike ride, Saturday May 14th, that will travel over both the Benicia and Carquinez bridges. Interested members can register on the Club Website Calendar and should plan to meet at 8:30 am. The ride starts at 9 am.

Epic Hike, Part Three—Saturday, June 25th, Past President Robert Kidd will lead a hike through the Oakland Hills. This is the third of the four-part hike. Register through the website.

District Leadership Training—Rotary District 5170 is sponsoring District Leadership Training from May 16th—19th.

Safety Alarms Distribution—In collaboration with The San Francisco/Chinatown Rotary Club , San Francisco Rotary Club and Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, we will distribute safety alarms on May 28th and June 18th to residents in Chinatown. More information will be coming.

Nancy Williams introduced our newest Rotarian, Davey Warner. Davey, a former Rotarian in his former home, is a music communications graduate where he focused on guitar. However, he spent his summers facilitating wilderness and outdoor experiences leading to a career in outdoor recreation. A year ago, he followed his wife to the Bay Area where they are celebrating their first anniversary on May 15th. Welcome Davey! We will give you standing ovation when we are back together again!

Isaac Kos-Reed introduced our speaker of the day, Tasneem Raja. She is the Editor-in-Chief of The Oaklandside, a new nonprofit newsroom serving Oakland, California that amplifies community voices, shares information resources, and investigates systems, not just symptoms. She was a senior editor at NPR’s Code Switch, a reporting team that investigates issues of race and identity in America. She founded and led a data journalism team at Mother Jones that built the first-ever database of mass shootings in America. She co-founded The Tyler Loop, a nationally recognized nonprofit community journalism and storytelling platform in East Texas. She lives in Oakland with her husband, her daughter, and two imperious terriers.

Tasneem discussed with us the importance of local news. Research has shown that local news strengthens democracy and builds healthier, local communities. The need is huge as 2,100 newspapers have folded in the last 15 years. Large hedge fund owners take over local newsrooms, make significant cuts and the newspapers then fail. To quantify the importance of local newsrooms, research also shows communities with local newsrooms have higher voter rates, less corruption, lower municipal bond rates, less polarization, and stronger, more engaged communities.

Their big idea is to strengthen democracy and community through a nonprofit that focuses on local news network that’s built to scale, serve and last. Currently they have an audience of over 500,000 who visit monthly and 53,000 newsletter subscribers. Built to amplify community voices, share information and resources and investigating systems, not symptoms they listen to Oakland residents.

After taking a few audience questions, President Dudley thanked Tasneem for her presentation and honored her with a contribution to the ESRAG.

Click here to watch Tasneem Raja's video segment.

Missed our meeting, but interested in checking out the next one? Click below to learn more.

#serviceaboveself #rotaryinternational #rotaryclubofoakland #rotaryopensopportunities

Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, April 21, 2022

President Dudley Thompson called to order the 5,384th Civic Thursday meeting to order – highlighting the fact that Oakland Rotary is the 3rd Rotary Club established and we are proudly a diverse group of over 270 members. Our membership includes business owners, professionals and community leaders. 

Pres. Dudley then asked all to join him in reciting our Rotary Vision Statement which, in part, states that together we see a world united to take action.

Davey Warner, soon-to-be-inducted new member and avid outdoorsman shared a lovely and inspiring quote by Harold V. Melchert inviting us to “live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional glance toward the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point.” 

Past President & Past District Governor Ed Jellen introduced Dianne Dorn,  Past President of the San Leandro Club and Assistant District Governor, Area 4A. Ruth Stroup was pleased to welcome her “GlenFriends” to the meeting. Keri Butkevich introduced guest and husband Nickolai, and David Stein introduced Dan Walters, president of the Bay Area Council of Boy Scouts of America.

Rotary Ukraine Disaster Relief Fund: In keeping with the meeting’s focus on Ukraine, President Dudley reminded us of our own fundraising efforts ignited by a generous club donor’s $10,000 challenge grant that with an additional $5,000 became a $15,000 total challenge. We have matched this gift successfully and the Club is donating $30,000 to the Rotary Foundation Disaster Response Fund assisting those affected by the war in Ukraine. So far, according to the Rotary International website, 53 disaster response grants, totaling nearly $1.5 million have been awarded.  Many thanks to all club members who joined in this generous response.

John C. Weaver Jr., M.D. Memorial – April 30th: Rotarians are invited to attend the Memorial honoring the life of our esteemed colleague, John C. Weaver, Jr. M.D., whose passion was appreciated and loved by many in our club, and especially those in the World Community Services Committee who accompanied him on his travels for humanitarian projects.

