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Call To Order - President Dudley Thompson

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. Members and guests settled in at their tables and discovered chopsticks, special "Mary Geong" fortune cookies, and a red envelope (more on the envelopes later) for each person.

Past President Linda Boessenecker, in her role as MC, called the meeting to order and immediately asked President Mary and the club officers and directors to march into the ballroom. The procession was accompanied by Layin’ Down The Law band's stirring rendition of "Celebration."

Thought for the Day - Maude Pervere

After Mary was seated on stage, Maude Pervere provided a thought for the day about using judgment to spark curiosity about new subjects.

Introduction of Mary Geong

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 met her husband Bill in high school. They married in 1976 and are celebrating their 46th anniversary in August. Mary and Bill have two daughters. Jennifer teaches English in Cambodia and Danielle lives in Washington D.C. Mary and Bill are proud grandparents to granddaughter Lily Charlotte.

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. The car is still running.

The Lion Dancers

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. 


The energy generated by the lion dancers was matched by the huge number of bellringers that followed.  President Mary reminded everyone that a bellringer was a legitimate tax deduction.

Ringing the bell in honor of Mary were:

Ruth Stroup (8 times), Dudley Thompson, Ken Richardson (2) for Mary and for the birth of his fourth granddaughter earlier in the morning; Keri Butkevich (2) for Mary and for Keri’s six-week old adopted daughter; Ces Butner (4) for Mary, District 1 Assistant Governor Saralinda Jackson, District 5170 Governor Savita Vaidhyanathan and Rotary International President Jennifer Jones; Sean Marx, Daniel Cheng (5), Merlin Edwards (2) for Mary and for his great granddaughter’s first birthday; John Protopappas (2) for Mary and for Bill Geong; Joycie Mack (2), Ricka White-Soso, Fanny Li, Pam Claassen, Saralinda Jackson, Renia Webb, Vivian Chen (5), Jim Boessenecker (2) for Mary and for Linda Boessenecker as emcee today; Ramona Chang (2), Georgia Richardson, Kristine Watson, Keith Uriarte, Joe Goralka (2) for Mary and for a Global Scholar from Japan; Joel Parrott (2) for Mary and his first grandchild born three weeks ago; Howard Lee, Carol Lum (2), Wendy Maclay, Tom Limon, Richard Schwarz, Jason Wizelman, Fred Morse, Ralph Sklar on behalf of the Meeting Production Team; Kymberly Miller, Kathleen Sims, Teresa Weyand, Celeste Gordon, Bruce Nye, Peter Sherris and Richard Flanders.

Guests, Club Board and ORE Trustee Introductions

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.

Special Presentation to Dudley Thompson

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

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.

Theme for the Year

President Mary announced her theme will be the same as the Rotary International theme: "Imagine Rotary." Without missing a beat, Rick Baskin and the band played and sang "Imagine" by John Lennon. Many in the audience sang along with the band.

Goals and Areas of Focus

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.

Have fun

Mary's area of focus will be education. This year's speaker's gift will be a contribution to Oakland Promise.

Raffle Results

Remember those red envelopes? Mary drew three winning tickets. Club members Carla Betts and Mike Bruck were two of the lucky winners. Thank you, Joe Goralka, for providing the prizes.


The action-packed inauguration of President Mary ended with the ringing of the bell at 1:37 pm.

Next Meeting, July 21 – Andy Naja-Riese – Farmers Market Movement

Speakers Committee Chair Ruth Stroup announced next week’s speaker will be Andy Naja-Riese, Andy is CEO of Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM) and producer of the Grand Lake Farmers Market.  He will talk about the Farmers Market Movement including important changes in diversity and collaboration with various local groups.

Call To Order - President Dudley Thompson

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.

Presidential Processional

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”. As the procession neared the stage, Dudley was not in it. Where was Dudley? Ken whispered the news in Lorna’s ear – Dudley forgot his vaccination certificate and as per club rules, could not enter the Ballroom. After a brief discussion Lorna proposed a solution – a vote by the attendees suspending the rule and allowing Dudley to participate. A very quick vote was taken, the Past Presidents returned to the back of the ballroom, and the procession began once again – this time with President Dudley.


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. But she shared this was not the first time Dudley had been on a magazine cover. In fact, in his hometown of Belmond, Iowa, soon after he was born, he was on the cover of The Iowa Farmer Monthly. 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.

