Mark Daniel Maloney
Dear Rotarians, Rotaractors, and friends,
Increasing our ability to adapt: That is one goal of our new Rotary Action Plan. And wow, have we seen that ability put to the test this year.
In March, Gay and I were to visit Zimbabwe, Turkey, and eight other countries over the course of 30 days. After participating in a medical mission in Zimbabwe and Commonwealth Week activities in London, on the 11th day, we were packing our suitcases for Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
While attending a dinner at the High Commission for Pakistan in London, we received word that it would be impossible to travel everywhere on our itinerary. So, instead of flying to Zurich, we returned to Evanston and One Rotary Center.
Throughout early March, the news about COVID-19 became increasingly serious throughout the world. Following the advice of local officials, we canceled UN presidential conferences in Paris and Rome. Soon, the World Health Organization declared the virus a global pandemic, and we consulted with authorities on more critical decisions. We asked all Rotary districts and clubs to curb face-to-face meetings until further notice and to hold virtual meetings instead. To the districts and clubs that have adapted so quickly, thank you.
The Rotary Board of Directors held its first-ever virtual meeting to make the most difficult decision of all, to cancel the 2020 Rotary International Convention. Like the more than 20,000 registrants who planned to attend, I am disappointed. We acted to protect the health and safety of convention attendees and their families, friends, and colleagues, as well as those who call Honolulu home, and I am confident we made the right decision.
I want to thank the 2020 Honolulu Convention Committee, the Host Organization Committee, the 2020 Honolulu Convention Promotion Committee, and Rotary staff for planning what would have been one of the best Rotary conventions yet. I appreciate their hard work.
This issue of The Rotarian was going to press as the decision about canceling the convention was made, and many other decisions across the Rotary world were still up in the air. Future issues of The Rotarian and of Rotary’s regional magazines, along with Rotary’s social media channels, will keep you informed.
We began this Rotary year promoting the importance of the new Action Plan for all Rotarians and Rotaractors. Today, we are putting that plan into action out of necessity. That includes the possibility of a convention-like experience with you through a virtual event. We will have more to say about this in the near future.
The world is changing rapidly, and so must Rotary. Our adaptability and strength will help us navigate this experience. The world needs our leadership today more than ever. Truly, Rotary Connects the World.
MARK DANIEL MALONEY
President, Rotary International