What is Rotary?

Founded by Chicago lawyer Paul P. Harris, nearly 100 years ago, Rotary International (RI) is a worldwide organization of 28,531 clubs in 158 countries with a membership of nearly 1.2 million men and women. They are joined together to provide service both in their local community and in the international community.

Rotarians, who have embraced the organization's motto, "Service Above Self," represent a cross section of all types of businesses, vocations and professions. The name "Rotary" came from the practice of the early clubs of "rotating" their meetings from business-to-business each week. Rotary's gearwheel symbolizes the name and represents the "meshing" of Rotary with other organizations for useful purpose. Rotary works to bring together people of all races, faiths and political views.

Membership is based upon one representative for each business or profession to ensure a wide representation for community projects. Since its charter, the Rotary Club of Princeton has been a member of Rotary International. Rotary International has had a special relationship with the United Nations for more than a half century.

Today, Rotary has consultative status with UNICEF, UNESCO, the World Health Organization and the UN Economic and Social Council. Rotary maintains representatives at UN headquarters in New York, Geneva and Vienna and with UNESCO in Paris. These representatives provide information to Rotary International on the relevant activities of the United Nations and its affiliated agencies. More information can be obtained about Rotary International by visiting their site on the Rotary International Web Site.

Rotary is organized at club, district and international levels to carry out its program of service around the globe. Rotarians are members of their clubs and the clubs are members of the global association known as Rotary International. Clubs are grouped into Rotary districts, each led by a district governor who is an officer of Rotary International and represents the RI board of directors in the field.

The Rotary Club of Princeton is part of District 7510 composed of about 47 clubs in central New Jersey. A nineteen-member board of directors, which includes the International President and President-Elect, administers Rotary International. While the Rotary International president is chief executive of the organization, the active managing officer is the General Secretary, who heads a staff of about 450 people working in nine centers around the world. The International Headquarters is in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.