Downtown Rotary Club of Houston
The Downtown Rotary Club of Houston is Shaping the Future of Houston and the World
“Since Rotary was founded in 1905, our role in the world and in the lives of its members has been in a state of continuous evolution. In its earliest days, Rotary offered its members a way to find fellowship and friendship and to build connections within their communities and still does. Rotary today offers something of singular and enduring value: the chance to be part of a global network of people who have the talent and the drive to change the world.
We are men and women who believe in the power to make a global impact — and together, we have the capacity and the resources to achieve almost anything. Globally, Rotary is more relevant than ever, and its potential for good is vast. Rotary service transforms lives and communities. As our founder Paul Harris put it, “Rotary is a microcosm of a world at peace, a model which nations will do well to follow.” To me, Rotary is not only a model but an inspiration. It shows us what is possible, inspires us to reach for it, and gives us a path to act — and to be the Inspiration as Rotary Connects the World.”
Rick Slemaker – Founding Charter President, the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston
The Downtown Rotary Club of Houston was founded July 1, 2018 by several leading Houston area business and professional men and women. The first “interest” meeting of these prominent Houstonians was held in October of 2017. After several weeks of meetings, it was decided by Carmen Cuneo, the Rotary International District 5890 Governor, the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston would become a reality.
The Original Founding Charter Members included Rick Slemaker, Past President of the Rotary Club of Houston; Patti Whitmire Carlton, Past President of the Bellaire/Southwest Houston Rotary Club; Angie F. Jimenez, Centennial President of the Rotary Club of Houston; John R. Price, Past President of the Titusville, Pennsylvania Rotary Club; Debbye Crofoot-Morley of the Holocaust Museum-Houston; David T. Hale with Service Corporation of America; William N. “Billy” Bray, a Houston Chronicle honored 40 under 40 Commercial Insurance Executive; RoShelle Salinas, Founder of Salinas Solutions and an Executive of the Houston Automobile Dealers Association; Tom F. Butler, Chairman of the Texas Credit Union Association; Denis DeBakey, Founder of DeBakey Financial Services; Neil Mallon Bush, Chairman of the Points of Light and Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundations; Charles C. Foster JD, Founder of Foster Global and immigration law advisor to Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama; William T. “Bill” Drennen III, Founder of WTD Oil & Gas; H. Kerr Taylor, AmREIT Founder and Executive Chairman of Rowland Taylor; William A. “Tony” Mayer Jr., retired investor and member of the PEP Board; and Taylor Waidhofer, Publisher of Houston Real Producers Magazine.
The newly chartered Downtown Rotary Club of Houston began meeting in the heart of Houston’s Theater District, The Ballroom at Bayou Place. Houston’s largest private event venue. The Downtown Rotary Club of Houston hosted among many special events, the 60th Anniversary of NASA, with Mark S. Geyer, the 12th director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the Senior Astronaut of the International Space Station, Randy “Komrade” Bresnik with Apollo 7 Astronaut Col. Walt Cunningham, who is a Charter Member of the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston.
Today the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston is the largest Rotary Club in South Texas and is part of Rotary International’s worldwide network of 35,000 clubs throughout 200 countries on every continent. Rotary is the largest international service organization in the world with a global network of over 1.4 million business and professional leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and act to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, in ourselves and having fun doing it.
ROTARY INTERNATIONAL is dedicated to these seven (7) areas of focus to build International relationships to improve lives and create a better world.
Economic and community development
Basic education and literacy
Peace and conflict prevention
Disease prevention and treatment
Water and sanitation
Maternal and child health
There is nothing like Rotary anywhere…we are the most successful “can do” organization in the world. That is why the some of the largest Foundations in the world give us more of their dollars than any other organization they support, and Rotary matches every dollar given to us. That is a fact that speaks well of who we are. The numbers are now north of 17 Billion dollars raised by Rotary International and our partners. Our club and Rotary International continues to contribute millions of dollars in food, clothing, living supplies, and political influence to not only in Texas, the United States and all over the world.
Today, more than $1.39 billion in new Downtown construction projects are underway and another $2.58 billion in pre-development/design—nearly one- third of these projects being residential developments.
What is Rotary Today?
Our motto “Service Above Self” says it all. We gather to share ideas and conduct service projects and entertaining events that will improve life in our community.
