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Club Information
Iowa City Noon Rotary Club

Service Above Self 

We meet Thursdays at 12:00pm
University Athletic Club
1360 Melrose Ave.
Iowa City, IA 52246

District Site

Usha R. Balakrishnan

Usha R. Balakrishnan
2016-17 Club President

Club Presidency Year Aspirations: click here 

Club Presidency Power Point Presentation:  click here

Club Presidency Year Theme:
Make Rotary a favored Third Place for professionals (active and retired) in the Iowa City area!

IC Noon Rotary Stories
The following new member proposals have completed their application for membership. If you have feedback; this is needed by December 22nd.
Elena Osinskaya (Usha Balakrishnan) Education: Academic Administration
Erik Mickalson (Jody Braverman) Insurance: Commercial
Minda Hamann (Tom Cilek & Jim Conard)  Banking: Commercial
The following announcements were made at the Rotary meeting on December 1:
President Usha was particularly thrilled about:
Rtn. Briana Wills, mother of Calder Wills, said that Calder is almost done with his regular cancer treatment and then will be on maintenance treatments for the next three years. Calder is back in school and she is happy to be back among friends. President Usha welcomed Briana and is glad to see her back in Rotary amongst us all!
Rtn. Mike Schmitz has 5 1/2 month old baby boy Ari and is additionally busy since he began mobile app development! President Usha thanked Mike for all his assistance to the Club as Website Administrator!
Rtn. Dave Siebert had a granddaughter on November 1! Congratulations, Dave!
Rtn. Curt Heidemann and Rtn. Renda Greene-Fishman talked about the importance of the United Way Campaign with the increasing need in Johnson County--one in seven individuals are food insecure, 4300 children are in poverty, an increase of 33% since 2010. Rotarians’ generosity will be appreciated. President Usha thanked Curt and Renda and also Rtn. Katie Knight for their immense efforts at United Way on behalf of our entire community. There will be a program presentation by United Way at the Rotary meeting on Jan. 19.
Rtn. Trisha Smith,  1) Invited Rotarians to volunteer for the Salvation Army on the Rotary Ring Day, December 10 or another day of the members’ choice. 2) Reminded us of the Blood Drive on December 2.  3) Announced the Toys for Tots Campaign. John Gross chimed in with a Santa hat in asking for donations and joined the Jingle Bell singing.
Rtn. Sarah Richardson presented our Club with a flag from the Rotary Club de Logrono, District 2202 in Logrono, Spain when she was visiting her daughter who is there as a Fulbright scholar.
Goat Rider-Jody Thomas, Executive Director of Melrose Meadows. 
New Member-Geoff Fruin, City Manager sponsored by Bill Bywater.
Mel Schlacter introduced Connie Mutel, author of A Sugar Creek Chronicle which is a personal approach to understanding climate change.  Connie is the senior writer at the Hydroscience Engineering Lab and Flood Control Center at the University of Iowa. She wrote the definitive book on the flood of 2008. She was the Chairman of the Burr Oak Land Trust and is active in the Native Plant Society while working to create a positive ecosystem on her own land.
Connie opened by saying that her book A Sugar Creek Chronicle is an attempt to personalize climate change and portray its relevance and impacts for the general public. Following her presentation on the topic, Connie urged that everyone attempt to reduce their personal carbon footprint by determining their carbon footprint and buying carbon offsets to compensate for their impact!
Rotarians were acknowledged for their sponsorship levels at the November 17th Meeting:
Level 1
John Gross 1
Chuck Skaugstad Jr 1
Curt Heideman 1
Ron Reed 1
Level 2
Brad Baldes 2
Stephen Wolken 2
Level 3
Joe Hughes 3, Tom Cilek 3, Lynette Marshall 3
Paul Harris Fellow +1
Gene Fisher, Don Heineking, Jimmy Pinkham, Larry Morgan, Mike Jensen, Sean McIntyre
Paul Harris Fellow+2
Clyde Seery
Paul Harris Fellow +3
John Fraser
Paul Harris Fellow +4
Tim Terry, Jeff Disterhoft, Cyndy Crider
Paul Harris Fellow +5
Linda Dasher, Mike McKay
Paul Harris Fellow +6
Pete Wallace
Paul Harris Fellow +8
Jody Braverman
The following announcements were made at the Rotary meeting on November 17:
President Usha announced that there is no Thursday meeting next week on Thanksgiving Day since the University Club is closed. Instead, there will be a joint Rotary meeting held on Wednesday, November 23 with the Coralville/North Corridor Rotary Club at the Antique Car Museum and the speaker will be Carlton Jackson, the new Association Executive of the Iowa City Area Association of Realtors (ICAAR).
