News Categories: Civic Thursday Video Recordings

Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, March 31, 2022

President Dudley Thompson called to order the 5,381st 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. 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.”

Past President Ces Butner thanked Leeann Alameda for her work on this year’s Oakland Rotary Endowment (ORE) Campaign. He noted that we have distributed over $1.6 million in the past 6 years locally and internationally and have sponsored many projects and contributed to the Saroni-Lena scholarship fund. Gary Flaxman presented a short film about Enterprise Institute, a camp where high school juniors learn to write a business plan, learn about entrepreneurship and career choices they may have and just one of the many projects our Club supports. Ces noted we are about $20,000 shy of our goal of $100,000. Hands began to fly, and the following Rotarians rose to the challenge and made pledges as follows: Shannon Hackley, Fred Morse, Joycie Mack, Joe Goralka, Pauline Fox, and John Malick. Their generosity brought us very close to our goal.

Ces announced there is still time to make a gift. Now is the time to donate so committees can fully resume their activities post-pandemic. To pay online go to . Choose Oakland Rotary Endowment for your donation. Or mail a check to the Rotary office; an envelope was sent to every Rotarian earlier in the month.

Past President and Past District Governor Ed Jellen introduced District 5170 Governor Richard Flanders who is making the annual visit to the club. District Governor Flanders has been a member of Pleasanton North since 1995, served as his club president in his third year of membership, and has also served as Assistant District Governor. He has been the recipient of many Rotary awards for his many years of service including, the Lead the Way Award, the Richard King Award and the Karl Stucki Award.

Governor Flanders noted that today will mark visits to 58 clubs, with just four more club visits on his list. He acknowledged that dealing with the COVID pandemic for the past two years has been challenging for Rotary nationwide.

He thanked our Club for our generous contributions to The Rotary Foundation that exceeded $175,000. We have also given $30,000 to Polio Plus and $6,000 to provide wheelchairs to those in need. He also thanked the club for our Feed The Hungry campaign and for funding scholarships. He invited us all to attend the upcoming District Conference at Blackhawk Museum in Danville on April 22 through April 24. As part of the musical entertainment, we can hear our own Oakland Rotarians, Jason Wizelman and Linda Hamilton perform. There will also be interesting speakers and a House of Friendship on the 5th floor of the Marriott Hotel where we can mix and mingle with Rotarians from the District.

President Dudley Thompson introduced our speaker, Professor David Montejano, who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and from Yale University with a M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology. The professor has taught at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of California, Santa Cruz and the University of New Mexico. He is the former chair of the Center for Latino Policy Research at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of numerous scholarly tracts as well as three books: Angelos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, Sanchos Journal: Exploring the Political Edge with the Brown Berets, and Mexican Merchants and Teamsters on the Texas Cotton Road 1862 to 1865.

Professor Montejano focused on the theme of how markets supersede war and gave examples of how commerce continued during the civil war. Southern cotton was sent to New England mills during the war to make Union uniforms. This was made possible by Mexico being neutral and the somewhat dubious machinations of a businessman named Charles Stillman who sold guns to Confederates and cotton to the Union by not labeling the goods, writing very little correspondence and taking advantage of British and French ships claiming neutrality by docking ships in the Rio Grande. Some of the goods were shipped to Havana, then transferred to another ship, then on to Liverpool and from there to New York. Stillman seemed to understand the concept of realpolitik before the term was invented. Professor Montejano’s books will continue the story.

Click here to watch David Montejano 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, March 24, 2022

President Dudley Thompson opened the 5,380th Civic Thursday in-person and zoom meeting at 12:30 pm. 

President Dudley gave an impromptu Thought for the Day from his notebook of ready-to-use inspirations. He quoted Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.” 

Past President and Past District Governor Ed Jellen announced there were no visiting Rotarians. Online, his guest was his wife, Julie Jellen. In the Ballroom, Leeann Alameda, Bruce Nye and Stew Epstein introduced their guests.

Gary Flaxman introduced our newest member, Kevin Jenkins. Kevin was elected as a trustee to the Peralta Community College District in November 2020. He helps students, faculty and staff in many ways such as furthering educational opportunities and addressing school safety and COVID concerns. Kevin is also the proud father of his son Elijah. Welcome, Kevin!

Past Pres. Linda Chew gave an update on the Oakland Rotary Endowment Campaign underway this month. In just the past six years, ORE has given $1.16 million to local and international communities including 65 grants to local nonprofits. ORE funds KinderPrep, Enterprise Institute, Karl Stucki World Community Service, and Saroni-Lena Scholarships to name a few. 

A gift of $150 can purchase 2+ wellness backpacks for veterans. For $250, supplemental classroom materials can be provided to a KinderPrep teacher. $1,000 can purchase a computer to give homeless people electronic access to the services they need, and $2,500 can provide a scholarship to a Saroni-Lena student for one year’s tuition.

Linda returned to the podium to announce about $60,000 has been donated toward the $100,000 goal. The campaign is in the final stretch. For postponers, aka procrastinators, now is the time to donate. To pay online go to . Choose Oakland Rotary Endowment for your donation.

Thanks to Past President Carla Betts who decorated the Ballroom tables on St. Patrick’s Day and provided additional décor to President Dudley in the form of a flashing green light on his bowtie for the day.

