Prepared by: Debbie Beasley, Club President 2020-2021
June 24, 2021
It has been a year for the record books! There are phrases used throughout the year that feel overused but are also accurate in their description of our experience. Words such as pandemic, resilience, social distancing, pivoting, and more. Here is a quote that sums it up from Brian Tracy: “Flexibility in a time of great change is a vital quality of leadership.”
When I attended President Elect Training in February of 2020, we were asked to write ourselves a letter which would be mailed to us at the halfway point of our presidency to provide reflection on how the year has gone. At that time, there were murmurs of a virus going around and soon COVID-19 would be a familiar term. Who knew then what challenges we would face and how resilience would come into play? At the president training, my goals were threefold: 1) Promote “the power of One” to further our engagement with each other and the district; 2) Identify who we want to be as a club through strategic planning; and 3) Pursue communications and transparency around dues structure among other potential improvements.
We have been successful in all three areas – even in the midst of coronavirus. We grew our district (and Rotary International) involvement through record participation in a virtual lunch with RI President Holger Knaack. Jim Johnston was nominated for and selected as upcoming District Governor for District 5450. I accepted the role of Assistant Governor to lend support to the FIVE downtown Denver clubs. Our club participated in the District Day of Service on May 8 including Project Cure, 9News COVID Vaccination Clinic, Cherry Creek Trail Clean up and Project Worthmore. And multiple club members participated in the Virtual Rotary International convention.
In the strategic planning arena, we made progress through important and incremental changes based on club member feedback and strategic planning goals. There were town halls, Board of Director reviews and strategic planning working sessions with the action teams and our Executive team. We approved a new mission statement which is: To create a dynamic network of diverse leaders who serve ethically and take action to impact Denver and the world.
That mission statement is part of one-page, eye-catching recap of our club. We have more work to do and the desire, commitment, and energy to make it happen.
The last goal I had jotted down was to have transparency and communication around our budget and other potential improvements. Like the year itself, our budget was also like no others we had seen before. We moved to a Zoom meeting setting that was delivered in a professional and quality manner. Yet that also allowed for reduced expense in terms of our venue costs. During my monthly presidential updates, there was (in my opinion) full sharing of our financial position and also other accomplishments and changes. A full recap of all those accomplishments will be included in my final monthly update which will share a recap of this year.
I now want to recognize those who made it possible. And it starts with a thank you to Lauren Mast, our Executive Director. Among navigating a pandemic year, this year marked the first time our club moved to one Executive Director. Lauren made it look flawless – as if she had done this role alone for a hundred years. I consider her to be my friend, my partner, my confidante. Lauren makes this club look good. Wait, let me rephrase that. She makes this club look professional and downright outstanding. Her desire for deadlines and checklists were a perfect match to my style. I could not have done this without her. I could usually tell when I was getting a “nudge” to get something done!
Next, I want to thank my husband, Chris. He has been my studio engineer, my advisor and my coach through all this. He was always willing to read a draft of this or hear an idea and discuss options. He never commented on the number of Zoom calls I attended or the amount of time reading emails. He also made sure I found balance through many camping trips and ski outings.
The Executive Committee this year has been a second family to me. Each person delivered in a year that presented challenges and threw us curve balls. The accomplishments we can boast of this year are a result of the team effort from this group. It is a team that has laughed together and cried together. OK, so truth be told it is just me that has done the crying. So, a big shoutout to Ian, Jim, Troy, Chris, Rick, Lisza, Mark, Jill and Chad.
- Ian Campbell, Communications AND incoming president
- Jim Johnston, Immediate Past President and Strategic Planning leader
- Troy Szymanski, Secretary
- Chris Peters, Treasurer
- Rick Leuthold, Meetings & Events
- Lisza Gulyas and Mark Wipper, Service Team
- Jill Santuccio, Fundraising
- Chad Tyler, Membership
In addition, thank you to the Board of Directors. They have helped guide our club through this year and have served in an important leadership role for our club. Thank you to Lucius Ashby, Nancy Austin, Colleen Cozad, Harry Ellison, Matt Isola, Bob Kapelke, Hassan Latif, Alison Oyler-Mitsch, Brian Sweet, Andrew Walker and Louise Westfall. An always-welcome guest to our Board Meetings was Carter Sales who served alongside me as the President of the Denver Rotary Club Foundation. Carter has been a trusted partner throughout the year, and we have both put priority on that partnership and in moving the club forward.
