President's Message
John Mathers
member photo
District Conference
Over the years I have been to many District Conferences, and I am always impressed with the Rotarians who participate and the work that Rotary does. What upsets me is that most members of our Club as well as other clubs don’t know what the Conference is about!

Yes, there are awards given out to clubs (see below how very well we did this year). Yes, there are speakers who share about programs that various clubs are doing in the District and around the world. Yes, there are dinners and breakfasts and the expense associated with all of that. But these are the form and not the substance of the weekend!

The District Conference is a CELEBRATION, a chance to let loose, have fun and enjoy the fruits of your “service” labors over the last Rotary year. So there was a great deal of laughter, a number of fun and funny events, and quite a bit of drinking. Some of the fun events included:
  • Governor Ron Gin put together an incredible Star Wars “set” for the conference (thank you Steve Wright, Pablo Castro and the amazing crew).
  • A number of clubs did fun videos of their accomplishments.
  • The Rotary Foundation had a dinner to celebrate this year's work on Polio Plus.
  • There was a murder mystery dinner where a Star Wars-like character was killed, and the tables had to figure out who did it. Some of the characters included Major Payne, Ambassador 011011, Princess Flirtacia, Yodel, Darth Brooks, Jedi OB Real, Sandra Vader, and Patricia Ackbar.
  • Dinner at the Air and Space Museum with its many planes and a couple of flight simulators.
  • Several extremely moving and stimulating speakers on various topics.
  • An uprising that took Governor Ron into custody and handed him over to our incoming Governor, Jayne Hulbert.
And again, there were awards. In addition to a number of club-specific accolades, we were in a small group of clubs that got outstanding club awards for Membership and Foundation giving. But there was more: we got the Best Club Award along with a couple of other clubs and then received the Governor’s Bell for Best Large Club. All this in the last hours on Sunday.

Please consider joining the fun next year when the District Conference will be held in Reno with three other Districts. Fun, friendship, and frivolity.
May 27, 2018
June 3
   Alisha Marfatia
June 4
   Jim Emerson
June 5
   Kay Clarke
June 7
   Michelle Buckles   
June 10
   Tucker Kuhn
June 23
   Dianne Feinstein
1986: Donald Parachini