Thanks to the volunteers who worked at the Oakland Marathon’s Rotary water station for six hours. For the first two hours, runners received extra-strong Gatorade and presumably extra strength. At that point, Rotarians learned they should be diluting the drinks with water.

Thanks to Tom Limon for organizing the Weekend Ski Trip.

Thanks to Jesse Schmidt and the Business Development Committee for putting on a successful Margarita Mixer attending by some 60 members and guests.

C J Hirshfield, introduced today’s speaker Gary Meyer. Gary’s knowledge of film is unmatched and is the founder of Landmark Film chain, former co-director of the Telluride Film Festival and inductee into the San Francisco Film Hall of Fame. 

Gary first showed a slide of the new Academy Museum in Los Angeles which recently opened. The museum has a theatre, gala space under a transparent dome, and other museum exhibits. Some exhibits include features on The Wizard of Oz, North By Northwest, ET, and other famous movies. The museum also dives into the history of makeup artistry, animation and silent films. There is a collection of Oscars in a semi-round room displaying various Oscars from past winners.  

This year the Academy Awards are changing some formatting and being hosted by a trio of women including Amy Schumer.    

For Best Documentary, most of the nominees can be streamed online. Summer of Soul and Flee are two that are fabulous, he says. Two short documentaries made by San Francisco filmmakers are nominated.  

In a peculiar twist this year, the Best Actress nominees are not in any of the films nominated for Best Picture.  Best Director is an interesting category, but Gary thinks Jane Campion from Power of the Dog will be the likely winner. Best Picture is a toss-up between Coda and Power of the Dog. Coda would be a surprise winner, but many think it could win as a dark horse.  

President Dudley talked about many suggestions that have come in for making donations to benefit the needs of Ukraine people. The Karl Stucki World Community Service Committee vetted these suggestions and has recommended two places. One is World Central Kitchen which is providing meals within Ukraine. The other is The Rotary Foundation Ukraine Relief Fund. It will administer emergency grants of $50,000 each to Ukrainian Rotary Districts or Districts in bordering countries to provide shelter, medicine, clothing and other needs. 

Also, Barbara Beery has a friend who is giving $10,000 towards Rotary Ukrainian efforts and will match the gifts of others. At the meeting, the following Rotarians pledged gifts toward the match: Barbara Beery, Alex Poulsen, Peter Sherris, Ralph Sklar, Robert Kidd, Deep Rajbhandari, Lois Corrin, Jim Boessenecker and Joe Goralka.
Keith Uriarte rang the bell for Kevin Jenkins. Lorna Padia Markus, Mary Rudser, David Douglas, Linda Boessenecker, Robert Kidd, Michael Bruck, Dudley Thompson, Peter Sherris, Jack McAboy, Linda Chew and Joe Goralka rang the bell for Ed Jellen. Elida Scola rang the bell for David Stein. Keith Uriarte rang the bell for Renia Webb.

Click here to watch Gary Meyer 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, March 17, 2022

President Dudley Thompson opened the 5,379th Civic Thursday meeting by summarizing the Club’s 113 plus year history. The joy of those members who could attend in person was palpable throughout the Ballroom. However, Pres. Dudley reminded everyone of the Club’s policy that masks must be worn in the Ballroom except when eating or drinking.

In her inspiring thought for the day, Liz Ortega reminded us that women still face various forms of gender discrimination, which have been aggravated during the Covid pandemic. Following her remarks, Pres. Dudley led us in reciting the Club’s Mission Statement.

Past President and Past District Governor Ed Jellen introduced two distinguished guests: Past Pres. Jon Gresley and Past Pres. Gudrun Dybdal, who are both prominent members of the Truckee Club.  We also were favored with the presence of C J Hirshfield’s guests Gary and Kathy Meyer who attended in person. Sandeepa Nayak introduced Ruth Stroup’s online guest, Edie Zusman, MD & MBA (Director of the Piedmont Neuroscience Center on Grand Avenue).

C J Hirshfield, a confessed film noir addict, introduced our keynote speaker, Eddie Muller, film director, author, and the host of Turner Classic Movies’ popular weekly “Noir Alley” TV show. This month, he is also moving his annual Film Noir Festival from San Francisco to Oakland’s Grand Lake Theater.

Here are the highlights of Eddie’s talk:

– He wrote the book on film noir titled Dark City, The Lost World of Film Noir, which led to his being asked to head film festivals at Los Angeles’ Egyptian Theatre and the Castro Theater in San Francisco. This experience introduced him to some of the original film noir producers and screen writers. He now does eight festivals around the country and constantly receives requests from other cities.

– “Film noir” refers to a U.S. film movement that spanned the 1940's and 1950's. This was America’s only organic artistic movement, that Eddie calls the “anti-myth of American life”. The films portray the hard knocks reality of life and its unexpected turns versus the “live happily ever” myth of traditional American culture. The films were written and produced by artists, and not the money driven Hollywood studios. Many of these artists were emigres from war torn Europe. The scripts are especially attuned to the American vernacular. (C J recited one: “I’ve met a lot of hard-boiled eggs in my life, but you’re a full 20 minutes!”) Having experienced the horrors of the war era, the emigres were pessimists about life in general. The films tried to warn us about racial injustice, police brutality, sexual assault, and immoral politicians running amok. A striking irony is that nowadays some people watch noir films as comfort food because they remind them of a better time.