Last, and certainly not least, thank you to each and every one of you. During my very first meeting of my presidency, I said that I “stand on the shoulder of giants”. That is so true and a tribute to the club presidents that have come before me. It is also true for the special club and club members that we have here. As you have heard me say many times in the past, I LOVE ROTARY. Thanks again to all of you. I am excited for our journey ahead and am confident in the leadership that Ian Campbell will provide. Let’s make this next year another one for the record books….minus a pandemic, of course.
Rotary Club of Denver 2020-2021 Detailed Year-in-Review:
District and Rotary International (RI) Involvement:
- In October 2020, a record number 60 club members signed up for the virtual lunch with RI President Holger Knaack.
- Jim Johnston was nominated for and selected as upcoming District Governor for District 5450.
- Debbie Beasley was selected as Assistant Governor for Area 1 clubs in District 5450.
- Our club participated in the District Day of Service on May 8th including Project Cure, 9News COVID Vaccination Clinic, Cherry Creek Trail Clean up and Project Worthmore. (See Service Projects section for details.)
- Multiple club members participated in the Virtual RI convention.
- During 2020-2021 fiscal year, this effort was led by Immediate Past President Jim Johnston with additional leadership support provided by Incoming President Ian Campbell. Multiple core teams were established to lead the key areas identified through our planning process.
- Jim Johnston hosted two Town Halls on Quest 31 and a report to the Board of Directors was also shared in November 2020. Important and incremental changes made to the club in response to member feedback and strategic planning goals.
- A strategic planning session was held in January with coordination between the Quest 31 team and our executive committee.
- Two written updates were provided to the club found in Appendix 1 of this update.
- A one-pager for our club was created based on the foundational work provided at the initiation of our strategic planning also found in Appendix 1.
Diversity & Inclusion:
- An important communication was also shared with the club in September 2020. The core message was around the importance of building and sustaining a diverse and inclusive culture for our Club members and guests – one where each person feels valued and respected for who they are as well as for the skills and experience they bring to our Club. Every member and guest should feel comfortable and welcomed. Our goal is for the diversity of our Club to reflect the diversity of the communities and, in fact, the world we serve.
- In February, I had the opportunity to attend “Exploring the Black Experience in Rotary”. Current Rotary International President Holger Knaack was quoted within this webinar saying: “There is no place within Rotary for racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, classism, or ageism. We do not believe that this is a political stance and we do believe we should openly discuss these issues within our organization.” We are on a journey here and in the spirit of the “Power of One” I invite you to spend One hour watching the recording from this session. It was phenomenal. The recording is still available and may be found here: https://vimeo.com/channels/rotarymembership/517196637m
- The Vice President for Fundraising for 2020-2021 was Jill Santuccio who was in her 3rd year in this role.
- Rotary International (RI) Annual Fund Goal of $50,000 and Polio Plus Goal of $10,000 exceeded with big thanks to Peg Johnston as The Rotary Foundation chairperson for this year. In addition, there is a pending $35,000 estate gift to the Endowed SHARE fund of Rotary International.
- Other Club 31 Contribution Statistics related to Rotary International:
- Paul Harris Society Members: 24
- Annual Fund Per Capita Giving for our club $293 compared to the District at $155 and also compared to our 2019-2020 club per capita giving at $256.
- Every Rotarian Every Year at 94 this year compared to 90 last year
- Major donors / Arch Klumph Society: 34
- Bequest Society / Legacy Society: 16
- Our club held a successful Peach Sale on September 12th after the peach crop was impacted by an early frost. Net proceeds were $19,331 with 50% going to the Denver Rotary Club Foundation, 25% to The Rotary Foundation Annual Fund and 25% going to Rotary International Polio Plus.
- unTalent Show on April 1st raised over $37,714 for our Denver Rotary Club Foundation (DRCF)
- Highlighting of award-winning Bosnia project shared with the club including a review of how projects benefit from “the multiplying impact” when DRCF provides a grant to World Community Services which is joined with funds from other clubs and District Designated Funds (from RI Foundation) and matching RI funding resulting in 10-20 times impact. See Celebrate our Service recap that was shared with the club in June 2021.
Meetings & Events:
- The Vice President for Meetings & Events for 2020-2021 was Rick Leuthold who was in his 1st year in this role.
- Rick lined up Mike Dineen and Thomas Longino to lead our newly formed Audio Visual (AV) team. This will allow us to build on our technology usage for our meetings and improve the overall experience.
- We held our first hybrid meeting in 2020 on April 15th at the Warwick Hotel. We were at our maximum participants allowed in a safe room set-up. The planning, technology and logistics helped make that meeting a success as well.