Linda advised Dudley to wear his new badge to Rotary meetings and events so all Rotarians will recognize his status as a Past President.

Past President Carla Betts recalled how the World Community Services Committee has historically supported projects throughout the world, even during the pandemic. Dudley’s leadership was commemorated with an appearance on the cover of Rational Geografix magazine.

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. Also, Sean presented a banner from Dudley’s alma mater, Drake University, home of the fighting bulldogs.

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 John Protopappas observed the audio-visual experience was especially challenging given the hybrid nature of meetings, encompassing members both in the Ballroom and on Zoom. The Audio-Visual Committee was rebranded, and expanded, to the Meeting Production Committee.  In recognition of his efforts, Dudley was featured on the cover of Sound & Sight magazine. With the improvement of the sound system, John presented a LARGE box of cords and wires from the old system, which he unceremoniously opened and dumped on the floor in front of Dudley.

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 David Stein presented highlights of the club’s many accomplishments. These are listed in the story – left hand column of today’s Live Oak.

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’s Acknowledgement

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.

Next Meeting, July 14 – Inauguration of President Mary Geong

There is no Rotary meeting on July 7th.

On July14th please consider coming to the California Ballroom for the Inauguration of Mary Geong, our 114th, 9th woman and 1st Asian-American President of the Oakland Rotary Club #3. Her theme for the year is Imagine Rotary. Join your fellow Rotarians in hearing how Mary plans to lead and inspire us in accomplishing her goals.

Call To Order - President Dudley Thompson

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.

Thought for the Day – Sean Marx

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.

In his second “thought” Sean mentioned that the Boys and Girls Club of Oakland’s Salute to Youth is tonight and encouraged members to attend via Zoom and consider a contribution.

Given his “thoughts” might be considered promotion, Sean rang the bell.

Visiting Rotarians & Guests

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. This introduction was especially significant given that President Dudley neglected to introduce Concha at his inauguration!

New Member Induction – Ricka White-Soso

Standing in for Nancy Williams who is on vacation, Keith Uriarte introduced our newest Rotarian, Ricka White-Soso. Ricka is a licensed clinical social worker with a master’s in social work. Her private practice is FLW Living Well Services, focusing on community health issues. Ricka was a member of the Oakland Public Ethics Commission and participated in the documentary The Waiting Room. She is an avid collector of Marvin Gaye memorabilia. President Dudley welcomed Ricka and presented her with her new member goody bag.

Community Service Committee

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. The committee has a comprehensive grant-making process. Interested members are invited to email Bruce at or telephone him at 415-577-9453.

The Rotary Year in Review

President Dudley acknowledged that many Rotarians have mentioned his term is nearly over and asked how he felt about it. He shared that he continues to focus on what he hasn’t completed and what he still wants to do in the next eight days! But after reviewing the board minutes for the year he recognizes that there are a lot of accomplishments and a lot of people to thank!  If he were to distill one word that describes Rotary it is “people”. He has tried to thank people throughout the year but knows that he has missed some folks and that he will probably miss some today. He asked that people forgive him and know he appreciated your efforts! Dudley highlighted the following club activities and thanked the many members involved.

Jesse Bowdle, the Club’s Administrator, is the backbone of the organization and keeps everything running smoothly.

Daniel Cheng and the Community Service Committee organized clean up days at the PAL campground and Lake Merritt Gardens. Harold Lowe took us back to the PAL campground for training next year’s Enterprise Institute Counselors. And Karen Friedman put a crew together to pack 150 bags of food for food insecure students at Laney College each week.

We developed a new relationship with the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce and, in collaboration with the Rotary Club of San Francisco #2, the Rotary Club of San Francisco Chinatown, Asians United, the Oakland Police Department, and the Department of Justice, we provided safety training and distributed about 500 safety alarms in Oakland Chinatown. The project was spearheaded by President-Elect Mary Geong.

Renia Webb got us collecting coats and gloves for WELO before the Holidays. And a team of Rotarians handed out water and concentrated Gatorade to runners in the Oakland Marathon.

President Elect-Nominee Tom Limon was instrumental in putting together attendance at three Oakland A’s games and a Roots Soccer game.