Today the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston is the largest Rotary Club in District 5890 and part of Rotary International’s worldwide network of 34,000 clubs throughout 200 countries on every continent. Rotary is the largest international service organization in the world with a global network of over 1.25 million business and professional leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and act to create lasting change across the globe, in our communities, in ourselves, while having fun.
There is nothing like Rotary anywhere…we are the most successful “can do” organization in the world. That is why the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation give us more of their dollars than any other organization they support, and Rotary matches every dollar. That is a fact that speaks well of who we are. The numbers are now north of 17 Billion dollars raised by Rotary and our partners!
Whether you’re a longtime resident or just moved to our great city, there’s no questioning Houston is experiencing an incredible burst of development, particularly within its Downtown core. Today, more than $1.39 billion in new Downtown construction projects are underway and another $2.58 billion in pre-development/design—nearly one- third of these projects being residential developments. Additionally, Houston continues to welcome waves of new businesses relocating offices to its central business district and with that, urban professionals also will see an additional 2.86 million square feet of office space being constructed, as well as eight new, modern and luxurious hotel high-rises dotting the city’s skyline.
And who can overlook the success of two of Houston’s most beloved urban parks: Discovery Green and Market Square Park – both of which have been heavily credited for being the economic catalyst for growth in the east and northern end of Downtown Houston.
With all this robust activity, combined with its strong economy, a growing urban population, and solidified status as being one of the nation’s top culinary and entertainment destinations, it’s easy to see how Houston has transformed itself into the global city that it is today.
Last but not least we ARE a networking organization doing business with each other. We Rotarians value our friendships and hard work. We all love where we work and live, Houston. Now more than ever we ARE a global community more diverse that any other city on earth. Our city with all its robust activity, combined with her strong economy, a growing urban population, and solidified status as being one of the nation’s top culinary and entertainment destinations, it’s easy to see how Houston has transformed itself into the global city that it is today.
The Downtown Rotary Club of Houston looks forward to you and your business joining the most dynamic organization in the world, Rotary. Right now, there is no better place on earth to do business and live than in our City on the Bayou.
The Downtown Rotary Club of Houston is an IRS-approved 501 (c) (3) non-profit and a Texas tax-exempt organization meeting once each month for social fellowship and service. Join us and be a part of something big! Watch our video.
Our members are committed to the ideals of Rotary International® and are dedicated and invested in making Houston, Texas, and the world a better place for all and…to have fun doing it. The Downtown Rotary Club of Houston membership is open to men and women who are recognized for their leadership, want to be socially active, and dedicated to community service.
No individual may join Rotary on their own. A current member of the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston must sponsor an individual for membership and subsequently that individual must be approved by the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston Board of Directors. Guests of members are welcome to visit the club to learn more about Rotary and our community and world-wide involvement.
Our Downtown Rotary meets only once per month as compared to other Rotary clubs meeting weekly. We feel your time is important and that is why our members chose monthly. We also have a fun and lively social meetings each month after business hours.
We channel our commitment to service at home and abroad through five Avenues of Service, which are the foundation of club activity – Club, Vocational, Community, and International Service.
The Four-Way Test
The Four-Way Test is a nonpartisan and nonsectarian ethical guide for Rotarians to use for their personal and professional relationships. The test has been translated into more than 100 languages, and Rotarians recite it at club meetings:
Of the things we think, say or do
- Is it the truth?
- Is it fair to all concerned?
- Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
- Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
These principles have been developed over the years to provide Rotarians with a strong, common purpose and direction. They serve as a foundation for our relationships with each other and the action we take in the world.
Object of Rotary
The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:
FIRST: The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
SECOND: High ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
THIRD: The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business, and community life;
FOURTH: The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.
Avenues of Service
We channel our commitment to service at home and abroad through five Avenues of Service, which are the foundation of club activity.
I. Community Service
Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Committee – encourages all Downtown Rotary Club of Houston members to teach a child to read. Supporting the National Read Across America Day focusing on motivating children and teens to read. This is done through events, partnerships, and reading resources, across the country and the world. Rotary provides thousands of schools, libraries, and community centers by bringing together readers, kids, teens, and books from our Rotary “Books of the World” program.
Gala and Fund-Raising Event Committee – Organizes large and small fund raisers including the annual Downtown Rotary Club of Houston Gala Dinner/Dance, Casino Night and other fund-raising events benefiting our community service activities.
