The Rotary Club of Charleston, founded in 1920, is comprised of community leaders dedicated to “service above self.” Known as the Historic Rotary Club of Charleston, it has launched more than a dozen Rotary Clubs in the Charleston area. For almost 100 years, the Rotary Club of Charleston has been a key agent for positive impact in our community. The Rotary Club of Charleston helped to seed pivotal organizations that are vital parts of the Lowcountry community, including the Trident United Way, the Coastal Community Foundation, Boy Scouts and countless other nonprofit initiatives.
Rotary International began in 1905, but women weren’t always a part of Rotary. Beginning in the 1960s and ‘70s, efforts began around the world to include women as members. In the late ‘80s, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed women to be admitted, and the doors opened to women in Rotary Clubs around the world. In 1987, the first two female members, Sue Sommer-Kress and Ruth Hefron, were inducted into the Rotary Club of Charleston. Ruth served as the first executive director of the Trident Foundation (now Coastal Community Foundation), and Sue, a longtime College of Charleston administrator, has worked with the International Scholars Program since she was inducted—a program that has changed the lives of hundreds of South Carolina students.
Today, the Rotary Club of Charleston includes more than 30 women and growing. Occupations include small-business owners, Realtors, lawyers, bankers, medical professionals, educators, entrepreneurs and nonprofit executives, to name a few.
Women of Rotary are an active part of the civic leadership of Charleston and have contributed countless hours in charitable endeavors to make Charleston a better place. You’ll see women Rotarians joining their male counterparts in elementary school classrooms as Reading Partners to our youth, picking up trash on Bee Street as part of the Adopt-A-Highway program, raising funds to eliminate polio worldwide, and traveling to Liberia to support an effort dedicated to youth empowerment through Save More Kids.
The first female president was Anne Moise in 1996. Sue Sommer-Kresse served as president in 2000, followed by Deborah Sisco in 2001, Anita Zucker in 2003, Amy Jenkins in 2006, Kyra Morris in 2009 and Alissa Lietzow in 2016. Sandy Morckel will be president during the 100th anniversary year in 2019/2020, and Heidi Finniff will follow in 2020/2021.
Women Rotarians continue to work side by side with their male counterparts to make a significant impact. We invite you to learn more about becoming a part of Rotary. Please visit www.charleston-rotary.org.
Front Row: Ja’net Bishop, Boots to Breakthrough / Have Joy; Margaret Ann Youngs, American Lung Association; Ruthie Ravenel, Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International; Lisa Van Bergen, Professional Nonprofit Solutions
Second Row: Kim Rich, Medical University of South Carolina; Kelsey Willey, Willey Law Firm; Stefany Ceccato, DMC Travel Tailor; Alissa Lietzow, Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services
Back Row: Kay Minson, Carolina One Real Estate; Carroll Schweers, Rotary Club of Charleston; Heidi Finniff, First National Bank; Sandy Morckel, Solutions for the Greater Good; Colleen Moring, Benefit Controls of SE, Inc.; Sue Sommer-Kresse, College of Charleston
Front row: Cheryl Kaynard, Handsome Properties; Madeleine Frume, Mad n Lin; Leslie Fellabom, Avison Young; Jeanne Jamme, Carolina One Real Estate; Amy Riley, Thomas & Hutton
Back row: Lucia Violani, Rotary International Youth Exchange Student; Courtney Plotner, Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired; Marjorie Hanger, New York Life & New York Life Securities; Debbie Barton, City of Charleston; Amy Chico, HLA, Inc.; Mary Ann Kohli, Trident Technical College; Catherine Jones, Acupuncture & Wellness of Charleston Inc.