Rotarians participated in six organized bike rides thanks to the efforts of Steve Blair and Mark RosenMark also put together a kayaking trip to Elkhorn Slough. Past President Robert Kidd led two segments of the Epic Hike across the East Bay hills, with two more coming! Three golf tournaments were organized by Golf Czar, Mike Mowery, even though he moved to Bend, OR.! Pat Williams organized a day on the pickleball court, and a team of bowlers, the Rotary King Pins, finished 4th of 15 teams.

Thanks to Jesse Schmidt, David Kersten, Carla Betts and members of the Business Development Committee, Entertainment Committee, and Membership Committee, a variety of mixers and social events were held.

Linda and Jim Boessenecker entertained new members at their home. Pat Williams provided orientation for new members.

Oakland Rotarians participated in the District-led Train of Lights. Georgia Richardson and Nancy Williams organized a viewing of Evolutionary Blues at the Grand Lake Theater.

Trisha Connors and Kerry Hamill provided leadership to an outstanding crew for a fantastic Gala celebration at Sequoyah Country Club.

Our HOPE and Saroni-Lena Scholarship programs are flourishing under the leadership of Steve Blair, Fred Morse, and Teresa WeyandGreg Annis coordinated four high school Interact clubs and our RYLA leadership training program.

John Holmgren continued leading the important work of the KinderPrep Committee hosting field trips and providing supply gift cards to teachers.

The Community Service Committee and chairperson, David Kittner, administered 13 grants to local nonprofit organizations. 

Co-chairs Barbara Beery and Sean Marx led the Karl F. Stucki World Community Services Committee sponsoring 10 global grants, the maximum allowed! Additionally, we made a $40,000 gift to Ukraine relief.

Under the leadership of Joel Parrott, the Environment Committee was initiated – one of President Dudley’s priorities – with more to come in the next Rotary year.

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee under the leadership of Celeste Gordon and Immediate Past President Ces Butner, is completing its initial report working with a consultant and administering the club survey.

Although President Dudley had set a goal of reaching 300 members, we didn’t quite get there, but we did induct 33 new members under the leadership of Membership Committee chair, David Kersten.

Fund Raising efforts were off the charts! Leeann Alameda and Joe Goralka led the Annual Rotary Foundation campaign raising more than $160K putting us as 11th in the Rotary World. Kym Johnson led the ORE Campaign which raised over $80K. The Community Service Committee raised $50K for Feed the Hungry for seven local agencies. And the Gala was the most successful ever raising $125K for next year’s committee budgets.

A huge shout out to the AV and Meeting Support team. Jack Isles and Sandeepa Nayak held it together for the first part of the year, then Ralph Sklar stepped up with Alex Poulson to put together a new system with help from all of the members of the committee –Peter Sherris, Gabe Bruck, Tom Limon, Clive Worsley, Suzie Yokomizo and others.

The President Support Committee, led by Jack McAboy, was there for President Dudley whenever needed.

The Speakers Committee, led by David Stein, provided outstanding program speakers for the year.

President Dudley thanked all of the members of the Club Board of Directors and the ORE Board of Trustees and acknowledged those retiring.

Dan Lasar Good Job Award

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!

Speaker for the Day – Lance McGee – Unique Derique

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.

After a few questions, President Dudley thanked Lance for his presentation.


Sean Marx rang the bell for his Yoga Certification.

Joycie Mack, Tom Limon, Stephanie Casenza, Georgia Richardson, Joe Goralka, Pat Williams, Bob Barth, Linda Boessenecker, Keith Uriarte, Robert Kidd, Pam Claassen, Deep Rajbhandari, Alex Poulsen, Rick Draper, Ralph Sklar, Bruce Nye and Wil Hobbs rang the bell for Dudley Thompson.


President Dudley thanked everyone for participating and adjourned the meeting at 1:36 pm reminding everyone to Serve to Change Lives and don’t keep Rotary a Secret.

Next Meeting, June 30 – Demotion of President Dudley Thompson

Past President Michael Bruck encouraged Rotarians to attend the Demotion of President Dudley next Thursday. Please consider coming to the California Ballroom to be a part of the program. Rumor has it that Past President Carla Betts is on the lookout for delicious cookies!

Call To Order - President Dudley Thompson

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.

Thought for the Day – Alex Kaffka

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.”

