Presidential message

Mark Daniel Maloney

President 2019-20

December 2019

There is no experience quite like attending the Rotary International Convention. Discover the true spirit of aloha and Rotary with your family, friends, and fellow Rotarians from 6 to 10 June in Honolulu. It is the perfect setting for the entire family of Rotary to celebrate, collaborate, and connect.

There are two types of people who enjoy visits to Hawaii — those who have never been to the islands and are about to have unique and wonderful experiences, and those who have had those Hawaiian moments etched into their memories already and cannot wait to create some new ones.

The convention is the best place to find and share your aloha, which you will soon discover is much more than a greeting. Just as Rotary is a way of life for Rotarians, aloha is a way of life for Hawaiians — one that focuses on living in harmony, being patient, treating everyone with respect, and sharing joy with your family, or 'ohana.

Our host committee has arranged some fabulous events for you and your family. This includes a Hawaiian Culture and Lunch Boat Cruise, a two-hour tour that will feature spectacular views of Diamond Head, Waikiki, and the Kahala Gold Coast. On board, you can learn to play the ukulele, take part in hula dancing, and create your own Hawaiian flower lei.

You will also have the opportunity to enjoy a full range of island hospitality events, from small backyard picnics to multicourse family meals. There will be fantastic service projects to see, including two ancient Hawaiian fishponds. And a sunrise Walk for Peace will take place at the beautiful Ala Moana Beach Park, a 3-mile stroll in the shadow of the iconic Diamond Head crater.

Inside and outside the convention halls, we are going to hold the most family-friendly convention in Rotary history, including a family-centered opening ceremony and family-focused events in the House of Friendship. The opening session will, of course, include our traditional flag ceremony.

Our 2020 convention will also be a time to celebrate Rotary's historical ties to the United Nations. As I mentioned in my November message, June 2020 will mark the 75th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations charter. On the day before the start of the convention, Rotary and the UN will host our fifth joint event of 2019-20, one focused on environmental sustainability.

In addition, we are planning the greenest convention in Rotary history — and I will share more details about this in the months ahead. But now, go to riconvention.org and click the REGISTER button right below the Honolulu Hawaii 2020 logo. Early registration discount pricing ends 15 December, so do not delay.

Rotary Connects the World in no better way than at the Rotary Convention. Bring your family to meet our family. See you in Honolulu!


November 2019

Rotary Day at the United Nations, which we celebrate each November, is an important reminder of the historic relationship between our organizations. But this year’s event is even more important than usual, because we are building up to the 75th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter in June 2020.

You might ask, why celebrate this anniversary? For Rotary, it is entirely appropriate, because we played such a critical leadership role in the San Francisco Conference that formed the United Nations in 1945. Throughout World War II, Rotary published materials about the importance of forming such an organization to preserve world peace.

Not only did Rotary help influence the formation of the UN, but this magazine also played a leading part in communicating its ideals. Rotary educated members about plans to create the UN through numerous articles in The Rotarian and through a booklet titled From Here On! When the time came to write the UN charter, Rotary was one of 42 organizations the United States invited to serve as consultants to its delegation at the San Francisco Conference.

Each organization had seats for three representatives, so Rotary International’s 11 representatives served in rotation. The people officially representing Rotary included the general secretary, the current and several past presidents, and the editor of The Rotarian. In addition, Rotarians from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America served as members of or consultants to their own nations’ delegations.

We have a deep and lasting relationship with the UN that deserves to be celebrated and appreciated. To recognize this relationship, Rotary will host five special events between now and June: Rotary Day at the UN in New York on the 9th of this month; three presidential conferences next year in Santiago, Chile, in Paris, and in Rome; and a final celebration just before the Rotary International Convention in Honolulu.

The focus on the UN in the year ahead is not only about the past; it also lights a path to our future. There are so many parallels between the work we do through our areas of focus and the work of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. While those goals are indeed incredibly ambitious, they provide inspiration and direction — and are similar to many Rotary goals, which have proven to create lasting, positive change in our world. The goals can be achieved, but only if undertaken with the same long-term commitment and tenacity that Rotary understands so well. Alone, we cannot provide clean water for all, we cannot eliminate hunger, we cannot eradicate polio. But together with partners like the United Nations, of course we can.

Please consider attending one of our five UN celebrations. I look forward to sharing news of these special events with you throughout the year.


October 2019

Rotary's long-term, sustained battle against polio has defined our organization for decades. We have a right to be proud of all that we have accomplished through the years.

Our progress is real and noteworthy. In 1988, polio was endemic in 125 countries, with more than 350,000 new cases a year worldwide. Since then, Rotary and our Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners have reduced the incidence of polio by more than 99.9 percent, vaccinated more than 2.5 billion children against the virus, and prevented 18 million cases of paralysis. Over the years, Rotary has helped country after country move into the polio-free column. This includes India, which some considered impossible not long ago. Of the three types of poliovirus, type 2 has been eradicated and type 3 could soon be certified as eradicated. Nigeria has not reported a case of wild poliovirus in nearly three years. If this trend holds, we will be down to just one type of wild poliovirus in only one section of the world, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

There are major challenges in that region. But it is crucial that we remain optimistic. Look at all that we have accomplished so far. This is no time to get discouraged or to think that the task is impossible. We will end polio forever, but only if we remain steadfast and vigilant. World Polio Day is a time for Rotarians from all over the globe to come together, recognize the progress we have made in our fight against polio, and plan the action we must take to end polio forever. The key word is action, because we still have important work to do.

