In this edition....
  • News and Updates
    • Women in Minneapolis University Rotary Club
    • History of Women in Rotary
    • Diverse Voices: Education 
    • REAL Fundraiser
  • Club Information and Upcoming Meetings
  • Community Service
  • A Thought

Women in the Minneapolis University Rotary Club
posted by Lori Simpson, Editor
The Minneapolis University Rotary Club, MURC, founded in 1991, was an early leader in Rotary in having women presidents, women in other leadership roles, and women members.  One of MURC's founding and current members, Jean Westberg (pictured right), noted that an express goal at the outset was to have diversity in member gender and ethnicity. 
At MURC, the first woman was president in 1994/1995, and she was followed by a second woman in 1995/1996.  There have been many, many more women presidents at MURC since then.  And, from the beginning, MURC has been privileged to have had racial and ethnic diversity among its presidents and members and approximately half of MURC's members have been women.         
Rotary was founded in 1905; it did not allow women to join until the late 1980s (see the article below).  This change was slow in coming.  But progress in achieving diversity is happening now and we are glad for the strength and wealth of experience diversity brings to our club and to Rotary everywhere.  
History of Women in Rotary

This story originally appeared in Rotary magazine and was updated in October 2020.


Women are active participants in Rotary, serving their communities in increasing numbers and serving in leadership positions in Rotary. The 1989 Council on Legislation vote to admit women into Rotary clubs worldwide remains a watershed moment in the history of Rotary.

 “My fellow delegates, I would like to remind you that the world of 1989 is very different to the world of 1905. I sincerely believe that Rotary has to adapt itself to a changing world,” said Frank J. Devlyn, who would go on to become RI president in 2000-01. 

The vote followed the decades-long efforts of men and women from all over the Rotary world to allow the admission of women into Rotary clubs, and several close votes at previous Council meetings.

The response to the decision was overwhelming: By June 1990, the number of female Rotarians had skyrocketed to over 20,000. The number of women

members worldwide reached 195,000 in July 2010 (about 16% of Rotarians) and surpassed 277,000 in July 2020 (about 23%).

A top priority for Rotary is growing and diversifying our membership to make sure we reflect the communities we serve. We know that our capacity to increase our impact and expand our reach is larger when more people unite with us, which is why we value diversity, equity and inclusion.

Rotary celebrates and welcomes the contributions of people of all backgrounds, regardless of their age, ethnicity, race, color, abilities, religion, socioeconomic status, culture, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Our timeline highlights historic milestones and senior leadership firsts that have helped build greater diversity in Rotary. These leaders and all our female members are making positive change in communities around the world.

Timeline of women in Rotary

  • 1950  An enactment to delete the word “male” from the Standard Rotary Club Constitution is proposed by a Rotary club in India for the Council on Legislation meeting at the 1950 Rotary Convention.

  • 1964  The Council on Legislation agenda contains an enactment proposed by a Rotary club in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to permit the admission of women into Rotary clubs. Delegates vote that it be withdrawn. Two other proposals to allow women to be eligible for honorary membership are also withdrawn.

  • 1972  As more women begin reaching higher positions in their professions, more clubs begin lobbying for female members. A U.S. Rotary club proposes admitting women into Rotary at the 1972 Council on Legislation.

  • 1977  Three separate proposals to admit women into membership are submitted to the Council on Legislation for consideration at the 1977 Rotary Convention. A Brazilian club makes a different proposal to admit women as honorary members. 

    The Rotary Club of Duarte, California, USA, admits women as members in violation of the RI Constitution and Standard Rotary Club Constitution. Because of this violation, the club’s membership in Rotary International is terminated in March 1978. (The club was reinstated in September 1986.)

  • 1980  The RI Board of Directors and Rotary clubs in India, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States propose an enactment to remove from the RI and club constitutions and bylaws all references to members as “male persons.” 

  • 1983-86  In a lawsuit filed by the Duarte club, the California Superior Court in 1983 rules in favor of Rotary International, upholding gender-based qualification for membership in California Rotary clubs. In 1986, the California Court of Appeals reverses the lower court's decision, preventing the enforcement of the provision in California. The California Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, and it is appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • 1987  On 4 May, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Rotary clubs may not exclude women from membership on the basis of gender. Rotary issues a policy statement that any Rotary club in the United States can admit qualified women into membership. 

    The Rotary Club of Marin Sunrise, California (formerly Larkspur Landing), is chartered on 28 May. It becomes the first club after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling to have women as charter members.

    Sylvia Whitlock, of the Rotary Club of Duarte, California, becomes the first female Rotary club president.