Visiting Rotarians & Guests

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.

Member Re-Introduction – Keith Giron

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 family consists of three daughters, an adopted son and two grandchildren. His personal mantra is “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”.

Banner Exchange

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.

World Community Service Report

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.

Chinatown Personal Safety Alarm Distribution

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.

Summer Solstice Mixer

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.

Epic Hike – Part 3

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.

Rotary King Pins

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.

Program for the Day – Joel Makower

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.


President Dudley thanked everyone for participating and adjourned the meeting at 1:32 pm reminding everyone to Serve to Change Lives and don’t keep Rotary a Secret.

Next Meeting, June 23 – Lance McGee – Unique Derique

C J Hirschfield announced our program will be provided by Lance McGee. When not bringing joy to all ages as a professional clown, his alter-ego Lance McGee is a Trauma-Informed Wellness Consultant, Drama Therapist, and Mindfulness Coach providing support to Oakland middle-school educators, administrators, staff, and students. Lance’s work also includes training SFJazz teaching artists and other educators who work with middle school youth, as well as leading workshops on recognizing trauma-informed care practices and mindfulness for non-profit organizations, health clinics, colleges and educational systems throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. His past also includes school-based counseling for the East Bay Agency for Children, as well as work with the Mindful Life Project.

Call To Order - President Dudley Thompson

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.”

Thought for the Day– Derreck Johnson

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.

Visiting Rotarians & Guests

Kristine Watson introduced and welcomed Michelle Ingram from the Alameda Rotary Club. Renia Webb introduced Janani Ramachandran who is running for Oakland City Council District 4. Gary Flaxman welcomed his guest, Jerry Lazarus.

Meeting Sponsor – Lorna Padia Markus – Mowat Mackie & Anderson

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. She observed the profession has suffered some attrition due to COVID and requested that if any of us know accountants who work to contact her. She noted that the reason her company, Mowat Mackie & Anderson, has been successful for the past 40 years is because of the care and attention provided and nurturing relationships with clients.

Saroni-Lena Scholars

Committee Co-Chair Steve Blair announced first and foremost, the committee has been renamed the Oakland Rotary Scholarship Committee awarding the Saroni-Lena scholarships. This year’s recipients, their high school, their nomination for an outstanding teacher, their college of choice, intended major and Rotary mentors who are committed to seeing them through four years of college are listed here: 

1. Nazario Ambrocio Jimenez attended Skyline High School and nominated Ms. Monica Vu. His mentor is Steve Blair.

2. Amanda Chieng attended Oakland Tech and nominated Ms. Ray’Von Jones. She will attend UC Berkeley and major in psychology. Her mentor is Janice Brickley.

3. Elizabeth Dang attended Oakland Tech and nominated Ms. Ray’Von Jones. Her mentor is Riza Hernandez.

4. Paula Pablo attended Oakland Unity High School and nominated Mr. PJ Nguyen. Her mentor is Diane Schaffer.

5. Lorenzo Drilleau-Craft attended Oakland Tech and nominated Mr. Jeremy Sutton. He will attend UC Irvine and hopes to major in literary journalism. His mentor is Pat Williams.

Dreyan Paul attended McClymonds High School and nominated Mr. Satoshi Suga. He will attend San Diego State and study nutritional science. His H.O.P.E. mentor, Gary Flaxman, will continue to be his mentor.

Adrian Segura attended Oakland High School and praised his teacher, Raven Mangiante. He will attend UC Berkeley and study computer science. He is interested in getting a teaching credential at Cal Teach. His mentor is Fred Morse.

Jose Valencia nominated Ms. Fukumoto. Ralph Sklar will be his mentor.

Bryce Walker attended Skyline High and nominated Ms. Monica Vu. He will attend San Diego State and is interested in obtaining a degree in African American studies. Gary Flaxman will be his mentor.

Fanny (Jeanne) Zhu attended Skyline High School and will attend UC Berkeley to study sociology. She nominated Mr. Shane Durkan and her mentor will be Kristina Brouhard.

Before the Rotary meeting today started, students, teachers and Rotarians enjoyed a little celebration party. Congratulations to all of the scholarship students!

Epic Hike – Part 3

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.

Summer Solstice Mixer

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. Please sign up on the Club Website Calendar.