- The Co-Vice Presidents for Service for 2020-2021 were Lisza Gulyas and Mark Wipper who were in their 2nd year in this role.
- Cherry Creek Trail Clean-up was organized three times during this fiscal year beginning in August 2020 and continuing through 2021. The May 8th District Day of Service included this as one of the options and our partners at the Denver Five Points RiNo club joined our RCD club members in this event.
- 9News COVID Vaccination Clinic was established due to the pandemic and multiple RCD club members have participated throughout the year including the District Day of Service.
- Project Cure where our Rotarians help sort and pack medical supplies that were distributed locally during the COVID-19 pandemic (such as Personal Protective Equipment for front-line workers) as well as internationally to communities in need. This was another offering in the May 8th District Day of Service where new volunteers from our club and from the Peace Corp Satellite club joined in.
- The Denver Cherry Creek club has partnered with Metro Caring to deliver food to those in need. Demand grew from 20,000 pounds of food per week, to 80,000 pounds during the pandemic. Volunteers repackaged bulk dry goods, considered nutritionally dense, into 1-2 lb. packages to be distributed. Our club participated in this effort multiple times as well.
- Project Worthmore in partnership with Denver Mile High and Denver LoDo clubs was another offering for the May 8th District Day of Service and RCD had club members in attendance there.
- The Vice President for Fundraising for 2020-2021 was Chad Tyler who was in his second year in this role.
- Our membership number at the beginning of the year was 176 and we concluded the year at 166. There was an overall loss of 16 and 6 new members joined the club for a net attrition of 10. Membership loss was due to multiple factors.
- The strategic planning effort included a focus area around membership which is highlighted in the Strategic Planning section.
Communications / Social Media Presence / Media Stories:
- Thanks to the strong Communications team, led by Ian Campbell during 2020-2021 with Kristen Brooks assuming leadership in 2021-2022, our social media presence has matured and been recognized as outstanding. Ian served in this role for 4 years.
- The Rotary Club of Denver was awarded the Ed Bemis Award for Communications by the Rotary Club of Littleton and District 5450. The award is named for Ed Bemis, the late publisher of the Littleton Independent newspaper, Past President of the Littleton Club, and Past District Governor (way back in 1943-44). This award is a great tribute to Ian Campbell, our Communications Team Vice-President and President-Elect, and to Lauren Mast, our Executive Director, who has served the Communications Committee so ably over the past couple of years. It is largely due to the collaboration of these two that our Club has been recognized for the “Best Club Communications” in the District this year. The award consideration is equally weighted between newsletters, social media, and other blogs and projected-related outreach. The criteria for the award include the handling of Club news, education about Rotary activities, originality in content, and format and appearance
- Our RCD has presence on Facebook and through our club website in addition to having a YouTube channel where meeting recordings and other key videos are held. Updates to our Facebook page and our website are performed as needed and responses to inquiries are monitored daily.
- The October 2020 Rotary Magazine in the article “Fast Track to the Future” featured our RCD broadband project which continues to be recognized today.
- “Ground Game” was an article in the April 2019 Rotary Magazine regarding our club Bosnia human trafficking and Roma girl’s education project. While that article was prior to this fiscal year, the project continues to receive accolades. On February 24, 2021, a press release showcased this effort while announcing it as one of the winners of the prestigious Child 10 Award by Sweden. In addition, a 4-minute video of the effort was created by Matt Isola and presented to our club on June 3, 2021 to demonstrate the power of one project.
Social and Networking Opportunities:
- In August, our club celebrated the retirement of Darlene Mast’s after serving as our Executive Director for 16 years. AND it was our very first foray into an in-person gathering.
- Our club sponsored a weekly informal Happy Hour throughout the year which proved to be a fun way to socialize via Zoom.
Financial Update / Club Budget:
- As our club treasurer for 2020-2021, Chris Peters was key to navigating a very challenging and often unpredictable budget landscape. This year was like no other with Zoom meetings being the norm which created a unique, one-time (we hope!) situation where the club was not able to meet in person and therefore realized savings as a result of not meeting (and eating at) the Warwick Hotel.
- This was also a year when we realized expense reduction as we moved to a one-person Executive Director staff.
- The club budget came in with a surplus based on this unique scenario. The May 2021 financial results reported a surplus of $17,300.