– Eddie has lived in Oakland for 30 years. He decided to move his Bay Area Film Noir Festival to Oakland when the pandemic prevented continued filming in Atlanta. The new Oakland festival begins next Tuesday at the Grand Lake Theater, which Eddie’s neighbor, owner of the Grand Lake, offered to him. Eddie is happy he moved the festival to Oakland. He thought it was about time that a popular institution go in the reverse direction taken by the Warriors. He has found Oakland to be very welcoming, more so than San Francisco.

– If you want to learn more, attend the Festival. You can also read the new edition of Eddie’s book which has a lot of new material.

– In response to Robert Kidd’s question: The conventional characterization of film noir as a genre that depicts victimized, ruined women is inaccurate and the result of poor scholarship. In fact, more women were involved in the films than early film noir critics realized. All the films have a good woman who is the right answer to men’s problems; but the men go for the bad femme fatale; e.g., the movie Angel Face where the ambulance driver who is better off staying with his nurse girlfriend, instead falls for a demented heiress. Also, many women wrote the books on which the films were based: e.g., Patricia Highsmith and Dorothy B. Hughes. But more attention has been given male writers such as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. In addition, there were excellent female film producers such as Joan Harrison, Hitchcock’s protégé.

– In response to Bob Barth’s question: Eddie’s favorite boxing subgenre film is The Setup.

– In response to Stephanie Casenza who asked how Eddie compared the remake of Nightmare Alley with the original, Eddie answered they’re both good. The main difference is that the new version is more faithful to the novel by keeping its “bleak” ending.

– In response to Allison Bliss’s question: Yes, the German film school known as “expressionism” had a big influence on film noir. The German movement is based on the idea that what you see in a film is a reflection of the actor’s inner emotions). It occurred during the “silent film” era of the 1920's when Berlin was the center of film making. The German films often disregarded realism and had realistic but distorted and stark black and white scenes that accentuated the war-related pessimism of that era. See, e.g., the film called The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

– In response to Steve Lowe’s question: Yes, Eddie has been slipped a mickey but not at waterfront dive; It happened at a bar in Salzburg, Austria at the hands of locals who didn’t like Eddie’s loud-mouthed American companion.

Click here to watch Eddie Muller 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, March 10, 2022

President Dudley Thompson called the 5,378th Civic Thursday meeting of the Rotary Club of Oakland meeting to order at 12:30 pm. He expressed the elated feelings of everyone enjoying the first in-person meeting in the California Ballroom in a number of months.  In addition, more than 40 people attended the meeting via Zoom.

Jean Rains presented the thought from Susan Felder: “Inspiration and imagination go hand in hand”. President Dudley lead the group in the recitation of the Rotary Vision Statement.

Past President and Past District Governor Ed Jellen introduced Richard Schwart, President of the San Francisco Chinatown Rotary Club. On line were Past-Presidents Jon Gresley and Gudrun Dybdal on vacation in Maui, and Past President Iris Brody Lopez, zooming in from Peoria, Arizona. Keith Uriarte introduced his guest in the Ballroom.

International Women’s Day: President Dudley reminded everyone that District 5170’s celebration of International Women’s Day is scheduled for March 13th at the Rotary San Jose Summit Center. Oakland Rotary is one of five clubs invited to have a table there to showcase its projects. Volunteers are needed for the club’s table. Featured speaker is Zoom COO, Aparna Bawa.

Oakland Marathon and Running Festival: On Sunday, March 20th, the club will work at two of the water stops. Register on the Club calendar website the two water station locations available and make sure to include the Password for the one where you want be.

Bob Barth’s Letter to Rotary Magazine: Pres. Dudley called attention to Bob Barth’s letter to the editor in the March issue of Rotary. Bob urges Rotarians attending the International Convention in June to purchase certified carbon offsets for their travel. He describes how to determine the calculations. Bob also suggests that Rotary International should calculate the carbon footprint of the Convention and purchase offsets to minimize the footprint. What a positive way for RI to inaugurate its first year focusing on the Environment.

Renia Webb introduced the Club newest member, Cathy “Kittie” Adams. She is President of the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce.

Leeann Alameda, president of the ORE Board of Directors, outlined the impact ORE makes. She spoke about progress to date ($50,000+ pledged) toward the goal of $100,000 and the impact made in the past few years. The campaign wraps up the end of March. Great job, Leeann! To pay online go to . Choose Oakland Rotary Endowment for your donation.

John Holmgren, KinderPrep Chair, picked it up from there to describe the impact Rotarians have on this pre-kindergarten program in the Oakland schools. While some of the activities have been on hiatus during the pandemic, such as volunteering in the classroom, chaperoning children on a field trip to Children’s Fairyland or the Oakland Zoo, and the summer book program for each child, others have continued. Classroom supplies, virtual science kits for students and a virtual library for those schools who are without libraries have been made available. Now that the children are back in the classrooms, John expects that a field trip may be doable this spring, and he indicated that volunteers will be needed to pack and delivering books for the summer book program, just like they did pre-pandemic.

David Stein introduced Park Williams, UCLA Professor in the Geology Department. Prof. Williams began his presentation showing a satellite photo taken on Sept 9, 2020 of the smoke layer inundating the entire coastal area of California. The current megadrought we are experiencing is 22 years long, and 2021 was drier than any other year in this period. Last year was also the driest in the past 121 years. He attributed this to 40% caused by humans and 60% caused by “bad luck” from nature.