Oakland Chinatown Personal Safety Alarm Distribution: President Dudley reported we recently distributed 350 safety alarms to residents of 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 be distributing additional safety alarms on Saturday, June 18 from 10:00 am to noon. The Oakland Police Department will offer a training presentation on personal safety and the collaborative organizations will distribute the personal safety alarms. We need volunteers at around 9:30 in the morning to affix lanyards to the alarms and stay to help show recipients how to use the alarms. Sign up on the Club Website Calendar to volunteer.

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

Blood Donations Needed: He also reminded us to give blood when we can as the blood banks are always in need of contributions. Contact the American Red Cross for information.

Program for the Day – Fred Palmer

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.


Kristine Watson rang the bell for the Oakland Rotary Scholarship Committee.

Lorna Padia Markus rang the bell twice for the students and mentors honored today.

Steve Blair rang the bell for donors to ORE and the Scholarship Committee.

Dudley Thompson and Ruth Stroup rang the bell for Lorna Padia Markus.

Elida Scola and Greg Knight rang the bell for Fred Palmer and the LGBTQ community.

Our speaker, Fred Palmer, rang the bell three times for our scholarship program


President Dudley thanked everyone for participating and adjourned the meeting at 1:25 pm reminding everyone to Serve to Change Lives and don’t keep Rotary a Secret.

Next Meeting, June 16 – Joel Makower

Past President Michael Bruck announced next week’s speaker will be Joel Makower, CEO of GreenBiz, an Oakland company helping businesses transition to a green economy.

And on June 30th, you don't want to miss the demotion of President Dudley Thompson

Call To Order - President Dudley Thompson

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.

Thought for the Day– Dana Sack

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.” 

Visiting Rotarians & Guests – Ed Jellen

Past President & District Governor Ed Jellen announced there were no visiting Rotarians.

New Member Induction – Mary Finch

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!

Member Re-Introduction – Cal Stanley

Past President Sean Marx reintroduced Cal StanleyCal 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. Cal has a beautiful family including three children and four grandkids.

With loud applause for Cal, there were many bellringers, listed elsewhere.

Community Service Committee Year-End Report

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.


Oakland A’s Game – President Elect Nominee Tom Limon announced there are some tickets left for the Oakland A’s game versus the Boston Red Sox on June 5th. There will be a tailgate that is not to miss!  

Gala Report – Gala Co-Chair Trisha Connors gave an update on the hugely successful Oakland Rotary Gala.  The goal to raise $100,000 was beat handily and netted a total of $125,000 with over 200 people in attendance. Trisha thanked her co-chair Kerry Hamill and others for their support and help making this a successful event. Proceeds go to Oakland Rotary Endowment to fund next year’s club service projects.

Elkhorn Slough Kayaking – High Adventure Co-Chair Mark Rosen announced the Elkhorn Slough kayaking trip is set for Saturday June 11th. See the club website calendar for more information and to register.

Summer Solstice Mixer – Jesse Schmidt, Business Development Committee Chair, announced the summer solstice mixer, co-sponsored with the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce, will take place June 21st from 5:30-7:30 pm at the home of Giovanna Tanzillo in Piedmont. A special treat will be music by the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir.

Program for the Day – Getting to Know Our Members

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!


Sean Marx, Linda and Jim Boessenecker, Jack McAboy, Trisha Connors, Fred Morse, Robert Kidd, Ed Jellen, Mike Bruck, Merlin Edwards, Lorna Padia Markus, Ruth Stroup, Stephanie Casenza, Wise Allen and Joycie Mack rang the bell for Cal Stanley.

Cal Stanley rang the bell for Sean Marx

Jack McAboy and Mary Geong rang the bell for Trisha Connors.

Lorna Padia Markus rang the bell for the Gala Committee.


President Dudley thanked everyone for participating, announced next week’s program will include this year’s Saroni-Lena Scholarship winners, and adjourned the meeting at 1:31 pm reminding everyone to Serve to Change Lives and don’t keep Rotary a Secret.

