Greetings Rotarians,
I am honoured to be writing this as your Chair of the District 7820 Leadership Team for this Rotary year.
For those of you that have not met me, I am Alex Twells of the Rotary Club of St. John’s East. English by birth (and accent) I have lived in St. John’s for the last twenty-one years and have been a Rotarian since 2005. My wife Laurie (also a Rotarian) is from St John’s and was the original reason that I moved to Newfoundland. I fell in love with the province quickly became a passionate ambassador for Newfoundland and Labrador and will happily tell anyone that I am the luckiest man alive. We have three children in their twenties and an excitable German Short Haired Pointer and live in the heart of downtown St. John’s.
The essence of my role this year is to facilitate the team of directors at the District board to be as effective as possible.
Your board has two simple objectives for this Rotary year:
  1. Our primary goal is to enable Rotary in District 7820 to be as healthy and vibrant as it can be under the current circumstances, and
  2. Our second goal is to lay the foundation for the successful creation of District 7815.
In support of our primary goal, your district board has been busy planning and implementing conferences, running on-line training modules for leaders of clubs, facilitating action on membership development, and working hard to increase the diversity of district leadership.  These are all elements of “business as usual” for the District board; made a little trickier this year by the inability to travel. My role is significantly different from previous leaders. Covid means that my ability to travel and visit clubs in person has been severely curtailed. Despite this, I have had the pleasure of visiting a couple of clubs in Newfoundland in the last month and been delighted to be part of the celebrations of the Rotary Club of St. John’s as they mark the centenary of Rotary in Newfoundland and Labrador and also The Rotary Club of Stephenville as they celebrate fifty years of Rotary in the town.
In addition to the covid travel restrictions in place, my working life as CEO of a cannabis business means that I have limited ability to spend long periods on the road. For these reasons I am delighted to be supported by an amazing team of Area Governors who will be able to deputize for me in meetings with club leaders and Rotarians. I am, of course, very happy to join meetings by Zoom and would love to hear from you if there is an event or a specific topic upon which you would like my input.
In support of our second goal, we have been investing significant effort collaborating with our peers in District 7810 to lay solid foundations for a world class new District 7815. Like everything over the last two years, this has been done exclusively on Zoom and so I am sure you can imagine that we are very keen to be able to get back to in person meetings and build even more meaningful relationships through the fellowship of face-to-face events. Until just last week we were planning an in-person integration summit in Halifax in November to help create the policies and processes for D7815 which are still outstanding. However, this too fell victim to the fourth covid wave and will be converted to on-line conversations.
One of the first and most important tasks in every Rotary year is to select the Rotarian to drop into the succession line to be Chair of the District Leadership – for us, we are talking about the Rotary year 2024/5. It seems like a long time off but the experience on the board in the years running up to the leadership year are a fabulous way to get prepared for the leadership task ahead. And so I would encourage all Rotarians to consider nomination if they or someone they know would be a great fit for that role. IPDG Ian Doyle is co-chairing that committee with IPDG John Slipp from D7810 and would love to hear from you.
I am always energized by Rotarians I meet and I am constantly amazed by the positive impact that Rotary has on our communities. If I have one request of you this year it is to spread the gift of Rotary to your family, friends and network and expand our reach to make our communities even better places to live.