What It Means To Be PRESIDENT
By PP George Koplinka
Presented at the installation ceremony for Ted Nygreen
June 26, 2007
Ted, what does it mean to be President of the Rotary Club of White
For one thing, you follow a long line of distinguished Rotarians who
have held this office. Your peers have selected you because they believe
you are the most qualified person to guide our Club in the year
The letters comprising the word “President” give us some clues
what it means to be one in White Plains Rotary.
First you must be “patient.” You will have to recognize that
Rotary does not run like a corporation. All of the members are
“volunteers,” and we all know that volunteers are slow moving. They have
to be cajoled and skillfully motivated to accomplish the goals. A
president has to ask, not tell. He has to request, not order. Above all,
a president must remember that as important as Rotary is in the lives of
the members, it is not the only organization or association to which a
member belongs. And so, accomplishment takes place much more slowly in
A president has to be “responsive.” He must be a good
communicator. When information comes from Rotary International and the
District Governor, the president has a responsibility to make sure the
Board of Directors and the membership are informed. Too many presidents
in our District sit on information and the club never gets the word.
Ted, I hope you will use bulletins, special flyers, e-mail and all the
tools at your disposal to make sure that everyone knows about the annual
District Conference, District Assemblies, special events such as
“On-to-Bermuda” and all of our own local programs and events as well as
those of neighboring Rotary clubs.
A president in White Plains has to be “energetic.” He
is always on time for meetings. He follows up on projects. He makes sure
that he attends new member orientation sessions and assigns new members
to important committees. He is always available for major committee
meetings and can always be reached by phone, fax or e-mail. A White
Plains president is a virtual dynamo!
Ted, being president means that you are “service”
oriented. “Avenues of Service,” frequently used in Rotary literature,
will be your bible. Club Service involves all of the necessary
housekeeping activities: Club Bulletin, Fellowship, Membership and the
like. Vocational Service describes the dignity of every member’s way of
making a living. Community Service is so important to youth, the needy,
and those looking for a better way of life in our city. International
Service is our way of participating in the broader programs and aspects
of Rotary International throughout the world.
Being president means being “innovative.” Ted, you will
have to be the idea-man and the Club will look to you for
creative ways to solve problems. You will have to be the instigator
of new projects; the investigator of old projects. You
will be called upon for inspiration and looked upon for
leadership in new approaches to insure that White Plains
Rotary remains the “Premier Club” in District 7230.
Being president means being “determined.” Neither rain,
nor snow, nor gloom of night will keep you from accomplishing the goals
you will outline for the Club early on during your administration.
Being president means you will be “enthusiastic.” You
will see well in the opinions and suggestions of all of the members. You
will be non-judgmental and fair to all members of the Club.
Most of all, being president means being “tactful.” You
will respect the decision making of other Club members especially when
you have delegated authority. But in the final analysis you must
recognize that you are the spokesperson for our Club, and only you can
make pronouncements concerning the official position of the White Plains
Rotary Club. Truly, the buck stops with you.
And Ted, just when you finally put this whole thing together, just
when you have a handle on what it really means to be a president, just
when you are finally qualified to do the job right, somebody comes along
and puts a past-president’s pin on you lapel and tells you to take a
seat in the back of the room along with all of the other second-best
presidents the Club ever had!