“Reflections of the 16-17 Rotary Year from President Terri”
With the close to the Rotary year approaching, we have the opportunity to reflect on the progress our club has made and where we see our future. I realized that not everyone has had the opportunity to witness close up how our club works and all we have done. More importantly, how many of our members actually know about our president, Terri Cooper? Let me introduce you to Terri, a year late…
Terri Cooper nee Lee grew up in Tulsa, the daughter of an immigrant Chinese physician and an American mother. Life was challenging for an Asian girl growing up in middle American during the 50’s and 60’s, but Terri’s father told her often that her mind was her most important asset. When she reached college age, she took a chance and left for Middlebury College, a highly respected liberal art school in Vermont where she studied Geography.
What does a new graduate do in Oklahoma with a Geography degree? Terri had no interest in graduate school at that point, so she took a position working at the state capitol typing legislation. Terri distinguished herself by using her off hours to sneak into the House gallery to watch the representatives conduct business until she attracted notice. Faced with concerns that she shouldn’t be wasting time watching House business, she did what any motivated person would have done. She moved over to the Senate.
Eventually, Terri decided to move out of the capitol to take a job in a law office, where her career trajectory changed. As at the capitol, she remained fascinated by how things worked and why they needed the work she produced. One day she delivered a completed document to her boss. Ever curious about what she had worked on, she asked him to explain how it worked. He leaned back in his chair with his hands behind his head. In his bigger than normal mansplaining voice, he announced, “It’s your job to type these things, not to understand them.” At that moment, Terri decided she would attend law school.
Terri led a successful legal career and involved herself in many community projects. But one of her most exciting honors came when OKC Rotary asked her to become a member. The Rotary Club was one of the most prestigious organizations in Oklahoma City, and the offer of membership was a huge deal. Years later when the nominating committee asked her to run for president, it exceeded anything she could have anticipated.
As president of The Rotary Club of Oklahoma City, Terri can point to several accomplishments with particular pride. Meeting attendance has gone up this year and we have presented particularly high quality speakers. Terri has endeavored to teach our membership a little more about Rotary each week with her historical bits at the meeting start and worked hard to guarantee a reliable meeting schedule so that the membership knows that they can count on the meetings finishing on time.
Terri also feels proud of her efforts to reestablish our club outreach to other civic groups in Oklahoma City. The project at the Food Bank in March with the Downtown Kiwanis Club gave that effort a good start. Terri expressed regret that her term will end before she has had the opportunity to expand that effort to additional activities with other civic clubs.
OKC Rotary has had a good year, not in small part because of Terri’s constant efforts to push the club in a good direction. The curious little girl from Tulsa has made our Rotary club better and would have made her father proud.