Interview with Rotary President Lesli Massad

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Interview with Rotary President Lesli Massad

I have enjoyed the assignment for a number of years of interviewing our current president for our Rotary newsletter. Here are President Lesli Massad’s responses. You will enjoy very much what she has to say!!!     Emily Stratton


    1. What is your first memory of Rotary?

My first memory of Rotary is joining my dad at meetings many years ago when they were held at the Skirvin Hotel. Back then, if my memory serves me right, they had Father-Daughter days. Of course, that was before women were allowed to become members of the Club. And quite frankly, my impression of Rotary then was not all that good. I remember thinking how irritated I would get at my dad for forcing me to attend such a boring luncheon with all those men. Of course, my dad was equally irritated with me and didn’t like my criticism of his beloved Club. My dad, Omar Massad, served Club 29 as its president in 1990-1991.

    1. What brought you into Club 29?

My job at the time had me working remotely from my home. After several years of remote work, the alone time was way too much. I was looking for ways to get involved in the community and knew that Club 29 was a wonderful way to get plugged in for both networking and service opportunities.

    1. Looking back over your year, do you have a favorite Rotary activity?

Just one? I have so many! This year’s inaugural was definitely a favorite for me. And I do love our meetings! I think our meetings not only allow us to hear from some great speakers, but they provide wonderful opportunities for engagement, education, and inspiration. And I can’t overlook Rotary AfterHours and the Winter Party. I think it’s fair to say that I enjoyed all of this year’s Rotary activities.

4. How about also a favorite Rotary moment—something that was funny, crazy or especially touching?

I have several favorite moments but the one that stands out to me as the most impactful was the July 11 meeting, my first meeting presiding as President. When the past presidents approached the stage to shake my hand, congratulate and welcome me, I cried. I tried not to cry but my emotions got the best of me. At that moment I truly realized the privilege of being chosen to serve as Club president and the importance of upholding my father’s legacy….particularly as the first legacy president in our Club’s history. I had many big shoes to fill.

5. Comment about Rotary service projects—do you have a favorite?

Service is a primary characteristic of our Club and a key to our success. I am grateful for the many opportunities we have been given to serve the Oklahoma City community. If I must choose….my favorite service project that I have participated in is the Salvation Army Bell Ringing. Although I am unable to participate, my favorite service project is the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. I have a particular affinity for that one and am truly grateful for our members who come out in the wee hours of the morning to serve the Relay runners.

6. Did we have any new projects(s) this year that we didn’t have before? If so, how did it get started?

Although this was not a new project, one of the highlights for me this year was our membership survey. It has been three years since our last survey was conducted and so much has changed since then. This survey is a vital tool for gauging individual member sentiment and satisfaction. It provided every member the opportunity to have their voice heard. By gathering members’ candid feedback on meetings, service projects, and the Club overall, the board was able to identify specific areas needing improvement and ensure we are meeting members’ needs and expectations.

7.  What was the hardest thing in adjusting to being president?

Other than grasping the fact that I was president, the hardest thing I had to adjust to as president was keeping my nerves at bay while at the podium. I’ve never done well following a script, so learning to do that in a way that made me and the audience feel comfortable was an adjustment. My greatest hope is that I made the audience feel comfortable.

8. What surprised you the most about being president?

How very much I enjoyed it! I have loved serving as the Club’s president and will really miss it once my term ends.

9. From your involvement in earlier Rotary activities/committee positions or community involvement, what do you think prepared you the most for your year as president?

I think all of those things, in their own way, were instrumental in preparing me for my year as president. My past service on the board in several different capacities, on committees and as a committee chair, and my community involvement have been great contributors in preparing me for this role. I’d have to say that my work, both professional and personal, combined with my involvement in the Club throughout the past 14 years, is what has prepared me most. In addition to those things..…I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to Megan, Cheryl, and past presidents for their unselfish guidance and assistance.  Their support every step of the way has been incredibly helpful.

10, Tell me about attending Rotary’s International Convention—where did you go? And when? How did it affect you? Positives about attending?

Oddly enough, I have attended two Rotary International Conventions – the first, of all the places in the world, was in Houston, Texas. I guess since it was in Texas it seemed like being in another country. Haha! That was just a little Texas joke. No offense to our Texas members. I can’t joke too much about Texas – my kids and grandkids live there.

The other convention I attended when I was President-Elect was in Melbourne, Australia. My biggest takeaway from that convention was being reminded of the enormity of Rotary in the world. That there are millions of people from countries I have never even heard of, who like us, are a part of this organization because they want to do good in the world. Attending the convention, specifically the opening ceremony where the presentation of the flags from all of the countries kick off the convention is a very moving experience. Another takeaway I had was specifically about our Club. Ours is the third-largest club in the world. We are different from most other clubs and with that comes great responsibility. Our ability to effect change in our community and beyond is increased because of our size. I enjoyed hearing from and learning about other, much smaller clubs and the tremendous impact they were making within their communities. The greatest positive I came away with was the reminder of how blessed we are as members of the Rotary Club of Oklahoma City. We are a large, but intimate group, working together to create hope in the world. That hope looks different to each of us, but it is the shared goal of all of us.

