Oakland Rotary News

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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.

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