The distribution of water across continents changes and life changes as well. He noted that the Sahara Desert, now an extremely dry area, was once a lush habitat. He also commented that at a depth of 60 feet in Lake Tahoe, a grinding stone used by Native Americans has been found dating back 6,000 years ago.

At this point 80% of available water in California is used by agriculture, much of it now being pulled in the Central Valley from ground water reserves, which will take many years to replenish. While solving droughts is not the mission of his group of scientists, he noted that humans need to use less water in the future, and also need to be more efficient in their uses. He mentioned desalinization plants, which have been on the state’s agenda for many decades. Cities can and should consider building and maintaining desalinization plants even though they are expensive.

Click here to watch Professor Williams 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, March 3, 2022

President Dudley Thompson called the 5,377th Civic Thursday meeting of the Rotary Club of Oakland meeting to order at 12:30 pm.

Clive Worsley presented a thought from Frank Herbert: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliterations. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. When the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I remain.

Past President and Past District Governor Ed Jellen indicated that no-one had signed in at the chat box.  Anghe Barde from the Rotary Club of Karad State Maharashtra signed in later.

Evolutionary Blues: President Dudley reported over 300 people attended this amazing event. He thanked everyone for participating, and gave special recognition to Allison Bliss for suggesting the event, and Georgia Richardson and Nancy Williams for their dedicated leadership in making it happen.

In Person Meetings: President Dudley announced that in-person meetings in the California Ballroom will restart on March 10th (along with Zoom broadcasts). Noting that it comes almost on the two-year anniversary of the pandemic shut-down, he reminded everyone that proof of vaccination will be required (no booster necessary) and N-95 or KN-95 masks are strongly encouraged.

Blood Donation: Blood donations continue to be critically needed. Sign up at the Red Cross website. Please let Jesse Bowdle know if you have donated blood.

Ukraine Assistance: Pres. Dudley reported that several initiatives are underway to provide assistance and supplies to the people of Ukraine. At this time District 5170 has set up a fund in conjunction with American Red Cross to provide much-needed supplies. Donations can be made at this website: Other partners with Rotary will be forthcoming as information becomes available.

Oakland Marathon and Running Festival: On Sunday, March 20th, the club will work at two of the water stops. Register on the Club calendar website. Note the two water station locations available and make sure to include the Password for the one you want.

Rotary District 5170’s celebration of International Women’s Day is scheduled for March 13th at the Rotary San Jose Summit Center. District Lieutenant Governor Liza Lorenz joined Pres. Dudley to announce the event. Oakland Rotary is one of five clubs invited to showcase its projects. Featured speaker is Zoom COO, Aparna Bawa. Register on the District 5170 website.

Kymberly Johnson, chair of the ORE Campaign, outlined the impact ORE makes. As an example, David Kittner, Community Service Chair, told how the committee identified three primary focus areas for this year: Social Justice, Arts and Environment. It has awarded $35,000 of its $50,000 current budget to projects supporting Social Justice and Arts organizations. Between now and the end of June, they will be awarding grants focused on the environment. A service day is scheduled in April to work at the Tile Mural location at Lake Merritt that commemorates the 60th anniversary of Fukuoka Japan’s sister city connection with Oakland.

This year, ORE plans to raise $100,000. All members are encouraged to give an amount that is personally meaningful. During the meeting, pledges from Leeann Alameda, Tom Limon, Robert Raburn and David Stein were recorded in the chatbox.

Jesse Schmidt, Business Committee Chair, announced the next Business Mixer will be Wednesday, March 23rd at Nido’s Backyard, 104 Oak Street, Oakland.  It will be an all-outdoor event.  Attendees need to register themselves and their guests in advance at

Attendees were treated to a special twist on the popular television series “Shark Tank” featuring six Rotarians who pitched why their business or organization should be chosen. David Kersten and Jesse Schmidt presented the contenders – three with for-profit businesses and three with non-profit organizations. Each was asked to describe how they can contribute to the “Success of Oakland’s Youth”.

Riza Hernandez, founder and owner of EntreFolio, Sandeep Rajbhandari, founder and CEO of Local Foodz Cali Inc., and Derreck Johnson, founder and owner of Home of Chicken and Waffles, each described their businesses and their personal passions for serving the community.

Julayne Virgil, CEO of Girls Inc., Jack McAboy, Chairman at Sylvan Learning Center, and Kimberly Miller, Executive Director of Children’s Fairyland, outlined the opportunities their businesses provide and why they are so committed to the work they do.

Joycie Mack rang the bell in honor of the Oakland Rotary “Sharks”. Clive Worsley rang the bell in honor of Isaac Kos-Read. Isaac Kos-Read rang the bell in honor of Kymberly Johnson.

Click here to watch Shark Tank 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, February 17, 2022

President Dudley Thompson welcomed Rotarians and Guests to the 5,375th meeting of the Rotary Club of Oakland. As we are meeting remotely President Dudley invited guests to enter their names in the chatbox so that they could be introduced later in the meeting. 

In recognition of the upcoming Presidents’ Day Holiday, Assistant District Governor and Oakland Rotarian Joe Goralka was invited to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance and share the Thought for the Day. Before doing so Joe shared that today was a very special day for him as it is his wife, Martha’s, birthday as well as their anniversary. Happy Birthday Martha and Happy Anniversary to Joe and Martha!