11. Did you learn something about Rotary this year that you didn’t know?

The one thing I learned, I knew already and that is the impact of Rotary in the world. Like most of us, I have remained aware of Rotary’s work through reading the monthly Rotary magazine, attending our weekly meetings, and through my board service, but it wasn’t until I attended the Rotary International Conventions that I learned of the incredible vastness of Rotary’s global impact.

12. Why do you see it is important for us to continue to strive to be one of the largest Rotary Clubs in the world?

I am impressed that our Club is the third largest in the world. While maintaining a large membership is important, we must always focus our efforts on fostering a strong sense of community and belonging among all of our members. For me, retaining the members we have is equally important to adding new members. I liken this to my work at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. At work, I understand the significance of retaining current donors is as essential as seeking to cultivate new donors. What I do know, in both my professional work and as a member of Club 29 is that our community thrives when we work intentionally to steward our existing stakeholders as well as strive to expand our reach to engage prospective stakeholders. It is important that we pursue diversity in our membership — bringing together individuals, new and old, from multiple generations, backgrounds, and professions. By continuing to engage our membership and by inviting others who share our passion for service to join, our capacity to “Create Hope in the World” becomes greater.

13. How did Club 29’s fundraising do this year compared to past years?

This year’s OnePledge efforts were a tremendous success. I’m not going to lie – the goal set for this year was our highest ever and I wasn’t sure we would achieve it, but we did. This year’s Club project – The Dragonfly Home — was a significant departure from most of our past projects. It wasn’t something where our name or logo would be in lights or on permanent display, but the project’s purpose was meaningful and, unfortunately, necessary.

14. If you were encouraging someone to join Club 29, what would you tell them is the value of membership?

When I meet with people to discuss the possibility of them becoming members of Club 29, I usually reference the tremendous networking opportunities, access to programs that not only educate, but inspire with a cadre of notable guest speakers, and the chance to enhance their personal and professional growth and hone their leadership skills. The camaraderie and fellowship among members lead to lifelong friendships and a strong support system. Joining the Rotary Club of Oklahoma City means becoming part of Oklahoma’s oldest and largest civic organization that continues to be dynamic, influential, and committed to making a difference in our own lives and in the lives of others. And not to be overlooked – it’s fun!

15. What do you appreciate or enjoy the most about our weekly meetings?

The cookies! Okay, I guess that wasn’t the response you were seeking. Honestly, I enjoy everything about our weekly meetings, but if I must identify what I appreciate or enjoy the most, I’d have to say it’s our guest speakers. And this year, thanks to AJ Griffin, our Programs Committee Chair, and her committee, I think we have had wonderfully diverse lineup of interesting, impactful, and inspirational speakers.

16. As we know, our Rotary programs are all very good. Is there one that really stood out to you, made an impact, influenced you?

Oh, it’s so hard to choose just one. However, the one that impacted me the most and I hope set the tone for the year was my first meeting as President. Our guest speakers at that meeting were Mayor David Holt and OKC City Manager Craig Freeman. Hearing from them and learning about all of the great things happening in Oklahoma City was enlightening and encouraging. I wanted to begin the year with a strong message of hope, and I think with them we succeeded.

17. Do you enjoy coming up with a quote at the end of the meeting? What is your process in finding a quote?

Deciding on a quote or thought for the day has been more challenging than I anticipated. When deciding on my closing message, I want to make sure that it is relevant, timely, and meaningful. I don’t always want a quote – sometimes I want to share a poem, fun facts, or other information that coincides in some way with that week’s program. Some weeks are more difficult than others. There are often those Monday nights when I am looking for “the one,” and two hours later I’ve finally found it. I can easily go down a rabbit hole when looking for the right parting words.

18. When you look back at your Rotary year—say 10 years from now—what do you think you’ll remember the most?

What I will remember most is how much I enjoyed serving as the Club’s 114th President. Without a doubt, this has been one of the most meaningful and rewarding moments of my life.

19. Any special advice for Suzanne as she starts her year as president?

I have three primary pieces of advice for Suzanne.

  1. Have fun and be your genuine, authentic self.
  2. Work closely with Megan and Cheryl.
  3. Have diverse, engaging, and educational programs.

20. Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like to add?

You didn’t ask me about my grandbabies. Do you want to see pictures?



1 Comments for : Interview with Rotary President Lesli Massad
    • Cliff Dougherty
    • June 17, 2024

    Great job, Lesli.
    Yes, you made us feel very comfortable!

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