Greetings, Fellow Rotarians!
                My name is Michael Gonda and I am your new President of the Rotary Club of Brookings.  July is my ninth anniversary as a member of the Rotary Club of Brookings.  I have previously served as your Local Service Projects Chair and as a member of the Board of Directors.  Professionally, I am a Professor in the Department of Animal Science at South Dakota State University, where I have worked for over 15 years.  I met my wife, Tiffany, in South Dakota; Tiffany is the daughter of Rotarians Marcia and Larry Janssen.  We have no children but two “fur babies”, a dog (“Doc”) and cat (“Tuxedo”).  I grew up in Tampa, Florida and have also lived in Cleveland (OH), Madison (WI), and Raleigh (NC).  Although I’ve moved around much, Brookings has become my home and I’ve lived longer in Brookings than any other place in the USA!
                I have big shoes to fill (literally and metaphorically)!  Erich Olson, our previous Club President, was a fantastic leader of our club.  In a short period of time, he planned, organized, and executed a fundraiser that generated tens of thousands of dollars for relief efforts in Ukraine.  This fundraiser was the largest we’ve done as a club since the solar oven project over 10 years ago.  This project was a success because of Erich’s tenacity and work ethic.  He never gave up on the project, even when the logistics seemed too daunting to overcome.  Erich embodies what it means to be a Rotarian.  He has earned a well-deserved “retirement” as President!
                In June, Rotarians met at Cubby’s to draft a strategic plan for the Rotary Club of Brookings.  This plan still needs to be vetted by the Board of Directors but I’ll share some highlights with you at our next club meeting on July 11th.  The plan was drafted with input from all Rotarians who filled out a survey we distributed in June.  Response rate was excellent; about 50% of Rotarians completed the survey.  Don and Kay Norton will present the results of the survey to you later in July.  Speaking of Don and Kay, I can’t thank them enough for their assistance with writing the survey and drafting the strategic plan.  We are blessed to have Don and Kay as members of our club.  I joked around with them that a future service project could be to “loan” Don and Kay to other Rotary Clubs to help them with their strategic plans!  Unfortunately, we can’t afford to lose Kay and Don, not even for a week!
                Thanks for everything all of you do for Rotary.  I’m looking forward to interacting with each of you more as my tenure progresses.   I am very proud to call myself a member of the Rotary Club of Brookings.  I hope you feel the same way!
Michael Gonda