Joe expressed that in honor of Presidents’ Day he found a few quotes from former presidents as well as a couple of quotes on gratitude in honor of our upcoming gala celebration “In the Mood for Gratitude”.

For Presidents’ Day:

From Theodore Roosevelt – “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

From Abraham Lincoln – “This is a world of compensations: and he who would be no slave, must consent to have not slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.”

From John F. Kennedy – “If not us, who? If not now, when?”

For our upcoming Gala:

From Michelle Obama – “We learned about gratitude and humility that so many people had a hand in our success.”

Past President and Past District Governor Ed Jellen was very happy he had two visiting Rotarians to introduce! Martha Goralka, Past President, Rotary Club of Delta Antioch and Richard Swart, President of the San Francisco/Chinatown Rotary Club.

Sandeep Rajbhandari, founder of Local Foodz Cali Inc., sponsored today’s meeting. Sandeep founded the company in 2014 with one employee and now has grown the business to include 15 employees. He has a goal of taking his company national. Using a holistic approach, he provides fresh, healthy foods that are tasty and quick to prepare.

 President Dudley provided some Club updates:

1. We will continue to meet remotely until March 10th. Hopefully, we can join at the California Ballroom beginning on the 10th.

2. Sunday, February 27th, Past President Robert Kidd will lead a hike through Wildcat Canyon. Register through the Club website.

3. The Oakland Marathon, planned for March 20th, will provide an opportunity for Oakland Rotarians to help people the hydration stations. More information will be available on the Club website.

4. The Rotary District 5170 is sponsoring an International Women’s Day event on March 13th. Register through the District 5170 website.

5. The San Francisco/Chinatown Rotary Club donated 600 pocket alarms for distribution to Asian Americans. Rotarians will be recruited to help distribute. More information will be coming.

6. Finally, the District Blood Drive is ongoing. Please let Jesse Bowdle know if you have given blood

Nancy Williams, the birthday celebrant and social media diva reminded Rotarians that the screening of the documentary, Evolutionary Blues, showcasing West Oakland’s music legacy is only one week away. Tickets are still available for the February 24th event at Grand Lake Theatre. Doors open at 6 pm, show begins at 7 pm. Shout out to Ruth Stroup for purchasing 60 tickets for middle school students at Edna Brewer Middle School. Kudos also to David Kersten for interviewing Cheryl Fabio, documentarian, and posting it on our Facebook page. Group tickets for more than 10 are available by contacting Jesse Bowdle..

Steve Nicholls introduced our speaker of the day, Mitchell Schwarzer. Mr. Schwarzer is a writer whose most recent book, Hella town, focuses on Oakland and discusses what has happened in Oakland and the circumstances and reasons behind the developments. Mr. Schwarzer shared that the goal of his book was to provided deeper context and perspective of Oakland’s history to allow readers to understand and develop curiosity about where they live and develop responsibility for their surroundings. Hella town focuses on the modern history of Oakland, from 1890 through the Great Recession in 2009.

Oakland had tremendous growth up until the early 1960s due in part to the transcontinental railroad and the development of urban neighborhoods. The decline began in the mid-late 1960s until Jerry Brown became mayor. Three major changes that took place that underscored the decline: 1) government began to take responsibility for city making and planning including building freeway systems, 2) the shift of demography with the migration of Black and Asian populations to the west, 3) shift in the city’s reliance on an industrial economy with the decline of shipyards, the relocation of auto factories and closure of the canning industry.

The San Francisco Bay Council was developed with major business leaders who saw the need for a plan for a deindustrialized economy. They could see that rail transportation would be taken over by freeways and congestion would become an issue. There would be a need for a BART-like system. They also recognized the shift from a blue-collar workforce to the new “office economy”.  San Francisco immediately took actions to develop a business district while Oakland didn’t take action until later. A plan was eventually developed, the Metropolitan Oakland Area Plan, which tried to copy much of what had worked in San Francisco. However, the plan had some major flaws with attempting to sanitize the downtown, not just the edges as in San Francisco, but an 18-block area from 11th Street to where I-980 is now located. The plan included a downtown mall and private businesses. Also included in the plan was a middle-income development of urban renewal with mixed demographics. However, many of the white residents fled the city for the suburbs. So, while the leaders had tremendous prescience in recognizing the economic changes were coming, they did not realize Oakland would not draw folks as San Francisco had. These decisions have implications including the housing inequities we see today.

President Dudley thanked him for his presentation and honored him with a contribution to the ESRAG.

Nancy Williams rang the bell for Ruth Stroup. Joe Goralka, Jack McAboy, Alex Poulsen, Bob Breecker, Ces Butner, Karen Friedman, Rick Draper, Jim and Linda Boessenecker, Ruth Stroup, Jean Rains, Mary Rudser, Joycie Mack, Lois Corrin, David Douglas, Stephanie Casenza, Jason Wizelman, Tom Limon, Sandeepa Nayak, Isaac Kos-Read, Ed Jellen, Dudley Thompson, Peter Sherris, Robert Kidd, Georgia Richardson, Ralph Sklar and Wil Hobbs rang the bell for Elida Scola.