The Memorial will take place Saturday, April 30, 3:30 pm at Piedmont Community Church, 400 Highland Avenue, Piedmont.

National Volunteer Week: This week being National Volunteer Week, Pres. Dudley asked us to celebrate by volunteering for some of the upcoming events listed on our website’s Event Calendar. Dudley also thanked the volunteers who made the virtual Civic Thursday meeting possible.

Golf Tournament at Poppy Ridge Golf Course: The Golf Tournament on April 29th at Poppy Ridge Golf Course is sold out.

Sarah Chavez-Yoell introduced new club member Robert Kenney who is an attorney and serves as PG & E’s Senior Vice President of Regulatory and External Affairs. He is an East Bay resident and proud father of two sons. In his spare time Robert enjoys spending time with family, playing tennis, riding his bike and going to the movies. Welcome Robert!

David Stein introduced our guest speaker with an impressive list of achievements. Thomas E. Graham is a Distinguished Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He was the Senior Director for Russia on the National Security Council Staff during the George W. Bush administration and a special assistant to the president while managing a White House-Kremlin strategic dialogue. He is a co-founder of the Russian, East European and Eurasian studies program at Yale University, and has been a sought-after lecturer in global affairs and political science since 2011. 

Thomas’s excellent commentary gave us a behind-the-headlines look at what is happening in Ukraine, why it happened, Putin’s motives and what likely lies ahead for better or worse. He stressed that the nature of the conflict from the Russian standpoint is larger than the war in Ukraine.  He said that Moscow sees as a threat the expansion of NATO’s euro-atlantic region in the years following the cold war when Russia was weakened. Even if the war in Ukraine is resolved, we will likely still see an attempt to destabilize the NATO bond among nations. Moscow’s fear of encroachment is so strong that the present war in Ukraine is seen by some experts as part of Russia’s larger goal to take control of the seaports and the entire territorial region along the Black Sea, for security and economic reasons. 

Putin so far has underestimated Ukraine’s resistance. The timing of the invasion was likely influenced by the fact that Zelensky was a new president who scored low in the polls in his inaugural time before the invasion, easily replaceable in Putin’s mind.  Zelensky also had made a concerted approach to NATO to make good on its 2008 promise to work toward adding Ukraine. This made Moscow nervous, as did the observation that NATO countries had begun to help train other countries on defensive exercises. Putin had little active resistance from NATO in other invasions, and he did not expect the united front it displayed this time.

Ultimately, Putin underestimated both Zelensky and the Ukraine Resistance, while overestimating the readiness and capability of his military. Thomas opined that whatever comes next in the Ukrainian-Russian war, there is likely no negotiated future for the conflict simply because Moscow wants Ukraine to surrender, and they will not do so. Putin sees victory as his only solution to Russia’s security and his personal future. He declared a goal to win the war by May 9, an important Russian Victory Day Holiday celebrating its triumph over Nazi Germany. Whether he will resort to maniacal weaponry to get there, or instead focus on seizing the Donbas region to declare victory, remains to be seen in the days ahead. He is already a war criminal for the organized atrocities committed by Russian soldiers on civilians. Thomas feels it will take a decade or more for Ukraine to recover from all that has happened so far. And the impact on its people much longer, if ever.

Click here to watch Thomas E. Graham's video segment.

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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, April 7, 2022

President Dudley Thompson called to order the 5,382nd Civic Thursday meeting of the third oldest Rotary Club in the world. We are a diverse group of some 270 business, professional and community leaders dedicated to Service Above Self.

Gary Flaxman recalled that at Camp Enterprise Past President Eddie Snow would tell students to “step out of your comfort zone.” Gary’s thought for us as we exit the pandemic is to step out, explore the world with family and friends and be prepared to come out of your comfort zone.

Past President & Past District Governor Ed Jellen introduced Dr. Dilip Sarkar of the Rotary Club of Chesapeake, Virginia and Richard Schwart, president of San Francisco/Chinatown Rotary Club. Also signing in via Zoom was President Dudley’s wife, Concha Delgado Gaitan.

Ruth Stroup, also known as “The Insurance Lady”, revealed that owning an insurance business for the last 16 years started by accident (maybe an intended pun). Her goal was always to be a business owner, just like her dad, but it took two previous career ventures before she arrived at insurance as her focus. She believes in serving the community by hiring local people, paying local taxes and giving at least 5% back to the community. She announced a Community Shred Day at her office on Saturday, April 16 from 10 am to 2 pm.  All types of documents are welcome and the shred is free. 

