Speaker: Rotary District Governor, Neil Phillips

Dave Hardy, Assistant Governor for District 7070 introduced District Governor, Neil Phillips.
Neil has been a Rotarian for more than 20 years and has held numerous positions at the club and District levels, including being the Toronto RC President in 2012-13, Assistant Governor for District 7070. He has several Paul Harris Fellow designations other awards. In professional life, Neil has been involved in marketing, logistics, branded marketing and product co-packaging. He is the president of DGN Marketing Services. In community life outside of Rotary, Neil has been active in the World Literacy Canada and on the board of his tennis club. With his parents migrating from England, Neil has lived in B.C., Quebec and Ontario. He is passionate about literature, travel and is a wine educator.
Neil opened his address by commenting how proactive our club President, Barb Bocking, had been to invite him to the club at early date so that members could hear the District vision for 2017-18.
"Well let me tell you what the District Governor is not going to ask you to do.  Contrary to popular belief, we don’t have a laundry list of to-dos.  It’s your Club’s list.  Yours.  There’s already a lot on people’s plate and with us as hosts of this year’s convention there’s going to be a lot more on everyone’s plate.  So I resisted a push for separate, specific goals around membership and fundraising."
The Governor also commented on the debate that often occurs around attracting younger members to Rotary by drawing upon the remarks of Brittany Arthur, the President of the Rotaract Club of Berlin, made a very impactful presentation at the convention in Atlanta, quoting that  “With so many clubs focusing on “attracting younger members”, something she said really resonated:  “We don’t need young Rotary Clubs, we don’t need old Rotary clubs; we just need Rotary clubs.”  Simply put, we need clubs where all that matters is Service Above Self.”
Governor Phillips also painted the extent of the work that Rotary does in the District, pointing out that as this year Club committees continue the work they do every year in so many diverse community projects. Supplementing that work with the Foundation Walk, AIDS Poker Walk and other activities, we are putting back in excess of a million dollars into our community. 
He also noted “there’s a chance this Rotary year may well be the first year of no reported cases of polio worldwide.  Dr. Bob Scott may say it’s a touch too soon to call that – but maintaining a focus on Polio will be key in the year.  In Atlanta, Rotary International launched their “Countdown to History” campaign.  To help us maximize the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s challenge funds, we are looking for every Club to raise $2000 towards the End Polio Now campaign this year.”
The Annual Rotary International Convention is the District’s major project and, outside of Club projects, all will need to focus on that.  In Neil’s words “it’s not often you’ll have It will be a great opportunity to get to a convention without taking an international flight.”  He also reminded everyone that next year will be Rotaract’s 50th birthday.  He added, “with our growing number of Rotaract members – and many more in our neighbouring districts – this should be a big focus.  And this year in Atlanta they experimented with the first-ever Interact Precon.  I’ve connected with them, and am delighted they’re going to continue it in Toronto.  Our district has committed to paying for the venue for this one-day Interact event”.
While the convention takes much of the limelight this year, Neil emphasized the importance of the more immediately upcoming district conference, hoping to see a large number of Rotarians at the White Oaks Convention Centre on November 3rd and 4th. Highlights of the conference willinclude:
  • Breakout sessions cover each of the Six Areas of Focus
  • Presentation from Rotary International President’s Representative  Virpi Honkala, from Finland and
  •  A stellar keynote speaker in Iranian-Canadian entertainer, public speaker and human rights activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam, president and co-founder of Stop Child Executions as well as the founder of "The Nazanin Foundation”. 
There are over 200 registrations for the conference to date the number could exceed 300.
Neil    announced that through available District Designated Funds, the District has funded the planting of a tree for every Club along the Highway for Heroes (between Trenton and Toronto). There are also plans for a Family Planting Day planned for Earth Day (Sunday, April 22nd), at a location to be finalized.  A total of 2,200 trees have already been committed. 
Ron D thanked Neil Phillips for taking the time to come over for lunch and for addressing the members and guests. He commented how well Neil had captured the essence of task for District 7070:
  • To support and strengthen our clubs
  • To focus and increase our humanitarian service. And
  • To enhance Rotary’s public image and awareness”