Click here to watch Mitchell Schwarzer 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, February 10, 2022

President Dudley Thompson called to order the 5,374th Civic Thursday meeting of the 3rd oldest Rotary Club in the world. He announced we will continue meeting via Zoom throughout the month of February

Mary Ray Brophy followed up last week’s speaker topic with her Thought for the Day from the new mission statement issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service: “USCIS upholds America’s promise as a nation of welcome and responsibility with fairness, integrity and respect for all we serve…The United States is and will remain a welcoming nation that embraces people from across the world…And, when we offer refuge to those in need of protection, we are living up to our nation’s highest ideals.”

Past President and Past District Governor Ed Jellen introduced Assistant District Governor Dianne Dorn, a member of the San Leandro Rotary Club, Cynthia Dorsey of the Newark Rotary Club and guest of Carolyn Watson, Ken Richardson’s guest, Paul Pervere, a retired accounting professional and brother of member Maude Pervere and Mary Geong’s guest, Vivian Chen. In addition, there were many guests of our speakers.

Saroni-Lena Summer Internships:

Janice Brickley gave a brief report on the great success of last year’s first-ever summer internship program for Saroni-Lena scholars. She invited members with active businesses or nonprofit organizations to consider participating in the 2022 Summer Internship Program. A commitment includes providing the student with at least six weeks of meaningful learning for a minimum of 20 hours per week at a $15/hour pay rate minimum. Contact Janice at for further details.

Gala Sponsors Needed:

Jennie Hunsberger provided an overview of the various April 28th Gala sponsorships and related benefits, including a new sponsorship level of $10,000 that is still available. Among the many benefits at this level is a promise by President Dudley to immediately shave his beard! In addition to other monetary sponsorship levels, the Gala Committee is also seeking in-kind gifts for the auction such as time at vacation homes, tickets to events, wine and more. Email your offer or send questions to

Carbon Footprint Survey:

Environment Committee member Stewart Epstein thanked members who have completed the carbon footprint survey and announced there was still time to get it done. Rotarians who complete the survey will be entered into two separate drawings to win a “Winery Tasting for Four People” at his Brooklyn West Winery in Oakland.  (Don’t worry, your individual scores are your own!) Take the survey here: . Then provide your individual results to Jesse Bowdle at or Joel Parrott at .

This meeting during Black History Month was a very special one as Rotarians were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the “color of ballet.” The presentation featured an esteemed panel of experts introduced by Georgia Richardson and moderated by self-proclaimed “dance mom” Carolyn Watson. Collectively the panel’s experience spans at least a half-dozen esteemed dance companies from coast to coast. Each panelist shared their experience firsthand as a person of color committed to a dance career.

Karlya Shelton-Benjamin, a former first-generation principal ballerina with the Dance Theater of Harlem (DTH), talked about her early professional ballet career in Colorado where she was the only black person in an all-white company. Her dance career grew at DTH, taking her all over the world to dance for large audiences as well as for kings, queens and U.S. Presidents. Eventually, she would become a resident of Oakland. Here Karlya would cross paths and generations to mentor young Oakland resident Angela Watson.

Angela first began studying dance under the tutelage of another of the day’s panelist, Reginald Ray-Savage, Artistic Director at the Oakland School for the Arts. Reginald’s remarks at the meeting focused on his early career experience as well as his current teaching method. He insists that each student adhere to a very strict standard of training like that required by some of the best choreographers and ballet masters. It’s the same method he was expected to master as a professional dancer with the Katherine Dunham Dance Company and other troupes in Chicago before moving to the Bay Area in the 1990s.

In her young career Angela Watson has danced the principal role of Clara in San Francisco Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” and was the only African American student accepted to the Ballet School’s Advanced Preprofessional Level. Already Angela has received a national Young Arts Foundation Award for her accomplishments in ballet. Yet she began her ballet training only in her pre-teen years, unlike others who begin as children. Angela is currently in the San Francisco Ballet Student Training Program. She stressed the importance of motivation, setting and keeping focused on goals, not getting distracted and working very hard. While she has sometimes been the first person of color in a group, thus making it difficult to share her experience and bond with others like her, it is getting a little better. She believes it is important to share her values for success with those who come behind her. Overall, all panelists agreed that the future for dancers of color appeared brighter than in any prior decades, but still has a way to go in achieving equity.

Studying ballet can be expensive because it involves not only training, but travel and attending performances of other companies even it if means buying a ticket for a top row balcony seat. To help fund these needs, contributions to Pathways can be made by texting the word YOUTH to 707070 or by visiting their website

President Dudley began to adjourn the meeting until he was advised of three bellringers online. Ces Butner, Lois Corrin and Georgia Richardson rang the bell for Angela Watson.

Click here to watch Angela Watson video segment.

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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, February 3, 2022

President Dudley Thompson called to order the 5,373rd Civic Thursday meeting of the 3rd oldest Rotary Club in the world. He opened the meeting with Gung Hoy Fat Choy! Happy Lunar New Year to everyone. President Dudley announced we will continue meeting via Zoom throughout the month of February.

Edward Brail’s thought for the day included many well-known quotes from Abraham Lincoln. One we can all live by is “It’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years”.

Past President and Past District Governor Ed Jellen introduced Cheryl Fabio, Director of Evolutionary Blues, and guest of Allison Bliss. He also introduced Ken Richardson’s guest, Paul Pervere, a retired accounting professional and brother of member Maude Pervere. Assistant District Governor Dianne Dorn, a member of the San Leandro Rotary, also attended.

