Rotary Leadership Institute Develops Future Leaders

LEWISTON, MAINE – They gather around a u-shaped table at Lewiston-Auburn College introducing each other and how long they’ve been in the club. Leni Gronros stands in front of the group. Silhouetted against the beige walls, standing out in earth tone clothes and massive amounts of energy.

Gronros, a past district governor, will spend the day going from one classroom full of Rotarians to another, as part of the Rotary Leadership Institute, which is a multi-district grassroots leadership program that is meant to help Rotarians develop the knowledge to be leaders in their clubs. Faculty members, pictured above, come from Rotary clubs far and wide. DG Hal and wife Linda (pictured center) traveled to Maine to assist in this program.

Gronros and other instructors will teach Rotarians from throughout Maine about the service, membership, leadership, structural and communication components of Rotary. Denise Adams organized the Saturday, October 24 session at the college. She peers into each session with interest and a small, at the end handing out notecards so that the Rotarians can assess their advisors.

Hal Daumé, visiting and sitting Governor of District 7510, starts off his session with a handshake, “Hi, I’m Hal,” and presents his card. He’s tall with a button-down shirt and tie, closely cropped gray hair.

“What makes a good Rotarian?” he asks in a booming, take-no-prisoners voice. “I’ll start you off. Shows up. A good Rotarian shows up.”

In scrawling blue marker, he writes on a white board all the things that students think make a quality Rotarian. “Knows the four-way test. Involved. Participates. Gives money. On time??? Brings ideas. Brings knowledge. Shares Rotary with others.”

He steps away, viewing the list with his students. “Is that good? Yes, it is. I like that.”

He peppers his talk with interactive questions. “When you meet a fellow Rotarian do you think to yourself, ‘Here’s a guy or a gal who gets the four-way test?’ Why do we care if someone maintains the four-way test?” One of Rotary’s guiding principles, the four-way test is a list of questions every Rotarian is basically an ethical guide for Rotarians as they enter any sort of relationship. The questions are: Is it the truth, is it fair to all concerned, will it build goodwill and better friendships, will it be beneficial to all concerned? Part of the four-way test is about the reputation of Rotary. The most often mentioned reason for being in Rotary is friendship and fellowship. Like attracts like. For Hal, meeting with other Rotarians is important because there is an aspect of implicit trust.

"Rotary is about getting things done and service,” Amanda Mogridge, a Bar Harbor Rotarian suggests.

“Why is Rotary and attendance important in your club?” he asks.

“You can accomplish more as many people,” explains Kristen Lindquist of Camden, “than you can as one. You don’t join a service organization if you just want to sit around and have lunch with people.”

Rotary is anything but a place where people just “have lunch with people.” According to Rotary International, the organization’s humanitarian thrust pushes individual clubs to work on both local and international service projects, including the goal of eradicating polio. Rotarians donate their energy and time toward projects concerning water and sanitation, disease prevention and treatment, literacy, economic and community development, maternal and child health as well as peace and conflict resolution. The goal of the Rotary Leadership Institute’s sessions, such as the one in Lewiston, is to give Rotarians the tools and information to go out and make a difference in their clubs, local communities and across the globe.

“Anything you want to do, any project, any good service, you have to have a foundation to do it with. Most of the time that foundation is money,” Amanda says while explaining the aspect of Rotarians supporting their clubs with fundraising, dues, and giving.

It isn’t only about financial giving

“One of the basic premises of Rotary is bringing your knowledge and skill via your vocation and applying it to service projects,” says Carl Lusby, a former Ellsworth educator who currently works in real estate.

“Where in your communities do you find people who are potentially good Rotarians? This is a session on attracting members part of it is how busy and active your Rotary Club is and part of it is about being proactive. Where do you find the next member of your club?” Hal asks. “Everywhere you go,” Lusby blurts.

And Rotarians are everywhere, Hal observes. The club unites diverse groups of people worldwide, as its website says, “from Haiti and Greenland to Nigeria and Singapore.” Approximately 1.2 million people belong to Rotary and they live in more than 200 countries, making a difference. The Rotary Leadership Institute, sanctioned by Rotary International but not a part of it, helps make that difference by building its students’ knowledge of exactly what it is to be a Rotarian. They do it with fun and humor and patience, one Rotarian at a time. Hal is one Rotarian who “gets it.”


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