This year, we want to see as many Rotary clubs as possible holding World Polio Day events around the world. Need some ideas? How about organizing a viewing party for friends and club members to watch Rotary's Online Global Update? You could also dedicate a club meeting to World Polio Day or create a fundraising event. Remember, every dollar raised is matched 2-to-1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Once you have created an event, register it at endpolio.org/register-your-event. Then promote it using the World Polio Day toolkit, available at endpolio.org/world-polio-day.

Mark your calendar to tune in to Rotary's World Polio Day Online Global Update on 24 October. This year we will stream our program on Facebook in multiple time zones around the world. Visit the Rotary International Facebook page to RSVP to your region's program. And do not forget to follow the event on social media and share it with your network.

When we reach our goal, polio will become only the second human disease eradicated on the planet, and Rotary will receive international acclaim. But what matters most is the children who will never again have to face this terrible, disabling virus. Rotary must continue to connect the world in the effort toward polio eradication. It is up to us. Let us finish the job.


September 2019

Here in the United States, another summer is winding down. And for the Maloney family, every summer ends with a return to my hometown of Ridgway, Illinois, for the annual Popcorn Day festival, where I am honored to serve as the “Popcorn King,” the master of ceremonies for the day’s events. 

Regardless of the season, every family has its own traditions. I would like to suggest a new one for yours: Find an opportunity to introduce your family to Rotary. One of my family’s traditions is to take our daughters and grandsons to the Rotary International Convention. The 2020 convention in Honolulu will be a wonderful way to introduce your children and grandchildren to the internationality of Rotary. We are planning many family-oriented events for everyone to enjoy.

Any time is a fabulous time to bring family members on a Rotary service project or to a fundraising event. But perhaps you have not seen many family-friendly events at your club. That is precisely why one of my top priorities this year is to make most Rotary events welcoming to family members.

We must foster a culture where Rotary does not compete with family, but complements it. We should never expect our members to choose between the two. That means being realistic in our expectations, considerate in our scheduling, and welcoming of children at Rotary events on every level.

Often, the young professionals that Rotary needs to attract in order to remain a dynamic 21st-century service organization are the very people who have the greatest family responsibilities. We must not keep these prospective young members away from their families by holding events on evenings and weekends at which their children are not welcome.

For too long, we have closed the doors of many Rotary events to children and sometimes even spouses. What wasted opportunities these are! Every chance we have to pass on the gift of Rotary to young people is one we must take if we are going to grow Rotary and ensure that the next generation is fully engaged in our mission.

So let us open our doors and do it in a fun way, with opportunities that make our children and grandchildren want to learn more about Interact, Rotaract, and Rotary membership. Start small if you must — perhaps by holding some of your meetings at more family-friendly times — but think about how you can continue these kinds of events for years to come.

Bringing children to Rotary events is not just fun; it also exposes them to the world! Make this a memorable year for your family — and an unforgettable year for the ever-expanding family of Rotary as Rotary Connects the World.


August 2019

During 2019-2020, I am encouraging Rotarians and Rotaractors to grow Rotary. We must grow our service, we must grow the impact of our projects, but, most importantly, we must grow our membership so that we can achieve more.

Let us try a new approach to membership, one that is more organized and strategic. I am asking every club to form an active membership committee consisting of people of different backgrounds who will look methodically at the leadership of the community.

Your club's membership committee will then apply Rotary's classification system — designed to ensure that the range of professions in your community is well represented — to identify potential leaders with the skill, the talent, and the character that will strengthen your club. If your club's membership committee is unsure how to proceed, look to the club membership committee checklist on Rotary.org for clearly defined steps to organizing its work.

How else will we connect to grow Rotary? We will also form new types of clubs — either independent clubs or satellite clubs — with different meeting experiences and engaging service opportunities, not just where there is no Rotary, but also where Rotary is already thriving. No Rotary club in the world can possibly serve all segments of its community. Therefore, we must organize new clubs to engage the community leaders who cannot connect with our existing clubs.

Growing Rotary is all about taking the connections that make our organization unique in the world and strengthening and multiplying them. Let us commit ourselves to growing Rotary and to welcoming the next diverse generation of women and men as Rotary Connects the World.


July 2019

I love to travel! I even enjoy the mundane process of getting from here to there. But last year, my wife, Gay, and I had one of those experiences that would strain the optimism of even the most cheerful traveler. We found ourselves with six hours to wait, at an airport where we were not scheduled to be, on a day we had not planned still to be traveling, having woken up that morning at a hotel unknown to us the night before. It was one of those days.

As we waited at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, Gay and I took a walk to people watch. We went from one end of the terminal to the other and back, looking at every gate, every destination, every group of people waiting for their flights.

Each gate was its own island of humanity. When we walked down the center of the concourse, we were in New York, moving along with everyone in one river. But when you veered off into those seats, you left that current and landed on an island. You were already in Delhi or Paris or Tel Aviv.

As we started our walk, I thought: "All these different people, all these different countries, all in one place. This is like Rotary!" But as we walked past gate after gate, I realized something. It was not like Rotary at all. Because everyone in that river was heading for an island. And every island stayed an island. The people heading to Taipei might be talking to one another, but they were not talking to the people heading to Cairo or Lagos.

Contrast that with Rotary. Rotary allows us to connect with one another, in deep and meaningful ways, across our differences. It connects us with people we would never otherwise have met, who are more like us than we ever could have known. It connects us with our communities, to professional opportunities, and to the people who need our help.

Connection is what makes the experience of Rotary so very different from walking along that concourse at JFK Airport. In Rotary, none of us is an island. All of us are in Rotary together, whoever we are, wherever we are from, whatever language we speak or traditions we follow. We are all connected to one another — part of our communities and members not only of our clubs, but also of the global community to which we all belong.

This connection is what lies at the heart of the Rotary experience. It is what brings us to Rotary. It is why we stay. Please join your fellow Rotarians on this journey as Rotary Connects the World.