Our club viewed a motivational video of Sylvia Whitlock about women’s entrance into Rotary. Sylvia moved to California to pursue a career in Education, later becoming an elementary school principal in Duarte, CA in 1982 and serving as an educator for forty years.
      Joining her first Rotary club as “S. Whitlock” in 1976, she later became president of the Rotary Club of Duarte--making her the first woman to hold such a position within Rotary International. The club’s charter had previously been revoked in 1978 after they admitted women which was against Rotary International policy. The Duarte club filed suit and won in the California courts, claiming that Rotary Clubs are business establishments subject to regulation under California's Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on race, gender, religion or ethnic origin. Rotary International appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court, on May 4, 1987, confirmed the California decision supporting women, in the case Board of Directors, Rotary International v. Rotary Club of Duarte. Rotary International then removed the gender requirements from its requirements for club charters. Her case fully opened up women’s opportunity in Rotary.
     Sylvia highlighted many challenges encountered, including attending her PETs training with 290 men as the only women present, and having the District Governor speak about her case to that group in support of RI and the gender restriction. She even encountered other women (Rotary spouses & others) supporting the RI gender restriction.
     Sylvia’s video speech was compelling and motivational, as a trailblazer for women in Rotary. DM Rotary club members Joe Hentges & Teree Bergman both attended prior Rotary events with Sylvia as a speaker, and were very inspired by her.