Past President Ken Richardson introduced our newest member, Peter Pervere. Peter retired from a career in accounting and finance. He has served on various local boards, including Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the Oakland Museum. When he is not golfing, Peter finds time to chauffeur his grandchildren to and from school. He also joins two other members of his family as Oakland Rotarians, his sister Maude Pervere and brother-in-law Sam Miller. Welcome Peter!

Debo Sarkar introduced our speaker, and his brother, Dr. Dilip Sarkar.  Dr. Sarkar is a retired vascular surgeon who holds certificates as a Yoga Therapist and Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist. He is recognized as an expert in the integration of western medicine with Ayurveda and yoga therapy.

Dr. Sarkar began by describing yoga as the union of body, mind and spirit.  His analogy is to think of the body as hardware, mind as software and spirit as the programmer.  He dispelled the myth that yoga is “sitting down and putting one’s body in the shape of a pretzel.”

Yoga is a philosophy – mind over body. Breathing is the most important component. Time of day is not an issue, but yoga is often done in the morning and should be scheduled daily.

It is the most important activity we can do as it contributes to adjusting our heart rate, reducing stress, and allowing our minds to experience stillness, resulting in happiness among other things.

Dr. Sarkar walked us through a daily routine to keep our bodies functioning with good posture, and how, over time, we can improve our body functions. (Editor’s note: of the 30+ viewers on Zoom, most had their screens closed—perhaps they were practicing the exercises as Dr. Sarker demonstrated.)

Introspection is important – “find a time for yoga, and yoga will find a time for you.” 

Dr. Sarkar is the author of Yoga Therapy, Ayurveda, and Western Medicine. He can also be viewed on his YouTube Channel.

KinderPrep – Four Dates: KinderPrep Chair John Holmgren announced four service projects taking place in the next two months.

April 22 – 9am – 12 noon, Set-up for Book Packing Day, 5 volunteers needed

April 23 – Book Bag Packing Day at Johnstone Supply, 9 am – 12 noon, 10 volunteers needed

April 26 –10 am – 1 pm, Field Trip to Oakland Zoo – 10 volunteers needed to welcome students and set up lunches

May 6 – 10 am – 1 pm, Field Trip to Children’s Fairyland for 4 classes – 5 volunteers needed to escort children and help with lunches

Sign up on the Club Website Calendar. 

Email John Holmgren at if you have questions.

Enterprise Institute Leadership Academy – April 23: Gary Flaxman saluted the 40th anniversary of Enterprise Institute (formerly called Camp Enterprise) which began in 1982. This year it is a one-day event on April 23, 8 am – 4 pm, at the Police Athletic League site. Come and watch the students go through the learning modules. For information, contact Gary Flaxman, Harold Lowe or Dudley Thompson.

Lake Merritt Gardens Service Day – April 16: C J Hirshfield announced on April 16 from 9 am to 1 pm, volunteers will clean up Lake Merritt Gardens. Volunteers are asked to bring masks, water and work gloves. Also bring shears and work or rain boots if available. Additional information available on website. Sign up on the Club Website Calendar in advance and fill out the Covid Waiver.

In The Mood for Gratitude Gala – April 28: Co-chair Kerry Hamill announced tickets are for sale on the Website Calendar for the Gala, which will take place at Sequoyah Country Club on April 28 from 6 pm – 10 pm. There will be a Live Auction as well as a Silent Auction.  One hundred Raffle Tickets are also being sold. Holder of the winning ticket will have first choice pick among the Live Auction items.

Club Meeting Schedule Adjustments for April: Pres. Dudley announced some changes in the April meeting schedule.

April 14th meeting will take place in the Ballroom and on Zoom.

April 21st meeting will be Zoom only.

There may be a noon Zoom meeting on April 28th, to be determined.

Golf Tournament – April 29: Golfers can enjoy a tournament on Friday, April 29 at Poppy Ridge Golf Course in Livermore. Tee times start at 10:40 am. Deadline for signing up is April 22. Contact Jesse Bowdle at to sign up.

Aid to Ukraine: Pres. Dudley updated members on the matching fund for Aid to Ukraine. An anonymous donor made a $10,000 challenge which has been met to-date with $6,200 in gifts from club members.  The donor will add an additional $5,000 in matching funds if donations continue.  Contact Jesse Bowdle on how to make a donation for this match. Funds will be managed and disbursed by Rotary International through their Disaster Response Fund.

Lois Corrin, Ruth Stroup, Keith Uriarte, Ces Butner, Robert Kidd, Joycie Mack and Merlin Edwards rang the bell for newly-confirmed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Click here to watch Dr. Dilip Sarkar's video segment.

Missed our meeting, but interested in checking out the next one? Click below to learn more.

#serviceaboveself #rotaryinternational #rotaryclubofoakland #rotaryopensopportunities