Stories Next Meeting, June 9 – Fred Palmer – Celebration of Gay Pride Month

Greg Knight announced next week’s speaker will be Fred Palmer, who will speak and celebrate Gay Pride Month. Fred is the founder and Publisher of Outword Media Marketing and Events Inc., an award-winning LGBTQ magazine now in its 27th year.  Fred is a founding member of the Rainbow Chamber of Commerce and the Rainbow Chamber Foundation and has served several terms as President on each board. He has worked with many community organizations, doing special events and fundraisers including PFLAG, Davis Pride, SIGLFF, and Sacramento LGBTQ Wedding Expo, helping to raise awareness for LGBTQ issues and bring in necessary funding.

The meeting will be in-person in the Ballroom as well as Via Zoom and Facebook Live.

Call To Order - President Dudley Thompson

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.

Memorial Day History

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.

Thought for the Day & Pledge of Allegiance – Jack McAboy

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.

Visiting Rotarians & Guests – Ed Jellen

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.

Self Introduction – Etan Fraser

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. 


Oakland A’s Game – President Elect Nominee Tom Limon urged more of us to sign up for the Sunday June 5 battle between the A’s and the Boston Red Sox. As an extra enticement, the price has been reduced to $80 per person. It’s a great deal: you’ll get to enjoy the easy social interaction and good field views from our specially reserved, private section that’s right next to the field. There’s also a sumptuous 11 am tailgate before the 1 pm game start. In addition to the Red Sox game, Tom has also organized a similar outing to the Aug. 20 home game against the N.Y. Yankees. Buy tickets on the Club’s Calendar website.

Oakland Chinatown Personal Safety Alarm Distribution – President Elect Mary Geong heralded an important service project on Saturday, May 28 at the Renaissance Plaza. In collaboration with Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club of San Francisco, Rotary Chinatown/San Francisco Club and other community organizations, we will be distributing 300 safety alarms (with Rotary lanyards) to Asian residents who are at risk of anti-Asian hate crime violence. Mary will be leading another similar distribution on June 18. We need more Rotarians to help with this project!

Other Service Projects and Activities – Pres. Dudley reminded us that Rotary is all about service. So all who can, should try to join in the safety alarm project and the Club’s other service projects. They are great opportunities to get better acquainted with your fellow Club members. Further on the subject of service, Pres. Dudley reminded us of the Club project, organized by Daniel Cheng, to help Clean Up and Improve the Lake Merritt Gardens on June 11. Or if you just want fun and adventure, join Mark Rosen on Kayaking in Elkhorn Slough also June 11. On June 21, Business Development is co-hosting a mixer party at the home of Giovanna Tanzillo. On June 24, Robert Kidd will lead us on the third stage (of the four-part Epic Hike), this time through Redwood Park. Finally, Bowling with our club squad, “the Rotary Kingpins”, is returning for six weeks beginning on July 6. It’s great fun. Pres. Dudley said to qualify all you need is a pulse and ability to pick up and roll a bowling ball with two hands. The team needs more players. Contact Pres. Dudley for more info.       

Annual Club Survey – PLEASE, PLEASE FILL OUT THE ANNUAL DEI SURVEY!  (It’s been the subject of several emails from Jesse Bowdle and other special announcements.)  Time is running out. The Club leadership needs this valuable feedback!

Blood Drive – Pres. Dudley said there’s still a big need for blood. Contact the American Red Cross and give whenever you can.

Program for the Day – George Geary

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.

(Editor’s Note: since we were all attending remotely, not surprisingly a number of members used the Chat Box to let everyone know of their early employment at these and other fast food outlets. We have much more in common than we thought.)

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:


President Dudley thanked everyone for participating and adjourned the meeting at 1:31 pm reminding everyone to Serve to Change Lives and don’t keep Rotary a Secret.


Joycie Mack rang the bell. Isaac Kos-Read rang the bell in honor of Children’s Fairyland’s successful gala and Kymberly Miller and C J Hirschfield, who as the current and former Fairyland Executive Directors respectively, have played big roles in this important civic institution

Next Meeting, June 2 – Getting To Know Our New Members

For a change of pace, President Dudley Thompson will call upon a group of recently-inducted Rotary Club members to give their respective "Three Minute Introductions." Don't miss this opportunity to meet and interact with our newest Club members. The meeting will be in-person in the Ballroom as well as Via Zoom and Facebook Live.

Call To Order - President Dudley Thompson

President Dudley Thompson called the 5,387th Civic Thursday meeting of the Rotary Club of Oakland to order at 12:30 p.m.