Prison Entrepreneurship Committee (PEP) – strives to inspire and motivate inmates to live within the law and find jobs upon their return to society; and encourages community involvement in finding solutions for problems of the released public offender.
Public Health Committee – Addresses critical Houston area health issues with the goal of affecting change. Has a dual mission of educating the club and Houston residents on matters related to public health, health care delivery and socio-economic health issues. While expanding access to community healthcare, the committee also arranges for expert health professionals to educate the club on cutting edge issues, treatments, breakthroughs and the economic impact of the health care industry in our community and the Rotary major global project to End Polio Now.
Rodeo Parade Committee – promotes member participation in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Members of the committee promote the community collaboration of the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston and the HLSR. Participation includes working with the HLSR Parade committee standards for our Downtown Rotary Parade Riders as required by all Rodeo entries. Individual member participation in the parade will vary from year to year. This community project also sponsors a Calf Scramble animal and Agricultural students to benefit the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo scholarships and promote the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston awareness in our city.
Human Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Committee – Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. This committee takes the lead in making our community aware of this huge problem, works with law enforcement and other organizations to prevent the trafficking and exploitation of the millions of men, women, and children trafficked right in our city, the nation and around the world.
St. Nicholas Committee – plans, promotes and directly fulfills basic needs as we serve the men, women and children most “at risk” in our community. At Christmas time, we assist the Salvation Army and “ring the Red Kettle bell” to encourage donations for underprivileged families all over the area. Members of the committee raise money, purchase and deliver needs and wants as gifts to families selected by the Salvation Army.
Veterans Committee – plans and promotes the annual Downtown Rotary Veterans Day “Salute to Veterans” Luncheon Celebration honoring service men and women past and present, This is one of the largest Rotary luncheons honoring veterans in our city. At the Houston Veterans National Cemetery presents a Memorial Day wreathe honoring our fallen heroes. The committee supports the PTSD Foundation of America, Camp Hope and Honor Flight among other organizations with the goal of helping every veteran in our area. They work directly with many Veterans Assistance organizations including the USO to provide executive advice and council to veterans where needed in our community.
II. Club Service
Classification Committee – The Club President, Past Presidents and Membership Committee Chairman assign the new member classifications. Assists the Membership committee to review membership applications and explain membership requirements to prospective members. We are a “protected” classification Rotary Club.
Administration Committee – Works directly with the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston Board Secretary and Treasurer to assist in all administrative functions of the club. Oversees cash, check and credit card functions at club events and making the member and guest check-in process a quick and positive experience. The committee gives new guest information to the Membership Chair to appraise those individuals qualified to be sponsored in our club.
Entertainment and Social Committee – coordinates events that promote friendship, fellowship and fun. These gatherings include Wine Tasting parties, Holiday Family affairs, Fine Arts and Group Sporting events – organizes the annual Downtown Rotary Club of Houston Shooting Clays, Houston Polo Club and Formula One Auto Racing Events and other business networking and family activities. These occasions are designed to provide a casual and upscale fun environment for networking with fellow Rotarians and business leaders on a more personalized level.
Finance, Foundations and Grants Committee – responsible for a broad range of issues from the club’s investment policy and accounting system, to the annual budget. Also identifies district scholarship and grant initiatives which align with the mission of the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston. Acts as a liaison with Rotary District 5890 on related issues.
Membership Committee – carries four (4) major assignments: increase club membership, retain existing members, perform the duty to announces Club Officers and Directors elections, and collects club board and officer nominations. The committee determines member eligibility and sets elections and runoffs to elect candidates for open offices and board positions annually. This requires a deep belief in everything Rotary stands for and sensitivity to people’s needs, problems and schedules in today’s fast paced social and business world. The committee assesses new membership initiatives offered by District 5890 and Rotary International and helps the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston apply those learned principles to increase membership. The committee plans and implements all aspects of Rotary 101 and New Member Orientation, including education of new members about our Downtown Rotary Club and Rotary International. Committee members schedule each new member to participate in orientation and is responsible for assimilating new members, with their sponsors, into the activities of the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston and encouraging them to fulfill the duties of a new member to become active and involved Rotarians.
Program Committee – responsible for arranging each month’s program of speakers, including Rotary International videos designed to inform members of the International efforts of Rotary. The committee supports the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston President in selecting the Chair of the Day, Prayer, Pledge and 4-Way Test monthly assignments as well as the future calendar of events.
