Special Guest Speaker

Location: National Club, 303 Bay Street

Topic:  President Steve's Farewell 

It’s difficult to believe that it has been one year since I had the privilege of taking the oath of office as President of the Rotary Club of Toronto. And what a year it has been! I noted in my inaugural address that I believed it is the job of the President to work along with a talented group of people to make the Rotary Club of Toronto even stronger by year end. Thanks to the Board of Directors, the committees and all our members, I believe that we have achieved that goal. 


The primary objective this year was to continue to implement the Strategic Plan. A strategic planning committee was created in 2012 under the supervision of Sandy Boucher. The committee, with feedback from the membership, identified six strategic drivers that are key to this clubs future success. These are: Engaged Membership, Inspired Communications, Effective Committees, Strong Foundation, Sustainable Finances and Governance. Over the past couple of years the focus of this club has been the implementation of the first two drivers, Engaged Membership and Inspired Communications. The membership committee has made great progress in implementing strategy. For example, the “New Members” program has been very successful in engaging new members in our club. Initiatives are progressing to increase our membership through the referral networks of Rotarians in our club. There is also an initiative to attract corporate membership as well.

The Marketing and Communications Committee has also made great progress this year, in particular, on the Social Media front. We are now connected not just through the website, but we now communicate on Facebook and Twitter and we continue to develop our internal and external communications. This is a cornerstone to keeping our current membership engaged and attracting new members.

The implementation of these two strategic drivers was initiated last year and the Strategic Planning Committee, headed by incoming resident David Hetherington, continues to oversee implementation. This year we have started to focus on Effective Committees and a task force, headed by VP Susan Hunter, has outlined a comprehensive strategy which will be implemented over the next year.

Over the years, and certainly since I joined the Rotary Club of Toronto in 1999, the demographic of our club has changed significantly. Our membership includes people of varied backgrounds, professions and, yes, age groups. To address our changing demographics we must continually evolve the ways in which we provide Service above Self. This includes assessing the wonderful traditions of our fine club and to determine if there are ways in which we can innovate while remaining true to our roots. “That's the way we have always done it” is not the mantra for growing our club. We must determine how best to retain the interest and commitment of our current membership while successfully attracting new members.To that end, and on behalf of the Board, I issued a call for input from our membership in a recent Voice submission. I encourage everyone to contact the office and/or to speak with members of the Board should you have any comments or suggestions on the manner in which we do things at the Rotary Club of Toronto and how we might do things better.

This has been an exciting and challenging year. We have hosted Royalty, enjoyed visits from both the President and President-elect of RI International and have had wonderful guest speakers. We have maintained commitment and support of many of the causes we hold dear and we have explored new ways to provide Service above Self. For example, we had a very successful Kids Against Hunger event which brought together Rotarians, Rotaractors, families and friends for a sweat equity project to help make a difference in the lives of Indigenous people in Canada while also engaging our members in the spirit of fellowship and charity.

This year we initiated a “new tradition”, the Presidents Cocktail Meeting wherein we gather in a more social setting to conduct one of our meetings. We have received virtually unanimous positive feedback about this type of meeting which is meant, not to replace, but to supplement our regular lunches. It is less formal and people have the opportunity to really get to know each other better as they enjoy cocktails and appetizers.

As we continue to evolve, we face surmountable challenges and I am confident that our club is well positioned to achieve the goals of our Strategic Plan with continued commitment from a strong board and membership. I would like to thank, in particular, David Hetherington and Susan Hunter for their ongoing advice and support this year and for their valuable contributions to achieving our goals. Thank you to the Members of the Board of Rotary Club Toronto, the heads of various committees, Carol (the Hutch!) and all my fellow Rotarians for your unwavering support, kind words and hard work during my term. It has been an honour and great privilege to serve as president of this great club and it would not have been possible without your support.

In the spirit of fellowship and the belief in service above self, we continue to make a significant difference in the lives of others. In the words of outgoing RI President Gary Huang, let us all continue to “Light Up Rotary”!