District Governor Messages

Spring Equinox Update

March 21st, 2024

Greetings Alaska Rotarians!

Peggy and I just completed all 36 of the D5010 Rotary Club visits, finishing up with our great clubs in Seward and Kodiak this month. We continue to see the work that our Rotary Clubs are doing in their communities and internationally is inspiring and impactful. We have also noted that many Clubs are making a considerable effort to display the Rotary logo, raising awareness of our brand wherever their projects are making a difference.

I would like to give a special thank you to our very awesome AG Jess Gutzwiler for her service as the Peninsula and Kodiak Club AG. Our visit to the two Kodiak Clubs this week was the final D5010 Rotary Club visits in her three-year AG career. As I have mentioned in my Club presentations, Jess has set the gold standard for AG service in our District. I am particularly pleased that she has accepted a new position as our District International Service Chair (DISC – cool acronym!) and will be attending the Zone Institute in Toronto this fall for training in that capacity.

Other new appointments include Becky Erickson, our Polio Plus Society Chair, who accepted the important position as District Secretary, a three-year role in which she will become one of five members of the D5010 Board of Directors. She will shadow current District Secretary Paul Paslay, our DGN designate (DGND), who will preside over the Business Meeting at the District Conference in Fairbanks in May. Paul will also complete his role as District Grant Subcommittee Chair this year as he follows DGN Marty Metiva in the DG lineup. Cathleen Lewis of the Anchorage South Club will be taking over the District Grant Subcommittee Chair position from Paul on July 1. They will both be working on finishing up the selection and approval of District Grant applications in the coming months.

Note that the deadline for District Grant Applications is April 20, and we have for the third year in a row, funded these for a full $100,000 thanks to the recent District Finance Committee’s approval of $20,000 in Excess Reserve (ER) funds to top up the $80,000 that we will receive from RI in District Designated Funds (DDF) in DGE Brenda Shelden’s year. Keep in mind that the DDF is money returned to our District from donations to the Rotary Foundation (TRF) Annual Fund three years ago, so keep the TRF donations going! A big thanks to ER Subcommittee Chair and Finance Committee Member Bill Simpson for presenting this to the Finance Committee last month.

We also have had some recent changes in the Youth Exchange program. Cochairs Jamie and Chris Lettermen opted to step down from that position due to personal and work-related matters, and YE Admin Manager Denise Kipke (Anchorage South Club President) has agreed to fill in that role for the remainder of this fiscal year. On July 1, Julie Erickson (another Anchorage South Rotarian) will become the District YE Chair. Julie has a long history of work in the YE program in our District and will be a dynamic, thoughtful, energetic Chair for this important program. The YE Committee just completed an online meeting this week with 20 members throughout the District to develop new plans and approaches for this program, particularly to help clubs with finding and vetting host families for inbound YE students, and in a strengthened program to recruit outbound students throughout the District.

The Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program is coming up on April 18-21 in Fairbanks, and registrations are rolling in with over 20 attendees registered. If your club hasn’t already selected a qualifying high school student to attend this life-changing event, please consider doing so. This program is an excellent opportunity for these young students to grow their leadership and presentation skills and learn about the family of Rotary. It is a wonderful pathway into the world of Rotary for these enthusiastic young people.

Planning continues for the upcoming District Assembly and Conference in Fairbanks at the Westmark Hotel May 16-19, 2024. Over 150 Rotarians have already registered, and the program and events just keep getting better. I invite you to join your fellow Rotarians for a celebration in Fairbanks in May and help us “Spring into Action!” Club Presidents, please remember to keep entering your Club accomplishments in Rotary Club Central to qualify your Club for the Presidential Citations that will be announced during the District Conference.

It's amazing how quickly the year has flown by, now with only three months and change to go to the beginning of a new Rotary Year. DGE Brenda has been busy preparing her budget, directing both the District Team Training Event online in February and the PNW PETS and Pre PETS programs in Seattle, also in February. On a special note Peggy and I were honored to be asked to be the aides for Past Rotary International President Jennifer Jones during PNW PETS. The greatest challenge was trying to make sure she was able to get to her next event as this Rotary Rock Star was mobbed by her Rotarian fans during the two days she was there. As usual, her keynote address on Saturday was inspiring and powerful. Rotary International has elevated its status as a truly welcoming service organization with Jennifer’s selection as the first woman President in Rotary history.


As ever, proud to be a Rotarian!

DG Mike Pollen



Winter Greetings

January 31st, 2024

Greetings Alaska Rotarians!

It has been an amazing experience visiting our District Rotary Clubs this year. So far, Peggy and I have completed 31 of the 36 club visits and several Rotary Foundation (TRF) events that involved multiple clubs. One of the highlights is learning about the projects that the clubs are doing in their communities and in many cases, elsewhere in Alaska or internationally. I am particularly pleased that the Excess Reserves funds we used to supplement the District Grants have helped many clubs leverage their projects, greatly increasing the impact, public visibility, and fun! Altogether, the District Finance Committee added $30,000 last year, $40,000 this year, and has a proposal to add $20,000 next year to make a total of $100,000 per year available for District Grants. This backfilled a gap created by a drop in TRF Annual Fund donations during COVID. Rotary returns half of the Annual Fund donations to the districts three years later. The good news is TRF donations have returned in force.

Some of what is driving that are regional Foundation events. In August, the four Juneau Rotary Clubs did their amazing helicopter rubber duckie drop, and event that was witnessed by dozens of Rotarians who had just arrived on a cruise ship on the way to the Life on Land event in Anchorage at the end of August and early September. Rotary International Treasurer and Director Drew Kessler’s wife Vicky and two of their sons were featured in the Juneau newspaper helping to paddle the canoe and retrieve ducks from the containment boom during that event. In a testament to the skill of the helicopter pilot, all but a few dozen of the 5,000 rubber duckies dropped from several hundred feet above the lake landed inside the containment boom.

The Life on Land event was a great success with Rotary International President Gordon McInally from Scotland attending. This was the first visit to D5010 by an RI President in their year of service. In addition to Director Drew Kessler, RI Director-Elect Chris Etienne also attended along with about 140 other Rotarians from across Canada, the NE and NW US, and D5010. Planting a pollinator garden (I know, I get the joke) at the Eagle River Nature Conservancy was a highlight of the event. A tip of the hat to Life on Land event chair Diane Fejes and all the D5010 Rotarians who made it so successful.

In early November, the five Rotary Clubs in the MatSu area hosted a regional Foundation event that featured both silent and outcry auctions. DGN Marty Metiva was the host auctioneer and did an amazing job that evening as $54,000 was raised in that single event. Many of the 125 attendees were local business owners donating services and other items to the auction. The event proved to be so spectacular that five non Rotarians who attended decided they wanted to become part of the action and are joining area clubs. As I like to say, “Rotary, we are People of Action!”

The planning committee for our upcoming District Assembly and Conference in Fairbanks at the Westmark Hotel May 16-19, 2024, is making good progress at its monthly meetings. We have a variety of exciting events planned, including an opening event at the world famous Antique Auto Museum, tours of the UAF Geophysical Institute and Museum, and a ribbon cutting for one of the largest Rotary Club projects in D5010. DGE Brenda Shelden will lead the District Assembly meeting on May 16, providing an opportunity for the PEs and other FY25 club officers to assemble one final time before their year begins on July 1. We have invited several keynote speakers who will be presenting on Youth programs and new Rotary Club Models. Registrations are already approaching 200 for this event. If you want to attend and stay at the Westmark, you should book your room right away as they are going fast. I invite you to join your fellow Rotarians in Fairbanks in May and “Spring into Action!”


DG Mike Pollen

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