Lunar New Year: If you’ve ever wondered about Lunar New Year, President-Elect Mary Geong gave us an excellent presentation on the traditions associated with Lunar New Year. Gung Hay Fat Choy means may you be happy and prosperous. Lunar New Year is the most important celebration in the Asian community. 2022 is the year of the Tiger. Red is traditionally worn during this celebration. Crisp bills are given in red envelopes. Oranges and Tangerines are in abundance during this celebration and represent prosperity. You will see many beautiful Red Calendars during the Lunar New Year. Three lucky people received calendars as a gift from Mary. They were Pete Noonan, Debo Sarkar and Cynthia Harris. Due to Covid restrictions, we could not have our Rotary Lunar New Year Dinner in a restaurant so to-go Bento boxes were available for Rotarians to order and pick-up.

Evolutionary Blues Film – February 24: Georgia Richardson and Nancy Williams are working on our program for Black History Month. On February 24th join fellow Rotarians at the Grand Lake Theatre for a streaming of Evolutionary Blues. 30 performing artists will be highlighted in the film. Proof of vaccination will be required for entry. Tickets are $14. This is a family-friendly event and the public is welcome. Please share our Rotary Facebook page highlighting this event on your social media.

Richmond to Castro Valley Epic Hike: Robert Kidd and the High Adventure Committee have a series of hikes planned that will take us from Richmond to Castro Valley. The first one is on February 27th and goes to Wildcat Canyon. This will be followed by a hike in Tilden Park in April, Redwood Park in June and Lake Chabot in August. Mark your calendars!

Rotary Golf Tournament – February 15: The Rotary Golf Tournament is just around the corner. It will be at Sequoyah Country Club on February 15th. You can sign up on the website, there are a few spots left.

International Women’s Day – March 13: Celebrate International Women’s Day with Rotary District 5170 on March 13th.

Rotary District 5170 Conference – April 22 – 24: The District Conference is April 22- April 24. There will be three days of interesting speakers. It takes place at the Blackhawk Museum and the San Ramon Marriott Hotel. Sign up on the District website.

Red Cross Blood Drive: The Red Cross is in need of blood donations. Giving is easy – you can download the Red Cross Blood Donor App and join the “Rotary District 5170” Team. If you are not app-happy, you can also call the Red Cross at 1-800-733-2767 and make an appointment. Let Jesse Bowdle know you have donated.

Environment Committee Carbon Footprint Survey: The Environment Committee is conducting a survey to determine the club’s carbon footprint. Take the survey at and then email your results to Committee Chair Joel Parrott at Results are measured by each individual’s zip code.

Mary Geong introduced Jean Pfaelzer, Professor of American Studies and Asian Studies at the University of Delaware and author of “The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans.” Jean traced the history of Chinese Americans in the Pacific Northwest and California and offered insight into their challenging experiences. Jean noted that the City of San Francisco and many other cities have offered apologies for the discrimination and violence to which the Chinese community was subjected.

Linda Chew rang the bell for Mary Geong. Lois Corrin rang the bell twice, once for Mary Geong and once for Cheryl Fabio.

President Dudley adjourned the meeting at 1:30 pm reminding us to Serve to Change Lives and Don’t Keep Rotary a Secret!

Click here to watch Jean Pfaelzer 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, January 27, 2022

President Dudley Thompson called to order the 5,372nd 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. President Dudley announced that pursuant to a decision made by the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors we will continue meeting via Zoom throughout the month of February. 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.”

Riza Hernandez shared this timely reminder that small acts now have great results in the future from Warren Buffett, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

Past President and Past District Governor Ed Jellen introduced Past President and Assistant Governor of District 4A, Dianne Dorn from the San Leandro Club and Frank Yoke, member of San Francisco Rotary Club #2 and guest of David Stein. We also welcomed Richard Swart, President of the Rotary Club of San Francisco Chinatown.

Meeting Sponsor – Jesse Schmidt, TNT STRENGTH (TRUTH NOT TRENDS): Jesse Schmidt is the co-owner of TNT, a strength-building company located at 5255 College Avenue. Strength and fitness are achieved in 30-minute workout sessions once or twice a week (either in person or virtually) and TNT’s philosophy is that strength training can be started at any age and will promote better health and longevity. Past President Peter Sherris gave a testimonial and noted that when he started working with Jesse, he had two caveats – 1) he wanted to ski and, 2) he didn’t want to be hurt. After working with Jesse, he found his strength had improved and skiing was easier. Jesse also thanked Rotarians Danny Mai, David Kersten (see his video about TNT at, Nancy Williams, Diane Schaffer, Peter Sherris and Astrid Lacitis, Shannon Hackley, Riza Hernandez, Sandeep Rajbhandari and Gary Flaxman (for finding the building).

President Dudley reminded us that even though the pandemic continues, we are continuing to engage in outdoor activities. On February 15, there will be a Golf Tournament and on February 24, we have rented the Grand Lake Theatre for a screening of Evolutionary Blues, a full-length documentary, featuring interviews with more than 30 artists who regularly played in clubs and music venues that lined the blocks of 7th Street before a charge for “urban renewal” decimated the thriving, self-sustaining Oakland Black community. It’s a story about the Great Migration, told through the lens and culture of blues musicians, many of whom never made it to national fame but were respected and acclaimed within the true blues scene. They carried the soul of their Southern roots — Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas — to Oakland. Doors will open at 6 pm with the screening beginning at 7 pm. After the screening, there will be a Q&A with the film's Director Cheryl Fabio. Get tickets here: . Proof of full vaccination is required. Masks must be worn except when eating and drinking.

