Oakland Rotary News

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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 bruce.nye@gmail.com 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!

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