Thought For The Day - Cathy Jackson-Gent 

Cathy Jackson-Gent announced the word for the day is “Reset”. She said reset is very important and it is time to refresh. Her thought: time is like a flashlight to see where you want to be.

New Member Inductions – Bill Purcell, Etan Fraser & Cynder Niemala

Past President John Protopappas introduced Bill Purcell, who has been in Oakland real estate brokerage for over 50 years. John shared two interesting facts: 1) earlier in his career, Bill financed many project—from teamsters to Las Vegas, and 2) he has spent many years around horses, as a thoroughbred owner and rider.

President Elect-Elect Tom Limon introduced Etan Fraser, whom he cited as the most interesting man in the world. He shared two interesting facts: 1) Etan has traveled in 51 countries and is interested in the work of Rotary International, and 2) he is a one-time musician and recovering lawyer.

Mark Miller introduced Cynder Niemala, an author and executive coach.  Interesting facts about Cynder are 1) she has lived all over the world – in 100 countries and has worked in Saudi Arabia, and 2) she is an avid hiker and biker and interested in the environment.

Pres. Dudley welcomed all three, described the items they will receive once we are in the ballroom again, including membership pin, badge, and copy of the membership directory, plus promised them the traditional rousing standing ovation from their fellow Rotarians once we are in person again.  Welcome Bill, Etan and Cynder!


President Dudley announced that the May 19th and 26th Civic Thursday meetings will be zoom-only meetings. We will be back in the Ballroom starting June 5th for hybrid meetings.

Oakland A’s Games – Tom Limon asked Rotarians to come to two Oakland A’s games for which Oakland Rotary has the private Gold Road Landing section in the ballpark. Sunday, June 5 and Sunday August 28th there will be tailgate parties at 11 am in a special area at the bottom of the BART Ramp. The June 5th tailgate will feature resident mixologist, Dudley Thompson. On August 28th there will be a Paella cookoff between Oakland and the San Leandro Rotary Club. Buy tickets on the Club Calendar website.

Speakers for 2022-2023 – Incoming Committee Chair Ruth Stroup invited Rotarians to join the Speakers Committee which is starting planning now for programs beginning in July. She also invited us to suggest fabulous speakers for the coming year. Email her at

The Rotary Foundation Campaign for 2022 -- Joe Goralka, Co-Chair of The Rotary Foundation Committee shared some great news. Out of the 46,000 Rotary Clubs worldwide, Oakland #3 is 11th in its donations to TRF. We donated a total of $161,218. Our member participation is just under 70%, compared to the average which is 30% of club members. He gave a shout-out to the committee members, committee co-chair Leeann Alameda, the many new Paul Harris Fellows and those members who made leadership gifts, all of which contributed to our success.

Program for the Day – Peter Gamez, in conversation with John Albrecht  

President Dudley introduced Peter Gamez, President & CEO of Visit Oakland and John Albrecht, Vice President of Marketing at Oakland International Airport.

John reported that new concessions are opening at the airport, including Oaklandish, Peets Coffee and Subway.  More are coming in the months ahead. While the public is getting back to more travel, post-Covid, some of the airlines are still dealing with pilot shortages and having to cancel some flights.

Peter reported that with university graduations, small conventions and some international travel, Oakland is beginning to see people to come to the city for activities. He commented that during the pandemic, some hotels, in Oakland and the rest of the Bay Area, took advantage of the time to do renovations. Visit Oakland is now focusing on rebuilding the current staff team and filling key positions. They are also working on marketing strategies to attract people. One such program was Restaurant Week which took place in March


President Dudley thanked everyone for participating and adjourned the meeting at 1:30 p.m. reminding everyone to Serve to Change Lives and don’t keep Rotary a Secret.

Next Meeting, May 26 – George Geary – Made in California

Robert Kidd announced our speaker on May 19th is food historian and chef George Geary. He will talk about the impact California has had on the fast-food industry. Ever been to a McDonalds, A&W Root Beer, See’s Candies, Peets, Foster’s Freeze, or IHOP to name a few? They all started in California. Be sure to join in and hear more. The meeting is a zoom-only meeting.

