A friend of mine from Anchorage, Alaska, is in town. Carolyn Jones is a member of Rotary International, one of the 15,000-plus gathering at the Salt Palace this week. Jones also holds the distinction of being the first and only woman to serve on the Rotary International Foundation, the arm which raises and invests money and develops grant programs for humanitarian projects around the world.
How long have you been a Rotarian?
tI was inducted in September of 1987. The U. S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in May of 1987. It basically said a Rotary club in California could not refuse to accept an individual as a Rotarian simply based on gender. The day after that decision, I got a phone call from a Rotarian inviting me to lunch. That happened to a lot of women in Alaska.
How does it feel to bring down the glass ceiling?
tWomen have been in Rotary for 20 years, and all this time, there hasn’t been any woman in a leadership role. I understood personally it was a ladder you had to climb like anybody else, and it was going to take time. But for a lot of people, what they saw was that there were no [women] at the top. Two years ago, I got this appointment. Now when they introduce the trustees [at convention], I get the most applause. I tell [my fellow trustees], “It’s not Carolyn they’re applauding. It’s that I represent a female face finally walking across the stage.”
What’s your proudest accomplishment?
tI once went to a hospital in Russia where children were dying of cancer because the hospital didn’t have enough money to provide chemotherapy. Within six weeks, my district had launched the Children of Russia program. We raised $620,000 and financed 30 projects in 22 communities to help the kids. It’s taken on a life of its own. It’s also become my life. I have been to Russian 29 times. It has become the definition of me in Rotary and is how I came to be nominated to be a trustee.
More from this interview at CityWeekly.blogspot.comnn