Rtn. Sherry McKay has a New Member Committee Meeting immediately following today’s Rotary Meeting.
Rtn. Sara Sedlacek announced the 5th Annual Holiday Ramble at The Mill–A benefit for the Crisis Center of Johnson County. Seasoned players from the Iowa City music scene, including members of The Fez and Dennis McMurrin and the Demolition Band, among others, will be joined by musicians from across the country with ties to Iowa City. Admission is $10, and all proceeds go to benefit the Crisis Center of Johnson County. 
The Holiday Ramble is November 26th at 8:00pm. 
Carlton Jackson (Verne Folkmann)
Bryan Rennekamp (Eric Weiler)
Ed Cranston (Herb Wilson)
Past President Maggie Mowery assisted President Usha with new member Inductions. Maggie remarked to the inductees: Wherever you go in the world, when indicating you are a fellow Rotarian, you will find that you have instant friends. Maggie has found the welcoming spirit of Rotarians around the world, like no other group.
President Usha’s Reflection:
“My true connection with our Rotary Club occurred about 5 years ago because of my poem titled Remembrance which I had written while deeply grieving about my Dad’s unexpected passing. Past President Nancy Quellhorst gave me the chance to read my poem at our Club. My appeal to you all was to help me fill a void. What followed was sheer magic. Amidst all the affectionate hugs that I received from so many of you that day, I was so pleasantly overwhelmed that I still find my loving Dad’s personality reflected in each one of your words, your handshakes, and your smiles each Thursday as I enter this Clubhouse! Thank you! One grief-poem thus connects me uniquely to Rotary and has led me to re-imagine the nature of relationships despite having a permanently-fractured heart! Hence, I’ve invited today a young poet named Matthew Richard Girolami to share his perspective on grief-poetry.”
Matt Girolami, a student in the University of Iowa’s MFA program, read his grief-poem titled, “In the Preserve.”
Matt’s poetry reading marks Usha’s Father’s 5th death anniversary today but is also in remembrance of all our past ancestors including all our dear Rotarian friends who have passed. Before their passings, they each tirelessly ensured that they also passed on their strengths to us, and onto our Club. Our Rotarian ancestors surely rely on us now to keep our Club strong and healthful for the next 101 years! In their honor and memory, we need to dedicate ourselves to Membership Pipeline Development which is the focus of today’s program.
The enthusiastic, Past President and Program Committee Chair, Tom Cilek introduced our speakers:
Mark Nolte and Neil Quellhorst
Rtn. Mark Nolte described how our Rotary Club goals may align with those of the Iowa City Area Development Group. In order to ensure the revenue coming into our community exceeds the revenue leaving our community, we must maintain a vibrant community where people connect and succeed. Service over self and caring for others are at the foundation of this goal.
Nolte indicated that our community will maintain relevance when we compete with technology in job creation. At the local level Nolte is promoting a business mentorship program championed by Andre Wright. The program aids entrepreneurial ventures through linkages with experienced business mentors to foster their growth. The Mentorship program is in partnership with John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business. Mentors are needed, both locally and throughout the world. Mark is asking all Rotarians to get to know Andre and learn how we can help mentor.
Rtn. Neil Quellhorst described The MERGE Innovation Space downtown as a collaboration between the Iowa City Area Development Group, the University of Iowa and the City of Iowa City. MERGE is home to the IC CoLab, a non-traditional incubator and coworking space that is a resource for entrepreneurs until they are able to grow out into their own space. MERGE is also home to protostudios, a full-service design and prototyping lab with a focus on small, highly complex products such as wearable medical devices. Protostudios recently received a $1.5 million grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority for the purchase of 3D printing and related equipment that will have some of the highest resolution capabilities in the Midwest. This will help businesses at the concept stage through fabrication.
