This year’s Rotary Convention was held in New Orleans from May 22-25. Over 18,000 Rotarians attended the convention. Incoming President, Mike Sherrill was in attendance, as was current President, Melanie Prole. David Behring was there representing the Wheelchair Foundation. We got to see each other at the District Mixer held at the historic Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter on Tuesday Night.
The highlight for many Rotarians was the speech by Bill Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He said that he has made the eradication of Polio the #1 Priority of his foundation. He says the fight cost $1 Billion a year and that we as Rotarians need to lobby our governments to assist in the funding. The US has given $130 million, Canada gave a large donation to coincide with last year’s RI Convention. England’s government has also contributed. But there are many other countries that could give to the fight.
Bill Gates closed by saying:
“Your Voices, Your Continuing Commitment will allow us to close the book.”
Rotary was challenged by the Gates Foundation to raise $200 million by 2012 for Polio. In turn he donated $350 million. We are at $173 million.We were entertained by the Preservation Jazz Band before one Plenary Session.
Past RI President and current Foundation Chair, Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar gave a surprising speech on change. He says the Chair shouldn’t be a 70 year old guy like himself, but a 40-something Executive that stays in the position for 4 years, the better to provide continuity in interactions with Foundations and NPO’s.
Rotary has been working with a consultant, Michael McQueen, who is a researcher, as well as a member, of Generation Y. He is now a member of Rotary, but wasn’t before because no one asked. He says that Gen Y understands the value of networking with more experienced members. However, just don’t expect perfect attendance and regular attendance at social events.