Public Relations, Marketing, Social Media and Web Development Committee – responsible for member recognition, increasing awareness of the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston service programs and their importance to our community. Promotes the “good work” of our Downtown Rotary Club in the Media. Also provides website support to the Web Master and reviews club communication systems for effectiveness.
Strategic Planning Committee – serves as a long-range planning group for the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston. It reviews and updates the Club Vision Statement, and with an eye to the future, suggests to the Board of Directors ideas and plans looking toward a fuller development of the Rotary concept. It also provides leadership and assistance to apply and follow through on Rotary awards applications for our Downtown Rotary Club of Houston, and continuing viability and relevance of our club in the future.
III. International Service
International Service Committee – responsible for identifying international service projects to be recommended to the Board of Directors and club membership. This includes our global projects shared by Rotary clubs all over the world to meet the needs defined by Rotary International in our six (6) areas of focus. These include Economic and Community development, Basic Education and Literacy, Water and Sanitation, Disease Prevention and Treatment, Maternal and Child Health and Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution.
IV. Vocational Service
Free Enterprise Camp Committee – arranges the annual day-camp for select area high school students focusing on the Free Enterprise System which is not presently taught in our Public-School system. The most successful business individuals in our club and community will be our guests so that these “Leaders of Tomorrow” can learn directly from the people that are proven success stories. These individuals are specially chosen to make available information about their vocations to students who are choosing a career. The special emphasis is on business leadership and the need for high standards and opportunities for service in each occupation. Students will be “on campus” at the University of Houston Bauer School of Business to learn and experience teambuilding, leadership, business principles, and dealing with the challenges of life in business. The objective is to explore, expose, challenge and awaken interest and imagination on the whole concept of Business and Private Free Enterprise. The selection process includes their high school principals and counselors. The “Leaders of Tomorrow” will in turn select from their members those worthy of College scholarships and grants that are awarded and the end of the camp.
V. New Generations Committee will be established as a “future” committee to include:
Interact – a service club for youth ages 14 to 18 at a local high school. The Downtown Rotary Club of Houston may provide support but Interact is a self-governing and self-supporting club. Each year they complete at least two community service projects, one of which furthers international understanding and goodwill. Through these efforts, Interactors develop a network of friendships with local and overseas clubs and learn the importance of developing leadership skills and personal integrity, demonstrating helpfulness and respect for others, understanding the value of individual responsibility, hard work, and advancing international understanding and goodwill.
Rotaract – brings together people ages 18-30 to exchange ideas with leaders in the community, develop leadership and professional skills, and have fun through service. This prepares these young individuals with a view towards preparing Rotaractors for membership in the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston. It is affiliated with the international Rotaract program of Rotary International. Seeks young professional’s graduates who want to make a difference and support the Rotary vision of community leadership, service and allegiance to the Four-Way Test of Rotary International. Rotaractors serve the community and promote international understanding and goodwill by assisting the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston with service projects.
NOTE: Other area programs and organizations given consideration support or directed by the Downtown Rotary Club of Houston and its individual members not mentioned above include:
Houston First, The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit Houston), the Holocaust Museum-Houston, Thanksgiving Tree Lighting in Uptown Post Oak, The Junior League of Houston, Texas Independence Day, San Jacinto Day, Lemonade Day, NASA Day, Texas A&M, University of Houston, University of Texas, Rice University, Rotary End Polio Now (with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), Texas EquuSearch – Mounted Search and Recovery Team, The Lone Star Veterans Association, The Heart of Texas Foundation, The Houston Downtown Management District, the US Constitution Day and our Unapologetically American Day to name a few.
Our past Downtown Rotary speakers include:
General John W. “Jay” Raymond
Charles Moss Duke Jr.
“The Youngest Man to Walk on the Moon”
General Lori Robinson
“The Highest Ranking Woman in US Military History”
Virtual Tour of RI Headquarters
Virtual tour of Rotary International Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA. Fall 2020.
Go Organics for Peace
Spencer Leung, 2013 peace fellow and founder of Go Organics, Ltd., talks about the organization’s mission to build peace by addressing income inequities through economic development.
Women Uplifting Women
Seven Women Centre is a nonprofit that offers fair-trade products and services. Stephanie Woollard, a member of the Rotary Club of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and a former Rotary Peace Fellow, started the organization in 2006 to empower marginalized women in Nepal.