  • 1988  In November, the RI Board of Directors issues a policy statement recognizing the right of Rotary clubs in Canada to admit female members based on a Canadian law similar to that upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • 1989  At its first meeting after the 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision, the Council on Legislation votes to eliminate the requirement in the RI Constitution that membership in Rotary clubs be limited to men. Women are welcomed into Rotary clubs around the world.

  • 1990  As of June, there are about 20,200 female Rotarians worldwide. The Rotarian runs a feature on women in Rotary.

  • 1995  In July, eight women become district governors, the first elected to this role: Mimi Altman, Gilda Chirafisi, Janet W. Holland, Reba F. Lovrien, Virginia B. Nordby, Donna J. Rapp, Anne Robertson, and Olive P. Scott.

  • 2005  Carolyn E. Jones begins her term as the first woman appointed as trustee of The Rotary Foundation.

  • 2008  Catherine Noyer-Riveau begins her term as the first woman elected to the RI Board of Directors.

  • 2012  Elizabeth S. Demaray begins her term as RI treasurer, the first woman to serve in this position.

  • 2013  Anne L. Matthews begins her term as the first woman to serve as RI vice president.

  • 2019  Brenda Marie Cressey begins her term as the first woman to serve as vice-chair of The Rotary Foundation. In April-June 2019 she serves as chair of the Foundation, the first woman appointed to this role.

  • 2020  In October, Jennifer E. Jones becomes president-nominee, the first women to be nominated to be Rotary International President. Her term as president will begin 1 July 2022.



Interested in supporting Rotary?  

Click here to donate to The Rotary Foundation.    

 MURC has a goal of each member contributing each year.

            If you choose to give, please open an account and
     choose the Annual Fund so that your donation is counted
toward MURC's contribution goal.

Diverse Voices: Education

  Posted by Tsehai Wodajo, MURC Member and Rotary District 5950 Diversity, Equity,    and Inclusion Action Team Member


  As Nelson Mandela stated, “Education is the most   powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  This   quote illuminate education to be the power that changes the   world and not a power that destroys. That is what Mandela
 accomplished by being in jail for 25 years and stand for truth and reconciliation. While to   be educated is a privilege for most people, some pay a big price for being privileged to be   educated, know the truth, and stand for freedom like Nelson Mandela. The question for   all of us is, how can we make education “Equitable” for all and not for some? Why is that   those from the marginalized be castigated for being intelligent to challenge the status quo   or hypocrisy of society? Well, I assert that we are in the business of answering those   questions.  
  As Rotarians, we are educating our minds and hearts. We have proven this to be true. We   use education as a primary tool to promote peace, to fight diseases stand for equality and   much more to make the world a better place. Education could be a simple, active, and   permanent way to give possibilities to the most people to obtain hopes and motivations in   a difficult situation, learn basic skills and find their talent.
  I was privileged to be educated in a country, Ethiopia, where the education of women is   not that important or a priority. I am passing the torch by providing educational   opportunity for disadvantaged Ethiopian girls.
“Educating the mind without educating the heart
is no education at all.”

Diverse Voices is a regular column written by rotating contributors from the Rotary District 5950 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Team.  For more information about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in our district, please see Rotary's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement.

From MURC Member Tsehai Wodajo, Founder and Executive Director of REAL

We are a small and mighty group of local professionals and we are part of a global network of 1.2 million Rotarians.
         We meet Wednesdays, noon-1:15 p.m. via Zoom. 
To get the Zoom link, email us at
  • March 2nd                                  
  Speaker:  MURC Member Jean Westberg  
  • March 9th
  Speaker:  Paula Maccabee - Advocacy Director, WaterLegacy
 "Everything You Need to Know About Threats to       Minnesota Waters"

Most of us in Minnesota take our abundant, fresh water for    granted.  We expect that Minnesota's government will      protect the environment from pollution and protect the public good. 

Based more than 40 years as a public interest lawyer and    policy advocate, including 13 years working with  WaterLegacy as advocacy director and counsel, Paula Maccabee will explain urgent threats to Minnesota waters from mining, industrial agriculture, and deregulation of water quality standards.  She explains that to protect our water, health, climate, and future, all of us must become more informed and involved.  

Please join us to hear this timely and important talk.


  • March 23rd
  Speaker:  Del Johnston, Rotary Club of Pakuranga, Aukland, New Zealand

MURC members volunteer at the

Simpson Food Pantry in Minneapolis

Join Us - Everyone is Welcome - Members, Friends, Family! 
  • What:    Stocking food on shelves in the food pantry
  • Where:  Simpson Food Pantry at 2740 1st Ave S, Minneapolis
  • When:   Friday, March 18th, from 9 a.m. to noon
A lot of different  
make a bouquet.  
~ Islamic Proverb   
Newsletter Editor
Lori Simpson
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