March 2nd Program
Center for Learning in Retirement
     Rhee Ellen Wright returns to the Center for Learning in Retirement (CLR) advisory committee after a year in a different role.
     In 2012, Rhee Ellen heard a presentation about CLR. From then on, she said, “When I retire, I want to be part of that.”
     So, following her years at Taylor Company (makers of soft serve ice cream machines) that is what she did -- starting with the Membership Committee. And now she is stepping in as the Speakers’ Bureau Chairperson.
     She found a comfort on stage in her earlier years and an ability to memorize that she can use as she makes CLR presentations. And she might be most recognized from her work as house manager at Artists’ Ensemble Theatre or her participation in the Cards and Games class at CLR.
     Rhee will talk about the CLR and her experiences and her many contributions.  This will an interesting and informative program and one to invite a guest or prospective member.  Mary Ann Norwood will introduce our presenter and act as Rotary Host.
March 9th Program
The State of the City
     Tom McNamara took office as the 41st mayor of Rockford on May 1, 2017. He was re-elected on April 6, 2021 and sworn in to a second term on May 3, 2021.
     Prior to becoming Mayor, Tom served the community for four years as 3rd Ward Alderman, representing constituents on Rockford’s east and west sides, as well as downtown.  As Mayor, Tom has focused on developing and implementing plans to reduce crime, increasing police technology and training, strengthening neighborhoods and schools and encouraging economic development. He has worked to reduce the city’s property taxes and has appointed members to commissions and board who are fiscally responsible and share a likeminded responsibility to use taxpayer funding efficiently and effectively.
     Among the general accomplishments of Mayor McNamara and his team:
  • Led a team that saw an overall 16 percent reduction in violent crime rates.
  • Formed the Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence & Human Trafficking Prevention
    • Opened the state’s only Family Peace Center to support DV/HT survivors
  • Implemented the largest Capital Improvement Programs (CIP) in the City’s history to improve Rockford’s streets, bridges and infrastructure.
  • Aggressively worked to reduce the impact of blighted commercial and residential properties.
  • Recapitalized the Northern Illinois Community Development Corporation (RLDC) partnership of 10 banks to provide $4 million to support small business owners.
  • Obtained a casino license for Rockford, welcoming the Hard Rock Casino to the community, pending Illinois Gaming Board approval.
  • Supported the Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) and its role as an economic engine for the region.
    • More than 8,500 employees now work on RFD’s 3,000+ acre property, which is now the 19th largest cargo airport in the US and the fastest-growing cargo airport in the world.
  • Restructured Head Start to increase the number of young children who can access the program
  • Increased the profile and impact of Rockford Promise, to make college more accessible and affordable for RPS 205 students, including forming the Rockford Promise/Northern Illinois University Scholarship Program, which allows RPS 205 students to attend NIU tuition-free.
  • Retired the last of the City’s long-term road debt.
  • Reduced the City’s property tax levy each year since taking office. The tax rate is now under 2.9 percent, a 3.3 percent decrease from 2019.
  • Maintained an overall City workforce with one-third fewer non-public safety staff than our peer communities.
  • Established the Community Relations Commission to advise the City on social justice, law enforcement, and discrimination and equality/equity issues.
  • Led Rockford in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including establishing a joint City/County Emergency Operations Center, launching the Rebounding Rockford working group, develop a loan program to aid small and medium-sized businesses and secured state and federal funding to support businesses impacted by the pandemic.
  • Led the community conversation and action on issues of social justice, equity and equality, including reforms to law enforcement procedures and policies and the passage of a body-worn camera program that will take effect in 2021.

     Mayor McNamara serves on many boards across the community, including the Alignment Rockford Governing Board, Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Illinois Community Revitalization Task Force, Illinois Municipal League Board of Directors, JB Pritzker’s Budget and Innovation Team, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, Rockford Area Economic Development Council Board of Directors, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Workforce Connection Board.

     The mayor is a graduate of Rockford’s Boylan Catholic High School. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology and criminology and a master’s degree in non-profit administration, both from John Carroll University in Cleveland. He and his wife Sarah live with their two children in the Churchill’s Grove neighborhood.

     Mayor McNamara's "State of the City" address has become an annual program for Rockford Rotary.  The Mayor was made an Honorary Member of Rockford Rotary on May 25, 2017, just a a few weeks after taking office.  He mentioned at the time that it was his first honorary membership since becoming mayor. 

     This is always an interesting and informative program and one that plays to a full house.  We would encourage our members to try an attend either in person or via zoom.  It is also an excellent opportunity to bring a gust or prospective member.  Former Alderman, Doug Mark, will introduce the mayor and act as Rotary Host.

Academy Students at RVC
     Rotary Academy students enjoy a pizza lunch while visiting Rock Valley College this week.
     Paul Von Driska's son can be seen helping pass out sodas.
     Students took a campus tour, did a goal setting activity, and played a game related to what they had learned while there.
Rotarians at the Food Bank
Linda Johnson, Dave Byrnes, and Becky Rundquist at the Food Bank.
Artale Wine Tasting
     Artale Wine Tasting Fundraiser on March 3rd.
     Save the Date!
Rotary Links
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Mar 02, 2023
Center for Learning in Retirement
Mar 09, 2023
State of the City
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Mar 21, 2023
Board Meetings
Apr 18, 2023
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Birthdays & Anniversaries
Member Birthdays
Nellie Miller
February 2
Tom Clabough
February 2
Ruth Little
February 4
Katrina Olson
February 6
Jo An Todd
February 7
Jennifer Stark
February 8
Beth Thacker
February 15
Rudy Valdez
February 19
Sheryl Thogerson
February 19
Don Kinney
February 21
Eric Fulcomer
February 23
Cynthia Drollinger
February 28
Larry Carlson
February 28
Jim Coffey
February 29
Join Date
Helen Hill
February 1, 1995
28 years
Becky Rundquist
February 5, 2015
8 years
Terry Anderson
February 5, 1977
46 years
Brian Kobischka
February 7, 1985
38 years
John Larsen
February 9, 2006
17 years
Scott Lewandowski
February 9, 2012
11 years
Daniel Ross
February 10, 2022
1 year
John Torrence
February 14, 1991
32 years
John Goddard
February 18, 1993
30 years
Bob Gough
February 19, 1998
25 years
Jim Coffey
February 19, 1998
25 years
Phil Dierstein
February 20, 1986
37 years
John Kleber
February 28, 1984
39 years
Meeting Responsibilities
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Rockford Rotary - Our 107th Year -