Ten years ago, the family of past president A.D. “Robbie” Robertson created a fund in his honor within the RCM Community Trust - the A.D. Robertson Fund for the United Nations. This fund supports educational programming for Rotarians and the community about the humanitarian and peace building work of the United Nations.
Every year in October, the A.D. Robertson Fund underwrites a U.N. Day Program during a Rotary Club of Milwaukee luncheon. In 2014, Joe Cirincione of Ploughshares Fund spoke about ISIS and Iran in a very highly rated program. Other U.N. Day speakers have included:
- Ellen Laipson, president and CEO of the Stimson Center
- Ambassador David Scheffer
- Amir Dossal, Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Partnerships
- Ambassador Peter W. Galbraith
- Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations
- John Prendergast, co-founder of ENOUGH—an international effort to stop genocide
Many years the A.D. Robertson Fund also underwrites the participation of young people in Rotary Day at the United Nations in New York. In 2014, the fund provided stipends for Rotaract members Bethani Tellstrom and Jenny Hays, along with Rotary Peace Scholarship applicant Megan Meyer.
|Top: Megan Meyer with Gary C.K. Huang, current president of Rotary International, at Rotary Day at the United Nations 2014. Bottom: Rotaracters Bethani Tellstrom and Jenny Hays.|
Megan said, “It was such an incredible experience and I loved engaging Rotarians from around the globe in discussion on issues so important in global public health. The firsthand experience to learn of Rotary's work in polio eradication and maternal and child health was one you certainly can't get in a classroom!”
Bethani also considered polio discussions to be a highlight of the event, specifically the concept of using Rotary’s polio eradication efforts to help reduce the risk, contact, and spread of Ebola. “It was especially interesting to learn about how the United Nations is taking steps to reduce contraction of the disease while allowing the affected cultures to mourn for their losses in the way that does not take away from their social and religious beliefs,” Bethani said, “The unification of Rotary and the United Nations under this singular element was both beautiful and comforting.” Bethani tells us she was inspired by many elements of the event and took home a new energy for Rotaract.
And just this month, the A.D. Robertson Fund added support for a new United Nations education activity. Keila LaBelle, a sophomore at Franklin High School, requested Rotary’s assistance to attend a Friendship Ambassadors Foundation United Nations Youth Assembly in New York City at the United Nations headquarters. This intensive two day program familiarizes youth with the United Nations and U.N goals, specifically regarding peace and diplomacy, and connects like-minded youth around the globe.
Joan Robertson, wife of the late Robbie Robertson, has continued to be very active in Rotary’s United Nations programs, and RCM is grateful for her support.