Lincoln’s Downtown Rotary 14 installed Mailani Veney as president to head the club during its 110th year of serving Lincoln and participating in international projects with other clubs. Veney is the 10th woman to head the club and the first person of color in that position. She is part native Hawaiian.
Rotary 14 has been involved in many of Lincoln’s advancements over the years including the establishment of Lincoln General Hospital (now Bryan West), the Better Business Bureau, the United Way, Lincoln’s parks and facilities at some of Lincoln’s schools.
“Rotary is one of the best decisions of my life – to belong to a global community of people who have the same values as me: service above self, doing good in our backyard and around the world, and goodwill, so basically ‘Aloha spirit’” Veney commented as she was installed.
Joining Veney in club administration are Erin Dobesh, Nola Derby Bennett, Randy Hawthorne, Christina Usher, Eric Drumheller and John Gessert as new members of the club’s board. They join Randy Bretz, Chuck Schroeder, Leslie Levy, Mark Feit and Justin Kalemkiarian who remain on the board.
Sharon Wherry, a former club president, touched on the history of women in leadership with comments she shared during the July 2 meeting.
“When Rotary International began to admit women in 1987, our club was one of the first to seek out qualified women for membership like Ginny Hand and our current member Priscilla Henkleman,” wherry said. “Less than 10 years later, in 1996, Karen Craig was our club’s first woman president, then Barb Bartle served in 2001-02, then I was the Rotary centennial president in 2004-05. Since then we’ve had Susan Stibal, Joanne Kissel, Liz Koop, Melanie Wittamore-Mantzios, Kiersten Hill and Jennifer Brinkman.”
To help establish Veney’s “Aloha Spirit,” many members wore Hawaiian outfits at the July 2 installation ceremony, which added a festive air to the meeting.
“My term’s theme is the ‘Year of Aloha,’ because that’s what Rotary is to me. Some of my best friends, best accomplishments and best memories are thanks to Rotary,” noted Veney during the meeting. “I've planted trees, volunteered in schools, served at soup kitchens, led a team of young professionals for a month to Taiwan, met hundreds of incredible leaders, been enlightened by countless outstanding speakers, mentored young people, and so much more. Every day, some goodness shines in my life because of Rotary. And the feeling of helping others is truly priceless.”
Rotary 14 was the 14th club established in the world. Now there are more than 30,000 clubs in nearly every country. The club also has the distinction of being one of the largest in the world.