Category Archives: Rotary Club of Madison

June 15: Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

–submitted by Ellsworth Brown

UW Professor Yoshiko Herrera’s subject was one that grips us all:  Ukraine, Russia and a war of punishment and increasing brutality.  Superimposed on the United States, Ukraine ranges from New York City to beyond Chicago.  There are three focal questions:  who, how, or why did it begin; how might it end; and what can we do about it?

Succinctly, Professor Herrera provided answers:  Putin is responsible for the war, stoking Russian citizens’ fears—of NATO for example—as motivation and enforcing it with highly controlled information and brutal internal suppression of opposition.  Similar confrontations in Chechnya, Georgia, Crimea, and Syria drew little attention, and an isolated Putin perceived a weak NATO and a divided United States would be little concerned about Ukraine.  His miscalculation was massive.

Herrera forecast that “Putin will continue until someone forces him to stop.”  A united Ukrainian defense will probably prevail, though at great cost, and then join NATO—it is a country large enough to avoid a takeover, and Russia’s historic tactics have been to punish and destroy, not conquer.  Meanwhile, sanctions have begun to work within a context that will damage Russia and remove trust of it for decades.

And what can we do?  We can talk to friends and acquaintances, support local protests on behalf of Ukraine, make donations to humanitarian aid for Ukraine, and write to our senators and representatives.

We all hope . . . .

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here:

June 1: Rotary Scholarship Program Grows in 2022

–submitted by Valerie Renk

Rotarians met 26 outstanding scholars at the June 1 luncheon. More than $388,000 will be awarded to the 2022 class of Madison Rotary Foundation scholars over the next four years.

Laura Peck, Chair, introduced the scholars; President Teresa Holmes presented each with a certificate.

Daniel Obi, 2017 French Scholar, gave a keynote. He shared how his Rotary scholarship and mentor relationship with Neal Fauerbach made a real difference helping him work towards becoming a Physician’s Assistant. 

Roger Stauter was also inducted as a new member. His introduction included he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma.  The meeting was sponsored by Jen Savino, KW2.   

May 18: WI Sec. of Agriculture Randy Romanski

–submitted by Janet Piraino

WI Sec. of Agriculture Randy Romanski gave Rotarians an overview of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and discussed the impact of agriculture on Wisconsin’s economy.

In addition to advising and providing financial support to farmers, DATCP regulates food safety, animal health, consumer protection laws and the meat packing industry. Agriculture is critical to our economy, with one in nine Wisconsinites employed in agriculture. Wisconsin is fourth in the world in cheese production.

Romanski’s presentation included a visit from Alice in Dairyland, who promotes Wisconsin agriculture products. He gave shoutouts to past Alices in attendance, including our own Carol Koby.

If you missed our Rotary meeting last week, you can watch the video here. (Our thanks to WisEye for videotaping our guest speaker last week and for allowing us to post it on our club’s YouTube channel.)

May 4: Ukraine/Poland Border in 48 Hours

submitted by Valerie Renk

Alan Klugman and Joe Shumow shared details May 4 of their humanitarian visit to the border of Poland and Ukraine.  They visited four refugee centers, meeting with volunteers and some of Poland’s three million Ukraine refugees as part of a Jewish Federation delegation. 

Their visit lasted only 48 hours, but they heard stories of a lifetime. They met a refugee who told of meeting family with a son paralyzed from the neck down. The family took turns carrying him for three days, finally collapsing. With help from many, they were able to finally emigrate safely to Warsaw.   

Another moving story was an 87-year-old-woman, left at the border with volunteers by her son who went back for family. This made the elderly woman relive World War II memories.  Happily, her son was able to reunite her and his family.

It was powerful, they said, to sit in Warsaw and feel safe, as this is an historically war-torn

area. The Polish government paid for two of the refugee centers and other resources. Over three million refugees have been accepted in Poland; 300,000 Poles have opened their homes to offer safety at their own cost.

What can we do to help?  Giving is paramount. Many groups are raising money, including Jewish Federation ( , and Rotary international (   

Volunteering is also needed; local volunteers were all races and religions of people who had a previous connection to Ukraine who wanted to give back. They were often sharing a sweater, a blanket, a cup of coffee, and a hug.  Volunteers are needed who speak Russian.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here:

April 6: The Work of Politics in the Age of Digital Amplification

–submitted by Rich Leffler

Maier-Bascom Professor Dhavan Shah, Director of the Mass Communication Research Center at the UW-Madison proposed that modern digital and social media make it harder to compromise in politics. Our politics were developed in a different time, and modern technology actually degrades political debate. It is harming the ability to engage in reasoned deliberation. For instance, his research indicates that audiences react to dynamic style rather than substance. We live in “an attention economy.” Negativity gets the attention on social media. The angry and the bombastic get the online attention and this, in turn, is picked up by the larger media, amplifying it.

If you missed our meeting last week, you can watch the video here:

What’s Going On Post COVID?

submitted by Larry Larrabee

From left: Jess Cavazos, Jason Ilstrup, Peggy Gunderson and Matt Gerding

The March 23rd program was a panel discussion of “The Post Covid World” that consisted of Rotarian Jess Cavazos from Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce, Matt Gerding from FPC Live (Frank Productions) and Peggy Gunderson of Strategic Brand Marketing with Jason Ilstrup serving as emcee.  After providing their organizations’ experience with the pandemic, there followed a discussion of how they were moving forward.  Space does not allow a just description but in essence, they described changes reflecting heightened importance of relationships, changes in the use of various technologies, and increased optimism for the future.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here: