|A candid conversation with President-elect Glenn E. Estess
Glenn E. Estess, the incoming RI president for 2004-05, will lead Rotary during an exciting and historic year: The Rotary Centennial, which will culminate with the RI Convention in Chicago, 18-22 June 2005. A Rotarian since 1960, Estess belongs to the Rotary Club of Shades Valley, Ala., USA, and will be the third RI president from the Birmingham area (following Frank E. Spain in 1951-52 and Roy D. Hickman in 1972-73). He is a part Rotary Foundation trustee and a past RI Director, service as RI vice president in 1991-92, Recently, he sat down with Editor in Chief Vince Aversano to explain his vision and goals for Rotary.
What has prepared you to be RI President?
That's a hard question to answer because I've been in Rotary since 1960. I keep going back to my experiences at the club. When I was elected president of my club, one of our senior members said, "Estess, our club's strong enough to survive anybody for a year" so perhaps that's applicable to being name president of RI as well. [Laughter] But I think my real strength in Rotary came from my early beginnings as club officer and club president. Of course, the other jobs I've held - district governor and RI director - were extremely beneficial. But the real foundation was a the club level.
How did you get involved with Rotary?
I had four older brothers who were Rotarians., and while I was not really involved in Rotary at the time, through them I came to admire what Rotary can accomplish. And so when I was invited to join, I was excited. I was in Jacksonville (Fla., USA) and was invited to be in Club 41 (the Rotary Club of Jacksonville, the 41st club chartered). Incidentally, Paul Harris lived in Jacksonville at one time and worked for a man who later became a charter member of the Jacksonville club.
How did you feel when you learned of your nomination?
Well, it was obviously an honor and a humbling experience. Your first reaction is to ask yourself, "Am I the right person?" I guess in a moment of self-humor I though, wee, maybe they just asked the person who been in Rotary the longest! But perhaps the major thing that got to me was the overwhelming expression of support, not just congratulation, I received from people all over the world.
How do you see your role as president Do you feel the role of presdident has changed over the years?
Technically, the president is the chief executive officer of the organization, but I see the general secretary as the one who manages operations. I see the president as having more of an ambassadorial role. I I think that is what Rotarians expect. They want to see the president. They want to talk to the president. They want to feel like they've made some personal contact with the president. and I have to keep reminding myself that it is not Glenn Estess that they want to see, but the RI president. I think my role is to serve these Rotarians. If you were to create an organizational chart, then the president should be at the bottom, and the 1.2 million Rotarians would be at the top. To me, the most important officer in the organization is club president.
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