A coincidental first: All five western Nevada County Rotary Clubs led by women | TheUnion.com

A coincidental first: All five western Nevada County Rotary Clubs led by women

Lorraine Jewett
Special to The Union
At the first meetings of the Rotary Club year that runs from July to June, presidents visit neighboring clubs to congratulate new officers and wish them success. All five local Rotary Clubs Presidents, and the Area 4 Assistant Governor gathered at Trolley Junction Wednesday. Shown left to right are Marcia Salter, Anita Daniels, Jody Osceola, Susan Drown, Cathy Wilcox-Barnes and Lindy Beatie.
Photo by Lorraine Jewett

For the first time in history, all western Nevada County Rotary Clubs are led by presidents who are women.

The milestone was reached after swearing-in ceremonies of new officers this month.

In addition, the Assistant Governor of Area 4 — comprised of Nevada County’s five Rotary Clubs — is guided by Anita Daniels of Grass Valley. Daniels concurrently serves as the District 5190 Governor Nominee, training to become District Governor in 2021.

“I think it’s just fate that we all have women presidents,” said Marcia Salter, President of the Grass Valley Rotary Club. “What better time and a reason to celebrate!”

It was 1987 when a U.S. Supreme Court ruling forced Rotary Clubs to open their membership to women, who have been climbing the leadership ladder ever since.

“I think women in leadership bring a great deal to the table,” said Jody Osceola, Nevada City Rotary 49er Breakfast Club President. “They are highly-effective communicators and great at multi-tasking. Every woman I know has to wear 25 different hats. It means a great deal to me that our club is supportive of women. I’ve become so close to my club because they embrace strong, vocal women.”

“That’s what happens when you don’t show up at a meeting,” joked Susan Drown about her election as president of the Grass Valley South Rotary Club.

She said it’s simply chance that all local Rotary Clubs are now led by women.

“I think that the stars just aligned and we got lucky,” said Drown, “or all the men got smart. Nobody really knows. No one sits down and discusses who will be presidents of all the clubs. It just happened.”

Among local Rotary Club members, men outnumber women.

“The percentage of women per club is still lower than men, so perhaps it’s just our turn,” said Lindy Beatie, Rotary Club of Penn Valley President. “There have been many women presidents in Area 4 but it just seemed to work out this way now.”

“Women bring to Rotary the same things men bring, which are enthusiasm, commitment, a desire to make a lasting difference both locally and around the world, and a heart for helping others,” said Nevada City Rotary Club President Cathy Wilcox-Barnes. “I prefer to think of us all as Rotarians working together connecting the world, regardless of gender or age.”

Each of the lady leaders have goals they hope to accomplish.

Daniels plans to visit all 58 Rotary Clubs in District 5190 — the largest geographic district in the continental United States — during her one-year term as District Governor.

“Half my Rotarian friends think I’m crazy,” admits Anita. “But Rotary affords me the opportunity to do good in the world and in my own community, all the while working with friends and making new friendships.”

Osceola heads the Nevada City Rotary 49er Breakfast Club, one of the largest clubs in the area with 75 members.

“For my presidency year, I’m excited to continue our mission of supporting hands-on community projects,” said Osceola, “a mission made possible by our one club fundraiser, the Gold Country Duck Race on Sept. 15. Duck Race ticket sales throughout the summer help our club raise money for each of our Avenues of Service to fund work at the North Star House, local scholarships, and book donations at Seven Hills School, among many other projects.” 

In addition to serving as Grass Valley Rotary Club President and guiding its 67 members, Salter is Nevada County’s elected treasurer-tax collector.

“During my year as president, along with keeping our weekly meetings fun, we will complete a Science Discovery Trail project at Lyman Gilmore School,” said Salter. “Our club will provide lunches for volunteers at the (United Way) free two-day health care clinic in January as well as Thanksgiving meals for residents at Women of Worth’s Hetty’s Haven. Plus, we have several other local service projects in the works.”

Drown, Grass Valley Rotary Club South president, says the focus of her club and its 27 active members is helping youth.

“We award scholarships each year to two Bear River High School graduates,” said Drown. “We send as many as three eighth-grade students to the Rotary Eighth Grade Leadership program. We also send high school students to the Rotary Leadership Awareness Camp.

“My goal as president is to have fun and keep everyone engaged. Our club members are friends. We all like and enjoy each other’s company, but we also like hard work. We make a difference.”

Wilcox-Barnes has been a pioneering woman in the past, elected as the first female Nevada City Mayor in the early 1980s and serving four terms.

“One of my goals as president of the Rotary Club of Nevada City is to partner with the City of Nevada City to bring together those of us whose motto is ‘Service Above Self’ with the men and women whose motto is ‘Serve and Protect’ to better benefit our community through education, recognition and hands-on projects,” said Wilcox-Barnes, whose club boasts 31 members.

Beatie is president of the 30-member Rotary Club of Penn Valley.

“We work with our community in support of our youth, schools and parks,” said Beatie. “That’s our main ‘Service Above Self’ focus for the 2019-2020 Rotary Year. ‘Service Above Self’ is not just one of Rotary International’s mottoes since 1911. It’s what Rotary is all about.’

Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. She can be reached at LorraineJewettWrites@gmail.com.

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