2001: Wendy Ross
2009: Diane Kohler
2010: Esther Lerner
2011: Luis Moran
2013: Alisha Marfatia
2016: Sacha Shashi
2017: Parker Austin
May 2018 Highlights
Rotarian of the Month: The Rotary Club of San Francisco is booked with activity every week. Something is always going on! But when you ask members what brings them to the Club for lunch, most often it is the speaker. And that has been the purview of Lisa Stark (Video Production Services) for the past few years. As Speakers Committee Chair, Lisa has worked with a broad group of members to find and select quality speakers. She has been persistent in asking members to qualify speakers for content, presentation style and value. An amazing level of quality speakers has visited our Club, attracting new members and many guests. For her tireless efforts on behalf of the Club, whether in San Francisco or Tucson, we honor Lisa as April’s Rotarian of the Month!
District Conference: Our Club was a big winner at the District Conference! We were awarded commendations for Youth Service, Vocational Service, Club Service, Community Service, International Service, Public Relations/Public Image, and Membership. We also won a Best Club award, and took home the first District 5150 Governor's Bell for Best Large Club. Congratulations (and much appreciation) to all of us for so many accomplishments!
Great Luncheon Programs:
  • Blue Bear Music School with Renee Richardson and Steve Savage. This incredible music program/school has been around for 40+ years and is doing wonderful work with all age groups. Steve shared an overview while Renee shared more of the details and introduced a student who played guitar and sang three songs, one of which was his own creation. The entire Club stayed late to hear the final song and congratulate a real artist.
  • Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). Youth Services Chair Lynn Luckow (Development; launched his presentation with video of the RYLA weekend before introducing three impressive campers, each of whom had a moving story of personal development during the three-day program. It was a privilege to hear how RYLA impacted their lives and wonderful to know our Club was a part of the weekend.
  • Club Assembly. Rhonda Poppen (Grant Writing; GRANTdog) facilitated a great meeting where the vision and objectives of the Club were presented and the members had a chance to ask questions and give their input to all the areas of activity that the Club undertakes. The "speed dating" round with all the board members created a real buzz in the room. Thank you, Rhonda, for a great lift-off for your year.
  • Annie Yalon and Erik Rice told us about the Career Technical Education (CTE) program at the San Francisco Unified School District, an innovative approach to career development during the high school years. The program provides real-world experiences at local companies in the types of jobs that interest the students to help them focus on what they love and accumulate the skills necessary to follow their interests. 
Service Above Self: A dozen Rotarians and a few younger family members joined with many other volunteers to clear out weeds and invasive plants in Rotary Meadows on the top of Mount Sutro. Despite the wind, we all broke a sweat making the area attractive and welcoming to all the hikers and bicyclists who visit the park. Amy, the activity leader from Sutro Stewards, was extremely helpful. After working all morning, we enjoyed sharing a lunch of pizza and beer.
Lilian Tsi-Stielstra (Insurance Services; Wells Fargo Advisors) was the main mover at a Dinner Club at The Arc along with her husband, Scott Stielstra. As always, the Dinner Club provided a fun experience planning, prepping, cooking, eating, and cleaning up with a group of The Arc's clients and staff.
Supporting The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International (TRF): Thank you to these members for their significant contributions to TRF. recognized as levels of the Paul Harris Fellowship (PHF). These contributions help fund Rotary's impactful work around the world, including money that comes back to our Club for our own service projects near and far:
  • Initial PHF: Jane Mermelstein (Real Estate; Zephyr Real Estate), Michael Strohl (Financial Management; Sagemark Consulting)
  • PHF+2: Ann Daugherty (Financial Advisor; IBN Financial Services)
  • PHF+3: Jyoti Chokshi (Project Management; Talent Anywhere), Benjamin Lam (Banking Services; UBS Financial Services), Stacey Poole (Law - Family; Lerner-Poole)
  • PHF+4: Jyoti Chokshi, David Dye (Management Consulting; Retired), Greg Gutting (Human Services; The Salvation Army), Laine Hendricks (Public Relations; County of Marin), Stacey Poole
  • PHF+6: Emily Borland (Architecture; Emily Borland Specifications), Rhonda Poppen (Grant Writing; GRANTdog), Stephanie Schmautz (Retirement Living; The Carlisle)
  • PHF+7: Casey Blair (Foreign Equity Trading; Feis Options), Emily Borland, Stephanie Schmautz
May 2018 Membership Corner
New Members
The Club was happy to welcome three new members in the month of May.
Sue Farlow came on board joining her spouse, Clif Thomas, under the Spousal Discount program (second membership in the household is discounted by 75%—the philosophy is that two together are stronger). Sue and Clif migrate back and forth across the country between their homes in Beaufort, South Carolina and here in San Francisco. Sue was an English teacher for 30 years, with a specialty in poetry. She has been an active participant in the Club for a long time being involved in the Bike Build, the Food Bank and other special projects, and also attending meetings. It is a pleasure to have such a good contributor join the ranks of Membership.
Erik Walter also joins via the spousal discount program. Erik was sponsored into the Club by Carla Walter, his wife. While they live in Hayward, Erik finds the Club to be compelling in its outreach and friendly people. He grew up in Florida where he earned the distinction of Eagle Scout, among other awards. Erik has spent his career in technology and currently works for Apple as a software engineer. He looks forward to volunteer opportunities with Community Service and Youth Service, in particular. He and Carla live in a spectacular hilltop home overlooking the Bay, and enjoy entertaining.
Anthony Alvernaz is helping pull the average age of the Club down as he is the second member under 25 to join in the last three months. Anthony has established his own company in financial technology and more specifically in block chain technology. Why is such an active and dynamic leader interested in Rotary? He wants to “have a greater sense of community involvement and awareness". A life of achievements in the workplace is satisfying if accompanied by a sense of connection and community. He is sponsored into the Club by Lynn Luckow, and his mentor is Bob Hermann. Anthony grew up in San Francisco and now lives in Oakland.
New Member Gathering
The Welcome to the Club party on May 16 was a night of new people meeting Club Leaders. Lots of fun was had by all with about 30 attendees split evenly among new members, visitors and established members. Another such party is planned for mid-August. If you have any new folks you would like to have associated with the Club, this is a fun social occasion to make connections happen.
Past President Dr. James Emerson, one of the oldest members of the Rotary Club of San Francisco, says, “If your mind is good, then you still can contribute; when your mind goes, then forget it!”

Over the past nine decades, Jim’s mind has taken him from the Stanford campus, where he grew up because his father was on the faculty, to Princeton Theological Seminary, where he earned a Master of Divinity, then to the University of Chicago, where he was awarded a doctorate in clinical psychology. In 1950, he spent four months in the Holy Land, visiting Mount Sinai (now Mount Moses) and parts of the Mediterranean, following in the footsteps of St. Paul, which he calls “an important part of my training.”
As a student at Stanford, Jim planned to go into government service, but he took a course from Elton Trueblood, the Quaker campus pastor, who influenced him to go into the ministry. Originally, a member of the Congregational Church, he became a Presbyterian, “for a very highly theological reason, because I wanted to date a Presbyterian girl.” Jim served churches in Philadelphia, Forest Hills in suburban New York City, Indianapolis, and a 1,400-member church in Larchmont, NY, a wealthy New York City suburb, where his congregation included 10 CEOs and he jokes that “during the week, I was pastor to the Vassar Alumnae Association.” 

In 1952, Jim married Margaret Bonnell, whose father, Dr. John S. Bonnell, was pastor of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City. She became a clinical psychologist with a Freudian background, while Jim was a follower of Carl Rogers. The couple had three children: John, former ambassador to Germany in the Obama administration, who is now an attorney in Los Angeles; Lynn, a junior high school teacher in Marin County, and Jed, an investment advisor in San Francisco who specializes in socially conscious investments. His granddaughter Jackie had a leading role in The Hunger Games.

Jim says he was one of the first two people in this country to put pastoral counseling on a professional level, specializing in patient-centered therapy focused on people going into second marriages. At that time, Jim says, pastors couldn’t officiate at weddings of divorced people unless they were “the innocent party,” but he believed that “there’s no such thing as an innocent party in divorce.” His first book was called Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage.

It was in Larchmont that Jim says he “lost my faith in God.” He talked to one of the church elders and volunteered to resign, but the man advised him to “talk to us about what you believe, not what you don’t believe,” which Jim says “saved me for the ministry.” As a result of that experience, he wrote a book called Forgiveness. Based on his clinical pastoral counseling experience, he was invited to leave the ministry and become head of the Community Service Society of New York City, a professional association for social workers.

Then Jim was called to serve Central Presbyterian Church in Denver. It was while he was there that he fell from a horse on his 49th birthday and suffered a concussion and broken ribs and was in the hospital for a week. It was also while he was in Denver that Jim was nominated by the General Assembly to be Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, although he lost by 10 votes out of a field of six. That was what brought him to the attention of Calvary Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, which called him as pastor.

Jim first joined Rotary in Denver in 1950 for the same reason he joined the ministry, because it offered “a life of leadership in society.” He joined our Club in 1979, and served as President of the Club in 1990-91, when it was the only Club in San Francisco and had more than 500 members. He finds “most meaningful” that the Club is the second oldest in the world and attracts visitors from around the globe. In his younger days, he was a hiker and world traveler, preaching all over the world, calling himself “an internationalist,” and became an avid sailor, racing his 30-foot schooner on the East Coast.

Jim lives at the Sequoias, where his wife lived with him until she died 12 years ago. He says he’s been having “wonderful dreams” of her lately, “so vivid that I felt I’d been with her.” On the night his mother died, Jim says he dreamed that she called him to say goodbye. It sounds like his mind is as lively as ever.
Heroes' Voices: THE SOLDIERS JOURNEY June 3, 2018
An afternoon of poetry and music exploring a variety of perspectives on war, peace and soldiers’ experiences before, during and after battle. This performance, at Fort Mason, is the West Coast awards celebration for the Heroes’ Voices National Veterans Poetry Contest. Discounted Rotary tickets include the reception after the performance. Volunteers are needed to help with setup, ushering, and more.
ROTARY LUNCHEON June 5, 2018: Understanding San Francisco Politics
SF Examiner columnist Joel Engardio will provide an entertaining look at the history that shaped our local politics and how to make sense of it today. See where you fit on San Francisco's unique political spectrum!
BASEBALL: Rotary Night at the Giants June 5, 2018
Come to the San Francisco Rotary Night at the Giants game! We will meet up around 6PM for a pre-game happy hour at Pete's Tavern. Then, it is off to the game against the Diamondbacks with a start time of 7:15 PM. Everyone is welcomed. Join us for the happy hour or the game or both. Bring your family and friends as well as fellow Rotarians to this fun-filled event.
Anita Stangl at The Commonwealth Club June 8, 2018
Come and hear Past Club President Anita talk about the work of Alliance for Smiles, an organization that grew out of our Club that provides free cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries for children around the world.
ROTARY LUNCHEON June 12, 2018: Amy Alkon; Kindness and Generosity in Business and in Life
“Win at all cost” is often a losing strategy. Amy Alkon, syndicated advice columnist, explains why being generous whenever possible is often a more winning strategy, personally and professionally.
Diaper Assembly for Homeless Prenatal Program: June 12, 2018
Join us at this service opportunity where club members and guests will stuff diaper bags with the supplies new moms need to help care for their babies. The bags will be distributed to pregnant women involved in Prenatal Classes at the Homeless Prenatal Project. Afterwards, we'll walk down the block to Mars Bar and Restaurant for food, fellowship, and fun.
Rotary Twilight Golf: June 13, 2018
Join The Rotary Club of San Francisco for a friendly round of golf and a chance to win our coveted Golf Trophy! Points are based on participation, not necessarily golf score, so all skill levels are welcome! Fellowship follows every outing. Tee time is 4:15.
Baby Showers for Homeless Prenatal Program: June 14, 2018
Join us at one or both of the Baby Showers at the Homeless Prenatal Program where we will give expectant mothers diaper bags filled with supplies. The party for Spanish speakers starts at 10:30 AM, the party for English speakers starts at 1:00 PM.
Celebration Dinner for President John: June 14, 2018
Let's show John how much we appreciate his work as our Club President this year! This special three-course dinner at Il Fornaio includes salad, choice of entree, and dessert. No host cocktails begin at 6:30.
Dinner Club at The Arc: June 18, 2018
Enjoy the opportunity to make dinner and share it with new friends at The Arc. Rotarians are invited to join the fun at one dinner a month: come once, or make it a regular commitment! Open to family and friends who are over 18.
ROTARY LUNCHEON June 19, 2018: Debunking President John
It's time to thank President John for a job well done at the traditional "debunking". Come and find out what President-Elect Nominee Casey Blair has planned to help us forever remember President John as we say THANK YOU at the last Luncheon Meeting of his year as Club President.