Call To Order - President Dudley Thompson

After a ten-minute delay due to Zoom technical issues, President Dudley Thompson called the 5,386th Civic Thursday meeting of the Rotary Club of Oakland to order at 12:40 p.m. This was a special members-only meeting devoted to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Thought For The Day - Theresa Weyand 

Theresa Weyand quoted Martin Luther King Jr.: "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."


President Dudley announced that the May 19th and 26th Civic Thursday meetings will be zoom-only meetings. He also reported on upcoming club events and activities. Details on the events and information for signing up are listed on the adjoining Activities column.

Program for the Day – Viva Asmelash

Diversity Equity & Inclusion Committee chair Celeste Gordon introduced committee consultant Viva Asmelash. Viva has fifteen years of experience in marketing, leadership training, and development is a first-generation Eritrean-American and an Oakland resident. 

The goals for the meeting were: 1) to hear from the DE&I consultant and committee members on DE&I at the club; 2) increase comfort, tools, and reliance in engaging one another in dialogue; and 3) gain a clearer understanding of key terms and to connect with each other.

Committee member Wil Hobbs read the Rotary International DE&I code of conduct: 

Use respectful language 

Be supportive

Foster a welcoming and inclusive environment

Celebrate diversity

Viva asked members to close their eyes and think of a place where they had the deepest sense of belonging and where they had the least sense of belonging. In discussing why belonging matters to all of us, she shared a quote from Christianne Garofalo:

"Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is a behavior. But belonging is the emotional outcome that people want in their organization."

After reviewing key terms (diversity, equity, inclusion, identity groups, intersectionality), the members were sent to breakout rooms to continue the discussion.

Viva urged members to take the club survey, participate in the upcoming evening group sessions, and to sign up for one-on-one interviews.


President Dudley thanked everyone for participating in this important meeting and adjourned the meeting at 1:46 p.m.

Next Meeting, May 19 – Peter Gamez – Traveling The Post Covid World

Robert Kidd announced our speaker on May 19th is Peter Gamez, President and CEO of Visit Oakland. He will speak about traveling in the post-Covid world. The meeting is a zoom-only meeting.

Call To Order - President Dudley Thompson

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.  

Thought For The Day - Robert Kidd

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!

Visiting Rotarians and Guests

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.

Meeting Sponsor – Kevin Kelley, Oakland Lacrosse Club

Oakland Lacrosse Club is today’s meeting sponsor. Founder and Executive Director, Kevin Kelley, shared how important the three years he has been in Rotary have meant to the organization including having three dedicated Rotarians on the board of directors—Harold Lowe, Tom Limon, and Sean Marx. Oakland Lacrosse provides a holistic model for youth development focusing on leadership development, academic counseling, and wellness education. Currently serving 2,000 youth in 13 schools they have a goal to expand to 20 Oakland schools by 2024. Kevin shared two items in a call to action for Rotarians 1) help at their annual potluck, 4:30 pm on May 17th. Send him an email at if you can help. 2) Oakland Lacrosse is in the midst of their “one town, one family” fundraising drive where they need 1,000 donors at any level by May 17th. If they reach this goal the organization will receive $100,000!


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.

New Member Induction – Davey Warner

Nancy Williams introduced our newest Rotarian, Davey WarnerDavey, 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!

Speaker for the Day – Tashneem Raja

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.


Jack McAboy rang the bell for Kevin Kelley.

Isaac Kos-Read rang the bell for Davey Warner and for the Cityside Oakland publication.

Harold Lowe rang the bell for his son and daughter, Oscar and Taylor Lowe, who recently received their Eagle Scout designations. They are the only African-American brother and sister team who have earned the award together. And Taylor is the only African-American girl in California and the West Coast to earn the Eagle Scout. Congratulations to Oscar and Taylor!


President Dudley thanked those who rang the bell, meeting participants, and our speaker. The meeting was adjourned at 1:33 pm as he reminded us to Serve to Change Lives and Don’t Keep Rotary a Secret!

Next Meeting, May 12 – Cultivating a Sense of Belonging for All

The meeting on May 12 is a members-only, in-person meeting in the Ballroom. Pre-registration is required. Go to the Club Website Calendar to sign up. Inclusion Consultant Viva Asmelash will facilitate the meeting on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. It will be an interactive engagement session with members participating in small group discussions. Members who are unable to attend the in-person meeting, can participate in a Zoom meeting at 5:30 pm.