We will have a celebration of International Women’s Day on March 13. Get ready to be in the Mood for Gratitude Gala on Thursday, April 28 at the Sequoyah Country Club from 6-10 p.m. where both indoor and outdoor options will be available. REMINDER: Please resubmit proof of vaccination and booster to Jesse Bowdle.

President Dudley invited us to join Breakout Rooms and discuss how we can increase membership because let’s not keep Rotary a secret.

Ahmad Anderson introduced his friend and our speaker today, sports director, Larry Beil from ABC KGO-TV in San Francisco. Beil graduated from the University of Hawaii and worked at ESPN and KTVU in Oakland and KGMB in Honolulu. Giving a nod to his Hawaiian upbring, Beil coined the catch phrase, “Aloha means goodbye” after showing a home run.

Larry began by discussing the topic on everyone's mind. He thinks the 49ers will go to the Super Bowl if they win against the Rams this Saturday. He discussed his upbringing in Hawaii and his years as a journalism student. He wanted to play sports but when he realized that might not be his path forward, he started writing for television about sports. He recalled that when he was looking for a home in the Bay Area in 1989 he was in the Caldecott Tunnel when the Loma Prieta earthquake occurred. The tunnel did not move. In his career, he has covered multiple Super Bowls and NBA Finals.

Beil offered a few predictions for upcoming games. He thinks the Bengals have a lot to overcome in their upcoming game against the Chiefs. He doesn't think the A's are going to move to Las Vegas as there is no money for a new stadium. He thinks we can cultivate sports in the community by emphasizing education in the classroom and then sports and see to it that all athletes have the equipment they need in order to play.

Karen Friedman rang the bell for David Kittner and Feed The Hungry food drive. Joycie Mack rang the bell for Larry Beil. Bob Peltz rang the bell for President Dudley Thompson.

Click here to watch Larry Beil video segment.

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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, January 20, 2022

President Dudley Thompson called to order the Zoom-only 5,371st Civic Thursday meeting at 12:30 pm.

Our country celebrated MLK day this last Monday and Keith Giron told us how “Service Above Self” is a theme worthy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Keith also shared that the Karl F Stucki World Community Services Committee just finalized four grants in service to the community.

Past President & District Governor Ed Jellen announced visiting Rotarian and guest of Robert Raburn, Kathryn Marshall of San Francisco Evening Rotary Club.

Jason Wizelman is a mortgage lender. His strong belief in the Rotary 4-Way Test motivates him to help others in the community and also his clients. Jason is there to help you make intelligent decisions around loans and mortgages.

Joe Goralka and Leeann Alameda told us about The Rotary Foundation month in December. It was an excellent year of fundraising and has changed the culture of giving where the vast majority of Rotarians are giving every year. This year we had 65%-member participation toward the 100% goal which is a great improvement from previous years. Club members donated over $135,000. Oakland #3 is the top giver in District 5170 again which is a big honor and benefit as the club receives additional funds for grants.

Joe Goralka also told us about a severe blood shortage and in response, our club is doing a blood drive. Go online or call the Red Cross and donate. Please take your photo and send it to Jesse Bowdle for a picture donor board.

President Elect Mary Geong, zooming in from Washington, D.C., announced this year’s Club festivity for Year of the Tiger Lunar New Year will be an online “virtual” dinner on February 3. On the menu are delicious Japanese bento box servings from Sakura Bistro Tapas & Sake Bar in Oakland. A single dinner runs $30 including tax & tip, and you can either pick up the dinner from 4:30 – 5:30 pm at the California Ballroom or have it delivered to your home. Be sure to make your on-line reservation on the Club’s website ASAP before the February 1 deadline.

Nancy Williams announced a Black History Month activity will be the “Evolutionary Blues” documentary film showing at Grand Lake Theatre. Tickets are $14 each. Limited seating and proof of vaccination needed. This film is an Oakland-based story about blues musicians and their migration from the South. After the screening, there will be a Q&A with the director, Cheryl Fabio. Get tickets here: 

Renia Webb introduced today’s speaker, Regina Jackson. She is a Cal Bears grad, coach and a Robert Wood Johnson Fellow. She just retired and finished her last year as the chair of the Oakland Police Commission.

The goal of the Police Commission is to oversee the police department and has stated goals to reduce the disparate impact on enforcement in the Black community. There are seven volunteer commissioners with two alternates who oversee the police commissioner with the unique ability to take action over significant policies of the police force.

Some of their successes have included the change to policies around use of force and probation and parole searches. Regina would like to see police be less militaristic and more involved in the community in hopes they do not have to address and respond to such a variety of calls.

Isaac Kos-Read rang the bell twice, once for Leeann Alameda and once for the Blood Drive. Lois Corrin, Renia Webb, Ahmad Anderson, Robert Kidd, Georgia Richardson, Wil Hobbs, Ces Butner, Ruth Stroup and Ken Benson rang the bell for Regina Jackson

President Dudley adjourned the meeting at 1:33 p.m. reminding us to Serve to Change Lives and Don’t Keep Rotary a Secret!

Click here to watch Regina Jackson video segment

Missed our meeting, but interested in checking out the next one?

Click below to learn more.

#serviceaboveself #rotaryinternational #rotaryclubofoakland #rotaryopensopportunities