Appendix 1: Strategic Planning Update #1 to the Rotary Club of Denver
June 2, 2021
Background: In mid-2020, the Rotary Club of Denver (RCD) with support from the Board of Directors (BOD) agreed to initiate a strategic planning effort. The following highlight accomplishments include: 1) Observation and review of meetings, surveys of club members and select interviews were performed, 2) An Action Group was formed of 17 club members plus consultant Kate Kalstein and work groups were identified, 3) Findings and recommendations were drafted, presented to the Action Group and then to the Executive Committee and Club Board with periodic review of updates and recommendations provided. Most importantly, club leadership adopted an attitude that meaningful change to club activities and operations was urgently needed.
The key areas of review included: Mission, Vision & Strategic Priorities, Meetings & Events / Programs, Service Team, Membership, Fundraising and Refinement of Roles & Responsibilities. Actions and accomplishments will be shared for the items in bold. The same will be shared on the other items in another update later in June.
Meetings & Events Summary:
- Reviewed primary program offerings and analyzed feedback on programs was completed January 2021.
- Program feedback received included continuation of our strong speaker program and complement those with service opportunities, social events, and professional networking. Our incoming Club President, Ian Campbell, will share exciting news on this front in July!
- As a result of the pandemic, an additional area of innovation was implemented to our weekly programs by utilizing Zoom throughout the majority of 2020-2021. Hybrid meetings, featuring both Zoom and in-person capabilities have been held three times. Ongoing review of hybrid offerings is underway.
Service Team Summary:
- Discussions held with each Service Project Chair and Co-Chair began in late 2020 and was reviewed in a team meeting in February 2021. Service Projects categories have been identified as follows.
- Club 31 Sustaining Projects: World Community Services, High School Mentors / College Counseling, and DCIS: Interact & Adopt a School.
- Volunteer Opportunities (chair needed): Cherry Creek Trail Cleanup, Denver Kids, Community Resources, Scholastic Arts Awards, Project Cure, Metro Caring, Junior Achievement and 9Health Fair.
- Additional Review/Consideration: Rotarians for Mental Health, Rotary Youth Exchange (on hiatus), and RYLA. Shining Stars and Launch Denver will be removed.
- Club Financial Support is currently provided to Denver Kids and other grantees identified through Denver Rotary Club Foundation which align to DRCF rather than the Service Team.
- Spring fundraising was piloted (unTalent Show) for improved fundraising calendar.
- Ian will also be sharing an update on Fundraising as he kicks off the year and shares his vision based on these findings and innovative ideas.
Appendix 1: Strategic Planning Update #2 to the Rotary Club of Denver
June 21, 2021
Earlier this month, an update was provided on our strategic planning process and included: Meetings & Events / Programs, Service Team, and Fundraising. This update will cover the other key areas as promised including
Mission, Vision & Strategic Priorities, Membership, and Refinement of Roles & Responsibilities.
Mission, Vision & Strategic Priorities Summary: The focus of the team working on this area was twofold:
- Hone our club message around vision and values, and repeat the messaging at every chance
- Align with Rotary International messaging
- Accomplishments in 2020-2021:
- A one-page document has been prepared based on the work done by this core team and is available in this appendix.
- The new Mission Statement for our Club has been voted on and approved. It is:
- Mission of the Rotary Club of Denver: To create a dynamic network of diverse leaders who serve ethically and take action to impact Denver and the world.
- The goals in reviewing our membership strategy included:
- Enhance membership application including prospective member transmittal letter
- Simplify membership categories
- Focus on Membership Recruitment
- Accomplishments in 2020-2021:
- The core team aligned to this effort has met extensively in 2020-2021. Recommendations for changes to membership types, dues structure and other membership processes will be introduced in detail to the Club Board of Directors in the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
Refinement of Roles & Responsibilities Summary:
- The objective of this area was to streamline and refine roles and responsibilities as our club moved to one full-time Executive Director.
- Accomplishments in 2020-2021:
- Executive Director Lauren Mast provided leadership and collaboration by meeting with the six team Vice presidents, the current Club President Debbie Beasley and others as needed to restructure team organization, reinforce, and streamline communications between leadership and to implement a leadership succession plan
- Vice Presidents included:
- Ian Campbell – Communications and Incoming President
- Jill Santuccio – Fundraising
- Chad Tyler – Membership
- Rick Leuthold – Meetings & Events
- Lisza Gulyas and Mark Wipper – Service Team
- Full details were provided in the Executive Director Report to ExCom & Board report presented to the Board on November 17, 2020.
Additional review was provided to the Board of Directors with approval vote received on April 20, 2021.