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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mary reviewed her goals for this year:

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

Missed our meeting, but interested in checking out the next one? Click below to learn more. https://www.oakland-rotary.org/calendar

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