August – September 2022 | Features

A surprise invitation

A surprise invitation

North Cotswold Rotarian, Nicki Scott, our current Rotary International Director has taken on another role – Vice President of RI. Here she discusses the challenges of the year ahead.

Imagine my surprise! President-Elect Jennifer Jones asking for a Zoom meeting on a Sunday night. She was calling to tell me her appointments for the Executive Committee for the 2022/23 Rotary International Board.

In every instance I responded with great choice! And then Jen said….”so that leaves me to ask you to be my Vice-President!”

I could not believe what I was hearing! It honestly never occurred to me that Jen would pick another woman to be her VP for the year the Rotary world will have their first female President.


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Jen made it very clear that she was offering me the position because of who I am and what skills I bring to the table – NOT the fact that I am also a woman! We both believe in gender equity and the enormous value gained from a balance of diverse skills, experiences and perspectives in the boardroom.

Personally, I will be extremely happy when we no longer have to even talk about women in Rotary! We are all Rotarians no matter what gender, ethnicity, age, religion, or sexual identity we have.

Once I had had a chance to regain an element of composure I naturally said “yes, it would be my absolute honour to work with you in that capacity.” My next question was: “What exactly does a Vice President do?”

Jen explained she had asked that exact same question when she was appointed to the role by Past Rotary International President, John Germ. In plain terms he explained that she would take over as President if anything happened to him.

As you can imagine I am extremely thankful that Jen is extremely fit, healthy and full of energy for the year ahead. It is going to be quite a ride!

We all need to play our part in protecting the integrity of our brand, be kind to others and overcome divisiveness.”

I was fortunate to get to know Jen when I started on my District Governor journey in the Chicago area and Jen was my Rotary International Director.

I soon found myself with many opportunities to grow and strengthen my own leadership skills in short succession with some tough decisions to make. I don’t believe in accumulating titles if you are unable to be fully present and perform in the role to the best of your ability.

The Rotary role that probably tested me the most was that of Institute Chair for Jen’s successor, Rotary International Director, Rob Knuepfer.

I was working full-time with Vistage International to start my own CEO Group in Chicago. I soon learned the benefits of creating a clear vision, building a strong team and delegating to empower others to grow and achieve results in their own right.

We would not have pulled off that ambitious event however if I did not have my District Governor classmate, Shannon Scheffel, as my Vice Chair. We had got to know each other well working on a Joint District Conference. As this was a first, Jen came to support us and added considerable value with her storytelling skills at the same time.

Shannon knew both my strengths and my weaknesses, and our skillsets complemented each other extremely well. We pushed each other hard, embraced difficult conversations, when necessary, and together achieved much more than we would have individually.

I crossed paths again with Jen while serving on the RI Strategic Planning Committee. We both so enjoyed that role – working together with a great team of Rotarians to help shape the future direction of our organisation.

Nicki Scott to know Jennifer when she started her District Governor journey in the Chicago area and Jennifer was Rotary International Director.

To think that we will now be working this coming year as President and Vice President, together with a highly talented and committed Board of Directors, to translate our organisation’s Action Plan into reality is amazing. I was going to say it is a dream come true, but I can honestly say it was not a dream that even entered my head!

Jen has some great priorities for us all to focus on this year. Her idea of an Impact Tour to highlight and draw attention to the great work of our Rotarians is brilliant. The aim is to enhance our perceived relevance outside of Rotary.

We are an army of committed volunteers who know our communities very well. It would be great if we could collaborate with other non-profits to save them from having to grow their own volunteer base in countries far from their own headquarters.

This sector is way too fragmented and we all compete for the same fundraising pool of individual and corporate donations. We could achieve so much more working together.

Caring for our members is also extremely important. Engaged Rotarians are happy Rotarians with a sense of purpose, passion and influence.

We are all Rotarians no matter what gender, ethnicity, age, religion, or sexual identity we have.”

It is very empowering and fulfilling to play an active role in the work of Rotary. I often talk about being addicted to the concept of self-actualisation – and have gained so much personally by pushing myself to do all that I possibly can for others.

I would also like to do more to champion the importance of our core values and taking action to uphold those.

I understand that any organisation has internal politics but I strongly believe that the essence and spirit of Rotary is a strong differentiating factor in today’s overcrowded world of challenges and opportunities.

We all need to play our part in protecting the integrity of our brand, be kind to others and overcome divisiveness.

If we truly all believe in our Rotary mission for a more peaceful world, then that has to start with each one of us. I IMAGINE a world where Rotary is the movement of choice for anyone wanting to contribute to making our world a better place.

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