President Usha emphasized that Membership Pipeline Development needs to be a top priority for our Club. Please mull on these two questions and share your ideas so that we each and our Club’s workings promote suitable implementation to achieve greater objectives on behalf of our Rotary organization:
1. How can Rotarians help to connect younger professionals and entrepreneurs of all ages into Rotary's networks TODAY?
2. How can younger professionals and entrepreneurs of all ages energize and shape Rotary's networks for TOMORROW?
To encourage more discussion on Membership Pipeline Development, President Usha had held an informal fireside chat at which about 15 Rotarians and non-Rotarians participated prior to the Rotary meeting. She introduced University of Iowa students Marcus Brown and Brad Pector (in addition to Matt Girolami) who were young writers and poets in their early 20s attending a Rotary meeting for the very first time because she had run into them at the Book Festival in October which was organized by Rtn. John Kenyon.
Marcus Brown shared that the best way to reach young people is to help them think about what’s next. Marcus explained that at this point in his early 20s, he is asking himself, “Where will I best succeed?” At this time of uncertainty, he appreciates knowing that there are people such as Rotarians who are interested in helping to show the way. Brad Pector appreciates groups like Rotary which can help him to broaden his experiences; and he is helping Usha select the weekly inclusions for the Poetry At Rotary program. Marcus is a junior at the University of Iowa who serves as Editor-in-Chief of earthwords, the undergraduate literary review. Marcus and Brad were designated as the inaugural CARTHA Fellows in Creative Writing and Humanitarianism and will receive a scholarship to attend the 2017 annual conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) in Washington DC.
Rtn. and UNESCO City of Literature executive director, John Kenyon, provided context behind the special designation for Iowa City to be named a UNESCO City of Literature. The designation signifies that Iowa City beholds one of the best literary cultures in the world. We are one of 20 cities worldwide with this designation and the only one in North America. John works to empower and connect young writers, giving them the tools to share their work with the community. John acknowledges President Usha as a wonderful ambassador of this work. He describes the Annual Book Festival as a festival of ideas, since every book, short story or poem conveys an idea, or an opportunity for a conversation.  We must find ways for our community to leverage this special designation!
In closing, Mark and Neil recognized the resources in our Club, and encouraged us to look for ways to improve seed monies or investments for the entrepreneurial community. Other events that foster entrepreneurship include EntreFest that will happen in May. Also under consideration is a trimester long career exploration at the junior high school level. Mark concluded with the directive, “Let’s be the community that turns ideas into something. Let’s find a way to get engaged. Let’s turn ideas into the next business and ensure our community’s strength.”
Mark Nolte and Andre Wright announced an ICAD event on mentorship guidelines featuring Dick Schwab on December 1, 4:30 pm at the new MidWestOne Bank location, 500 Clinton Street.
Rtn Gary Pacha, encourages us to step up and also sponsor young leadership programs in our local high schools (e.g., Interact Clubs; RYLA, etc.). “We can do this at the local level. Thank you to Usha for surrounding us with this topic and group, don’t let these ideas die.”
President Usha closed the meeting with the following message:
As it is Thanksgiving next week, I take this opportunity as Club President this year to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for making and keeping our Club vibrant. I love you all very very much, and wish each one of you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving Holiday!
We thank Rtn. Casey Kidwell for organizing and e-mailing the weekly pre-meeting PowerPoint Slide Deck over the past year.  As Casey nears graduation this Spring from the University of Iowa’s law school to join his new position at a law firm in Omaha, we will miss him but wish him the very best. Casey is glad to pass on the volunteer role of preparation and emailing of the pre-meeting Slide Deck to Rtn. Taylor Artz. Thanks, Taylor, for your willingness to take on this role and help out our Club!
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